Many important documents in your life are already laminated or have a protective, glossy finish on them. Think about your driver’s license, Medicare card, credit card, or passport, for instance. These documents are more durable and sturdy than a simple piece of paper. However, your Social Security card is simply printed on paper without any protection on it. So, you might be wondering whether you can laminate it to provide some extra protection. This could help prevent it from damage like tears or stains. But can you laminate your Social Security card, and is it even legal? Keep reading as we give you all the details you need to know when considering lamination for your Social Security card.
Can You Laminate A Social Security Card?
The short answer is yes; you can laminate a Social Security card. However, the Social Security Administration recommends that you do not laminate your card. You will find that instruction on SSA.gov as well as the back of the card itself. The reason that the SSA instructs you not to laminate your card is because of a few things. The biggest reason is the fact that your card contains important security features that can be lost once the card is laminated. These include the anti-copy pattern on the card and the banknote paper on which it is produced. Once laminated, it can be almost impossible to detect these important security features.
Since your Social Security number and card are extremely important and confidential, you should not risk losing those security features. A laminated Social Security card might not be accepted as genuine when you attempt to use the card for identification purposes. Since counterfeiting is a big problem, you want to avoid anything that might call into question the authenticity of your card. This could be a problem when you start a new job and need to present your card for identity verification purposes. Your new employer might not consider a laminated card to be a valid form of identification, and that could cause big problems.
Is It Illegal To Laminate A Social Security Card?
While it is not recommended, it is also not illegal to laminate your Social Security card. The Social Security office is not going to ask the police to come and arrest you if you have already laminated your card. The recommendation from the Social Security Administration is just that — a recommendation. There is no law that prohibits you from laminating your card, and some people still choose to do it against the advice of the SSA.
If you have already laminated your card, you do not have to worry about any criminal penalties. However, you might decide that you want to remove the lamination from the card. There are a few ways that you can do this, but using heat seems to produce the best results. It can be a tedious process, and you should perform the task very delicately so that you do not damage your card in the process. If you do, then you might find yourself needing to request a replacement Social Security card.
Alternative Methods For Protecting Your Social Security Card
So, how can you protect your Social Security number and card if you can’t laminate it? There are many alternatives to protecting your card without lamination. First, you should consider keeping the card in a safe place at your home and not carrying it with you unless you need it for a specific reason. Carrying your card all the time only increases the odds that your card gets lost, stolen, or damaged. When you need the card, like when you start a new job, then you can carry it and return it to a safe place when you are done.
A great option for protecting your card when carrying it is by using a plastic sleeve. Simple baseball card sleeves can be purchased at a very low cost on Amazon, and they can provide great protection for your card. A removable plastic case provides even more protection, and you can simply slide your original card into the case for protection. The card can be easily removed and verified as an original document when the time comes. These plastic sleeves do not interfere with the copy-proof background or other security features designed to prevent scammers from copying Social Security cards and your SSN.
How To Protect All Your Important Documents
More than likely, you have other important documents besides just a Social Security card. This could be a birth certificate, passport, or one of many other documents that you might need to protect and store. While laminating documents can sometimes be a good way to protect them, most of these documents should not be laminated. Here are a few tips for protecting them.
First, make sure that you keep them in a safe and secure location. Ideally, this would be your home, as other locations like a storage unit could be more subject to theft or damage. You might also consider a safe deposit box at your local bank. Keep the documents in a locked safe inside your home — preferably one that is waterproof and fireproof. Do not carry these essential documents with you all the time, as this increases the likelihood of losing one and becoming subject to identity theft. Only remove these documents from storage when necessary for identity verification or some other purpose.
The Bottom Line
Though it is not illegal to laminate your Social Security card, the Social Security Administration advises against lamination. By laminating the card, you run the risk of ruining certain security features that are included on the card. This might mean that your card could be considered a counterfeit when you present it as identification. Instead, place your card into a plastic sleeve for protection and keep it stored in a safe place when not in use.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the thickness of a laminated social security card?
There is no standard thickness for a laminated Social Security card. In fact, the Social Security Administration recommends that you do not laminate your card. If you decide to do so anyway, then the thickness will depend on the specific lamination method that you choose.
What should I do if I lost my Social Security card?
If you lose your Social Security card, you might become subject to identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands. You should go ahead and request a new card from the Social Security Administration to replace the lost card. It would be best if you also kept a close eye on your credit report so that you can catch any unauthorized activity right away. You might even consider placing a fraud alert on your credit profile so that potential lenders take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.