SSN & ID Cards

Social Security Number
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
Hawaii Driver’s License
Hawaii State Identification Card


Social Security Number

Social Security is the U.S. government’s social insurance plan intended to benefit retired people and others who are disabled, injured, or left without adequate financial support. Social Security is financed from both an employee’s pay and an employer’s contributions. Nearly all Americans have a Social Security Number (SSN), which is an official identification number used for tax and employment purposes.

UH employees in E-3, H-1B, O-1, TN, or any other employment-eligible immigration statuses must have SSNs in order to receive wages from UH. J-1 exchange visitors who do not already have SSNs but will receive UH stipends/salaries should apply for SSNs as soon as they are eligible to minimize payment delays. Note, however, that only J-1 visitors whose stays will exceed two weeks can be issued an SSN. If the stay will be shorter than two weeks, the J-1 visitor must instead apply for an ITIN.

SSNs can only be obtained in person in the U.S. from the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSA offices are located on all major islands in Honolulu, Hilo, Lihue, and Wailuku. Unofficial identification numbers issued by UH (coded with initial digits 990 or 999) cannot be used for tax or employment purposes.

Visitors in B-1, B-2, WB, or WT statuses are not eligible for SSNs. If a person who is now in B-1, B-2, WB, or WT status does not have an SSN obtained during a prior U.S. visit, an ITIN may be required instead.

For more information, see the USCIS Fact Sheet for J Nonimmigrants: Getting a Social Security Number.

When to apply for an SSN

J-1 exchange visitors should apply for SSNs no earlier than 10 business days after arriving in the U.S. and after completing their registration/orientation with FSIS. If a J-1 visitor applies for an SSN less than 10 business days after arrival in the U.S., legal entry in J status may not yet be entered in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s SAVE database, which is the primary source the SSA uses to verify immigration status. A secondary source the SSA can use to verify status is the Los Angeles Immigration Status Verification (LOSISV) unit. However, in order for the LOSISV unit to verify immigration status, the J-1 visitor’s SEVIS record must be validated by FSIS. FSIS will only validate a J-1 visitor’s SEVIS record after registration/orientation has been completed. J-2 dependents may obtain SSNs if they first obtain a valid employment authorization document (EAD) from USCIS.

E-3, H-1B, TN, and O-1 employees should apply for SSNs no earlier than 10 business days after arriving in the U.S. to ensure their legal entries are entered in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s SAVE database. SAVE is the source the SSA uses to verify immigration status. E-3, H-1B, TN, and O-1 employees do not have SEVIS records and are not required to register with FSIS before applying for SSN cards.

SSN application requirements

There is no fee to apply for an SSN card. Each individual must apply in person and bring these documents:

  • Completed SS-5 application form (available at any SSA office and on the SSA website);
  • Passport;
  • I-94 from CBP’s I-94 website;
  • USCIS work authorization (EAD, Form I-797A, or I-797B) or Form DS-2019; and
  • UH invitation letter or employment offer letter.

The above documents must be originals or certified copies from the issuing agencies. Notarized copies are not acceptable. The SSA should return all documents to the applicant. The SSN card should arrive in the mail 2-4 weeks after the application is processed.

Where to apply for an SSN

On Oahu, individuals may apply in person at the SSA office located in the Federal Building in downtown Honolulu at 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 1-114 (corner of Ala Moana Blvd. & Punchbowl St.). To get there by bus, visit the City and County of Honolulu’s TheBus website, where you can enter your starting and destination addresses to obtain transit directions.

On the island of Hawaii (the Big Island), the SSA office is located in Hilo at 111 E Puainako St., Suite 710. For public mass transit routes and information, visit the Hawaii County’s Hele-On Bus website.

On Kauai, the SSA office is located in Lihue at 4334 Rice St., Suite 105. For bus information, see Kauai County’s Kauai Bus website.

Maui’s SSA office is located in Wailuku at 2200 Main St., Suite 125. Please visit Maui County’s Maui Bus website to obtain bus schedules and other information.

SSA office hours & contact information

On all islands, the SSA hours are:

  • 8:30 am – 3:30 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays;
  • 8:30 am – 11:30 am on Wednesdays; and
  • Closed on weekends and federal holidays.

You may contact the SSA toll-free by phone at 1-800-772-1213. For more contact options, visit the SSA’s website.

