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ITIN vs. SSN

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Last Verified: May 24, 2023

In the United States, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and a Social Security Number (SSN) are two distinct identifiers primarily used in the administration of tax laws.

An ITIN is a nine-digit tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number. Such individuals include nonresident aliens filing a U.S. tax return, U.S. resident aliens filing a U.S. tax return, dependents or spouses of a U.S. citizen/resident alien, and dependents or spouses of a nonresident alien visa holder.

Like a SSN, an ITIN helps identify individuals for tax purposes. However, it doesn’t provide the ability to work in the U.S. or qualify for Social Security benefits. Nevertheless, it can be used to open a bank account or apply for a credit card, contributing to building a credit history. Some banks will not allow you to open accounts online with an ITIN, for those banks you will need to apply in person.

With the ITIN, lenders can report your account activity to the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, enabling the formation of a credit report and subsequently, a credit score. In this manner, an ITIN plays a role similar to a SSN in your financial journey.

A SSN only becomes vital when you become eligible to work in the U.S. or gain access to Social Security benefits.

Your credit report can be transferred over to the new number. Credit bureaus use a combination of your name, addresses, and date of birth, in addition to your SSN or ITIN. Notify the IRS, your creditors, and the credit bureaus. After a few months, you should confirm that your credit history is accurately associated with your SSN. When handled properly, this will not disrupt your credit history or score.

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