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How to get a social security number online

Updated July 20, 2017

There are several reasons a person might need to get a Social Security card. For example, if you have never had a Social Security card and need to get your first one or if you have lost your old card and need to get a new one to replace it. Going online is easy to complete the application and send it to the appropriate office, but remember a person is limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during a lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits.

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  1. Go to Social Security's website and read the instructions noted under "Get a New or Replacement Card."

  2. Print an Application Form SS-5 and complete per instructions.

  3. Collect the documents you will need in order to complete the application form. There are various options and explanations as to the documents you will need depending on if you are an adult or child--born in the United States, foreign born, but a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen. You will also need to identify if you are applying for a new card, replacement card or corrected card. All the needed information can be found under the icon marked "Learn what documents you need."

  4. Depending on your status and what options you choose there will be a variety of forms you will need in order to apply for a Social Security card number. These documents vary such as a U.S. birth certificate or a passport for those U.S. born and over 12 years old and you might also need your U.S. driver's license or state-issued non-driver identification card. If you do not have these documents you can also use an employee ID card, school ID card, health insurance card (not a Medicare card), U.S. military ID card or adoption decree.

  5. For non-citizens with permission to work from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) you can apply for a Social Security number, but will need documents proving immigration status, work eligibility, age and identity. To prove your U.S. immigration status, you must show your current U.S. immigration document, I-94, Arrival/Departure Record that was issued to you when you arrived in the United States. If you are an F-1 or M-1 student, you also must show your I-20, certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student status. If you are a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor you must show us your DS-2019, certificate of eligibility for exchange visitor status.

  6. In many cases you can mail your application and original documents in for processing. However, of you live in the New York City metropolitan area, Las Vegas, Orlando or Phoenix you may need to visit your local Social Security Card Center in person. These specific office addresses are listed at the website. Otherwise, for an address where to mail your application click on the icon that says "Find Your Local Field Office" and put in your postcode.

  7. Tip

    Make sure you have all the paperwork required before mailing in your application. Make sure the paperwork is original. Call the Social Security Office and ask questions if you aren't sure about something. Changes in citizenship status that require card updates may not count toward these limits either. One other note: it is recommended that you not carry your Social Security card with you, but memorise your number and keep your card in a safe place at home.


    Don't falsify documents. Don't mail your paperwork to the wrong Social Security office or it might take longer to get your Social Security card back.

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