Login Identity Protection Build Credit Pricing Employers Support Schools Parents PTAs PTOs and Education Foundations  Superintendents, Business Officers, and School Boards Resources About Us Contact Us Education Center Press Releases In the News FAQ
Resources > Education Center > How To Get a Social Security Number for a Child Born Abroad—A Step-by-Step Guide

How To Get a Social Security Number for a Child Born Abroad—A Step-by-Step Guide

Getting a Social Security number (SSN) for a child born abroad is a crucial step towards ensuring they can access benefits and services in the United States. Although the process isn’t overly complicated, there are multiple steps involved in applying for an SSN for a child born outside the U.S.

If you’re a parent living outside the country and wondering how to get a Social Security number for a child born abroad, worry no more—our comprehensive guide will show you how to apply for an SSN for your foreign-born child. We’ll also discuss the best practices for safeguarding your child’s SSN and monitoring their credit information.

Can You Get a Social Security Number for a Child Born Abroad?

Yes, you can obtain an SSN for a child born outside the U.S. The process is similar to applying for an SSN for a child born in America, which entails submitting the original documents proving:

  • Child’s age
  • Child’s U.S. citizenship
  • Child’s identity
  • Identity of the parent making the application

Aside from these, you’ll need to provide additional documentation for children born abroad. This may include visas, foreign adoption records, or any other relevant records specific to your situation. You can apply for an SSN for your child at any Social Security Administration (SSA) office or the U.S. Embassy.

Steps To Apply for an SSN for a Child Born Abroad

To ensure a smooth process when applying for an SSN for your child born outside the U.S., it’s important to follow these steps:

  1. Research and gather the required documents
  2. Complete the application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5)
  3. Submit the application and supporting documents
  4. Follow up on application status

Research and Gather the Required Documents

Before you begin the application process, make sure you have all the required documents. It’s crucial to have certified copies of the following:

  • Your child’s birth certificate or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)—The CRBA serves as proof of your child’s U.S. citizenship. It can be obtained from the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the country of birth
  • Your child’s U.S. Passport—This document serves both as proof of your child’s identity and their U.S. citizenship
  •  Your SSN—Providing your SSN will assist the Social Security Administration (SSA) in processing the application and linking your child’s records to yours

Complete the Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5)

Download Form SS-5 from SSA’s website and fill it out carefully. The application includes information such as your child’s name, date of birth, and place of birth. It’s essential to ensure that all information matches the details you’ve provided in the supporting documents to avoid potential delays or complications.

Submit the Application and Supporting Documents

Send the completed Form SS-5 along with certified copies of the required documents to the U.S. Embassy or consulate by mail so they can verify their authenticity. Make sure to keep copies of all the documents you submit—this will both serve as a backup in case of any discrepancies and make your record-keeping easier.

Follow Up on Your Application Status

Stay proactive by periodically contacting the U.S. Embassy or consulate where you submitted your application. They’ll be able to give updates on your application status and provide guidance if any further steps are required. The processing time can vary, so it’s important to remain patient. If it seems like your application is taking longer than expected, you can reach out to the embassy, the consulate, or the SSA for assistance.

Why Do Children Living Abroad Need a Social Security Number?

An SSN is primarily known as a means of identification for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Children living abroad require an SSN at an early age so that they don’t have to apply for it later. While it’s widely understood that a person’s SSN plays a role in employment, taxes, and accessing government services within the U.S., it also holds significance for U.S. citizen children residing overseas. Obtaining an SSN for a child in a foreign country is important because it enables you to:

  1. Open a bank account for the child
  2. Get your child medical coverage
  3. Apply for government services for the child
  4. Buy your child savings bonds 

Opening a Bank Account for a Child

Banking institutions typically require an SSN to open an account, so your child will need to have one if you’re planning on opening one in their name in the U.S. This unique number assists banks in verifying the account holder’s identity and prevents fraudulent accounts from being opened under their name.

An SSN also plays a role in building your child’s creditworthiness. Having an SSN that would be tied to a bank account based in the U.S. can aid in establishing their credit history at an early stage.

Getting Your Child Medical Coverage

In the U.S., securing medical coverage for your child typically requires you to provide an SSN so that insurance companies can verify the identities of both policyholders and beneficiaries. Some U.S. citizens residing abroad may have jobs that offer U.S.-based health benefits. To access these benefits for their dependents, companies or insurance providers may require the SSN of the child.

Applying for Government Services for the Child

Many U.S. government programs or benefits for those living abroad may necessitate the provision of an SSN. Examples include federal educational assistance and certain welfare programs. If a child with U.S. citizenship ever needs to make use of the rights or services provided by the U.S. government, like FAFSA loans for college, possessing an SSN can simplify the process of verification and facilitate access.

