There's a person.

This individual doesn't have and ID, or a birth certificate, nor any document of any kind. They are not recorded as ever being citizen of any country. They possess knowledge and wisdom as any adult but have no memory of their past. They may be able to perform a job but do not possess any degree or experience.

What is the fastest way for them to get an ID in a modern country (first world)?

Do they go for immigration? Or is it easier to forge one with the help of criminals? Does any of this differ if they are minor of age?


closed as off-topic by Mołot, John Dallman, Hohmannfan, Frostfyre, JDługosz Oct 27 '16 at 13:41

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – Mołot, John Dallman, Hohmannfan, Frostfyre, JDługosz
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe this question is more suited for the [Law][1]> community instead of worldbuilding? [1] law.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Oct 26 '16 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ Are we just worried about "fastest," or are there other considerations, like the questions the men in black suits might ask about why you have no history? $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Oct 26 '16 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ While you can ask it and probably get a more thorough and accurate answer in law, there is no reason why it should not be asked here and no reason to close it v.v $\endgroup$ – Durakken Oct 26 '16 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ there is no urgency. The MIB questions would be more interesting to tackle, if they are impediment to the process $\endgroup$ – SilverCookies Oct 26 '16 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ How, exactly, is it about building world? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 26 '16 at 20:00

There isn't an easy answer.

In the short term, social services or mental health agencies or a hospital would take care of you for a little while in the interim with questions asked but answers unavailable.

In U.S. immigration law toddlers of unknown origins are deemed U.S. citizens if found in the U.S. under the "Superman exception" (really!). No exception applies for adults, but a native speaker's accent alone might prove citizenship of cryptic origin by a preponderance of the evidence. Still it can be a mess. See Yu-Ling Teng v. District Director, 820 F.3d 1106 - where intractable hell emerged due to an erroneous birthdate on naturalization papers. When a judge calls your case "a bureaucratic mess of Gogolian proportions" before admitting he can't help, you're screwed.

Once citizenship is established (at least to the satisfaction of the Social Security administration), you could probably get a provisional social security number and from there (1) take a driver's test and get a provisional driver's license, (2) get a job, and (3) find someplace to live.

Marriage could allow an end run around some of this. A minor who seemed to be a U.S. citizen would probably be sent to foster care.

  • $\begingroup$ thanks! Exactly, where would such a person be placed while awaiting decisions? If you can't roduce an ID of some sort you should be arrested right? $\endgroup$ – SilverCookies Oct 26 '16 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ No. You aren't even required to have an ID. Indeed about 8-11% of eligible voters lack a government issued photo ID, including 25% of African Americans eligible to vote - valid social security number is more important than a photo ID which is easy enough to get once you have one. politifact.com/ohio/statements/2011/aug/10/marcia-fudge/… politifact.com/texas/statements/2012/jul/11/eric-holder/… $\endgroup$ – ohwilleke Oct 26 '16 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ Most first-world countries don't require anyone to have an ID. They may require you to show ID for certain things, but not just to hang out. You could be treated as an illegal alien, but they'd have to have some reason to ask for ID for them to even find out. $\endgroup$ – MissMonicaE Oct 27 '16 at 19:32

As you ask "what is the fastest way", most definitely the criminal route when without any documentation whatsoever.

Take for comparison how easy it is for someone under the age of 21 in the US to acquire a fake ID (there's even a subreddit) versus the difficulties somebody experiencing homelessness faces in navigating any government bureaucratic process without a traditional form of ID in their possession. All you would need is for that first illegitimate ID to be successful once in attaining you another official form of identification.

But at that point your question deserves another in return; the fastest way to get someone their correct ID officiated? Or any ID, i.e. someone else's?

As ohwilleke says, there may be leniencies or loopholes for someone who was a minor.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer! Yes I'm talking about obtaining a valid ID not someone else's $\endgroup$ – SilverCookies Oct 26 '16 at 21:11

While I agree the criminal path is the fastest there's another aspect of this that is being missed:

Walk into the immigration service and tell the truth. Of course you're here illegally--but since there is absolutely no indication of where you came from they can't deport you. Their choices are detention or to let you walk around--and with no indication that you have done anything criminal they'll take the latter approach.

  • $\begingroup$ «-but since there is absolutely no indication of where you came from they can't deport you» fr9m what I saw on Adam Ruins Everything a couple weeks ago, that won’t stop them. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Oct 27 '16 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ Also, this is definitely not the fastest option. From experience, even a legitimate immigration process takes months-years $\endgroup$ – barney Oct 27 '16 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @barney Years. I've been through it--I married a foreigner. It was 4 years before she had a green card that wasn't conditional. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Oct 27 '16 at 22:15

Just go to California

In many states you do not need paperwork of any sort to get a drivers license. If you follow that link you can see that in California, for example, you only need to establish residence. Hawaii is the same way. Other states have slightly higher requirements.

In any case, if you can get an undocumented job in California (probably not hard if you like picking fruit), and then enough money to pay for a crappy apartment (cash helps if they can't do a credit check), then pay the electric bill at the place you are renting, you are good to go. An electric bill with your (fake?) name on it will get you a driver's license, and from there it should be easy to get a bank account, build a paper trail, etc.

  • $\begingroup$ It is not as easy to get a driver's license in California as you think. leagle.com/decision/In%20FCO%2020160505126/… $\endgroup$ – ohwilleke Oct 27 '16 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ @ohwilleke This is how government works. 2.4 million illegal immigrants can get a drivers license, but a woman who has been in country for 40 years is SOL. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Oct 27 '16 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ In the US, for entities that require "official mail" as proof of residency, you can order stamps on USPS.com (Visa gift cards can be bought with cash and used like debit cards) and then when they come, that's official government mail, so you don't even need to wait for an electric bill. Bonus points: mailing it to someone else's house and stealing it out of their mailbox, so even the address is fake. $\endgroup$ – MissMonicaE Oct 27 '16 at 19:34

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