Work documents

Work documents

Work documents

Get your documents ready to apply for jobs.

To prove you are eligible for work and to apply for a job, you will need some of these records.


Image of young person

“I got help with immigration to get a work permit, then I got a Social Security number, that gave me the right to work. Once I got it - that motivated me. I got a certificate of arts in culinary. And now I’m here to tell you, all you’ve got to do is take responsibility to change your life.”

School and employment records

Almost every job application will ask for your contact information, job history, and education or training. Use this Personal Data Record worksheet (en español) to keep track of all the details.

Birth certificate

A copy of your birth certificate is usually needed to get a driver's license or to prove you are eligible to work in the U.S. Get a copy by using the State Resource Finder. Select the state where you were born, then check the Documents and Vital Records tab for Birth, Marriage and Divorce Records. Contact them to request a copy.

Driver's license

Some jobs require a driver's license, but many more use it as a form of picture identification. To get a driver’s license, or renew one, use the State Resource Finder, select your state, and check the Documents and Vital Records tab for the Driver's License link. Call, email, or go to your nearest motor vehicle department to get a license. 

Social Security card

Almost all employers will require that you have a Social Security number. To get a Social Security card, you need to show proof of citizenship, proof of your age, and proof of identity. Documents needed vary based on your age and citizenship.

Work permits

For job seekers who do not have U.S. citizenship, employers are required to confirm that you have a permit to work in the U.S. before hiring you. There are two major types of permits:

  • The U.S. Green Card gives you permanent residence and means you can legally live and work in the United States. You can also travel in and out of the country more freely. Apply for a green card.
  • If you qualify to work in the United States but are not a green card holder, conditional resident, or U.S. citizen, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or work permit to show you are qualified to work in the U.S.

Under 18

If you are under the age of 18, check out the federal employment rules to make sure you are old enough to legally work.

Criminal record, or rap sheet

To see what an employer would see on your criminal record, request a copy for yourself. That way, you can be sure it’s accurate and that you understand it. If needed, talk with a legal professional or someone from the probation or parole office to get it corrected.

Look for your record at the jurisdiction of your conviction:

  • For state level convictions: look for your state corrections agency. It may be called Department of Corrections, Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Investigation, or a similar name.
  • For county-level convictions, try county jail offices.
  • For federal convictions, see the Federal Bureau of Prisons