An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is for individuals who need to report U.S. income but are not eligible for a Social Security Number. If you need to file a federal income tax return, and do not have or cannot get a Social Security Number, you must apply for an ITIN.  This can be done by filing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form W-7, which can be found on the IRS website, together with the tax return.

There are a few exceptions in which you can apply for an ITIN without concurrently filing a federal income tax return. These exceptions may apply if you are subject to:

  1. Third-party withholding on passive income;
  2. Wages, salary, compensation and honoraria payments (with tax treaty benefits claimed);
  3. Scholarships, fellowships and grants (with tax treaty benefits claimed);
  4. Scholarships, fellowships and grants (no tax treaty benefits claimed);
  5. Gambling winnings (with tax treaty benefits claimed);
  6. Third-party reporting of mortgage interest;
  7. Third-party withholding–disposition by a foreign person of United States real property interest; or
  8. Treasury Decision 9363.

It is illegal to apply for an ITIN if you have a Social Security Number. ITINs are not a valid form of identification outside the tax system. They do not permit work authorization, provide eligibility for Social Security benefits, or provide eligibility for Earned Income Tax Credits.

When you apply for an ITIN by submitting Form W-7 with your federal income tax return, you must also prove your foreign status or identity by submitting additional documentation. If you submit an original valid passport, or a certified copy of the passport from the issuing agency, other documents are not needed to prove status. Otherwise, at least two of the following documents—either the originals or certified copies thereof—must be submitted:

  • National identification card (must show photo, name, current address, date of birth, and expiration date);
  • U.S. driver’s license;
  • Civil birth certificate (required for dependents under 18 years of age);
  • Foreign driver’s license;
  • U.S. state identification card;
  • Foreign voter’s registration card;
  • U.S. military identification card;
  • Foreign military identification card;
  • Visa;
  • USCIS photo identification;
  • Medical records (for dependents under the age of 14 or students under the age of 18); or
  • School records (for dependents under the age of 14 or students under the age of 18).

Expiration of ITIN

As of January 1, 2017, ITINs not used on a federal tax return at least once within the previous three years will expire. The IRS will send a letter to taxpayers with expiring ITINs. Expiring ITINs can be renewed. You will need to renew if you will be filing a tax return and if you have not received a Social Security card. To renew, Form W-7 must be submitted to the IRS. For renewals, submitting a tax return is not required. For more information, visit the IRS website.