Banking and Finance

How to Get a Loan Without a SSN

July 27, 2021

Do you need a loan but don't have a social security number? Don’t fret. There are other ways to access loans in the United States without a SSN. And, not all of them require you to jump through hoops just to prove your residency or eligibility.

For example, depending on the financial institution where you’ll be applying for the loan, they might work with your employer to verify your employment. This can be done through payroll information, W-2s or other documents. Similarly, if you own a business and you have an I-9, the bank may even accept this as proof of employment. Don’t have any of the above? No worries! There are other ways.

We all know it's hard to find loans when we don't have an SSN, but this article will teach you how to get around that you can access the funds you need.

What is a Social Security Number?

A social security number (SSN) is a nine-digit identification number issued by the US Social Security Administration that serves as an identifier of citizens and legal residents of the United States. 

The concept of social security numbers was created in 1936 to track employment income so that people would be eligible for retirement benefits after working long enough under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). 

You might find some entities that refer to a SSN as a "taxpayer identification number," because it identifies taxpayers on all documents related to taxes. 

Why’s this important when applying for a credit card or a loan? Banks want to be able to identify you to monitor your financial movement for taxes. And, it’s a good way to perform a thorough background check on an individual. However, just because it’s commonly used by most financial institutions to perform background checks doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do so. That brings us to the next number…

What is an ITIN?

ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Similar to a SSN, an ITIN is a ten-digit identification number that's used for federal tax purposes when the taxpayer has no social security number (SSN). 

The IRS issues these numbers after verifying your identity with documents such as passports, birth certificates, driver licenses, or immigration papers. They're issued regardless of immigration status so they are available even if you aren’t a citizen of the US (which is great news for international students!). How do you apply for an ITIN?

You have to fill out a form, and you’ll need to show, according to the IRS, “documentation substantiating foreign/alien status and true identity for each individual” that’s applying for a new number. Read more about the ITIN application process here.

How to Get Loans Without a SSN

Now, it’s important to start this off by clarifying that there seems to be a major myth surrounding loan access and residency status in the US. You do not have to be a citizen of the US to access financial products such as credit cards or personal loans. 

However, the easiest way to get a loan, whether for personal or business purposes, is to apply for an ITIN. After you submit all of the paperwork, you should receive your number within four to 6 weeks.

After that, you’re eligible to apply for a loan with a financial institution that accepts ITINs in lieu of SSNs. The steps, therefore, would be as follows:

  1. Gather your paperwork for an ITIN. This includes your proof of identification and any immigration/visa papers you might have.
  2. Fill out the W7 form.
  3. Fill out your income taxes.
  4. Turn everything in to the IRS office.
  5. Wait for your ITIN application to be approved.
  6. Once you have it, search for lenders who accept an ITIN instead of a SSN.

Usually, lenders who accept ITINs also work with new residents and other individuals who might not have a long credit history. It’s important to shop around and search for the best rates as well. If you can, find at least three lenders who will give you a loan with your new ITIN and compare rates.

What About Student Loans for International Students Without a SSN?

Now, applying for a loan in the United States as an international student can get a bit trickier. The easiest way to get a loan as a student without a SSN would be to have a US cosigner. That is to say that most student loan companies will work with international students as long as a US resident will sign for you. However, many students don’t have that option.

If that’s not an option for you or if that bank you’re trying to get a student loan from won’t work with you without a SSN, we suggest option 2: looking to study at a school that is eligible for student loans. Here is a list of all of the US-based schools where you can receive loans as an international student.

If that still doesn’t work, try the third option, which is to get a student loan through an independent lender. 

MPOWER Financing is one of the most well-known and international student-friendly lenders. According to Investopedia, they offer private loans to “international undergraduate and graduate students within two years of graduating or about to begin a one or two-year program at one of 350 approved schools in the US or Canada.” As a plus, they offer discounts for things like proof of employment after graduation.

Discover student loans are another great option for international students, but they do require that you have a cosigner who is a US citizen or resident.

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Learning how to get a loan without a SSN might seem like a confusing process, but it’s quite straightforward with Cheese.

Introducing Cheese Credit Builder Loan. You can easily establish your savings along with your credit score, even if you don't have a SSN. With no admin fees, you can customize your monthly payment amount and terms that works best for your goal, whether to get a lower interest rate or buy a new car. Cheese is here to turn your credit building on autopilot.

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