1. I am in the process of renouncing my American citizenship.Born in USA but came to Europe at age 18 & have lived here for 50 years.
  2. For renunciation to go through I have to file 5 yrs back tax.
  3. To file taxes I need a social security number. I have no card but I believe I may have had one when I graduated HS.
  4. To get a replacement SS number requires American ID. I have no American ID. [I handed in my passport to the American Embassy when I renounced earlier this year. The SSA does not apparently accept PDFs.] I have TONS of UK ID.
  5. Also it seems that to get a SSN or replacement I need to be in America. This is expensive as well as inconvenient.
  6. I have asked the American Embassy for advice but they refer me to the IRS/SSA. Any ideas?
  • That is a nice catch-22...
    – StrongBad
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 15:33
  • I tried ringing the Embassy but they only have a recorded answer that does not cover my problem. I tried emailing but they email back a blanket answer saying fill in form SS5 – which is the form which requires American ID.I want to shoot myself. Commented May 12, 2016 at 12:27
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    Maybe you can file a freedom of information request to find out whether you ever had a SSN. If you haven't, then apply for an ITIN as suggested by Dorothy. You might try getting help from your congressional representative's office; your congressional representative would be the one in whose district your last US address is. That may be a long shot for someone in your circumstances, especially if your renunciation has already taken effect, but at this point it might be worth a try.
    – phoog
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 4:14
  • I think you are misreading the SS-5 instructions; it says American ID is preferred, not that it is required. When I applied for a new SSN using that form I had no US ID at all beyond a paper I-94 stapled into my foreign passport. Your birth certificate, UK passport and renunciation paperwork should be quite sufficient to identify you and your immigration status. Fill it out and send it. Save the "shoot yourself" part for when you have to fill out 5 years of tax returns.
    – Dennis
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 13:49

3 Answers 3


Finally found the answer! There exits a top secret Federal Benefits Unit which operates at the American Embassy in London (I live in the UK.). Took me weeks to find them but they have been helpful. They have discovered that I was issued with a SS Number in 1963 and, more unbelievably, will accept my UK passport as ID!

Email them at [email protected] They apparently can't afford a telephone. Thanks to everyone who tried to help. Kind regards, Virginia Slim


The SSA has offices in US embassies. The list here has a phone number and email address for the London embassy unit. I think a US birth certificate and UK ID matching the name should be sufficient to identify you, particularly if you also have expatriation paperwork. If you finished high school in the US you almost certainly have a number already and just need someone to tell you what it is. I would hope that if you call the SSA office in the embassy they'll be more helpful than the state department was.

  • 1
    Someone who finished high school 50 years ago without ever having a job will most likely not have a number. That was true even as recently as 35 years ago.
    – phoog
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 14:09
  • 1
  • There's no mention of the level of participation in that program. Since US schools are administered locally, I suppose that the rate could have been anywhere between 1% and 99%. I do know for certain that I was not granted my number through that program, nor did I receive it until after I finished ninth grade, and that was indeed 35 years ago.
    – phoog
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 3:54
  • Also, someone who is 68 probably was in ninth grade 54 years ago, which would be the academic year of 1961-62.
    – phoog
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 4:12
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    I only take issue with the "without ever having a job will most likely" comment. By the mid-60's there were quite a few non-job-related reasons for an SSN: some high schools required them, it became a requirement for driver's licenses in some states, draft registration began asking for them at some point, many universities wanted them. I think many people would aspire to a job or university (or both) after high school and get an SSN just to have it. If you'd said it was possible to finish high school without one I'd agree, but I think the "most likely" assertion is very hard to support.
    – Dennis
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 15:01

Since you've already renounced citizenship and surrendered your passport, you may be able to resolve the issue by applying to the IRS for an Individual Tax Identification Number, as a non-resident alien who is required to file US taxes. https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/General-ITIN-Information

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