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The Hands-On Guide For Obtaining an ITIN (A Guide for International Founders)

To keep up with the global race of being a successful business owner, learning how to get an ITIN number has become ever more important. Especially, if you embark on the journey to becoming a global entrepreneur, there is a good chance that you have your eyes set on the foreign market. And that is where the ITIN form comes into play.


In this article, we will talk about how to apply for an ITIN and discuss what you need to apply for it.


What is an ITIN?


According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the ITIN is a tax processing number issued to everyone who is required to pay taxes to the U.S. Government but is still not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN). 


In other words, the ITIN is issued by the IRS to non-U.S citizens or international founders who had not obtained a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).


What is an ITIN used for?


The global market accounts for a large amount of tax revenue for countries like the U.S.A. And to keep an efficient means to process and account for tax returns and payments,  the IRS issues an ITIN form for all entrepreneurs outside of the U.S.


Even if you are not a citizen of the U.S., having an ITIN will still allow you to avail some benefits like - refund of income tax, claiming tax benefits, file taxes, open a U.S. bank account, claim tax benefits, etc. And so, an ITIN form is essential to document all individuals under the U.S. taxation laws as it ensures an efficient way to process and account for tax returns, payments, etc.


In a nutshell, an ITIN does not:


  1. Provide authority  to work in the U.S.

  2. Acts as a document of eligibility for Social Security benefits

  3. Enables you to qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit Purpose


Alternately, these are what an ITIN form can do:


  1. Help to open a U.S. bank account (personal and business)

  2. File a tax return

  3. Open a PayPal or Stripe account to receive payments

  4. Get documented for unemployment (if needed)

  5. And others …


Who Can Apply For An ITIN?


Any individual living inside and outside the U.S. can apply for an ITIN number. This puts both residents and non-residents visa holders in contention to apply for an ITIN number. So, you can apply for an ITIN if you are:


  1. A non-resident of the U.S. who has not qualified for obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN)

  2. A non-resident of the U.S. who requires filing a tax return

  3. A U.S. resident who is required to file a tax return

  4. A dependent or a spouse of a U.S. citizen, resident, or a non-resident person having a visa

  5. A dependent or a spouse of a non-U.S. citizen holding a visa.


Knowing who can apply for an ITIN is important only when you are sure that you need an ITIN form. So firstly, conform with the IRS to know whether your requirements make it mandatory to get an ITIN for tax purposes. Head over to IRS.gov to read all the information about the application process for ITIN and more.

What Information Is Needed To Get An ITIN?


Here are the following information required to get an ITIN:


  1. Proof of your identity, i.e., your passport or TWO other identity documents.

  2. Residency status of the applicant in a foreign country, like in the U.S.


Here are some of the identification documents that you can submit, which are supported by the IRS:


  1. Passport

  2. U.S. Driving Licence

  3. U.S State Identification Card

  4. U.S. Military Identification Card

  5. Photo ID issued by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)

  6. Foreign Driving Licence

  7. Foreign Military Identification Card

  8. Foreign Civil Birth Certificate

  9. Foreign Birth Certificate

  10. Foreign Voter’s Registration Card

  11. Foreign School Records (for dependents under the age of 18 and are currently students)


How To Get An ITIN?


It is possible to get an ITIN in THREE ways:


1. Taking The Help of the IRS-Authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent


Taking the help of a Certifying Acceptance Agency legalized by the IRS is the best way to apply for an ITIN. Services of these agencies are available both inside and outside of the U.S. and so, you are only required to make an appointment. Also, you must have all your original validation or identification documents with you to prove your ITIN eligibility.


2. Applying At A Specific IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center


The IRS clearly instructs all ITIN applicants to apply at a specific IRS-authorized taxpayer support centre. However, keep in mind that you need to schedule an appointment and also provide relevant identification documents supporting your ITIN eligibility.


3. Mail An Application


According to the IRS, the application for the ITIN can be done at the same time as filing for your taxes. The process is simple and all you need to do is submit a W-7 form along with your tax return file.


Additionally, you also need to provide original copies of your identification (passport, driving licence, birth certificate, education records, medical records, etc.) or certified copies validating your identity as a foreign resident.


How Do I Submit My Application To The IRS?


