A Social Security number is an identifying number assigned to American citizens, permanent residents and temporary workers. The number is used to track individual earnings for tax purposes, and has also become a form of identity confirmation when applying for a driver's license or registering for school. The Social Security Administration can replace lost or stolen Social Security cards within a matter of weeks after the request is processed.

Print and complete Form SS-5, the application for a Social Security card (see Resources). Remember to fill out the form using your child's information.

Gather documents which prove your child's identity and citizenship status. Acceptable proofs of identity include an adoption decree, medical record, school record, religious record (such as baptism) or school identification card. Acceptable proofs of citizenship include a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship.

Gather documents which prove your own identity, such as a U.S. driver's license, state ID card or U.S. passport. All forms of identification must be current. If you are unable to provide any of these, school ID cards, employee ID cards, U.S. military ID cards and non-Medicare health insurance cards are also acceptable.

Visit your local Social Security Administration office to submit the completed application and proofs of identity and citizenship (see Resources for SSA office locator). You can also mail the application and other documents to your local SSA office; once the application is processed, the proofs of identity and citizenship will be returned to you.

Items you will need

  • Computer and printer

  • Proof of ID/citizenship for your child and yourself

Tip

  • All proofs of identity and citizenship presented in person or sent by mail must be original documents. Copies will not be accepted unless they are "certified by the issuing agency."

    Proofs of identity which include a recent photograph are preferred.

    Presenting multiple forms of identity, such as a driver's license and passport, can help speed up the process.

Tip

  • Social Security cards can be replaced a maximum of three times within a calendar year, and no more than 10 times during your lifetime.