SSN vs ITIN [US Tax IDs & Banking Myths]

In this article, we’ll look at SSN vs ITIN and the role they play when it comes to navigating account opening in the US as a foreign non-resident.

We’ll also be destroying a few banking myths like the common belief that you need an ITIN to open US bank accounts remotely… you don’t. Or the even crazier myth that you need a Social to establish banking relationships in the US… you 100% do not!

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. SSN vs ITIN
  2. Social Security Number
  3. Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Ready to Explore Your Options?


The main difference between an SSN and an ITIN is that an SSN is issued to US citizens while an ITIN is issued to certain non-residents. That said, an SSN (Social Security Number) may be issued to non-residents with certain approved statuses. Additionally, an ITIN (Individual Tax Payer Identification Number) may be issued to certain resident aliens as well.

However, when looking at SSN vs ITIN, the vast majority of foreign non-residents will be considering an ITIN. To obtain an ITIN foreign non-residents need to complete IRS Form W-7. Form W-7 is the IRS’s application for an ITIN number.

And, while it is possible to submit Form W-7 by post or in person, most foreign non-residents choose to complete and submit the form through an Acceptance Agent.

Essentially, an Acceptance Agent is an entity that can receive and confirm the identity of a foreign non-resident on behalf of the IRS. They also review the documentation and send Form W-7 for processing. This tends to be the most efficient (and most widely used) approach to receiving an ITIN.

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Social Security Number

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique identifier assigned to each US citizen and certain foreign tax residents. The SSN is used for taxation, government distributions, credit tracking, banking, and more. In short, it is the federal identification number used by banking, credit, and government institutions to track the activities of US citizens.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a unique identifier assigned to foreign non-residents and certain US residents. The ITIN is used for processing the taxes of individuals who are required to file US taxes but are not eligible for an SSN.

That said, when considering SSN vs ITIN, an ITIN is also issued to individuals with reporting requirements. However, these individuals may not be obligated to pay taxes. Such individuals include the owners of foreign-owned single-member (FOSM) US LLCs, which do not have effectively connected income. That said, US LLCs are required to complete information returns, and therefore the owners of these entities are required to have an ITIN to meet their filing requirements.

Do You Need an ITIN to Open a US Bank Account?

No, you do not need an ITIN to open a US bank account. In fact, foreigners and non-residents from most countries can open US bank accounts 100% remotely. Importantly, not all banks accept foreign non-residents. And, even fewer allow for remote opening.

That’s why our team created GlobalBanks USA, which is our dedicated US bank account opening service. In fact, if you’re trying to decide between SSN vs ITIN, you may not need either. You can learn more about GlobalBanks USA below or use the article shared above to start opening accounts today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are two of the most common questions we receive from people asking about SSN vs ITIN. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

Is an ITIN Number the Same as an SSN?

An ITIN number is not the same as an SSN. While an SSN is issued to US citizens and certain foreign residents, an ITIN is only available to individuals who cannot receive an SSN. That said, in order to be eligible for an ITIN, a foreign non-resident must have a filing requirement and complete form W-7.

Can I Work Legally With an ITIN?

You cannot work legally in the United States as a result of receiving an ITIN. This is because an ITIN does not grant an individual legal status in the United States or provide work authorization. Instead, an ITIN is used for individuals who are not eligible for an SSN but still have a filing requirement.

Ready to Explore Your Options?

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And “yes!” GlobalBanks Insider is designed to help foreign and non-resident individuals and companies open bank accounts.

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GlobalBanks Team
GlobalBanks Team

The GlobalBanks editorial team comprises a group of subject-matter experts from across the banking world, including former bankers, analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs. All have in-depth knowledge and experience in various aspects of international banking. In particular, they have expertise in banking for foreigners, non-residents, and both foreign and offshore companies.

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