How Undocumented Immigrants Can Get Bank Accounts

Some banks let you open an account with an ITIN or passport instead of a Social Security number.

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There are banks that don’t require a Social Security number, so if you’re undocumented, it’s still very possible to open an account.

Here’s how to open a bank account without an SSN and why doing so can make you safer and save you money.

What you need to open a bank account

At a minimum, a bank is required by law to obtain basic personal information from you when you open a new account. Here’s what you’ll need to provide:

1. Name and date of birth. To confirm your name and birthday, if you’re undocumented, banks typically require one of the following documents:

  • Unexpired passport.

  • Government-issued driver's license (including foreign licenses).

  • Consular ID.

  • Birth certificate.

People in New York City, San Francisco or other cities that issue municipal IDs can often use those IDs as proof of identity.

2. Proof of address. Banks and credit unions often require proof of a street address to open an account. One of the following can satisfy this requirement:

  • Utility bill.

  • Lease.

  • Current driver’s license or municipal ID.

3. Identification number. An identification number means one of the following:

  • Social Security number (SSN).

  • ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number — Skip ahead to see how to get one).

  • Alien identification card number.

  • Any other government-issued document that proves your nationality or residence, such as a passport or foreign driver’s license.

Banks and credit unions may have requirements in addition to the ones listed above.

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ITIN: What it is and how to get one

Don’t have a Social Security number? You can still get a bank account with an ITIN, or an individual taxpayer identification number.

ITINs are used by the Internal Revenue Service to process taxes. They're available only to noncitizens in the U.S. who are not eligible for a Social Security number; their spouses and dependents can also obtain an ITIN. Here’s how to get one:

  1. Fill out the required W-7 form, available in English and Spanish.

  2. Submit proof of identity, such as a passport or driver's license, along with a completed federal tax return. See a complete list of documents that you can use.

  3. Mail in your application, take it to an IRS walk-in office or have it processed by an “acceptance agent.” These agents typically include colleges, accounting firms and financial institutions, such as banks or credit unions. Locate one near you on the IRS website.

Why should I open a bank account if I'm undocumented?

Personal safety

A bank account is a safe place to store your money. Even in the unlikely event that your bank is robbed, the money is insured and would be replaced. If you keep your money at home or on your person, you could lose your savings to theft.

Establish history

A bank account helps you build a financial foundation. In most cases, a bank account is required to open a credit card, buy a home or borrow funds to start a business, all actions that help establish a credit history. In some states, you can also open a college savings plan with tax benefits, known as a 529 plan, provided you have an ITIN.

» Need help establishing credit as an immigrant? Here’s how you can establish credit without going into debt

Save money

With a bank account, you can cash checks or pay bills for free. A bank account also provides financial history, without which phone companies, apartments and other services can be more expensive or require larger deposits.

Credit unions and banks that don’t require Social Security numbers to open an account

Here are some banks and credit unions that don’t require you to have an SSN to open an account:

  • Bank of America.

  • Chase.

  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

  • Self-Help Federal Credit Union.

  • Latino Credit Union.

Large, mainstream banks such as Bank of America and Chase generally require about two pieces of documentation and proof of a valid U.S. street address. They also accept ITINs.

Some institutions, including some Latino credit unions, go out of their way to make the process smoother for immigrants.

Self-Help Federal Credit Union for example — which has branches in California, the Greater Chicago area, Milwaukee, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina — accepts the following forms of identification:

  • Valid driver's license.

  • Passport.

  • Matrícula consular (identification card from a Mexican consulate).

  • State-issued ID.

  • Military ID .

  • Residency card.

Another financial institution known for helping immigrants, Latino Credit Union in North Carolina, accepts:

  • Government-issued ID from any country.

  • Valid ITIN or Social Security number.

  • Proof of current address.

Latino Credit Union and Self-Help FCU also offer products designed with the immigrant community in mind. DACA and citizenship loans, for example, are available to help members cover the cost of a deferred action or naturalization application.

» Bank account not for you? Learn about lending circles

Identification requirements vary from bank to bank, and credit union to credit union, so call ahead or stop by a branch location to find out what documents you need to open an account. If language is a barrier, ask if the bank has a representative who can help you in your native tongue.