ITIN Application Process & Support Documentation

Obtaining a US tax identification number can unfortunately be a complex and capricious process, so only read more if you need one. Individuals need an ITIN (individual tax identification number) and companies need an EIN (employer identification number). The name EIN itself is confusing because a company does not have to be an employer to need an EIN. We’re focusing here on the ITIN application (Form W-7) as that’s complicated enough.

As the IRS is concerned about people obtaining ITINs to file fraudulent tax returns, the IRS is strict about the supporting documentation it approves and often rejects applications. The documentation must establish your identity and connection to a foreign country. The best documentation to work with is your passport, and there are 2 general ways to do this. If you’re in the US, you may find a Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA) and show him/her the passport. If you’re outside the US, the most efficient next step is to go to the US Embassy or Consulate closest to you and get your contact to certify the passport. He/She will do this by making a photocopy of the photo page, stamping it so the photocopy has a raised seal, and then signing it. That original document must be included with the ITIN application. These 2 methods almost always work best. Furthermore, the IRS generally likes to see a taxpayer’s first year US tax return attached to the ITIN application. While there are exceptions to this rule, we’ve seen them apply only in a few circumstances.

So, to make sure we’re all on the same page, to increase your chances of getting an ITIN, include one of the above passport options and your first year US tax return.

Other alternatives include sending your original passport (or a certified copy issued by the agency that gave you the passport) but the former means you don’t have a passport while you wait (which could be a few to several months) and the latter is also time-consuming.

If using a passport, that is the only identification document needed.

There are other methods but, in our experience, they are likely to delay the process. Those include:

  • The following may be used to show identity only:
    • US driver’s license
    • US military ID card
    • Foreign driver’s license
    • US state identification card
  • The following may be used to show showing foreign status or identity.
    • US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification
    • US visa
    • Foreign military identification card
    • National identification card (need name, photo, address, date of birth and expiration date)
    • Foreign voter registration card
    • Civil birth certificate
    • Medical records (for dependents under age 6)
    • School records (for a dependent under age 18, if a student)

It is worth the effort to obtain the correct documentation to increase chances of timely receiving an ITIN. We’ve seen such things as names changes and adoptions severely delay or halt the entire process. If you believe you are in need of an ITIN and have the proper support documentation, please contact Qulanda Moore at qmoore@schwartzintl.com for more information.