In the United States, a picture ID is required for a number of things, including purchases of products that are age-restricted. You also need to present a picture ID to do things like rent a vehicle or enter into certain other contractual agreements. Although identification with your picture on it is generally accepted when conducting financial transactions, these forms of identification don’t prove citizenship in the United States.

When it comes to proving citizenship, a social security card is still considered to be the standard. When someone receives citizenship in the United States, either through birth or through naturalization, that person is issued a social security number by the Social Security Administration. Along with the social security number, a card is issued to each citizen that acts as an official document proving that the cardholder is a citizen and is entitled to all of the rights granted to citizens of the United States. Take note, however, that non-citizens can receive other types of official identification registering their status with the government, but this does not grant actual citizenship.

What Does the Social Security Card Look Like?

A social security card is roughly the size of a business card and measures 2.5” by 3.8.” The card is blue and white in color and includes the card holder’s social security number and name. The top of the card includes the words “Social Security” printed horizontally, and a column graphic is included on the left and right of the card’s edges. The back of the card includes information about the card and contact information for the Social Security Administration (SSA) should the card be found by someone else.

Security Features Included

Social Security cards include a variety of security features that are meant to not only prove authenticity, but also to prevent forgery. According to the SSA, cards include color-shifting ink that is virtually impossible to reproduce without access to specific printing materials and technology. Additionally, a fluorescent red number is printed on the back of each card that is unique to the card itself. Each card also includes an anti-copy pattern that is not discernible to the naked eye, but it does become apparent if the card is photocopied or scanned and printed

On top of that, Social Security cards are comprised of special fibers intertwined with paper products. Much like a dollar bill, this blend of fibers makes it very difficult to accurately reproduce the feel and texture of a Social Security card. Counterfeit cards will typically be easy to identify simply based on the texture of the material upon which information is printed.

Not Valid Without Your Signature

The social security card also includes a signature line on the front that is used by the cardholder to add his or her signed name. If a social security card is not signed by the citizen to whom it is issued, the card is not considered a valid form of identification. This obviously is not the case when using a Social Security card to identify a minor, but all adult citizens need to sign their own cards on the provided line. When you sign your card, it’s important to make your signature legible in case it ever gets called into question, but your signature should also be unique to make it harder to forge.

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