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How to Open a Bank Account Without a Social Security Number (SSN)

How to Open a Bank Account Without a Social Security Number (SSN)
Chris Alexis
Chris AlexisUpdated August 21, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
When most Americans open a bank account, they’re asked for their Social Security number. This is usually a non-issue, but it can be a stumbling block for some people without these important numbers assigned to them, including undocumented immigrants and international students. However, that won’t preclude anyone from obtaining a bank account. If you don’t possess a Social Security number or you know someone in this particular situation, keep reading for important information that can reduce stress and open doors for financial services. 

Can You Open a Bank Account Without SSN?

Yes, you can. You may be able to open both a checking account and a savings account without a Social Security number. Some financial institutions will accept an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead. 

Requirements for Opening a Bank Account Without SSN

To open a bank account without a Social Security number, you will need to provide the following information and documents: 
  • Name and date of birth. This includes an unexpired passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, student ID, or consular ID. (A consular ID card is a document many consulates issue to identify the citizens of their nation who reside outside of their country. Governments use this information to both pull census data from their citizens living abroad and offer certain protections.)
  • Proof of address. Approved evidence includes an apartment lease, current driver’s license, utility bill, or paycheck.
  • Identification number. If you don’t have a Social Security number, you can use an ITIN, another government-issued document proving your nationality or residence (like a foreign driver’s license or passport), or an alien identification card number. 
Some banks and credit unions might request additional documents from you, but these are the basics you should have on hand.

Steps to Open a Bank Account Without SSN

Step 1: First, you’ll need to find a bank or credit union that will allow you to open an account without a Social Security number. Organizations you can approach include Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, Latino Credit Union, and many online banks.Step 2: Next you’ll need to provide the documents we listed above, such as a birth certificate, student ID,  driver’s license, consular ID, utility bill, and ITIN. Step 3: Once you have provided those necessary documents, a representative from the financial institution will assist you in creating the account and answer any additional questions you may have. Recommended: Can I Get a Credit Card Without a Social Security Number?

Difference Between a SSN and an ITIN

Social Security numbers and Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers are both used for tax reporting purposes. The difference is that they are used by different agencies and feature differing benefits.Social Security numbers are handed out by the Social Security Administration to both U.S. citizens and authorized non-citizens. These numbers usually give people authorization to work in the United States. People with a Social Security number can also tap into benefits like disability income or unemployment. ITINs (Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers), on the other hand, are only available to non-citizens in the United States who are not eligible to receive a Social Security number.  These numbers are issued by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). A key difference is that an ITIN cannot be used for work authorization, but you can use it for tax purposes.If you would like to apply for an ITIN, you will need to fill out a W-7 form. You will need to show proof of your identity, such as a driver’s license or passport, along with a completed federal tax return (or proof that you are exempt from filing taxes).Once you have completed the W-7, you can mail it in with copies of your relevant documents, hand it in at an IRS walk-in office, or work with an acceptance agent.

Benefits of Opening a Bank Account Without a SSN

Some people may be reluctant to open a bank account if they don’t have a Social Security number. However, there are various benefits for pursuing an account anyway.


The first one is safety. If you don’t have a bank account, you would have to physically store your money yourself. If that money is stolen, there is nothing you can do to get it back.  However, most banks are FDIC-insured, which means your money would be replaced in the event the bank lost the money (such as bank failure). 

Ease of Use

Having a bank account makes things like cashing checks and paying bills easier. You can receive payment in the form of direct deposits, you can apply for a debit card, and you can even earn interest on money in your savings account.

Build a Financial Foundation

Another reason to open a bank account is to build a financial foundation for yourself. Having a bank account makes it easier to buy a home, start a business, or open a credit card. If you have an ITIN, you can also open a college savings plan that has tax benefits.

The Takeaway

It is possible to open a bank account (like a checking or savings account) without a Social Security number.  While many financial institutions require people to have Social Security numbers, this isn’t the case everywhere. Many people in this country, including undocumented immigrants and international students, don’t have them. However, they can still apply for ITINs and obtain bank accounts that way.If you’re looking for a new banking relationship, Lantern by SoFi can help simplify your search by allowing you to view current rates, minimum balance requirements, and fees all in one place.Compare high interest online savings accounts and find today’s best rate with Lantern.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can undocumented immigrants open a bank account?
What identification is required to open a bank account as an undocumented immigrant?
Do international students need a SSN to open a bank account?
Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions

About the Author

Chris Alexis

Chris Alexis

Chris Alexis has been putting pen to paper and fingertips to keyboard since his youth. He ultimately grew into an accomplished and award-winning writer who loves using the power of language to connect with audiences. He also strongly enjoys learning about who he is writing for so he can create something that will truly resonate with them. He has worked for a variety of companies, each of which have given him more experience and insight.
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