Key Terms

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN)

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a unique nine-digit tax processing number issued by the IRS to individuals required to pay tax or who have a tax reporting requirement to the IRS but do not qualify for a Social Security number.

An ITIN does not serve as identification outside of the tax system, and does not change an individual’s immigration status. An ITIN does not authorize the individual the right to work in the United States or confirm employment eligibility. An ITIN does not entitle person to Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Who needs an ITIN?

Any U.S. resident (based on days present in the U.S.) or non-resident alien individual who:

  • Is required to file a U.S. federal income tax return.
  • Can be claimed as a dependent on a U.S. federal income tax return.
  • Does not have and cannot obtain a Social Security number to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty.
  • Meets an exception to having to file a U.S. federal income tax return, but requires an ITIN for federal withholding and reporting purposes.

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How do I apply for an ITIN?

  • The Form W-7/W-7SP must be attached to a U.S. federal income tax return unless one of the exceptions to the requirement is met.
  • Attach original, certified or notarized copies of acceptable identification documents.
  • The applicant’s name must be listed on the return as it appears on the Form W-7/W-7SP.

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New Standards for ITIN Applications

Effective January 1, 2013, IRS updated the IRS updated procedures that affect the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) application process. Please see Revised Application Standards for ITINs for additional information.

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IRS Clarifies Temporary ITIN Application Requirements

Effective October 2, 2012, the IRS clarified temporary ITIN application requirements for noncitizens with tax extensions and many foreign students. Specifically, the IRS will allow individuals studying in the United States under the Student Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP) to get ITINs under a streamlined procedure. In addition, the IRS is creating special procedures for taxpayers who have an approved Tax Year 2011 extension to file their completed tax returns.


  • To request an ITIN or for help completing your Form W-7 or your tax return, call 1-800-829-1040
  • Assistance is also available at Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs). U.S.-based TACs provide in-person help with ITIN applications


  • Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (English)
  • Publication 1915, Understanding Your ITIN (English language version)
  • Publication 1915, Understanding Your ITIN (Spanish language version)
  • Publication 4327, ITIN Facilitating Participation in the Tax System (English and Spanish version)
  • Publication 4393, What Is an IRS ITIN Acceptance Agent? (English and Spanish version)


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