A social security number isn’t something that your baby is automatically given when he or she is born. It’s possible to opt out of a social security number. Some websites will tell you that this is a great idea to protect your baby’s privacy. Those sites are dumb.
Not to be too judgy, but your baby needs a social security number to be a functioning part of society. Without one, they’ll have trouble getting a job, getting insurance, opening a bank account, getting a credit card… all the basic things that adults need.
That said, if you haven’t opted out, you might still find yourself without a social security number for your baby for a number of reasons. Perhaps, for example, you didn’t have your baby in a hospital, so you need to go to a social security office to apply. Or maybe you adopted a child from outside of the US, and they don’t have a social security card just yet.
Whatever your situation may be, your baby does not need a social security number to get a passport (and neither do you, for that matter). However, if your baby (or whomever the applicant is) has a social security number, US Government regulations 22 U.S.C. 2714a and 22 C.F.R 51.60(f) requires you to provide your Social Security number, if you have one, when you apply for a U.S. passport or renewal of a U.S. passport. If you fail to provide the information, you will encounter a delay in processing and/or denial of your passport application. You will also be subject to a $500 penalty enforced by the IRS pursuant to Section 6039E of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6039E). All questions on this this penalty should be directed to your nearest IRS office.
If you would like to apply for a U.S. passport, and your child (or whomever the applicant is) doesn’t have a Social Security number, you will need to submit a statement, signed and dated, which includes the phrase, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: I have never been issued a Social Security number by the Social Security Administration.”
On passport application form DS-11, box #5 asks for the social security number. If you have one, you must put it here. If you or the baby you’re filling the application out for don’t have a social security number, simply put zeros in each of the nine spaces. This won’t stop you from getting your passports unless you the applicant actually has a Social Security Number.
If we’ve convinced you that your baby should have a social security number, you can download the application here and mail it in to the Social Security Administration. The process takes up to twelve weeks because your baby’s birth record will need to be verified.
Seriously, get your child a social security number. Yes, it puts them “on the grid,” but unless you plan on living out your days in a shack in the woods, they’re going to be on the grid in a lot of other ways (like if you get a passport for baby). Plus, without a social security number they won’t be able to get a job or rent an apartment. It’s pretty much essential to adult life in the US, and it’s much harder to get a social security number as an adult. So, fill out the application today. Your baby will thank you later!