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Best Way to Get a Social Security Card Replacement

Updated on July 7, 2013
Lost or Stolen Social Security Card?
Lost or Stolen Social Security Card? | Source


To replace your lost social security card, you'll need to follow the following steps:

  1. Obtain appropriate documentation (easiest if you have a US passport)
  2. Complete form SS-5 (application for Social Security card)
  3. Mail form SS-5 and documents to Social Security, or visit local Social Security office serving your area

What Documents Do You Need?

It isn't enough to simply fill out a social security form to get your new social security card. You will need to provide proof of US citizenship or legal immigration status, and identity. The documents you need depend on who needs the replacement social security card--adult or child (less than 18 years of age). In either case, having a US passport will cover both, otherwise you'll need to provide various forms of documents.

List 1. Proof of Identification

These documents are acceptable forms of identity:

  1. U.S. driver’s license
  2. State-issued nondriver identification card
  3. or U.S. passport

If you cannot produce one of these documents within 10 days, Social Security will accept:

  1. Employee ID card
  2. School ID card
  3. Health insurance card (not a Medicare card)
  4. or U.S. military ID card



You need to prove your citizenship and identity. If you have your US passport, you are good to go. It will serve as both proof of citizenship and identity. Otherwise, read on.

US Citizen

If you are a US citizen, you'll need to prove your US citizenship and your identity. To prove your US citizenship, a birth certificate or a US passport will do.

To prove your identity, a US passport will do, but if you don't have one, you'll need to see List 1 for acceptable proof of identity.

Non US Citizen

If you are a non US citizen, you'll need proof of legal immigration status and proof of identity.

See List 2 for a list of acceptable documentation that will prove your legal status.

To prove your identity, see List 3.

List 2. Immigration Status

These are documents you can use to prove your legal immigration status.

  • Form I-551 (Lawful Permanent Resident Card, Machine Readable Immigrant Visa)
  • I-766 (work permit)
  • or I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)
  • for F-1 or M-1 student, need I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status
  • for J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor, need DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status


List 3. Acceptable Form of Identify for Non US Citizens

  1. Form I-551 (includes machine-readable immigrant visa) with unexpired foreign passport
  2. I-94 with unexpired foreign passport
  3. or I-766 work permit from DHS.


List 4. Acceptable Forms of Identification for a Child

If a US passport isn't available, these are acceptable proofs of identification for a child:

  1. Adoption decree
  2. Doctor, clinic or hospital record
  3. Religious record (e.g., baptismal record)
  4. Daycare center or school record
  5. or School identification card



If your child has a US passport, you are set since it will serve as both proof of US citizenship and identify. Otherwise, it is a bit more complicated. Read on below for more details.

US Citizen

Proof of citizenship

  • Birth certificate or US passport


US passport is best, but if the child doesn't have one, see List 4 for alternative forms of identification.

The parent or guardian must have form of identification. See List 1.

If the parent or guardian isn't a U.S. citizen List 3 provides a list of acceptable forms of identity.

Non US Citizen

Generally, only noncitizens who have permission to work from DHS can apply for a Social Security number; otherwise the child doesn't need one.

Your child needs to prove immigration status and identity.

Immigration Status

See List 2.


List 3 provides a list of acceptable forms of identity.

If the ones in List 3 aren't available, they may accept List 4 as a form of identity. On top of this, the parent or guardian mus provide proof of identity. See List 1.

If the parent or guardian isn't a US citizen, List 3 provides a list of acceptable forms of identification.

Complete Form SS-5

You'll need to complete Social Security form SS-5. This is a 5 page document. The first 4 pages are just instructions. Page 5 is what you really need to fill out.

I list the fields you need to fill out below. It is really very straight forward.

  • Field 1. Name
  • Field 2. Social security number
  • Field 3. Place of birth
  • Field 4. Date of birth
  • Field 5. Citizenship
  • Field 6. Ethnicity (voluntary/optional)
  • Field 7. Race (voluntary/optional)
  • Field 8. Sex
  • Field 9. Information about parent (Mother's name and social security number)
  • Field 10. Information about parent (Father's name and social security number)
  • Field 11. Question about whether the person named in Field 1 has recieved a social security number before. Obviously, in this case, the answer should be YES.
  • Field 12. Enter name shown on the most recent social security card issued for the person named in Field 1.
  • Field 13. Any different date of birth entered on earlier application for card
  • Field 14. Today's date (date you are signing the form)
  • Field 15. Phone number where you can be reached; typically your daytime phone number.
  • Field 16. Mailing address; this is where they will mail your new card.
  • Field 17. Sign in this field.
  • Field 18. Indication of who completed the form (self, parent, guardian, or other).

Mail Complete Application and Documents

Once you've completed form SS-5, make sure to make a copy. Make copies of your documents as well. Note that the instructions didn't says to send copies of your documents, but it did say they will return your documents. This means that you need to send original documents along with the completed SS-5.

You can mail the set or bring it to the Social Security office that serves your area.

The Social Security Administration has a web site that can help you locate the right office. Here is their link:

This link list some general areas, but seriously though, unless you live in the area they list, it really isn't clear where your local social security office is.

The best bet, before you mail anything, is to call 1-800-772-1213 (or TTY 1-800-325-0778) to make sure you have the correct place. Remember, you are sending very valuable documents after all.

If you know of someone who is looking for information on how to replace social security card, please feel free to share this article.

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    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 5 years ago from US of A

      You're welcome Glassvisage! When I first looked into this, I thought it was going to be a simple deal, but it got more complicated than I thought. However, I was able to combine some of the common information into a few tables.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

      This is a lot of great information! I've had to do this before and it wasn't very difficult - I just had to find where to go and get it done. Thanks for all of this detail!