Why does PayPal need my SSN? Is it safe to give them SSN? A complete guide about PayPal SSN

Adam Rozsa

Got PayPal SSN questions? Maybe you’re wondering - why does PayPal need my SSN? Or - more importantly - is it safe to give PayPal your SSN?

We’ll cover all you need to know - and also introduce Wise which offers low cost multi-currency accounts you can use to hold, receive, send and spend 50+ currencies, using your US SSN, or your proof of ID from wherever you call home if you’re not a US citizen.


Why does PayPal need my SSN?

Generally, opening a PayPal account is pretty straightforward. Just give a few personal details and link an eligible bank account, debit or credit card, and you’re done.

However, under certain circumstances, PayPal requires your social security number (SSN), or a similar tax identification number, to verify your identity. You may be prompted to add your SSN if you want to open a PayPal business account¹, or order a PayPal prepaid card², for example.

So, why does PayPal ask for an SSN?

Under the PayPal US user agreement¹, PayPal withholds the right to complete verification checks on all customers, which may involve asking for your personal details, ID documents, proof of your banking information and - you guessed it - your SSN.

PayPal is obliged to carry out verification checks on customers under global and local legislation, including the USA PATRIOT Act. These rules apply to all financial service providers - which is why you’re also required to provide ID or documents when you open a bank account for instance.

Is it safe to send PayPal your SSN?

PayPal is built to protect customer accounts, funds and data. Therefore it should be perfectly safe to send your SSN to PayPal, as long as you’ve taken basic precautions.

For example, if you’ve been asked to share your SSN, check that the request is genuine, and not from a scammer or phishing site. Contact PayPal directly if you’re unsure. Do not share your SSN over email or other messaging systems, and avoid clicking embedded links in messages you’ve been sent. Instead, log into PayPal using your normal browser or app, and check there if your SSN is genuinely needed for verification.

💡 Wondering if PayPal is safe? Check out our complete guide here.

What additional information is necessary to get a PayPal Account?

The basic information you need to give PayPal when you set up your PayPal account is as follows:

  • Your full name
  • Your residential address
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • A verified bank account or card

Depending on how you transact and which PayPal services you access, you may be asked for more documents and information. You’ll need to provide your SSN if you’re ordering a PayPal prepaid card, for example.

If you’re a business customer you’re likely to need all the above to prove your own identity, plus a few extra items:

  • Your SSN
  • Business name
  • Business address
  • Business documents - these vary by entity type, and are required to prove the existence and proper registration of your company
💡 Learn more about setting up a PayPal account here.

Meet the Wise account - an alternative to PayPal if you don’t have an SSN

If you’re new to the United States, you might not have a valid SSN. But that doesn’t mean you can’t access easy online and in app ways to hold, send, spend and receive payments.

Choose the Wise account, which you can open with your home ID documents if you’re not a US citizen. Instead of an SSN, you’ll be able to add your ITIN, which you can get from the IRS as a non-citizen.

Wise may request additional documents to verify a customer's identity.

Here’s what you can get from Wise:

  • Hold and exchange 50+ currencies in your Wise account, with the mid-market exchange rate every time
  • Send fast payments to 80+ countries, and get local bank details for 10 currencies
  • Order a Wise card to spend in 170+ countries around the world
  • Review your balance and get transaction notifications in the Wise app for convenience
  • Accounts available for personal and business customers

The true cost of sending USD to GBP

Pricing/fees: Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

Bottom line

PayPal might need to ask for your SSN when you set up an account - if you’re applying as a business customer, or getting a linked PayPal card for example - or based on the transactions you’re making. PayPal uses your SSN as part of their account verification process - to comply with local and global laws and keep customers and their money safe.

If you don’t have a valid SSN - or if you simply want an alternative to PayPal - other services, like Wise may be able to help. With Wise non-US citizens can use an ITIN in place of a US issued SSN, and Wise accounts are available globally in all but a small handful of countries. Compare a few options - including both PayPal and Wise - to see which might suit your needs.

Get a Wise Account

Wise may request additional documents to verify a customer's identity

Frequently Asked Questions

Will PayPal ever ask for a social security number?

It is possible PayPal will need your SSN as part of their verification process. Whether or not PayPal asks for your SSN will depend on the products and services you use, and how you transact with your PayPal account. You may need to add your SSN when you create a PayPal account - or later, as part of account verification processes.

Is it normal for PayPal to ask for an SSN?

It’s normal for PayPal to ask for your SSN if you’re opening a business account or if you’re applying for a prepaid card, for example. Before you hand over any details, double-check the request is genuine by logging into your PayPal account through your normal browser or the app - do not click on any link sent to you, in case of fraud.

What happens if I don't have a SSN for PayPal?

If you’re asked by PayPal to provide your SSN and you do not, your account may be limited or closed. If you don’t have an SSN, you might want to consider opening an account with a different provider - like Wise - which can take an ITIN in place of your SSN for non-US citizens to allow you to open and operate an easy online account.

  1. PayPal US user agreement
  2. PayPal prepaid card FAQ

All sources checked on 8 March 2023

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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