How to Get a Social Security Card for a Newborn

Updated on June 19, 2023
At a Glance: Obtaining a social security number (SSN) for a newborn baby offers various benefits, including tax breaks, access to government benefits, and the ability to set up college savings and health insurance. Applying for an SSN is a straightforward process that involves completing the birth registration form and providing necessary documents, such as the baby’s birth certificate and the parents’ SSNs. The application can be done at the hospital or through the local Social Security Administration. After applying, it typically takes 6-12 weeks to receive the SSN. Applying for an SSN when adopting follows a similar process, depending on the child’s citizenship status and the stage of adoption.

Having a social security number in the U.S. is mandatory, whether you are a child who is still in school or an adult with a stable income and your own house. That being said, if you have a newborn baby, you will have to go through the process of applying for an SSN for your child.

The SSN is very important, and you cannot just skip the process of getting one. So, how do you apply for a social security card for a newborn and why is it so important?

Social Security Number (SSN) for Newborn Babies

Social security numbers represent a way for the government to identify a person. Therefore, a social security number can also be used to identify a child, even a newborn baby. Moreover, getting the number comes with various benefits.

For example, with an SSN, you will be able to get some tax breaks related to your children, like the child tax credit and the dependent exemption on the taxes of your income. Besides, with the SSN, you will also be able to start setting up college savings, add the baby to a health insurance plan, or even apply for particular government benefits that could aid your baby in the future.

Thus, getting the SSN is necessary, especially considering the little one is dependent on you. Fortunately, it is very easy to apply for one. As long as you gather the right documents and prove the identity of the baby, as well as your identity, you will be able to get it.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number

In order to get a social security card for a newborn baby, you may want to start by completing a birth registration form. It is the easiest way to start the application. This is done by checking a box on the birth registration form that requests an SSN for the baby. There is also one more requirement: both you and the other parent of the child will have to provide your Social Security Numbers.

If you or your spouse gave birth to the little one in a hospital, you are lucky. Most hospitals help distribute the birth registration form and keep the SSN process going smoothly. While the mother is still a patient in the hospital, she will get to complete the birth registration over there.

However, there is also the possibility of you delivering the baby somewhere else for various reasons. In this case, the birth registration process is a bit different. You will have to go to the local Social Security Administration after the baby is born and ask for a number there. Also, you will have to do a few things to ensure the process is successful:

  1. Complete the SS-5 Form – You will have to complete form SS-5, the Application for Social Security Number, and offer the Social Security numbers of both parents on this form. You can do it faster by going to the SSA website and completing the form there.
  2. Offer Documents for Evidence – The next step would be offering at least two documents that show evidence of your baby’s citizenship status, identity, and age. One of these documents should be the birth certificate of the child. Then, the other document may be the hospital birth record of the baby or a different form of medical record.
  3. Offer Proof of Identity – Now, you have to show proof of your own identity. Forms that are accepted for this task are the passport and driver’s license.

If you have to go through this whole process, you may want to look for the closest SSA office on the SSA’s Office Locator and see where you can go. However, you can also send them the completed Form SS-5 with the rest of the identification documents if this is easier for you. Usually, people go to an office to apply in person, considering the process requires using certified copies or originals of all the identification documents necessary.

After completing the application process, the waiting game starts. It generally takes between 6 and 12 weeks to receive the Social Security card. Nevertheless, if the child is one year old or older, the process may be extended, mainly because the SSA will have to contact the department of vital statistics in your state. After all, they need to make sure you have given them a valid birth certificate.

Tips for Applying for an SSN for a Newborn

Are you having a baby soon and you’re thinking about getting a social security card? Here are some tips you should keep in mind:

  • You will have to fill a document that requests the birth certificate of the newborn baby at the hospital. In this form, you will have the option to apply for an SSN for the baby too. If you write “Yes”, it is necessary to offer the SSNs of both parents. You can also still apply for the child’s SSN if one parent has the SSN while the other doesn’t. When it’s ready, the baby’s SSN will be sent by mail.
  • It is voluntary to apply for an SSN for a newborn baby.
  • It is better to apply for the SSN when the baby is born because the hospital will handle everything.
  • Go to to find out the closest Social Security office.
  • Complete Form SS-5 if you only file for the SSN later. Also, provide proof of your identity, proof of the baby’s identity, age and citizenship, and a copy of the birth record.
  • Applying for the SSN is completely free.

Applying for an SSN when Adopting

Even if you adopt a child, you may still have to go through the social security card application process, but it all depends on the situation. For example, if the child you wish to adopt is a U.S. citizen already, they may have an SSN, so you won’t have to go through the trouble. If you are adopting domestically instead, and you find out that your child doesn’t have the SSN, you can get an ATIN or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number. This will allow you to claim the child-related tax breaks during the pending adoption of the child.

The IRS Form W-8A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions is necessary. Keep in mind that the ATIN will have a 2-year validity, after which you can extend it if the child adoption was not finalized. The ATIN can stop being used once the adoption is final. Then, you can use the typical process for applying for a Social Security number.

Also, if you wish to adopt a child from a different country, it is better to wait until the finalization of the adoption and the child’s entrance into the U.S. to get an SSN. Once again, you will have to follow the same application process in this situation.

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As you can see, applying for an SSN for your newborn baby is not that difficult, so make sure you do it as soon as you can. Doing so can bring many benefits for both the parents and the baby.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.