How to get an ITIN

If you are an immigrant and don't have a Social Security number (SSN), you may still need to file taxes or open a bank account.

In this case, you will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Obtaining an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a crucial step in fulfilling your tax obligations in the United States. An ITIN is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) but still have a U.S. tax filing requirement.  

In this guide, we will go through the steps to obtain an ITIN, the required documents, and how it can benefit you. 

What is an ITIN ? 

The ITIN is used solely for tax purposes, and it is not intended to serve any other purpose. ITINs do not authorize individuals to work in the United States or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits. 

Why does having an ITIN matter? 

Obtaining an ITIN is essential for immigrants, foreign students, and other individuals who do not have an SSN but are required to file a tax return or receive certain tax-related benefits. Without an ITIN, you will not be able to file taxes or receive tax refunds, which can result in penalties and other financial consequences.  

How can an ITIN benefit immigrants? 

An ITIN can benefit immigrants in many ways. It enables them to file taxes, which can be helpful in establishing a credit history, qualifying for loans, and other financial activities. Additionally, an ITIN can also be used to open a bank account and access financial services that require identification, such as mortgages or credit cards. 

How long does it take to get an ITIN? 

The time it takes to get an ITIN varies depending on the method of application. Generally, it takes four to six weeks, and up to 11 weeks if there is a backlog, to get an ITIN if you apply by mail. However, if you apply in person, you can get your ITIN the same day. 

Steps to obtain an ITIN number 

Step 1: Determine your eligibility 

To apply for an ITIN, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. You are eligible to apply for an ITIN if: 

  • You are not eligible for an SSN 
  • You are required to file a U.S. tax return or need to file a U.S. tax return for any other reason 
  • You have income from U.S. sources 

Step 2: Gather required documents 

To apply for an ITIN, you will need to provide original documentation or certified copies from the issuing agency. The documents required depend on your individual situation, but typically include: 

  • A completed Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) 
  • A federal income tax return (unless you qualify for an exception) 
  • Supporting documentation that proves your identity and foreign status. Acceptable documents include: 
  • Passport 
  • National ID card (with photo) 
  • U.S. driver's license 
  • Foreign driver's license 
  • Birth certificate (certified by the issuing agency) 
  • Visa issued by the U.S. Department of State 
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification 
  • Medical records (for dependents under age 6) 
  • School records (for dependents under age 18) 

Step 3: Complete Form W-7 

You can obtain Form W-7 from the IRS website or by calling the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-3676. You must complete the form in its entirety, providing accurate and complete information. The form requires you to provide your full name, mailing address, and birthdate, along with information about your immigration status, residency, and the reason for applying for an ITIN. 

Step 4: Submit your application 

You can submit your application and supporting documentation by mail or in person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. The processing time for an ITIN application varies.  

Step 5: Use Your ITIN after you receive your ITIN 

You can use it to file your taxes, open a bank account, and apply for a credit card or loan. You will need to include your ITIN when filing your tax return or when filling out other forms that require a tax identification number.  

Benefits of Obtaining an ITIN 

There are several benefits to obtaining an ITIN. First, it allows you to fulfill your tax obligations and avoid penalties for failing to file a tax return. Second, it enables you to claim certain tax credits and deductions that can reduce your tax liability. Finally, having an ITIN can make it easier to open a bank account, apply for credit, and conduct other financial transactions that require a tax identification number.  

An ITIN is an essential step for immigrants who have a tax filing requirement but are not eligible for a Social Security Number. By following the steps outlined in this guide and providing the necessary documentation, you can obtain an ITIN and fulfill your tax obligations in the United States. Later on, showing how responsible you were in filing and paying your taxes with your ITIN can help as supporting evidence of Good Moral Character for the citizenship application. 


The information provided on is intended for general informational purposes only. It should not be considered as professional advice or a substitute for seeking professional guidance.

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