As an immigration attorney, I am often asked questions like, “Should I carry my green card or social security card around with me?” Well, my go to answer, like any good attorney is that depends! You see, it is not a good practice to carry around any identity documents that could lead to potential identity theft. However, there are certain situations which merit having those documents on hand. For example, your attorney or CPA may need them or when you start new employment.
Personally, I do not carry my birth certificate or social security card with me except in one of those rare situations. In fact, when traveling abroad, I do keep my passport with me, but I also bring a copy that I keep in my luggage in case it is stolen or lost during my trip.
So, what documents do you need to keep with you? Well, an identity document with your photo like your driver’s license or a passport. Many of our immigration clients worry about identity documents, but by having a driver’s license with you, there is no need to carry a green card around to prove your status. Keep that and your social security card in a secure location. You should also carry your insurance documentation with you such as auto insurance (especially if you are driving) and health insurance. Finally, you should always have a method of payment whether cash, credit or debit card. My dad gave me an emergency $20 when I first got my driver’s license. I have had 2 legitimate emergencies in 38 years where I used the money, but each time, I replaced it. I still carry that money with me and did the same for my children. Be smart, but always be prepared.