What is a Work Permit?
A Work Permit or Working Paper is a legal document stating that minors (under 18 years old) can be employed. This working paper is in the form of Employment Certificates or Age Certificates. The federal government does not require work permits or proof of age certificates for minors to be employed. However, many states do require it for workers of a certain age.
The Department of Labor will issue an age certificate if the state of minors does not issue one, or if the minor is asked by his or her employer to provide one. The purpose of this certificate is to protect the employer from prosecution and penalties for employing minors. School counselors might know if work permits or proof-of-age certificates are required in your state.
Do I Need A Work Permit and How Do I Get One?
Employers are required to confirm that you have a permit to work in the U.S. before hiring you. If you do not have U.S. citizenship, you can apply for a green card so you can legally live and work in the United States.
For U.S. citizenship, if you are under 18, then you should ask your school district office whether you need to apply for a work permit before starting a new job. Some states require work permits for those under the age of 16, while others require it for anyone younger than 18. Some states do not require it at all.
You can also ask or apply for work permit through your state department of labor by visiting, calling or emailing the office or searching their website. You need to renew your work permit since it will expire generally after one year.
Check out this Table of Employment/Age Certification Issuance Practice Under State Child Labor Laws which shows whether or not your state requires certification and where you can get that certification from (your school, your state department of labor, or both).