Social Security Number and Card

What is a Social Security Number?

A Social Security number (SSN) is a unique identifier issued by the Social Security Administration. You need an SSN to work, and it’s used to determine your eligibility for Social Security benefits and certain government services.

Why might you need one?

Many financial institutions, such as banks and credit companies, also ask for your number when you open an account. If you are a noncitizen with permission to work in the United States, you may also need an SSN. For more information please see, Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens.

Answer a few questions and we’ll tell you the best way to apply.

  • Request a copy of a lost, stolen, or damaged card
  • Update or correct your personal information (e.g. name, citizenship, sex identification, date of birth)
  • Request a Social Security Number for the first time


See what card services you can do online

Applying online is the fastest way to obtain a Social Security card. Answer a few questions to see if you can complete your request online, or if you need to finish part or all of your request in-person. Either way, you’ll receive your Social Security card in the mail within 14 days after your application is completed.

Social Security Number Services are Always Free

Some businesses offer Social Security name changes or cards for a fee. Social Security provides those services and more for free. Social Security is the best place to get information about Social Security.

Replace Card

If you lost your card, you may not need a replacement. In most cases, simply knowing your SSN is enough. But if you do need a replacement, we make it easy. Once you complete your application (online or in person), you will receive your Social Security card in the mail.

Request Number for the First Time

To obtain an SSN for the first time, you’ll need to submit an application and show us original documents (or copies certified by the issuing agencies). You can begin your application online, but you will need to visit a local Social Security office or card center to complete the application process.

Make Changes to Your Record

Changing your name or updating an incorrect birthdate, your sex identification, or your citizenship or legal status is always free. To make changes, you’ll need to request a replacement Social Security card. Depending on the change, your application may be completed either online or in person.