There are FOUR ways to submit an ITIN application to the IRS:


1. Send Via Mail


If you send your W-7 form application or other documents, and the document described under Supporting Documentation Requirements via mail, use the following address:


Internal Revenue Service 

ITIN Operator

P.O. Box 149342

Austin, TX

78714-9342


As advised, please do not use the mailing address given in the instructions for your tax returns when you are mailing your application.


2. Send Via Private Delivery Service


If you send your W-7 form application or other documents, and the document described under Supporting Documentation Requirements via a private delivery service, use the following address:


Internal Revenue Service

ITIN Operation 

Mail Stop 6090-AUSC3651

S. Interregional Hwy

35 Austin, TX

78741-0000


As advised, please do not use the mailing address given in the instructions for your tax returns when you are mailing your application.


3. Deliver In-Person


You can apply by yourself on visiting the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centres (TACs). The agents there can verify your original documents, certified copies of the documentation from the issuing agency. This is done for the primary applicants, secondary applicants, and their dependents.



In case of the dependents, the TACs can verify all the passports, national identity cards, driving licenses, medical records, birth certificates, etc. The documents will be returned immediately after checking. However, you need to make an appointment at the TAC in order for them to check all your documents.

So, schedule an appointment by calling over to 844-05450-5649. Also, head over to IRS.gov/W7DocumentVerification for a detailed list of TACs that offer services that verify ITIN document authentication service.


4. Apply Through An Acceptance Agency


There are TWO types of acceptance agencies that accept the W-7 documents. These are:

  1. Acceptance Agent (AA)

An acceptance agent can help you fill up your W-7 form. But they are not responsible for checking your documents. To see a list of Acceptance agents (AA), head over to IRS.gov and search for ‘Acceptance Agent Program’.

  1. Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA)

A certifying acceptance agent can verify all your supporting documents required to validate your W-7 application. The CAA will immediately return your documents after validation. Additionally, any taxpayers outside the U.S. must apply through a CAA.


Does My ITIN Certificate Have an Expiry Date?


Yes, like other documents, you are also required to renew your ITIN after every FIVE years. However, if you have not used your ITIN for THREE years in a row, then it will be dismantled or expired, in which case you need to reapply for an ITIN.


The renewal process for ITIN is simple and is similar to applying for an ITIN for the first time. But, you can speed up the renewal process if you simply send a  W-7 form attached with relevant documents. And also, there is no need to attach any previous tax returns.


How Long Does It Take To Get My ITIN from The IRS?


On submitting the W-7 form, you can expect to hear from the IRS in about SEVEN weeks. However, to prevent further delays, you can make sure to submit all the original documents that verifies your information. This is because incorrect or incomplete information in the W-7 form or on the validation documents always require more time to complete.


Also, if you want to avoid a late fine, you must complete your W-7 form and submit it to the IRS before April 15. Besides, if your seven-week timeline has passed, and you have not received a response from the IRS authorities, this is where you can call them and check your ITIN application status:

  • (800) 829-1040 is the toll-free contact number if you are living in the United States

  • (267) 941-1000 is the contact number if you are living outside the United States


Is There Any Difference Between An ITIN And An SSN?


The ITIN is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), whereas the SSN is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA).


The ITIN is a document that helps in filing your tax returns. Other than that, it serves no alternate benefits to the taxpayer individual living in or outside of the U.S. This implies that anyone who needs to file their tax returns is eligible for getting an ITIN irrespective of their immigration status.


On the other hand, a Social Security Number (SSN) is a number exclusively issued for the citizens of the U.S., and people who hold a green card. This number is assigned to a person to keep track of the time they are residing in the U.S. and also to keep a record of their lifetime earnings.


To add more, lawful residents having a SSN and also legally working in the U.S can apply for the following beneficiaries:


  1. Unemployment income

  2. Social Security Disability

  3. Access to U.S. Bank Loans and other amenities

  4. Healthcare facilities for senior citizens


In Conclusion


Overall, deciding to submit the W-7 form on your own is a bold decision. In fact, it often requires taking a much informed and bold decision to take matters into your own hands. Since my goal here is to give you as much information as possible about the ITIN form, I would also warn you to be careful about your application. Normally, sensitive or careless mistakes are the reason to over delay or reject your application.


At the end of it all, we also advise taking the help of a professional so that your application and its supporting documents get accepted in one try. However, we do have a small suggestion about Business Globalizer. Visit now and talk to their agents about how to apply for an ITIN.