Instructions for a Beneficiary Leaving the U.S.

If you are a beneficiary planning to leave the U.S. to live abroad, you should report your change of address before you leave.  You should report the change in your home address even if your payments are being sent to a bank.

You may report your new address by calling SSA's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, or by getting in touch with the SSA Field Office nearest you.  We recommend that you also read the pamphlet: Social Security -- Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States, which explains how your benefits might be affected.  Among other things, the pamphlet explains the following:

  • How benefit payments are made outside the U.S., including countries in which direct deposit is available
  • Taxation of benefit payments
  • Conditions under which payment may be made to beneficiaries outside the U.S. who are not U.S. citizens
  • What you need to know about Medicare (Health services obtained outside the U.S. generally are not covered by Medicare)
  • How work outside the U.S. may affect your benefit payments
  • Events that must be reported by beneficiaries outside the U.S.
  • If You Need a Social Security Card

Generally, the only individuals outside the U.S. who are eligible to apply for an original or replacement Social Security card are U.S. citizens.  Noncitizens admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence or with other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to work in the U.S., can apply for their Social Security card after they are admitted in the U.S.  Further information is available in SSA Publication No. 05-10096 "Lawfully Admitted Aliens -- When You Need a Number and When You Don't" .  Otherwise, we can assign you a number or issue a duplicate or corrected card only if a Social Security card is required by law as a condition of receiving a federally-funded benefit to which you have an established entitlement.

An in-person interview must be conducted if the applicant is age 12 or older and is applying for an original number.  In addition, U.S. born applicants age 12 or older must explain why they do not already have a Social Security number and provide appropriate supporting documentation.

If you need a card and are eligible to apply for one, you may obtain an application at any American Embassy or Consulate.  Individuals in the U.S. military may obtain an application from the Post Adjutant or Personnel Office.

You also can access an "Application for a Social Security Card - (SS-5-FS)" on this Internet site.

As a result of a special arrangement between SSA and the Department of State, a parent who completes an "Application For Consular Report of Birth of a Citizen of The United States of America" completes at the same time an "Application For Social Security Number Card."  When the report of birth application is approved, the American Embassy or Consulate sends the application for a Social Security card to the Office of International Operations (OIO) for processing.  It is not necessary for the parent to complete a separate application.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will issue an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) to nonresident aliens (such as spouses or dependents of U.S. taxpayers) who need a number for tax purposes, but are not eligible to have a Social Security number.  An application Form W-7 may be requested from an American Embassy or Consulate or by writing to: IRS, Philadelphia Service Center, ITIN Unit, P.O. Box 447, Bensalem, Pennsylvania 19020. You may also download IRS Form W-7 from their web site: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7.pdf.