Working Papers (Employment / Age Certificates)

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There are no federal requirements that mandate that students get working papers prior to starting employment. However, in some states, if you're under eighteen, you may need to obtain working papers (officially called Employment / Age Certificates) in order to legally be able to work.

Here's information on who needs working papers, age requirements and limits, and how to get an employment certificate so you can get hired.

Working Papers (Employment / Age Certificates)

The best place to find out if you need working papers is your school guidance office. If you need working papers, the counselors can give you the form you will need to complete or tell you where to get it.

Who Needs Working Papers
Age requirements vary from state to state. In some states, you will need working papers if you are under 16. In other states, you will need them if you are under 18. There are some states where you won't need a certificate to get hired.

States that Require Working Papers
Review the list of State Labor Laws: Employment / Age Certificates to find out which states require working papers.

Where to Get Working Papers
Working papers are either issued by your school or by the state Department of Labor. Review the list of State Labor Laws: Employment / Age Certificates to find the requirements for your location.

How to Get Working Papers
Requirements vary from state to state, but, in general here's what you will need to do to get working papers.

  • Obtain working papers / employment certificate application from your school or Department of Labor.
  • Obtain a certificate of physical fitness from your doctor. You may need to have had a physical within the last year.
  • Bring the completed application with proof of age (copy of birth certificate, school record, school id, driver's license, or other document that lists your age).
  • A parent or guardian will probably need to come with you to get the papers and will need to sign the application.

Lost Working Papers
If you lose your working papers you can request a duplicate copy from the office that issued it.

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