Individuals who earn money in the United States and are not citizens may be required to register for an IRS ITIN, or individual taxpayer identification number. This nine-digit identification number takes the place of a Social Security number and is used to file your federal income taxes.

Who Needs an ITIN

An ITIN is issued to an person who is not eligible to receive a Social Security number and who has federal tax reporting requirements. These individuals include:

  • Non-resident aliens
  • Some resident aliens depending on the number of days residing in the U.S.
  • Spouses or dependents of U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and non-resident aliens who hold visas

If you are a spouse or dependent of a person who must file taxes in the United States, you will need an ITIN even if you did not also earn income from U.S. sources.

If you have a pending Social Security application, do not also file for an ITIN. You should do so only if you are not approved to receive a Social Security number.

The ITIN is used only for tax reporting and does not qualify a person to receive Social Security benefits or Earned Income Tax Credit. It does not constitute authorization to work in the United States.

How to Receive an ITIN

To apply for an ITIN, you must complete IRS Form W7 and file it along with your federal income tax return. You will also need to present approved documents that establish your identity and foreign status. This can be done in person at your local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. You can also get a certified copy of your documents with a seal from the issuing embassy or consulate. These copies can be mailed with your ITIN request form.

Complete your Form W7 online with IRS W7 Application. They provide a step-by-step guide to completing the required information to receive your ITIN. If you get stuck, chat and email assistance is available in both English and Spanish.