In my previous post, I wrote about our successful application for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and US passport at the US Embassy in Manila for our infant child. With CRBA and passport in hand, my husband and I then applied for our child’s Social Security number (SSN).
The process was quick and easy, because unlike in some other countries, the US Embassy in the Philippines has a Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) onsite that provides Social Security services. Personal appearance is also not required for children under 12 years old.
1. Prepare the requirements
Present the original documents. There is no need to photocopy them; the FBU personnel will make the copies themselves.
- Child’s Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)
- Child’s unexpired US passport
- Unexpired passport of the parent who will sign the application
- Application for a Social Security Card. There are two forms available; fill up and sign only one. Both are fillable PDF files, so type in your answers before printing your preferred form on US Letter (8.5″ x 11″) paper. There is no need to print out the first few pages of instructions; just the last page (the actual form) will do.
2. Go to the embassy
The FBU is open on weekdays (except during US and Philippine holidays) from 8 am to 3 pm. There is no need for an appointment. A few tips:
- Arrive before 1 pm. The FBU staff can only access the system until 1 pm. If you arrive well before that, they can process your application immediately and have the SSN ready the next business day. If you arrive after 1 pm, they will still accept your application, but will process it the next business day.
- Leave electronic devices behind. Cellphones and the like are not allowed inside the embassy.
3. Wait for the card to arrive
A week after we submitted our application, the Social Security card arrived in the mail in the US. If you choose to have it delivered to the Philippines, don’t fret — although you may have to wait for up to five months for the physical card, the actual number will be available within two business days.
If you want to know the SSN right away, provide the FBU staff with your local mobile number. They cannot divulge it over the phone for privacy and security reasons, but they will call to inform you if the SSN is already available. The parent who signed the application form can simply present his/her valid passport and the child’s valid US passport to the FBU to get the SSN.