Buying Your Child Savings Bonds

U.S. savings bonds are popular and secure investment tools that parents often get for their children as a gift. To acquire these bonds, the U.S. Department of Treasury generally requires both parties to have SSNs. If you intend to buy savings bonds under your child’s name, they must possess an SSN.

Since the interest earned from U.S. savings bonds is subject to taxes, the SSN helps with keeping track of and reporting this interest, ensuring compliance with U.S. tax laws.

How To Protect Your Foreign-Born Child’s SSN

After obtaining an SSN for your child born abroad, you need to stay vigilant to protect them from identity thieves. Children are especially vulnerable to SSN theft because they may not be aware of the risks or ways to protect themselves. Additionally, their SSNs can often be used for opening bank accounts or applying for credit cards due to their clean credit history, which makes them more attractive to identity thieves.

Prior to 2011, SSNs were tied to geological location and birthdate. In 2011, the Social Security Administration began randomizing the numbers, which made it more complicated to ensure it was being used by the correct recipient, increasing the risk of identity theft in that respect.

Safety Measures for Protecting Your Child’s SSN

Here are some responsible measures you can take to ensure the safety of your child’s SSN:

Protection MeasureDescription
Limit sharingOnly share your child’s SSN when necessary. Some institutions like schools may ask for it during registration, but it’s important to inquire why they need it, how they’ll use it, and what security measures are in place
Store securelyKeep your child’s Social Security card in a safe or lockbox. Avoid carrying it with you or allowing your child to carry it unless required
Monitor mailPay attention to any mail addressed to your child. Credit card offers or bills in their name could be an indication of identity theft
Protect digital dataIf you store the SSN digitally, ensure that your devices have strong passwords and up-to-date security software
Shred documentsWhen discarding paperwork containing your child’s SSN, make sure to shred it to prevent access
Educate your childTeach your child about the significance of their SSN as they get older. Emphasize the importance of not sharing this information and being cautious about scams, particularly online
Regularly check credit reportsMake it a habit to regularly review your child’s credit reports. This can help identify any suspicious activities associated with their SSN

While necessary, protecting your child’s information on your own takes a lot of effort. If you need a hand in safeguarding your child’s private data, FreeKick can help.

FreeKick—Parent-Sponsored ID Monitoring and Credit Profile Building

FreeKick is an FDIC-insured deposit account that comes with identity protection services for your family and helps your child establish their creditworthiness. Good credit can save your child $200,000 over their lifetime.

FreeKick’s Identity Monitoring Services (Coming Soon)

With FreeKick, your and your child’s private information will be safeguarded from the rapidly growing identity theft cases through a range of features. Every 30 seconds, a child’s identity is stolen—don’t let yours become a statistic.

Identity protection features for adult children and parents include:

  • Credit profile monitoring
  • Social Security number monitoring
  • Dark Web monitoring for personal information
  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
  • Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration 
  • Lost wallet protection
  • Court records monitoring
  • Change of address monitoring
  • Non-Credit (Payday) loan monitoring
  • Free FICO® Score monthly
  • FICO® Score factors
  • Experian credit report monthly

For protecting the identities of your minor children, FreeKick offers the following features:

  • Credit profile monitoring 
  • Social Security number monitoring 
  • Dark Web monitoring for child’s personal information 
  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance 
  • Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration 
  • Sex offender monitoring—based on sponsor parent’s address

Keep in mind that you can protect yourself, your spouse, and up to six children aged from 0 to 25.

Parent-Sponsored Credit-Building for Your Child’s Brighter Future

Building a credit profile early in life can be incredibly beneficial—it gives your child plenty of opportunities to improve their credit score and enjoy the advantages it brings. Here’s how FreeKick builds your child’s credit profile in three steps:

  1. Create an Account—Visit FreeKick.bank, choose a plan based on the deposit options offered, and activate your account by choosing the Activate Credit Building option in your profile dashboard
  2. Set It and Forget It—Once your account is activated, FreeKick creates a 12-month credit history for your child. This is achieved through a zero-interest credit-builder loan that gets repaid using the deposit
  3. Keep Growing—After 12 months, you can choose to renew your account or close it and receive a full refund of your deposit

If your child is a legal adult, credit reporting will start within 90 days of opening the account. If they are a minor, they can activate credit reporting once they turn 18 (19 in Alabama) by selecting Activate Credit Reporting.

FreeKick Has a Plan for Every Budget

With FreeKick, you can use the savings you already have for your children to protect them and build their credit, or get started with just a $10 deposit and a small annual fee.

Every plan includes premium identity protection for two parents and up to six children and credit building for up to six children aged 14 to 25:

FDIC-Insured Deposit AmountAnnual Fee
$3,000$0 (Free)

Don’t miss out on safeguarding your child’s identity and setting the financial foundation they deserve. Take the first step—join FreeKick today.