When You Do & Don’t Need a Social Security Card

Find out when you will need a Social Security number as an F-1 or J-1 student, and what to do if you don’t have one.

On this page:

General Information

Social Security numbers are not general purpose ID’s. If a business representative or service provider asks you for a Social Security number, simply inform him/her that you are from another country and do not have one.

You should not need a Social Security number to: 

  • Open a bank account
  • Rent an apartment
  • Open a utility account (e.g. electricity, gas)
  • Set up a cell phone account
  • Register your children for school
  • Conduct business with financial institutions

Note: The only exceptions should be business providers who require a credit check before doing business with you or opening an online account for you.

When do you need a Social Security number?

> Read advice from the Social Security Administration

If You Are Not Working In The U.S.

If you are not working in the U.S., you also do not need a Social Security number to submit tax forms (e.g. Form 8843) to the Internal Revenue Service, which is the U.S. government’s tax agency. For this purpose, you should apply instead for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). For information on how to do this at UB, please contact Amanda Brown at 645-4429 or Carlos Gallardo at 645-4430.

If You Are Working In The U.S.

In order to work in the U.S., you will need a Social Security Number. To obtain one, you will have to document that you are eligible to work in the U.S. Please read here to find out how to apply for a Social Security Card.