How to Get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

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by Team
Last updated: June 10th, 2024

Every taxpayer in the United States must have a taxpayer identification number. For U.S. citizens, the Social Security Number (SSN) is that identification number. If you are not a U.S. citizen (and therefore not eligible for an SSN) but are earning income in the country, you can get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

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Who needs an ITIN?

Foreigners residing abroad but earning income in the U.S. and foreigners residing in the U.S. alike can receive an ITIN number. That is because non-citizens living inside or outside the U.S. may be required by federal law to file income tax return reports to the IRS if they are earning money in the country.

ITINs are assigned to citizens of foreign countries without consideration of the applicant’s U.S. immigration status.

  • Noncitizens of the U.S. who are, therefore, ineligible for a Social Security Number
  • Foreigners filing a U.S. tax return
  • Foreign citizens claiming an income tax refund from the U.S. IRS
  • Non-U.S. citizens opening a U.S. business bank account (possibly)
  • Dependents of foreigners who plan to file for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

How to get an ITIN

Fill out and sign IRS Form W-7.

Download IRS Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Tax Identification Number). Complete the form and sign it.

Get copies of your required identification documents certified.

Have the ID documents you plan to submit certified. Enclose the required number of identification documents listed in the Documents section below. Or, if you need additional help, make an appointment with your U.S. Embassy, Consulate, Certified Acceptance Agent outside the U.S., or IRS official.

Send your W-7 application and ID documents to the IRS.

Send your Application for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, Form W-7, and your certified identification documents to the appropriate division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Documents needed to apply for an ITIN

These are required and optional substitute documents that can be used to meet various requirements for foreigners living outside the United States to obtain an ITIN:

  • Current passport issued by your country of residence, or two or more of the following documents:
  • National identification card from your country of residence (including name, current address, date of birth, expiration date, and photo)
  • Birth certificate
  • Military identification card from the applicant’s country of citizenship
  • Current foreign driver’s license
  • Current U.S. visa
  • Voter registration card from the applicant’s country of citizenship
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo ID

Where to send your ITIN application

To apply for your ITIN, fill out and mail Form W-7 along with your certified identification documents (from the above list) to:

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

For detailed W-7 instructions, see IRS Publication 1915 PDF.

You can also use a Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA) to submit your ITIN application. A CAA is a person, company, or organization providing help for ITIN applicants. See links to lists of CAAs in the U.S. and foreign countries at the IRS’s Acceptance Agent Program website.

How to check the status of your ITIN application

Normally, after the IRS reviews an application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, the original documents are returned to the candidate within 60 days. After 7 weeks from the date you submitted your Form W-7, you can check the status of your ITIN application and the return of your original documents.

To check your application status, you can call (800) 829-1040 from inside the U.S. or (267) 941-1000 (not toll-free) from outside the country. (Be aware of very long hold times on most IRS phone lines.)

What is the difference between an ITIN, SSN, and EIN?

It can be confusing to distinguish between an SSN, ITIN, and EIN. They may seem to be the same and have the same purposes, but these three identifiers are not alike and cannot all be used in the same ways.


An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is an official identifier issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for non-U.S. citizens who need a federal tax return filing identifier but who are ineligible for a Social Security Number.

An ITIN cannot be used for employment or other purposes. This number is used only for income tax return filing and income tax payments. This number is available to foreigners residing in the United States and nonresident aliens earning income in the country. An ITIN can be used by foreign owners of U.S. business startups to apply for an EIN.


The Social Security Number (SSN) is one type of U.S. taxpayer identification number available to U.S. citizens. It is issued by the federal Social Security Administration (not by the IRS). Social Security Numbers are used for employment purposes, among other uses. Those include withholding Social Security tax and filing for Social Security payments at the age of eligibility (currently age 62 or later). It is also used to apply for disability income and various other government income programs that are exclusive to citizens, etc.


An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also called the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). The EIN is a unique identifier issued by the Internal Revenue Service to businesses in the United States as federal taxpayer identifiers for entities producing income in the country. An ITIN can be used to apply for an EIN.

There are certain special exceptions to these taxpayer identification number (TIN) requirements for which some individuals may qualify under some circumstances. See this guide for more information about ITIN applications.


How long does it take to receive an ITIN?

You should expect it to take about 7 weeks to receive your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or notification of the status of your application. It may take up to 11 weeks during the busy income tax return season at the IRS (January through April). If you send your ITIN application from outside the United States, it may take longer to receive a response.

How much does it cost to get an ITIN?

There is no fee or other form of charge for initially applying for an ITIN or renewing your existing one. Getting an ITIN is free of charge if you prepare and submit your ITIN application on your own or with help at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. Of course, you can expect to incur a fee for using a Certifying Acceptance Agent.

Can I use my ITIN like a Social Security Number?

The ITIN does not entitle a taxpayer to Social Security benefits or other programs that are exclusive to U.S. citizens with a SSN. The ITIN is only for the purpose of filing an IRS income tax return. It also does not indicate that an individual has been granted permission to work in the United States.

Are there any reasons why my request for an ITIN might be rejected?

Some of the personal identification documents listed as options in the Documents section above have specific criteria that must be fully met for the document to be accepted as valid under IRS requirements. For example, current dates must indicate that the term of the document’s validity has not expired. If ID documents don’t meet all the criteria in the details, the IRS may reject the application for an ITIN and you may need to reapply with corrected ID documentation.

When does an ITIN expire?

When an ITIN remains unused for filing an income tax return with the IRS for three tax years consecutively, it will expire. The expiration date will be the end of the calendar year (December 31) of the year during which the three years elapsed. See IRS Bulletin 2016-48PDF or the IRS Publication Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for additional information about how to avoid having an expired ITIN and what to do if yours has expired.

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