An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a nine-digit number that can be used as an identification number to file taxes in the United States. Unlike a Social Security Number (SSN) that can be used for a variety of identification purposes, an ITIN can only be directly used for tax filing and reporting.

Having an ITIN can be extremely useful in a variety of settings. For example, with an ITIN you can:

  • Receive a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • File your income taxes, claim tax benefits, and dependents
  • Open a bank account and apply for loans

Getting an ITIN can seem like a difficult, confusing process but by following our 5 easy steps, you’ll find that it’s not as hard as it sounds.

1. Figure out if you qualify for an ITIN.

If all of the following statements apply to you, then you qualify for an ITIN:

  1. I do not have a Social Security Number (SSN).
  2. I am not eligible for an SSN.
  3. I need to provide a taxpayer identification for U.S. tax purposes or to file a federal tax return.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for an SSN. If this is the case, you do not need to apply for an ITIN.

2. Decide when to apply for an ITIN.

Most people apply for an ITIN when they’re ready to file their federal income taxes. However, you can apply at any time if you’ve opened a bank account for yourself or a bank account that is connected with your trade or business, and it is subject to IRS information and/or federal taxes.

Note: If you decide to apply for an ITIN without submitting federal income tax returns, you’ll need one additional document for the next step - a signed letter from your bank that displays your name and states that you have opened either a business or personal account that is subject to IRS information and/or federal tax withholding.

3. Gather the documents you’ll need to establish your identity and foreign status.

You’ll need to submit documents to establish your identity and foreign status. All of these documents must be up-to-date, and original or certified copies.

A certified copy of a document is a copy of an original document that you would get from the original issuing agency. Certified copies have an official stamped seal. To request a certified copy of a document, you can contact either the issuing agency of the document or the applicable embassy or consulate.

If you have a passport, you do not need any other documents. A passport is the only document that will establish both your identity and your foreign status.

Otherwise, you will need two documents: one to prove your identity and another to establish your foreign status.

Below is a list of documents that you can chose from for each category:

To establish your identity:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo ID
  • Visa issued by the U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. driver’s license
  • U.S. military identification card
  • Foreign driver’s license
  • Foreign military identification card
  • National identification card
  • U.S. state identification card
  • Foreign voter’s registration card
  • Civil birth certificate

To establish foreign status:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification
  • Visa issued by the U.S. Department of State
  • Foreign military identification card
  • National identification card
  • Foreign voter’s registration card
  • Civil birth certificate (this document can only be used if it is from a foreign country)

You have to submit these documents with your application for an ITIN. They will be returned to you within 60 days. They will be mailed back to the address that you provide on your W-7 form. We’ll talk more about the W-7 form in the next step.

Remember, if you’re applying for an ITIN without submitting federal income tax returns, you’ll need a signed letter from your bank that displays your name and states that you have opened either a business or personal account that is subject to IRS information and/or federal tax withholding.

If you’re applying for an ITIN to file your taxes, make sure you attach your W-7 form to your tax return when you file it. You should leave the area of the form that asks for a social security number (SSN) blank.

4. Fill out your ITIN application.

After you have gathered all the required documents, the next step of the process is to fill out the actual application, known as the W-7 form, which is available in both English and Spanish.

5. Submit your W-7 form.

There are multiple methods to send your application:

Send by mail

Mail your completed W-7 form, tax return (if applicable), and required documents to the following address:

  • Internal Revenue Service
    ITIN Operation
    P.O. Box 149342
    Austin, TX 78714-9342

Send by private delivery services

If you decide to use private delivery services like FedEx or UPS to send your application, submit your completed W-7 form, tax return (if applicable), and required documents to the following address:

  • Internal Revenue Service
    ITIN Operation
    Mail Stop 6090-AUSC
    3651 S. Interregional, Hwy 35
    Austin, TX 7871-0000

Apply in person

To apply for your ITIN in person, schedule an appointment at a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC).

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all TACs are closed until further notice.

Acceptance Agents

Acceptance Agents (AAs) and Certified Acceptance Agents (CAAs) can help you in completing and filing your W-7 form for an ITIN. The difference between the two is that while AAs still have to submit all your documents to the IRS, CAAs can review and verify your original documents and certified copies from the issuing agency and return them to you immediately.

If you would like help from an Acceptance Agent, the IRS has provided a list of Acceptance Agents located both inside and outside of the United States.

After you have successfully submitted your ITIN application, all that’s left to do is wait. You should hear back from the IRS within 11 weeks.

If 11 weeks have passed, and you have not heard back from the IRS about your application, call to find out about the status of your application. The following number can also be called if you have questions regarding the application process: 800-829-1040 (within the United States) or 267-941-1000 (outside of the United States).