How to apply for your ITIN from outside the US

When sitting down to file taxes, one of the first items every taxpayer requires is your TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number).

This will either be your Social Security Number (SSN) or your ITIN if you are not eligible for a SSN.

If you have a social security number you won’t need an ITIN.

If you just need to file Form 8843 (had no taxable US income) then you likely will not need an ITIN either.

However, some nonresidents that have earned taxable US income but are not eligible for a SSN will likely need to apply for what is known as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Countless nonresidents with a 2020 US tax filing requirement have left the US due to COVID-19. If you need to apply for your ITIN from overseas, Sprintax can help you out!

With that in mind, we have put together this useful guide to answer some of the most common queries related to ITINs.

 

Why do I need an ITIN?

You may need an ITIN if you are a nonresident alien that is:

  • expecting to receive taxable Scholarship, Fellowship or Grant Income and you are not eligible for a Social Security Number
  • claiming a tax treaty benefit
  • filing a US tax return
  • claiming a tax refund

Your ITIN is unique to you and you must include this number when filing your tax return.

 

I am not in the US! How can I get my ITIN?

Applying for your ITIN may seem like a painstaking process if you are outside the US.

Step 1: Complete and sign Form W-7

Firstly, you will need to complete and sign Form W-7 as part of the ITIN application.

Step 2: Get copies of your identification documents certified

The next step would be to get copies of your identification documents certified. If you are in your home country outside of the US then this may be trickier as usually your responsible officer at your school can certify copies of your identification documents.

In these cases you may be able to use your home country passport office or you could make a reservation at your nearest United States Embassy/ Consulate or with a Certified Acceptance Agent – IRS official – (check out this link to Acceptance Agents outside the US.

Step 3: Send your application to the IRS

After you get your relevant documents certified, you can send your application to the IRS, accompanied by a signed W-7 form (also known as ‘Application for IRS Individual Tax Identification Number’).

home finances not tallying up for young family

I’m applying for an ITIN while filing my tax return. What should I do?

This is a situation many international students find themselves in.

When you are filing an ITIN application alongside a tax return, the responsible officer at your school cannot certify the documents you are providing.

The following steps are advised if you are applying for an ITIN alongside your tax return. When mailing your ITIN application, include:

  • Your 1040 NR
  • Your ITIN application (Form W-7 signed)
  • Attach a certified copy of the applicant’s passport.

If including a photocopy of your passport, it must be certified by one of the following*:

 

How is the process different when applying for an ITIN before filing my tax return?

If you are an international student and you are filing an ITIN application in advance of your tax return, you will need to complete and sign a Form W-7.

Your school will typically have an officer who is responsible for certifying copies of your documents (such as passport, visa, i-20/DS-2019).

Alternatively, you can also get help from a local IRS office or a Certified Acceptance Agent.

woman doing taxes

What documents do I need when applying for an ITIN?

When applying for an ITIN in advance of your tax return, you will need to provide certain documents as proof of your identity.

An original (or a certified copy) of your passport (which must be unexpired) is the only document the IRS will accept for both identity and foreign status. We never recommend sending original copies of your identification documents.

If, for some reason you do not have a passport, you must provide the IRS with a combination of current documents that contain expiration dates.

The IRS will accept documents issued within 12 months of the application if no expiration date is normally available.

They will accept copies of two or more of the following documents together, as well as the passport:

  • A national identification card (document must clearly show photo, name, current address, date of birth, and expiration date)
  • US driver’s license
  • Civil birth certificate
  • Foreign driver’s license
  • US state ID card
  • Foreign voter’s registration card
  • US military ID card
  • Foreign military ID card Visa
  • US Citizenship and Immigation Services (USCIS) photo ID
  • Medical records
  • School records (dependents and/or students – under 25 years old – only)

 

How long should I be expected to wait for my ITIN to arrive?

The usual waiting time for your ITIN to be processed outside of peak times (January to April) is six to eight weeks however it will depend on when you apply.

During peak tax season this timeframe could be significantly longer.

That’s why you should apply for your ITIN as soon as possible!

 

Is there a way I can check the status of my ITIN?

Yes!

The IRS provide a facility whereby you can check the status of your application.

This service is available to you seven weeks after you submit your W-7 and supporting documents.

You can do this by calling 267-941-1000 from outside the US.

Who can help me apply for my ITIN?

If you are confused and would like help, you can prepare Form W-7 for your ITIN application online with Sprintax!

 

Sprintax can help you when applying for your ITIN alongside your tax return, simply create an account to get started!

Get started here

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Hey I'm Stacy! I'm dealing with US taxes and can't wait to help you prepare your tax return! I've been working with taxes for like forever, so you can totally trust my expertise. Sprintax can make things much easier for you. Check out my blog posts and feel free to ask me any questions.

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