stock apps that don't require ssn

Investing Apps That Don't Require SSN in 2024

Can you invest stocks without SSN? Which apps allow investing without a Social Security Number in 2024?

Stock Trading Without SSN

If you want to open a brokerage account with a U.S.-based investment firm but don’t have an SSN (Social Security Number), don’t worry. Although some brokerage houses may require an SSN in some situations, there are multiple ways to legally open a brokerage account without a Social Security Number. Firstrade is one such brokerage firm that offers accounts that can be opened with or without an SSN.

Opening an Account with a Foreign Tax ID Number

Firstrade has an international-account program. Citizens and residents of several foreign countries who don’t have an SSN can open investment accounts under this program. A passport from an eligible country is required. Here is the list of eligible countries:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea, Republic of (South)
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom

That’s quite a long list. Obviously, not all countries are eligible, though. Firstrade does not open accounts for residents of other countries at this time.

To open an international account, simply head over to Firstrade’s international account application page and supply the requested details, including the foreign tax ID number and a copy of a passport. Everything is online, so a paper form is not required.

Once the international account is open, it can be funded via an ACH or wire transfer. For the former type, a U.S.-based bank account must be used. A foreign bank account can be used for the latter.

Once the international account is funded, it will be able to trade any asset that a domestic account can trade—with the same commission schedule. This means zero trading fees on many products.

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Opening a Trading Account with an ITIN

A domestic brokerage account with Firstrade can be opened with an ITIN. This is the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. It is a tax ID number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It has the same nine-digit format with three sections that a regular Social Security Number has. It always begins with the number 9, so it is easily distinguishable from a regular Social Security Number.

The downside of the ITIN is that only certain people are eligible for it. Nonresident and resident aliens who don’t qualify for a Social Security Number may be able to get an ITIN. Their dependents and spouses may be able to get ITINs as well. People who live in the United States but don’t have the right to work in the country may be able to get an ITIN.

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Applying for an ITIN is somewhat of a bureaucratic ordeal as the IRS does not have an online form. Form W-7 is the required application. It can be downloaded from the government’s website, although it does have to be submitted in hard-copy format. There are also instructions online for this form.

The instructions list all of the documents that must be submitted along with the form itself. Be sure to include all of this red tape when sending the form to the IRS. If you’re missing any of the required paperwork, it’s possible to apply through a Taxpayer Assistance Center or a Certifying Acceptance Agent.

Once the ITIN is finally issued, it should be used on Firstrade’s application page just like an SSN. The account will be held under the ITIN, and taxes owed, if any, will be reported to the IRS using the ITIN.

Opening a Trading Account with an EIN

Firstrade offers entity, investment-club, and retirement accounts for businesses and self-employed persons. These accounts can be opened using an EIN (employer identification number) instead of a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

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Unlike the ITIN, the EIN has an application that is completely electronic, so applying for one is a little easier and faster. The IRS’s digital application for the EIN is only available during the week, however. Because this is a business tax ID number, some type of business does need to actually exist in order to receive an EIN. It could be a side hustle or something very small.

Once the EIN is issued, it will need to be used in lieu of a Social Security Number on Firstrade’s application page for business accounts. It could also be used to open a SIMPLE or SEP IRA at Firstrade, which can be accomplished electronically.

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Applying for a Social Security Number

If none of the above methods look appealing, it’s always possible simply to apply for an SSN. It is possible in some situations for non-U.S. citizens to get a Social Security Number. To qualify, residency somewhere in the 50 United States, District of Columbia, or territories may be required along with legal authorization to work in America. This authorization will need to be acquired through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). An SSN can also be acquired through the U.S. Department of State when applying for an immigrant visa.

Foreign Brokerage Firms

One final possibility is one that won’t work with Firstrade. Some foreign-based brokerage houses provide access to the U.S. securities exchanges, which means an account with one of these foreign brokers opens up trading in U.S.-listed securities.

A caveat is in order here. These foreign firms are regulated by local and national laws, not U.S. securities laws. This means there could be increased risks, although some foreign countries may do a reasonable job of regulating local investment accounts. Some Canadian brokerage firms, for example, offer access to the U.S. exchanges.