Helping Individuals Experiencing Homelessness Obtain Identification Documents
This resource is for service providers looking to guide individuals experiencing homelessness through the
process of obtaining the “Big Five” forms of identification (ID):
- Birth certificate
- State-issued ID
- Social Security card
- Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD214)
- Green Card
Without ID, people are often blocked from resources crucial to their life goals and ongoing stability, such as
housing or employment. It’s important to have ID and important to know how to obtain it.
- States and local government regulate state-issued IDs and birth certificates, so practices for obtaining
these documents will differ. Typical steps in this process are listed in this guide.
- Federal programs regulate Social Security cards, Green Cards, and U.S. Department of Defense DD214
documents. Therefore, guidance on these documents herein is more comprehensive as the process will
be similar across localities.
Waiting for an ID does not have to be an idle time. For example, you can start the application process for
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) without an ID. Obtaining ID
while the SSI/SSDI application is pending can save months of waiting.