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How to Get a Social Security Card for a Baby: A Step by Step Guide

After your baby’s birth, the last thing parents want to think about is the paperwork involved with their new child. While it might not be the most exciting process, it’s paramount that you devote the proper care and attention to your child’s social security.

Luckily, the application process is relatively straightforward. This guide will walk you through the process of getting a social security card for a baby, as well as considerations for obtaining, replacing, and correcting your child’s social security card after birth.

For the vast majority of babies who are born in a hospital, the process of applying for a social security card is generally streamlined with the application for a baby’s birth certificate. So, the process breaks down into 3 simple steps:

  1. Complete the baby’s birth certificate request
  2. Provide both parents’ social security numbers
  3. Wait for your child’s card in the mail

Now, let’s walk through each step of how to get a social security card for a baby in more detail.

Step 1: Complete the Birth Certificate Request

When your child is born, you are required to fill out a form requesting a birth certificate, which is one of the most important identification documents your child will ever own throughout his or her life. It’ll be the key to many other forms of identification your child gets, including their social security number, passport, and driver’s license.

The form you need to fill out is about two pages long, containing fifty to sixty questions, but there are slight differences in what’s required depending on the state in which the baby is born. If your child is born at a hospital, the form will be given to you before you check out, and a nurse or midwife will typically be assigned to help you fill it out.

If birthing in another setting, a midwife will typically give you the form and help you complete it. Across all states, the most important information required for the birth certificate is:

  • Full name of the newborn child
  • Newborn child’s sex
  • Whether the birth was single, twins, triplets, etc.
  • Exact date of birth, sometimes including exact time
  • Place of birth
  • Parents’ names, dates of birth

Beyond the questions listed above, the birth certificate application will also provide the option to apply for a social security number and card for the child. Select yes in order to put the social security application in motion!

Step 2: Provide Both Parents’ Social Security Numbers

Applying for your child’s social security card at birth is technically optional, and you do not have to opt in to the application if you would prefer not to. However, most parents decide to apply directly after childbirth since the process is easier and faster.

Once you indicate that you do want to apply for the social security card, on your child’s birth certificate application, you’ll be prompted to provide both parents’ social security numbers. This may be on the same form as the birth certificate request, or on a new form depending on local laws and the hospital or facility’s internal procedures.

While you must provide both parents’ special security numbers, there are situations in which those numbers aren’t available during your child’s birth. For instance: if one or both parents can’t remember their numbers, or don’t have numbers at all.

In these cases, you can still apply for a number for the child. However, you might face delays.

Step 3: Wait For Your Child’s Card in the Mail

This is the easiest step. Once you’ve filled out all the paperwork and submitted the application, all that’s left to do is wait. Your SSN application has to be mailed in and processed, and then your card will be mailed to you.

According to the Social Security Administration, here’s how long to get a social security card processed—on average—depending on which state you live in:

This is just the processing time.

After the card is processed, you should allow up to a week or two for shipping.

So, if you apply for your child’s social security card immediately at birth, you could have the card in as little as two weeks, but you may have to wait well over a month to receive it.

That said, not all parents apply right at birth.

Do You Need to Get Your Child’s Social Security Card Right Away?

You’re not legally required to apply for your child’s social security card at the time of birth. That’s why it’s an optional question on the birth certificate form.

However, many parents choose to, and it’s arguably the best time to do so.

Firstly, applying at birth streamlines the process with the birth certificate application, so you’re not filling out paperwork twice over. It also allows you to avoid visiting a local social security office in-person and taking time out of your busy parenting schedule to wait in long lines.

But also, there are many things that a social security card is needed for that parents want to set up as soon as possible.

For example, you need to get a social security number for your child in order to:

  • Open up a bank account in his or her name
  • Purchase savings bonds for your child
  • Apply for government services for the child
  • Get medical coverage for the child
  • Claim the child as a dependent on your taxes

Now, for the parents who are unable or unwilling to apply for the social security card at birth, let’s take a look at what the process looks like later down the line.

How to Get a Social Security Card for Your Child After Birth

If you forego getting a social security card for newborn at the time of birth, you’ll need to find a social security office near you to apply for your child’s number and card.

Before your trip, or at the social security office, you’ll need to complete Form SS-5: Application for a Social Security Card. You’ll also need to bring the official original document or certified copies of each document proving the child’s:

  • Citizenship: A US birth certificate or US consular report of birth; a US passport; a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship.
  • Age: A US birth certificate or record from a US hospital; a US passport; or official documentation of the child’s birth outside the US.
  • Identity: Ideally, your child’s passport. Other forms of identification accepted may include a state-issued or school ID, a religious record, or an adoption decree.

Importantly, one single document can cover more than one criteria. For example, a birth certificate can prove citizenship and age. However, you must provide at least two documents, total.

You’ll also need to prove your own identity and relationship to the child.

For verification and your own documentation, your driver’s license or passport work best. However, if you can’t produce these, other documents like an employee or school ID and life or health insurance card may be accepted.

Now, what if it’s not a new baby social security card you’re worried about, but a replaced or corrected card for your child?

How to Replace or Correct Your Child’s Social Security Card

Social security cards are essential documents, so it’s important to keep them in a safe place to avoid losing them. However, things outside your control, like theft or natural disasters, could cause your card to be lost. In this case, you’ll want to report a lost social security card. On the other hand, you might need to correct your child’s social security card with an updated name or other change.

In either case, the process is similar to applying for a new card. You’ll need to go to your local social security office and bring the same paperwork listed above for a

For a correction, you’ll also need to document the legal name change with documentation like:

  • An adoption decree with the child’s new name
  • An amended birth certificate showing the new name
  • A court order approving the child’s change in name

Every person is eligible for ten replacement social security cards over the course of his or her life, with a maximum of three per calendar year. However, corrections do not count toward these totals. And the limit may not apply if you can prove that you will face dire consequences if you can’t get a replacement card.

Now you know all there is to know about how to get social security card for a baby and how simple it can be.

Simple Social Security With NotYourSocialSecurity

Here at NotYourSocialSecurity, we’re committed to making social security hassle-free and painless. From the birth of your child through the various stages of your kid’s life, we’re here to help you navigate social security and get the documentation you need.

Our other guides are here to inform you, empowering you to take your social security into your own hands. Wondering if you can order a new social security card online? With our online tools, we simplify the application process for you. Let us handle the process to cut down your time spent worrying.

With us, it’s social security made simple.


Social Security Administration. Form SS-5: Application for a Social Security Card.

Social Security Administration. How Do I Replace a Social Security Card For a Child?

Social Security Administration. How Long Does it Take to Get My Baby's Social Security Card that I Applied for in the Hospital?

Social Security Administration. Social Security Numbers for Children.