Obtaining an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)


This document applies to any independent contractor, fellowship recipient, royalty recipient, rent recipient, or participant stipend recipient who is not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN). Under IRS regulation Section 6109, effective July 1, 1996, the IRS will issue an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to persons that are not eligible for a SSN. In general, the majority of persons who require ITINs are non-U.S citizens.

Important Note: An ITIN may not be used to create an inference regarding the immigration status of a foreign person or that person’s right to be legally employed in the United States.

Requesting a Person's ITIN

Operating locations must request an ITIN from a person in writing, indicating that Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 6109 requires the person provide an ITIN.

When ITINs Are Not Provided

Operating locations must give central office a listing of the names of the persons who failed to provide an ITIN by calendar year end. The Office of Employee Services will prepare a signed affidavit to transmit with Form 1042-S to the IRS indicating these names in order to avoid penalties for reporting invalid or missing numbers. Should any such penalties result, they will be the responsibility of the operating location.

When a Person Should Apply for an ITIN

Operating locations should encourage foreign persons, especially short-term visitors who may not be eligible for an SSN, to apply for an ITIN before arriving in the U.S. since the application process may take several weeks. An application for an ITIN is available on the IRS Web site and at most IRS offices and certain U.S. Consular Offices abroad. Applications for U.S. Social Security Numbers, available on the Social Security Administration Web site (http://www.ssa.gov), may also be filed abroad.

How to Apply

IRS Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number must be used to apply for an ITIN.

Note: As of December 2003, the IRS has issued a revised W-7 form. The revisions to the W-7 may now require an applicant to attach an "original" completed tax return for which the ITIN is needed. In addition, the IRS states it will change the appearance of the ITIN from a card to an authorization letter to avoid similarity to a Social Security Card.

Obtaining Form W-7

Form W-7 can be obtained from most IRS offices or the distribution center (1-800-TAX-FORM — 1-800-829-3676) or most U.S. Consular Offices abroad. The form may also be obtained on the IRS Web site at http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html. From IRS Web site you may print a PDF version of W-7.

The IRS has established two methods for obtaining an ITIN:

  1. Applying directly to the IRS
  2. Applying through an Acceptance Agent

    Each method is described in the sections that follow.

Applying Directly to IRS

Using this process, the applicant obtains the ITIN by applying in person or through the mail.

Applying in Person

The person can apply for the ITIN on IRS Form W-7 at most IRS offices or most U.S. consular offices abroad. Contact the IRS or U.S. consular office for your area to find out if that office accepts Form W-7 applications. See the previous section How to Apply for information on obtaining IRS Form W-7.

The fully completed Form W-7 must be submitted to the IRS or U.S. consular office along with required documentation to substantiate the person’s foreign and true identity. At least two forms of identification must be provided, one of which is required to have a photograph.

The required documentation to support the person’s status (i.e., non-U.S. citizen) could include an original passport, birth certificate, or a current document issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The required documentation to support the person’s identity could include a driver’s license, identity card, school record, medical record, voter registration card, military registration card, passport, U.S. visa or a current document issued by the USCIS.

The person can submit a copy of an original document, but it must be certified by the issuing agency or by a person legally authorized to certify that the document is a true copy of the original. The copy documents should be "authenticated" and not simply notarized. IRS will reject the documents if they are not the originals or authenticated copies.


A person providing a copy of a driver’s license as proof of identity to the IRS must have the copy certified by the department of motor vehicles that issued the license within that country. The certification or seal will denote that the document is a true copy of the original.

Applying By Mail

The person must complete Form W-7, sign and date it, and mail it along with the original or authenticated copies (see description above) of the required supporting documentation to the address printed on the form.

Applying Through an Acceptance Agent

Acceptance Agent

To facilitate the application process and to expedite the issuance of the ITINs, the IRS allows
organizations to be acceptance agents. Acceptance agents are authorized to act on behalf of taxpayers
seeking to obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the IRS. Under an agreement with the
IRS, organizations will have to establish to the satisfaction of the IRS that it has adequate resources and
procedures in place to comply with the terms of the agreement.

Public List of IRS Acceptance Agents for Form W-7

Note: Some acceptance agents may charge a fee.

Responsibility of Acceptance Agent

The Acceptance Agent assumes responsibility for providing the necessary information to the IRS to obtain the ITIN, and the certification that the applicant is a foreign person. The certification is issued on the basis of prescribed documentation obtained from the applicant.

Operating locations who are interested in becoming acceptance agents should contact the Office of Human Resources at central office for additional information.

If an ITIN Holder Becomes Eligible for an SSN

A person who is issued an ITIN and later becomes a U.S. citizen or an alien lawfully permitted to enter the U.S., either for permanent residence or under authority of law permitting U.S. employment, will be required to obtain a Social Security Number.

When the person receives a Social Security Number, he or she must stop using the ITIN. The SSN must be used on all future tax returns, statements, and other documents.

To maintain accurate computerized records, operating locations must replace the person's ITIN with the person's new SSN in the HR module of the RF Oracle business system.


For a better understanding of Taxpayer Identification Numbers, refer to Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Overview.

To provide information to assist the ITIN applicant, refer to IRS Publication 1915, "Understanding Your IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number," a PDF document on the IRS Web site.

Change History



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