Loyola University Chicago

International Student and Scholar Services

Opening a US Bank Account

As you settle in to Chicago and Loyola, you will probably want to open a bank account. Before you go to the bank, you should become familiar with the customer identification programs that banks use when opening new accounts.

Customer Identification Programs

In an effort to reduce money laundering, US financial institutions are required to verify the identity of every individual who opens a bank account. In compliance with federal regulations, all banks operating in the US have established Customer Identification Programs (CIPs) that they must follow when opening a new account. While the specifics of the CIP may vary from one bank to another, all banks are required to request the following information from you:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Street address (P.O. boxes are not allowed)
  • An identification number

A non-US citizen's identification number may be one or more of the following:

  • Taxpayer identification number
  • Passport number and country of issuance
  • Alien identification card number
  • A number and country of issuance of any other government-issued document evidencing nationality or residence and bearing a photograph or similar safeguard

Each bank establishes its own CIP and may ask for additional documentation.


Bring the following documents when you open your bank account:

  • Unexpired passport
  • I-94 card
  • I-20, DS-2019 or I-797 approval notice
  • Any secondary form of identification
  • Form W-8 BEN (for interest-bearing accounts only)

If you wish, OIP can provide a letter to the bank confirming your status at Loyola and asking for their assistance in opening your account.

Taxpayer Identification Numbers

Banks must report any interest you earn on your account to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), even though you do not pay tax on this interest. Accordingly, the bank will ask for a taxpayer identification number from anyone applying for an interest-bearing account. Students who work will be asked for their Social Security Number (SSN), and students who are not eligible for an SSN will be asked for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) issued by the IRS.

Although banks prefer that you have a taxpayer identification number when you apply, you can open a bank account without one.

If you are eligible for an SSN, you should apply for one as soon as possible. You are eligible for an SSN if you are in a work-related non-immigrant status such as H-1B, TN, R-1, J-1 or if you are an F-1 student approved for curricular practical training (CPT), optional practical training (OPT) or have already secured on-campus employment.

If you have already applied for an SSN before you try to open a bank account, you should take a copy of the receipt notice with you. The receipt notice can serve as additional documentation and help establish your identity. As soon as you receive your SSN, notify your bank.

If you are not eligible for an SSN, you should apply for an ITIN through the IRS. Once the ITIN is assigned, notify your bank.

ITIN application procedures require that you present evidence that you own an interest-bearing bank account. You cannot obtain an ITIN until you can establish that you have opened an account with a bank. Once you have submitted your ITIN application, it will take the IRS approximately four to six weeks to assign you a number. To apply for the ITIN, you must file a From W-7 through the IRS.

For assistance, you can contact Chicago's Taxpayers Assistance Center at 312.566.4912. For more information about the application process, visit the IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number page.