Driver's License Center, Social Security Number and Banks
This is only a brief overview on these topics.
- Bring all documents (such as passport, I-20 form, and copy of current I-94).
- Be familiar with the procedure and requirements.
- A letter with proof of current enrollment may be requested from the International Student Services office.
Plan your time carefully.
- Be prepared for long lines and considerable waits.
If you have an appointment, be on time.
- Punctuality is valued and is a way of being respectful.
- If you miss an appointment, you may have to reschedule for another day.
Know the rules that protect you.
- Show a copy of the Social Security Publication No. 05-10096 or No. 05-10181 if needed to prove that you are ineligible for a SSN.
- Banks may use the W-8 in place of Social Security cards. For more information on Form W-8 BEN, go to www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw8ben.pdf
- The Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides a list to their employees with all visa types that are not required to show SSN for driver’s certificate. There is a Social Security Number Affidavit form that you will need to complete and use.
Remain calm and polite.
- If no one can help you at the time you visit a business or agency, come back another time when someone else will be there to help you or ask to speak to someone with experience with internationals.
Open a bank account at the bank’s main office.
Be patient and flexible. Most businesses use computer systems that run on Social Security numbers. Not using a SSN is not impossible but can take more time. Showing proof to the person you are working with that you are not eligible for a SSN could be helpful (see "Know the rules" above).
You do not need a Social Security number to get a driver’s license, if you have an F visa. (You may need to complete a Social Security Number Affidavit form.)
Check with the International Student Services Coordinator to ensure your SEVIS record is in active status. You should wait at least 10 days after you enter the country and 48 hours after your record has been activated (registered) in SEVIS for the current term.
A letter with proof of current enrollment and local address may be requested from the English Language Institute office if needed.
Be sure to bring all required documents--valid passport with visa, I-20 form, copy of current I-94, proof of residency, etc. (See Temporary Driver License)
Be prepared for long lines at the driver’s license office.
Make an appointment for your road driving tests, but remember you can only take the road test after you have passed both the written and the vision tests.
For more information and directions to the Clarksville center or to make an appointment online, go to www.tennessee.gov/safety/article/montgomery
Study for the written test at www.tn.gov/dlpractice
In general, only noncitizens who have permission to work from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can apply for a Social Security number. Lawfully admitted noncitizens can get many benefits and services without a Social Security number.
Although sometimes requested, it is not required that you have a social security number for things such as:
- Obtaining a driver’s license.
- Applying to rent/purchase a house or apartment.
- Applying for a bank account.
- Registering for school.
- Obtaining health insurance.
The main use of Social Security numbers (SSN) by businesses and landlords is to verify credit history. International students usually do not have any credit history since they have recently moved to the U.S., so it is useless for businesses to run a credit check on a SSN or to even ask for a SSN.
Many businesses will say that it is a requirement for the customer to provide a Social Security number. However, this is not true. Social Security numbers are the most common form of identification in the U.S., but they are not the only form of legal acceptable identification.
The Clarksville Social Security Administration office is located at 119 Center Pointe Drive which is off Wilma Rudolph Boulevard between 101st Airborne Parkway and Trenton Road---from Wilma Rudolph Boulevard, turn onto Center Pointe Drive at the US Bank sign (red, white and blue sign).
Get a map, phone number and hours here (enter ZIP code).
- completed Form SS-5 application (online)
- valid passport
- I-20 form
- current I-94
- proof of job/employment documents (letter, job contract, employment authorization EAD), etc.)
You must bring ALL these documents, or your application will be denied.
You should wait at least 10 days after you enter the country and 48 hours after your record has been activated (registered) in SEVIS for the current term.
For more information about Social Security numbers and regulations regarding SSN, see www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber