Note: This article is written for non-US residents and non-US citizens (“foreigners”) who have formed an LLC in the U.S. and now need to file taxes with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
You must apply for an ITIN – Individual Taxpayer Identification Number – when you have a U.S. tax filing or informational reporting requirement.
You will apply for your ITIN by submitting Form W-7 along with your U.S. federal income tax return, proof of identity, and proof of foreign status in the U.S.
If you are a foreigner and you formed an LLC in the U.S., you will need to speak with an accountant to determine if you owe U.S. taxes. Most people who form an LLC in the U.S. will have a federal tax filing requirement in the U.S.
You can find accountants that work with foreigners on the Acceptance Agent Program page of the IRS website. Just click on the state where you formed an LLC and call a few accountants. You can use our “knights of the roundtable” strategy in order to make a few phone calls and see which accountant is best for you and your business. The accountants listed in the Acceptance Agent Program will also be able to help you apply for your ITIN.
What is an ITIN?
An ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. It is a nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
ITINs are issued to people who don’t have a Social Security Number (SSN) or are not eligible to obtain an SSN. Instead of using an SSN, the ITIN will be used for filing taxes with the IRS.
ITINs are issued to both resident and nonresident aliens (“alien” is the legal term for foreigner), since the IRS does not get involved with immigration.
If you are not sure if you have a U.S. tax filing requirement, you will need to speak with an accountant for help. Taxes are more complex for foreigners.
We are not able to determine your U.S. tax requirements You will need to work with an accountant.
An ITIN is ONLY for U.S. taxes
An ITIN is used to file a U.S. income tax return (or submit information to the IRS), and cannot be used for anything else.
An ITIN does not give you the right to:
- work in the U.S.
- obtain legal status in the U.S.
- get Social Security benefits
- get the Earned Income Tax Credit
What does “work” mean?
For foreigners who formed an LLC in the U.S., the term “work” can often be confusing. Don’t confuse the word “work” with “working on”, as in “working on your business.” Being the owner of an LLC doesn’t mean you are working in the U.S. Yes, you own your LLC, and yes, you do things for your LLC, but this does not mean you are working for your LLC (as an employee). As defined by law.com, “work” means an employee or simply “a person who is hired for a wage, salary, fee or payment to perform work for an employer.”
What the U.S. government is trying to do here is prevent people from gaining certain immigration and employment rights simply by forming an LLC in the U.S. Becoming eligible to work in the U.S. is far more complicated.
And it is not something we cover on our website.
You will need to work with an immigration attorney for any employment eligibility matters.
Who needs to get an ITIN?
Foreigners need to apply for an ITIN from the IRS if they have a federal tax filing requirement (or informational reporting requirement) and do not qualify for a Social Security Number (SSN).
- a nonresident alien required to file a U.S. tax return
- a U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the U.S.) required to file a U.S. tax return
- a dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
- a dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
How do I get an ITIN?
Unless you meet certain exceptions listed below, you must have a U.S. tax filing requirement and also file a federal income tax return in order to apply for an ITIN.
Your ITIN application will include the following items:
- Form W-7 (“Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number“)
- U.S. federal income tax return
- proof of identity
- proof of foreign status
Currently, there are 13 different documents that the IRS will accept for proof of identity and proof of foreign status. However, using your passport is the easiest and most common choice. You’ll find these documents listed below.
Your U.S federal income tax return
You will need to hire an accountant who specializes in U.S. taxes for foreigners.
How to complete Form W-7 (Application for ITIN)
We strongly recommend working with an accountant (specifically one that is listed as an IRS Acceptance Agent), since it is very easy to mess up Form W-7 and doing so will cause the IRS to reject your ITIN Application.
However, for general information on what gets listed on Form W-7, please continue reading this section.
You can download IRS Form W-7 here:
IRS: Form W-7
Here are the IRS instructions for Form W-7 here:
IRS: Instructions for Form W-7
Application Type (Check one box):
Check off the first box if you are applying for a new ITIN.
Reason you’re submitting Form W-7:
Read through the boxes (a-h) and determine the reason you are applying for an ITIN. If more than one applies, select the box that best explains your reason. You must select one box in this section.
• If box “a” or box “f” is checked and a tax treaty benefit is being claimed, then you may also select box “h”. To the right, you must enter the Treaty Country and the Treaty Article Number. For more information on U.S. tax treaties, please see Publication 901 and About Publication 901.
• If box “d” or “e” is checked, then you must enter your spouse or dependent’s full name and their SSN or ITIN.
• If box “h” is checked, then you must enter your reason for requesting the ITIN.
(Note: “Renewing an ITIN”, “ITIN renewal”, or other similar reasons are not valid. If you are renewing an ITIN, you must list the original reason you got your ITIN.)
• If box “f” or “g” is checked, then you must attach a copy of your visa. (Exception: You don’t need to do this if you are entering the U.S. from Canada, Bermuda, Bahamas, Cayman Islands or Turks and Caicos Islands).
1a.) Enter your legal name the same way it appears on your proof of identity documents.
1b.) If your legal name at birth was different than what you entered in #1a, then enter that here in #1b. If not, leave #1b blank.
Applicant’s Mailing Address
2.) Enter the complete mailing address of where you live. The IRS will use this address to send your ITIN Approval Letter as well as return any original documents (if necessary).
This mailing address can be inside the U.S. or it can be outside of the U.S.
Foreign (non U.S.) Address
3.) If you entered a U.S. address in #2, then enter the foreign (non-U.S.) address in the country where you permanently or normally live.
If the address in #3 will be the same as a foreign address you listed in #2, then enter “SAME” on both lines in #3.
If you permanently moved to the U.S. and you no longer have a foreign address, enter only the country where you last lived.
Note: If you’re claiming a benefit under an income tax treaty with the U.S., the country listed on line #3 must be the same as the income tax treaty country.
4.) Enter the date you were born, the country, and the city and state (or province) if applicable.
5.) Then select whether you were born a male or female.
In the U.S., we use month/day/year to express a date (not day/month/year). So if you were born on June 1st 1975, that would need to be entered as 06/01/1975. Also make sure to use 2 digits. For example, June is written as “06” and not “6” and the 1st day is written as “01” and not “1“.
6a.) Enter the country where you are a citizen. Do not shorten or abbreviate the country name (enter the full country name). If you have citizenship in two countries (dual citizenship), then enter both countries with a “/” in between the country names.
6b.) If you have a tax identification number in the country where you live, then enter that here. If you do not have a tax identification number from your country, then you can leave this blank.
6c.) If you have a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, enter that information here. Please see the Form W-7 instructions for how to enter these details.
6d.) Select the type of documentation you are using to prove your identity and enter those details in this section.
6e.) Select whether or not you have previously received an ITIN or an IRSN (Internal Revenue Service Number) from the IRS.
6f.) If you selected “Yes” in #6a, then you will need to complete this section. If you selected “No” in #6a, then you will leave this section blank.
6g.) If you selected box “f” in the “Reason you’re submitting Form W-7” section, then you must enter the applicable college, university, or company. You must also enter the city and state and the length of your stay.
If you are the person applying for the ITIN (your name is in #1), then you should sign the form, enter the date, and your phone number. You can leave the Delegate row blank.
If the ITIN applicant is a dependent, please see Form W-7 instructions for who can can sign here and how they should sign this section.
Acceptance Agent’s Use ONLY
If you are hiring an Acceptance Agent (which we recommend doing) to help with your ITIN application and U.S. tax return, then they will enter their information in this section as well as sign the form. You should not be completing this section.
Make a copy of Form W-7 before submitting to the IRS
We recommend making a copy of your Form W-7 (along with all supporting documentation) before submitting your paperwork to the IRS. Keep this copy with your business records.
ITIN Mailing Address
Do not mail your ITIN Application to the address listed in the Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ instructions.
Instead, mail your ITIN Application (Form W-7, U.S. federal income tax return, and proof of identity and foreign status documents) to:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, Texas 78714-9342
Filing in person
Instead of mailing your ITIN Application to the Texas address above, you can also file your application in person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC).
You can find a list of IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers here:
IRS: Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Locations Where In-Person Document Review is Provided
You will need to call ahead of time as an appointment is required.
However, we recommend hiring an accountant instead (who is an IRS Acceptance Agent), as an accountant will not only help you with your ITIN Application, but they will also help prepare your U.S. federal income tax return.
Proof of identity and foreign status documents
Along with your U.S. federal income tax return and Form W-7, you must also submit documentation that proves your identity and your foreign status in the U.S.
Currently, there are 13 documents that the IRS will accept.
Some examples are a passport, national identification card, U.S. driver’s license, foreign driver’s license, and a visa.
You can find the full list of accepted documents on the IRS website:
IRS: Revised Application Standards for ITINs
(You’ll need to look under the section titled “What documents are acceptable as proof of identity and foreign status?“)
Your passport is the only document that can be used to both prove your identity as well as prove foreign status, however, some documents can only be used for one of these purposes. To see which documents can be used for which purpose, please see the IRS instructions for Form W-7 and look under the section titled “Supporting Documentation Requirements” (see #3).
Passport is the most common: Using your foreign passport will serve as both your proof of identity and your proof of foreign status. Using a passport is the easiest and most common choice.
The IRS wants either your original passport or a certified copy of your passport. We recommend working with an accountant that is an IRS Acceptance Agent as they will be able to help you obtain a certified copy of your passport. Getting a certified copy of your passport is a lot better than sending in your original and having to wait multiple weeks before you get it back.
Qualify under an Exception to the federal tax filing requirement
Most people applying for an ITIN can only do so if they are also filing their U.S. federal income tax return. However, if you meet one of the IRS Exceptions, then you can apply for the ITIN at any time and you do not have to include a U.S. tax return with your ITIN application.
The rules regarding the Exceptions are somewhat complicated, so we strongly recommend working with an accountant (that is an IRS Acceptance Agent) to determine if you meet any of the Exceptions.
You can find the Exceptions in the Form W-7 instructions:
IRS: Instructions for Form W-7
Although you can apply for an ITIN yourself, we recommend getting help
The IRS is very particular when it comes to reviewing your ITIN Application, your U.S. tax return, and your proof of identity and foreign status. If you make any mistakes, your ITIN application will be rejected.
For that reason, while you can apply for an ITIN yourself, we recommend getting help from an accountant (that is an IRS Acceptance Agent) since they specialize in helping foreigners.
Another example of how hiring an accountant (that is an IRS Acceptance Agent) can help is regarding your passport. If you don’t certify your passport, you’ll need to send the IRS your original passport. That can be especially stressful if you need to travel soon or you’re currently traveling in the U.S. Instead, when hiring an accountant, they can certify your passport for you and send that in along with your ITIN Application (instead of using your original passport).
How long does it take for my ITIN to be approved?
If you send your ITIN Application in between January 1st and April 30th, it will take 9 to 12 weeks for your ITIN to be approved.
If you send your ITIN Application in between May 1st and December 31st, it will take 7 to 8 weeks for your ITIN to be approved.
If you do not receive a letter from the IRS within those time frames, you can call them to check on the status of your ITIN Application.
- If you are in the U.S., you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
- If you are outside of the U.S., you can call the IRS at 1-267-941-1000.
Note: If you are calling from outside of the U.S., the country code to call the U.S. is “+1” or “001”.
ITIN Approval Letter
As mentioned above, you will receive a letter in the mail from the IRS regarding the decision about your ITIN Application.
If your ITIN Application is approved, you will receive a CP-565A notice, however, you may also receive other notices from the IRS, as listed below.
Letter 5872: Return of Supporting Documentation
The IRS sends this letter to let you know that they are returning original documents, such as your passport or proof of identity (if you sent original documents instead of certified copies).
CP-565A: We Assigned You an ITIN
If your ITIN Application is approved, you will receive a CP-565A notice, also known as the “Notice of ITIN Assignment“.
Note: CP-565B is used by the IRS to send a copy of the ITIN approval letter (if you lose CP-565A).
CP-567: We Rejected Your Application for an ITIN
If your ITIN Application is rejected, you will receive a CP-567 notice, which will explain why the ITIN Application was rejected.
There will also be a phone number on the letter so you can call the IRS for more information. It’s most likely you made a mistake in the ITIN Application.
We recommend hiring an IRS Acceptance Agent on your next ITIN application.
CP-566: We Received Your Application for an ITIN
If your ITIN Application was incomplete or missing documents, you will receive a CP-566 notice, which is the IRS telling you that they need more information in order to process your ITIN Application.
We also recommend hiring an IRS Acceptance Agent to make sure you refile your ITIN Application correctly.
What is the difference between an ITIN, SSN, and EIN?
An ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. This number is used by people who are not eligible for an SSN and have a U.S. tax filing or informational reporting requirement.
An SSN stands for Social Security Number. This number is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to identify a US Citizen, Permanent Resident, or Temporary Nonimmigrant Worker. Not everyone is eligible to obtain an SSN.
An EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. Although the word “Employer” is in the name, you don’t have to have employees in order to obtain and use this number. An EIN is issued by the IRS to businesses for tax reporting requirements. You will also use an EIN to open a business bank account after forming an LLC in the U.S.
For more information, we also recommend reading Understanding IRS Taxpayer ID Numbers.
Do not apply for an ITIN if you applied for an SSN
As per U.S. law, a foreigner cannot have both an ITIN and an SSN.
If you are eligible for an SSN and have already submitted an application for an SSN (and have not heard back yet), do not apply for an ITIN. Your application for an ITIN will be rejected if you do.
If you get an SSN
If later in the future, either through employment or immigration status, you become eligible for an SSN, then apply for one and are approved, you need to:
- Stop using the ITIN (you cannot have both an ITIN and SSN)
- Send a letter to the IRS and ask them to merge (“connect”) your tax records
If you have to send a letter to the IRS, although you can send the letter yourself, it might also be a good idea to ask your IRS Acceptance Agent for help.
The letter you send to the IRS needs to include the following information:
- complete name
- mailing address
- phone number
- copy of the CP-565A or CP-565B (“Notice of ITIN Assignment“)
- copy of your social security card
You can list all the information at the top of the form. Then below this information, you can write the following:
“I have been assigned a Social Security Number (SSN) and I would like my tax records combined. If you have any questions, I can be reached at the phone number listed above. Thank you.”
Mail your letter to the IRS at the following address:
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, Texas 73301-0057
Note: There is no street address in this mailing address. That is correct. A street address is not needed. The IRS has their own mailing zip codes in Austin, Texas.
The IRS will then use your new SSN and enter that into all your past records and then they will cancel your ITIN.
Within 30-60 days, you will receive a confirmation letter in the mail letting you know the changes have been made. From that point forward, you will only be using your SSN and will no longer be allowed to use your ITIN.
The IRS will cancel the ITIN and associate all prior tax information filed under the ITIN with the new SSN.
ITIN not needed for Form 4868, Form 1040-ES, or Form 1040-ES (NR)
You do not need to list an ITIN on the following forms:
- Form 4868 (“Extension of Time“)
- Form 1040-ES (“Estimated Tax Payment“)
- Form 1040-ES (NR) (“U.S. Estimated Tax for Nonresident Alien Individuals“)
And do not file Form W-7 with the above documents.
Instead, whenever the above forms ask for an SSN or ITIN, just enter “ITIN to be requested“.
Do I need to renew my ITIN?
As of 2018, there are two reasons for why an ITIN may expire:
1. If your ITIN was not used on a U.S. federal tax return for at least one year in the tax years 2014, 2015, or 2016, then your ITIN expired on December 31st of 2017.
2. If your ITIN has middle digits of 70, 71, 72 or 80 (example: XXX-70-XXXX), then your ITIN also expired on December 31st of 2017.
The IRS sent out renewal letters called the CP-48 notice to people with expiring ITINs, so if your ITIN is expiring, you should have already received this notice.
To renew an ITIN, you will resubmit Form W-7 (along with the required documentation) and you will check off “Renew an Existing ITIN” in the upper right of the form.
For a visual chart from the IRS about ITIN renewals, please see this page:
IRS: Do You Need to Renew Your ITIN?
Recommendation: We recommend you find an accountant (listed as an IRS Acceptance Agent) in order to renew your ITIN, file your U.S. tax return, and take care of any informational reporting requirements with the IRS.
IRS Contact Information
If you have any questions or need to check on an ITIN application, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
IRS: ITIN Expiration FAQs
IRS: Understanding Your ITIN
IRS: Additional ITIN Information
IRS: Understanding Your ITIN Notice
IRS: Acceptance Agent’s Guide for ITIN
IRS: ITIN Procedures Frequently Asked Questions
IRS: ITIN – Enabling Participation in the Tax System
IRS: Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
IRS: ITIN Guidance for Foreign Property Buyers/Sellers
US Congress: Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016
US Congress: House Bill 2029 – Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016