Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

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An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a unique nine-digit number (beginning with the number nine, 9XX-XX-XXXX) assigned to persons who are foreign nationals or who are not eligible to obtain a Social Security number (SSN) (for example, undocumented immigrants). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues ITINs so that persons that do not have an SSN may pay their federal tax obligations. However, an ITIN does not provide a person with immigration status, authorize such a person to work in the U.S., or make the person eligible for social security benefits. In specific cases, the ITIN may also be used for other purposes like opening an interest-bearing bank account or obtaining a mortgage.

The persons who meet the following three requirements may apply for an ITIN:

  • Persons not eligible to obtain an SSN.
  • Persons who were required to furnish a federal tax identification number or file a federal tax return, and
  • Persons who belong to one of the following groups:
    • Nonresident aliens who are required to file a U.S. tax return.
    • U.S. resident aliens who are filing a U.S. tax return.
    • Dependents or spouses of a U.S. citizen/resident alien.
    • Dependents or spouses of a nonresident alien visa holder.
    • Nonresident aliens claiming a tax treaty benefit.
    • Nonresident alien students, professors, or researchers filing a U.S. tax return or claiming a tax exception.

A person may apply for an ITIN by filling out and delivering a Form W-7 along with their federal income tax return, proof of identity, foreign nationality status, and residency. In most cases, to verify their identity and foreign status, applicants must submit original documents or certified copies of such documents. Applicants may apply for an ITIN by mail, in person through a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC), or with the assistance of an Acceptance Agent (AA) or a Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA) authorized by the IRS. Applicants who reside outside the U.S. may apply by mail or in-person to an IRS employee or a designated U.S. diplomatic mission or consular post.

An ITIN will expire if its holder does not file a tax return for three consecutive years. However, the ITIN may be renewed by submitting a renewal application to the IRS. Please visit the IRS webpage for further information about the ITIN.

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]