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Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

If an international visitor is not eligible for an SSN due to being in the U.S. in a non-work eligible immigration status (e.g. B-1, B-2, WB, or WT), they may obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The ITIN should be requested using IRS Form W-7. Form W-7 and the instructions are available on the IRS website.

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Hawaii Driver’s License

Those driving a car, motorcycle, motor scooter, or moped in the U.S. must have an appropriate driver’s license to operate the vehicle. International employees/scholars may apply for a Hawaii driver’s license if they wish. If an individual decides to apply for a Hawaii driver’s license, any other valid driver’s licenses must be turned in; no driver is permitted to hold more than one valid driver’s license at any time. Proof of legal presence is required to obtain a Hawaii driver license or learner’s permit. See the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s legal presence website for more information.

Driver’s license application requirements

Each individual must apply in person and bring these documents:

  • Social Security Card or a letter from the Social Security Administration confirming ineligibility for an SSN;
  • Passport;
  • I-94 from CBP’s I-94 website;
  • USCIS work authorization (EAD, Form I-797A, or I-797B) or Form DS-2019; and
  • UH invitation letter or employment offer letter.

The above documents must be originals or certified copies from the issuing agencies. Notarized copies are not acceptable. The name must be identical on all documents. If there are any name discrepancies, the applicant should bring a marriage certificate, divorce decree, decree of legal change of name, or other official proof of name change.

At the time of applying for the license, the applicant must pay all required fees by cash, check, or credit card.

If the application is approved, the individual will take a photo and receive the license at that time.

Where to apply for a driver’s license

To apply for a driver’s license on the island of Oahu, please visit the City and County of Honolulu’s Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division to obtain the locations of issuing offices.

For driver licensing locations on other islands, see the following:

Driver licensing office hours & contact information

The hours of operation at all offices are:

  • 8:00 am – 4:00 pm on Mondays through Fridays
  • Closed on weekends and state and federal holidays

Each county’s driver licensing office can be contacted directly by phone:

  • City and County of Honolulu (Oahu): (808) 532-7730
  • Hawaii County (Big Island): (808) 961-2222
  • Kauai County: (808) 241-4242
  • Maui County: (808) 270-7363

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Hawaii State Identification Card

International scholars and employees have the option of applying for a Hawaii State Identification (ID) Card. In Hawaii, driver licensing offices are responsible for issuing state ID cards. Anyone applying for a state ID card must present documentary proof of legal name, date of birth, social security number, legal presence and proof of principal residence address in person at a driver licensing office.

State ID card application requirements

Each individual must apply in person and bring these documents:

Non-U.S. citizens: Social Security Card or a letter from the Social Security Administration confirming ineligibility for an SSN. Non-citizens must also provide the following, as applicable:

  • Permanent Resident Card or valid passport with a valid visa, I-94, and DS-2019, Form I-797A, or I-797B and
  • Proof of residential address on two different documents from this list:
    • Utility bill
    • Bank account statement
    • Driver’s license
    • Vehicle registration
    • Medical card issued by a health insurance agency
    • Other similar document showing name and home address

U.S. citizens: Social Security Card and one of the following:

  • Certified U.S. birth certificate;
  • Certificate of citizenship or naturalization; or
  • Certificate for a child born abroad to American parents.

U.S. nationals: Social Security Card and birth certificate with certificate of identity.

The above documents must be originals or certified copies from the issuing agencies. Notarized copies are not acceptable. The name must be identical on all documents. If there are any name discrepancies, the applicant should bring a marriage certificate, divorce decree, decree of legal change of name, or other official proof of name change.

At the time of applying for the state ID, the applicable fee must be paid by cash, check, or credit card:

  • 8-year ID card: $40.00
  • 1-7 year ID card (legal presence limited terms): Up to $5.00

If the application is approved, the individual will take a photo and receive the ID card at that time.

Where to apply for a state ID card

Please visit the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s state ID website to obtain the locations of issuing offices on all islands.

State ID office hours & contact information

The hours of operation at all offices are:

  • 8:00 am – 4:00 pm on Mondays through Fridays
  • Closed on weekends and state and federal holidays

Each county’s state ID office can be contacted directly by phone:

  • City and County of Honolulu (Oahu): (808) 532-7730
  • Hawaii County (Big Island): (808) 961-2222
  • Kauai County: (808) 241-4242
  • Maui County: (808) 270-7363

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