HomeResourcesHow to get a Social Security card
June 13th 2019

How to get a Social Security card

If you've never heard of a Social Security card, don't worry—we'll walk you through why and how you should get one.

Nova Credit is a cross-border credit bureau that allows newcomers to apply for U.S. credit cards, phone plans, and loans using their foreign credit history.

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Karina Parikh
Content and Public Relations Professional

In order to get your financial life set up in the States, there's one thing that you'll need first: a Social Security card.

If you've never heard of a Social Security card or Social Security number before, don't worry—we'll walk you through why and how you should get one below.

What is a Social Security Number?

Social Security is a federal insurance program to help those who are retired, unemployed, or disabled. A Social Security card contains a Social Security number (SSN), a unique nine-digit number that every U.S. citizen (or eligible U.S. resident who applies for one) receives from the U.S. government.

Your Social Security number helps the U.S. government keep proper track of the amount of years you've worked and how much money you've earned to determine if you are eligible for Social Security benefits. 

Whenever you apply for a new job, your employer will ask you for your Social Security number in order to report your income figure and Social Security wages to two government agencies: the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and the SSA (Social Security Administration).

Your Social Security Number (SSN) can also help you unlock a variety of other essential products and services in the U.S. While it is possible to get a credit card without an SSN, for instance, an SSN will give you access to more credit card options with better benefits.

Having a Social Security number will also help you get a driver's license, apply for a federal student loan, apply for a U.S. passport, and fill out your tax returns, among other things. 

In other words, getting a Social Security card is a must if you want to properly settle down in the U.S. and enjoy all that American life has to offer.

How to Get a New Social Security card

Generally speaking, you should apply for a Social Security card at your nearest Social Security office

To apply for an original social security card, you must provide at least two documents to prove age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or current lawful, work-authorized immigration status. If you are not a U.S. citizen and do not have DHS work authorization, you must prove that you have a valid non-work reason for requesting a card.

To apply for a replacement social security card, you may be able to apply online if you know your social security number.

For detailed information on the requirements and application process for different ages and immigration statuses, please visit the Social Security Administration website.

Download Your SS-5 form

The Form SS-5, which you can download here, lists all of the documents that you will need in order to successfully obtain a Social Security card. 

This includes:

  • Proof of age: through religious record, birth certificate, passport, or final adoption decree

  • Proof of identity: For U.S. citizens, this could be through ID cards, drivers license, Medicare cards, passports, and employee ID cards, to name a few. For non-U.S. citizens, you can provide your current U.S. immigration documents and your foreign passport.

  • Proof of immigration status: including Form I-551, I-94, or I-766. For students or exchange visitors, additional documentation may be required, including a letter that authorizes employment from your school or employer (F-1 or J-1).

One important thing to note is that you cannot bring copies of documents—only the original documents!

After you fill out Form SS-5 and have your other documentation in order, you can bring them to your nearest Social Security office to apply for your new Social Security card!

The takeaway

Once you receive your new card, it will be easier than ever to settle into life in the U.S. You'll be able to open up a bank account, apply easier for a credit card, get your driver's license, and enjoy your experience in the U.S. to the fullest!

In the U.S., accessing many of these essential services like credit cards, apartment rentals, and even internet plans also requires that you have a good U.S. credit score. Fortunately, you can use Nova Credit to use your foreign credit history from certain countries to apply for a variety of products and services from our partners. 

This means that you can apply for great credit cards, phone plans, and more from using your hard-earned credit history from back home—rather than needing to start from scratch. If you are approved for these products and manage them responsibly, you will start to quickly build a U.S. credit history.

Recently moved to the U.S.?

Put your foreign credit score to work in the United States

Check if you're eligible to use your foreign credit history to apply for a U.S. credit card.

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