Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a nine-digit number, similar in format to the SSN. It always begins with the number 9. ITINs are issued only to people who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). ITIN is for tax purposes only. It does not authorize work and cannot be used as an identification number or for any purpose outside the tax system.
If you must file a U.S. tax return or you are listed on a tax return as a spouse or a dependent and you are not eligible to obtain a valid SSN, you must apply for an ITIN.
Generally, all dependent (H-4 or L-2) visa holders can apply for an ITIN.
Non-resident alien filing a U.S. tax return and not eligible for an SSN
U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return and not eligible for an SSN
Dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
Dependent or spouse of a non-resident alien visa holder
Both SSN and ITIN ?
By law, a person cannot have both an SSN and an ITIN. When completing tax return forms, you should enter the ITIN in the space for SSN. Including your ITIN on the tax return will ensure prompt processing and receipt of refund. You may need to use your ITIN number when opening a bank account.
Are ITINs valid for identification?
No. ITINs are not valid identification outside the tax system. Since ITINs are strictly for tax processing, IRS does not apply the same standards as agencies that provide genuine identity certification.
ITIN applicants are not required to apply in person, and IRS does not further validate the authenticity of identity documents. ITINs do not prove identity outside the tax system, and should not be offered or accepted as identification for non-tax purposes.
Are ITINs valid for work purposes?
No. ITINs are for federal income tax purposes only.
You should apply for your ITIN as soon as you are ready to file your federal income tax return, since you need to attach the return to your application. It is possible to apply for an ITIN any time during the year.
The application process for ITIN has recently been revised. You now need to provide the following documents to apply for an ITIN:
Attach a valid Federal Income Tax Return (unless you qualify for an exception – see page 3 of Form W-7)
Original or certified proof of identity. The IRS has revised it’s list of documents acceptable as proof of identity and foreign status. An original and valid passport is the only document acceptable as proof of both identity and foreign status. If you submit an original valid passport (or a notarized or certified copy of a valid passport), you do not need to submit any other documents from the list below
If you do not provide your passport, you must submit a combination of (at least 2 or more) current and valid documents from the list below. These documents (or their combination) should verify
a) Your identity, i.e., contain your name & photograph
b) Support your claim of foreign status
National identification card (must show photo, name, current address, date of birth and expiration date)
U.S. driver’s license
Civil birth certificate
Foreign driver’s license
US state identification card
Foreign voter’s registration card
US military identification card
Foreign military identification card
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification
Medical records (dependents only)
School records (dependents and/or students only)
You can submit copies of original documents. Copies are not returned. These copies must either be – Certified by the issuing agency or official custodian of the original record OR Notarized by a US notary public
If you submit your original documents they will be returned. You need not provide a return envelope for this purpose. If your originals are not returned within 60 days call the IRS at the telephone assistance number. Keep a copy of your application for your records. To be on the safe side, mail your application by insured mail so that you receive a receipt. Avoid using originals if the copy can work.
Use the January 2007 revision of Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to apply. Attach a valid federal income tax return unless you qualify for an exception, and include your original or certified proof of identity documents.
Because you are filing your tax return as an attachment to your ITIN application, you should not mail your return to the address listed in the Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ instructions. Instead, send your return, Form W-7 and proof of identity documents to:
Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
You may also apply using the services of an IRS-authorized Acceptance Agent or visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in lieu of mailing your information to the IRS in Austin. TACs in the United States provide in-person help with ITIN applications on a walk-in or appointment basis. Applicants outside the United States should contact an overseas IRS office to find out if that office accepts Form W-7 applications. The IRS’s ITIN Unit in Austin issues all numbers by mail.
There are three ways to apply for ITIN:
Personally: You can apply for ITIN in person. Carry completed forms and valid documents to any IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in the US
By Mail: Mail Form W-7, your tax return (or other documents required by an exception), and the identification documentation to
Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia Service Center
ITIN Unit, PO Box 447
Bensalem, PA 19020
Through an Acceptance Agent: An Acceptance Agent is an individual, business or organization (college, financial institution, accounting firm, etc.) authorized by IRS to assist individuals in obtaining ITINs. Certifying Acceptance Agents review applicants’ documentation, complete a certificate of accuracy, and forward the certificate and application to the IRS for processing. Some Acceptance Agents may charge a fee.
If you qualify for the ITIN and your application is complete, you will receive a letter from the IRS assigning your tax identification number, usually within 4 to 6 weeks. If you have not received any letter from the IRS in that time, you may call the IRS to check the status of your application at the IRS telephone assistance number: 1-800-829-1040.