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Social Security Number (SSN)

Updated 1/18/2023

What is a Social Security Number (SSN)?

International students, scholars and employees will need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if the are working in the US. The SSN is a nine-digit tax ID number issued by the Social Security Administration.

  • A SSN is not needed to apply for an on-campus job, but you must apply for a SSN as soon as possible, once you have a job offer or have started an on-campus job
  • You must be authorized to work in the US, and in some cases have an actual job, in order to apply for a SSN
  • The SSN is a lifetime, permanent number; if you received one in the past, you do not need to apply for a new number
  • A SSN is often requested by companies (e.g., banks, cell phone companies, rental agencies) for business purposes
  • You cannot apply for a SSN while outside of the US and more than 30 days prior to the start of your program or employment, whichever comes first
  • Keep your SSN secure and private - it can be used for identity theft

Applying for a SSN

Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN)

The Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN) is similar in format to a SSN. However, it is a temporary tax ID number issued to persons who are NOT working but receiving US income through other sources ("non-compensatory" income). Examples of non-compensatory income include income from a scholarship or fellowship that covers expenses such as food and housing or other costs outside of required tuition and fees.

If you are receiving income through work (employment), do NOT apply for an ITIN - you must apply for a SSN instead.