Social Security Numbers for Expats: What is Social Security & Why Do Expats Need It?

In a recent survey conducted by International AutoSource, it was discovered that the number one issue Expats experience when they relocate to the United States is trouble obtaining documentation, especially a Social Security number.  43-percent of the Expats surveyed cited this as their number one issue. 

IAS put together a two-part series: Social Security Numbers for Expats to help educate and instruct Expatriates who are relocating to America on how to get their Social Security Number. 

social security for expats

Part I: What is Social Security & Why Do Expats Need It? 

In the United States, a Social Security number, often abbreviated to SSN,  is a nine-digit number given to citizens, temporary or working residents, and permanent residents of the United States. The number is issued to individuals on a Social Security card as a way of identification, while also tracking income, benefits, and credit history. The Social Security card with your SSN is a small paper card about the size of an American credit card.

Expats need a Social Security number to establish an identity in the United States. Your Social Security number will be asked of you in many different scenarios throughout your stay in the United States.

What Expats Need a Social Security Number For: 
  • Financial transactions: Buying a car or car insurance
  • Opening a bank account
  • Taking out a mortgage
  • Establishing credit in U.S.
  • Applying for any type of license: Drivers, hunting, fishing, or other recreational license

It is very important to protect your Social Security number. Do not post or share this number with untrustworthy sources. If you are asked for your SSN by a company or person you are unsure of, do research before giving them this information. A contact at your workplace, such as a Human Resources representative, can help you determine where it is appropriate to share your SSN. The SSN is your identity in the United States, and if stolen can be used in an identity theft scam. When you are not using your Social Security  keep it in a safe place along with any other important documents.

Read Part II: How to Get Your Social Security Number and read our expat SSN guide here.

Have questions about Social Security in the United States? Leave your question in the comments below! 

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