ITIN Application Process

What is an ITIN?

ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. This is a nine digit number that begins with the number “9” and is used for processing an individual’s tax information. The ITIN isnecessary for an individual who does not qualify for a social security number, but needs an ID number for US tax purposes. ITIN’s are issued by the IRS after the application process is properly completed.

Who needs an ITIN?

Individuals who are not eligible to obtain social security numbers but nonetheless have reporting and filing requirements with the IRS need to obtain an ITIN in order to complete their related tax returns. Following are some examples of people who must obtain an ITIN:

  • A resident or nonresident alien who is required to file a US income tax return
  • A spouse or dependent of a US citizen or resident alien
  • A spouse or dependent of a nonresident alien who holds a visa
  • A nonresident alien who needs to file a tax return to claim a tax refund

Can I have an ITIN and an SSN?

No; the law does not allow an alien individual to have both an ITIN and an SSN. If you have applied for an SSN, do not apply for an ITIN unless you receive a letter from the Social SecurityAssociation rejecting your application on the grounds that an SSN cannot be issued.

How do I apply for an ITIN form outside of the US?

There are two valid ways to apply for an ITIN from outside of the US.

1. Meet with an IRS-authorized Acceptance Agent:

You can schedule a meeting with an agent and bring along your original foreign passport or other ID documents (as detailed below). The agent will help you fill out a few formsand make a photocopy of your passport or ID documents. The passport or documentsare then returned to you on the spot. The agent will then mail out your application package to the IRS’s ITIN operations unit.

Here at Expat Tax CPA’s, we have an authorized acceptance agent on board! Our clients,depending on where they reside, can utilize this service to make the ITIN application process easier and avoid having to send in original identification documents to the IRS.

2. Apply for an ITIN via mail to the IRS:

The Form W7 is completed, signed, and filed along with a federal income tax return.  These are mailed in to the ITIN operation unit along with an original, unexpired foreign passport or a certified copy or two other qualifying identification documents (as detailed below). You will receive your original documents back from the IRS via mail within 60 days (plus 5 days to allow for mailing and delivery delays).

What other documents, besides for a foreign passport, will suffice for the ITIN application?

If you do not provide a passport, (a passport is the only stand-alone document) then you will have to provide at least two current other documents that together contain yourname and photograph and prove your foreign status. Both foreign status and identity have to be proven with these documents. The requirement for a photograph does not apply to a dependent under the age of 14 (18 if student).

The following chart is published by the IRS to provide clear guidance on what documents qualify and what proof they provide:


Supporting DocumentationCan be used toestablish:
Passport (the only stand-alone document)XX
U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)photo identificationXX
Visa issued  by U.S. Department of StateXX
U.S.driver’s licenseX
U.S.military identification cardX
Foreign driver’s licenseX
Foreign military identification cardXX
National identification card (must be current and contain  name, photograph, address, date of birth, and expiration date)XX
U.S.state ldentlflcaUon cardX
Foreign voter’s registration cardXX
Civil birth certificatex•X
Medical records  (valid only for dependents under age 6)x•X
School records  (valid only for dependents under age 14 (under age 18 if a student))x•X
  • Can be used to establish foreign status only if they are foreign documents.


Is there any way that I would not have to send in my original documents?

Copies of original documents may be submitted if you:

1. Obtain a certified copy from the original issuing agency of the document. This has to be an exact copy of the original and carry an official stamped seal of the issuing agency, OR

2. Employ the certification and authentication services of officers at an overseas US Consulate or Embassy to obtain qualified certified copies of your documents.

Once I have properly submitted my application, how long is it until I receive my ITIN?

You will receive a notification from the IRS usually within six weeks. This letter will provide the ITIN number that has been assigned to you.