Whether you’re living overseas for military duty, work, or even if you’ve moved permanently, there may come a time when you need to get a new social security card. You may think it would be easier to simply order new social security card online, but there are some issues that will likely make that impossible. Instead, you’ll have to visit a US consulate or embassy, and take the necessary steps. Let’s go over what those steps are, and how you can get a new social security card when you’re living overseas.
Why You Can’t Order One Online
Ordering a social security card online is the fastest and easiest way to get a new one if you need it. However, there are a few rules that can make it impossible to use this method of you’re living overseas. The general rules are that you must be a US citizen over the age of 18, and have a US mailing address.
On the other hand, if you do still have a US mailing address, such as if you’re only overseas for temp work or military service, you may be tempted to use the online method and get a friend or relative to forward the mail over to you. This is a bad idea however, as sending sensitive information like your social security card through international mail can be risky business. Instead you’d be better off doing things the old fashioned way: visiting the office in person.
Visiting a Consulate or Embassy
When we say “visiting the office” we mean that you’ll have to physically go to the nearest US consulate or Embassy for help with your social security situation. Keep in mind that you want to go to a location that has a Federal Benefits Unit, or FBU as it is sometimes called. This is the office that will help you get a new social security card.
One thing to keep in mind however, is the fact that the FBU does not accept walk-ins. If you want them to help you, you’re going to have to set an appointment. This is actually a good thing, as it will encourage you to make sure that the embassy or consulate that you visit has an FBU in the first place. Wasting time showing up to one that doesn’t have one would be a pretty big waste of time after all.
Another benefit to making an appointment is the fact that the FBU will tell you what kind of paperwork you need in advance. This will help them to process your application. For a list of FBU offices that can help you with your social security card issue, take a look here: https://www.ssa.gov/foreign/foreign.htm.
What Happens at the FBU?
Once you arrive at the FBU a few things will happen. Firstly, they will check to make sure you have the paperwork that you were tasked to bring. If something is missing, they won’t be able to process your request so be sure not to leave anything out.
Once it is determined that you have all the right paperwork, and that your identity checks out, the FBU will begin processing your request for a new social security card by sending the info directly to the Social Security Administration. The processing itself is fairly quick, taking just minutes in many cases. However, the delivery of your card can take weeks, or longer in some cases, just depending on your specific circumstances.
Visiting a Consulate or Embassy Without an FBU
If the consulate or embassy nearest you doesn’t have an FBU, don’t worry, you’re not out of luck. However, there are a few key differences in how things will play out, so make sure you understand what you’ll need to do before visiting.
The first thing you must know is the fact that you should make an appointment, just like if you were visiting an FBU. The reason for this is to expedite the process, and to ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork.
This is doubly important because you will be speaking with a staffer, not an FBU representative, and they probably have less knowledge on what paperwork you actually need. If it turns out that you left something out, it could be overlooked until processing has already begun, and cause a lengthy delay. Also, be aware that the paperwork you need can vary depending on what country you’re in.
Once you have everything you need, the staffer will pass on your paperwork to the Social Security Administration. Everything should be fairly straightforward at that point, unless something is missing as stated earlier. If something is missing, you’ll be contacted and asked to provide the required information so that processing can continue.
Tracking Your Application
Waiting for a new social security card can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you need it as soon as possible. Fortunately there are ways to track the progress of your request to help ease your tension.
Just remember that you will likely need to visit a FBU office to track/expedite your request. This is because the FBU specializes in this sort of task, where as an embassy or consulate without one doesn’t. In some cases this can make visiting an FBU office a priority even if it’s further away than the closest embassy or consulate.
Regardless of which option you choose, you will want to ask for the number/contact info of the person handling your request. This will help you to track the progress and keep an eye on the situation. It will also let you have a means of providing additional information very quickly if you need to. Just remember that communicating via phone/email can take time as well if the office is busy.
Average Wait Times
While waiting for a new social security card can be a real pain, it is always good to know that your wait times typically fall within a certain range if you visit an FBU office. In most cases you can expect to wait several weeks, or several months for your request to be processed, and for your new card to be delivered. While this is a far cry from the two weeks that people living in the US go through, it’s not as bad as it seems.
On the other hand, if you visit a consulate or embassy without an FBU office, your wait time will most certainly be longer than it would be if you visit an FBU office. This will make it more important to keep track of your request, and to clear up any issues with is as soon as possible. The worst thing you can do is make a request at an embassy or consulate, and provide incomplete information. This will practically guarantee that your request will take months to complete.
Getting a New Card Fast and Easy
A lostsocial security card overseas can be stressful, but just know that getting a new one is a pretty straightforward and easy process. Just follow the steps in this guide, and let your consulate, embassy, or FBU office handle the rest. Just make sure you take the time to check over your paperwork, and get everything in order before submitting for processing. You don’t want to make your wait time even longer by leaving something out. Once you get everything sent off, all that’s left is to sit back and wait for your new card to arrive.
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