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.

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, carefully consider if it's necessary.

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

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 Human Resources' International Services.

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.

If You Have a Social Security Number

UB's Office of the Registrar must get your correct identifying number to file certain information returns with the IRS. For students, this will be your social security number (SSN) or, if you are not eligible to obtain an SSN, your individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

After receiving your SSN, you must report it to the University using Form W-9(S). This form is also used for students who need to provide or correct their SSN or ITIN on file.

Questions on submitting your Form W-9(S)?

Contact the Office of the Registrar for assistance.