I think it varies some by state. Here in FL, there's a box you check on the birth record application which will also apply for a SSN. I can only surmise that ours got lost in the mail; when I called Vital Records I got a vague and unhelpful response about some machine having been broken. Yeah. Getting an actual, physical birth certificate (as opposed to simply registering a record of the birth) costs money. Getting an SSN if you don't get one at the time you register the birth requires you to go to a Social Security office with the child, proof of identity for yourself and the child, and proof of age for the child. So you need a drivers' license or state ID for you, birth certificate for the child, and something like immunization records for the child - a note affirming dc's age from the pediatrician or your midwife would also work, I believe. I hope so, since we're not immunizing (don't you love how not-so-subtle pressure to vax crops up all sorts of places, especially if you do other 'unorthodox' stuff like homebirth?).