Social Security Number

A social security number (SSN) in the United States is used to track employment and credit history. The United States does not have a national ID number, therefore in some instances, the SSN has become a de-facto national ID number.

Am I eligible for an SSN?

Most international students and scholars are not eligible unless they will be employed in the United States. Below represents the restrictions based on visa type for eligibility for a SSN.

I am eligible for a SSN. How do I apply for a SSN and what documents do I need to provide to the Social Security Administration?

Instructions on how to obtain a SSN can be found here: Social Security Instructions

NOTE: If you are an F-1 or J-1 student and have an offer of on-campus employment, please request a letter in ISSDeacs to take with you to the Social Security Administration (required).

I am not currently eligible for a SSN and I keep getting asked for one by various services, what do I do?

There is no consequence to not having a social security number. Many companies that provide a monthly service (i.e., apartment management companies, cell phone companies, internet and cable companies, etc.) will request an SSN so they can check your credit history, which tracks how worthy you are in terms of paying your obligations.

If you are being asked by a service to provide a social security number, but you are not eligible for one, explain this to them, and if the person still is unwilling to provide the service for lack of an SSN, ask for a manager or supervisor. Many companies will allow you to pay a security deposit in lieu of providing a SSN.

Even if you have a SSN, you may not have a credit history immediately in the United States, and therefore you may still be asked to pay an additional security deposit to receive a service.

Please be advised, a SSN is not necessary to obtain a driver’s license in the state of North Carolina.

If you are eligible for a SSN, protect it and do not provide it to a company that is not considered to be a legitimate corporate entity.