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Publication 15

4. Employee's Social Security Number (SSN)(p13)

You are required to get each employee's name and SSN and to enter them on Form W-2. This requirement also applies to resident and nonresident alien employees. You should ask your employee to show you his or her social security card. The employee may show the card if it is available.
Do not accept a social security card that says "Not valid for employment." A social security number issued with this legend does not permit employment.
You may, but are not required to, photocopy the social security card if the employee provides it. If you do not provide the correct employee name and SSN on Form W-2, you may owe a penalty unless you have reasonable cause. See Publication 1586, Reasonable Cause Regulations & Requirements for Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs, for information on the requirement to solicit the employee's SSN.

Applying for a social security card.(p13)

Any employee who is legally eligible to work in the United States and does not have a social security card can get one by completing Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, and submitting the necessary documentation. You can get Form SS-5 from the SSA website at, at SSA offices, or by calling 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY). The employee must complete and sign Form SS-5; it cannot be filed by the employer. You may be asked to supply a letter to accompany Form SS-5 if the employee has exceeded his or her yearly or lifetime limit for the number of replacement cards allowed.

Applying for a social security number.(p13)

If you file Form W-2 on paper and your employee applied for an SSN but does not have one when you must file Form W-2, enter "Applied For" on the form. If you are filing electronically, enter all zeros (000-00-000) in the social security number field. When the employee receives the SSN, file Copy A of Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement, with the SSA to show the employee's SSN. Furnish copies B, C, and 2 of Form W-2c to the employee. Up to 25 Forms W-2c for each Form W-3c, Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statements, may now be filed per session over the Internet, with no limit on the number of sessions. For more information, visit the SSA's Employer W-2 Filing Instructions & Information webpage at Advise your employee to correct the SSN on his or her original Form W-2.

Correctly record the employee's name and SSN.(p13)

Record the name and number of each employee as they are shown on the employee's social security card. If the employee's name is not correct as shown on the card (for example, because of marriage or divorce), the employee should request an updated card from the SSA. Continue to report the employee's wages under the old name until the employee shows you the updated social security card with the corrected name.
If the SSA issues the employee an updated card after a name change, or a new card with a different social security number, file a Form W-2c to correct the name/SSN reported for the most recently filed Form W-2. It is not necessary to correct other years if the previous name and number were used for years before the most recent Form W-2.

IRS individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs) for aliens.(p14)

Do not accept an ITIN in place of an SSN for employee identification or for work. An ITIN is only available to resident and nonresident aliens who are not eligible for U.S. employment and need identification for other tax purposes. You can identify an ITIN because it is a nine-digit number, beginning with the number "9" with either a "7" or "8" as the fourth digit and is formatted like an SSN (for example, 9NN-7N-NNNN).
An individual with an ITIN who later becomes eligible to work in the United States must obtain an SSN. If the individual is currently eligible to work in the United States, instruct the individual to apply for an SSN and follow the instructions under Applying for a social security number above. Do not use an ITIN in place of an SSN on Form W-2.

Verification of social security numbers.(p14)

Employers and authorized reporting agents can use the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) to instantly verify up to 10 names and SSNs (per screen) at a time, or submit an electronic file of up to 250,000 names and SSNs and usually receive the results the next business day. Visit for more information.
Registering for SSNVS.(p14)
You must register online and receive authorization from your employer to use SSNVS. To register, visit SSA's website at and click on the Register link under Business Services Online. Follow the registration instructions to obtain a user identification (ID) and password. You will need to provide the following information about yourself and your company.
When you have completed the online registration process, SSA will mail a one-time activation code to your employer. You must enter the activation code online to use SSNVS.