I was born in the U.S. to non-american parents. We moved out of the country a year later and never returned to the U.S.

About 20 years later, I applied for a new passport from the consulate in my country and told them I have no Social Security Number (SSN) and swore under oath. A few weeks later I got my passport.

Now I am scared because my parents might have gotten me an SSN when I was born but they don't remember. I just found out now that I can give my info to the Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) serving my country (this happens to be in the embassy of another country for my case) and figure out if I ever had one.

I also need to get a SSN to open a bank account (even in my country), get a job, etc.

But I'm scared either option might get me into trouble if I did indeed have a Social Security Number.

  • At least s edited, this is asking what the law requires, and is not a request for specific legal advice (RSLA) and should not be closed as such. Mar 7, 2022 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


You have not committed a crime or a violation of non-criminal law when you swear something under oath believing in good faith that what you are saying is true, and you are mistaken. The law does not expect omniscience.

Also, making a false statement under oath is only sanctionable if you make a false statement of a "material fact." Whether or not you have a Social Security number is not a "material fact" in the context of a passport application where the material facts are that you are the same person as the person described in your birth certificate, that the parents there are to the best of your knowledge your parents, that the birth certificate is authentic, and that you have not renounced U.S. citizenship. The question about a Social Security number is there for administrative convenience, not to make any determination about your right to a passport.

You should apply for a Social Security number. If you already have one, your actions consistent with not having one will only corroborate the fact that you were ignorant of that fact when you applied for a passport, and you will have your existing Social Security number provided to you.

As a practical matter it is unlikely that you have one. There are no forms that your non-U.S. parents would have to be filled out that would have required one, and you know that you haven't applied for one in the past. Before Social Security numbers of dependents were required on U.S. tax forms, most people didn't get Social Security numbers until they got their first job.

  • 1
    Thank you. I don't know if this is relevant, but I only had a copy of my birth certificate. Also my previous passport was really old (my photo as a baby) so they asked for photos from my childhood to see the progression. So it is better to just apply for an SSN than to ask if I ever had one at this point?
    – QrowFan
    Mar 7, 2022 at 19:04
  • 1
    @QrowFan I would just apply for one. In all likelihood, no harm will be done if you are mistaken.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 7, 2022 at 19:06

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