How to Update My SSN After Naturalization

Your social security number stays the same for your entire life.
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Standing under the Stars and Stripes, repeating the words "I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic" is the conclusion of a long, arduous journey to becoming an American citizen. The Immigration Act of 1965 grants all nationalities an opportunity to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. After the naturalization ceremony, you should update your social security card to reflect your full-fledged citizenship.

Check your social security card for the statement "Not valid for work without INS authorization." This statement appears on some social security cards issued to permanent residents. While this is not a deterrent to getting a job, it can elongate the process, putting off employers. After naturalization, you will receive a social security card without any restrictions.

Fill out the Application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5. You can print the form from the Social Security Administration's website, and fill it out beforehand. You will also need to bring your Naturalization of U.S. Citizen certificate which was presented to you after the ceremony. You should also bring along photo identification like a passport or driver's license. There is no fee for changing your social security card.

Read More: How to Order a Replacement Social Security Card Online

Travel to the nearest Social Security Administration office. The administration's website provides an office locator. Enter your zip code, and the site will list the nearest social security offices. The offices are notorious for long lines, so plan on spending a few hours waiting. The best time to visit the offices are either first thing in the morning, or later in the afternoon.

Check-in with the automated receptionist -- it looks like an ATM machine -- at the social security office. The automated receptionist will list multiple reasons why you are at the social security office. Select the one that states you are there for a new social security card. You will receive an alphanumeric ticket. Once your number is called, you will present your SS-5 to the social security representative. After confirming your information you will have to swear all information is correct. A receipt, along with your naturalization certificate and photo ID., will be given back to you.

Wait for your new social security card. The new card will be mailed to the address you provided on your application. Check the card to ensure no restrictions have been placed on it.


  • There is no difference between the social security number received when you were a permanent resident and the one you have when you become a naturalized citizen.
  • If the lines at the social security office are prohibitively long, ask the security guard when is the best time to return.

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