NewsTax and LegalFeb 26, 2024

How to Get an ITIN Number: Guide for Foreigners

According to the most recent IRS estimates, more than 20 million ITIN numbers are in circulation. Their primary use is to allow nonresidents or people who are not eligible to get an SSN to pay US taxes. If you are one of them and are looking to figure out how to get ITIN number for nonresident, you’re in the right place. 

In this article, we’ll share how to get an ITIN number and where and how to send in your ITIN application. We’ll also talk about the documents you’ll need to successfully apply for ITIN, and we’ll give you a couple of real-life examples to make the whole thing easier to understand. 

But, before we begin telling how to get ITIN number for nonresident, let’s briefly talk about what the ITIN number is, just to make sure we’re all on the same page. 

What Is ITIN?

ITIN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is a tax processing number the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues to anyone (i.e., nonresidents) who is not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN). In essence, ITIN is a substitute for the SSN. And just like SSN, ITIN comes in a 9-digit form, but unlike SSN, ITIN always starts with the number 9

ITIN allows nonresidents in the US to pay taxes and claim certain deductions. 

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ITIN Number Card: Who Can Apply?

ITIN number card is for nonresident aliens and those people who are not eligible to get a Social Security Number (SSN). The main reasons to get ITIN number are:

  • If you need to file taxes in the US (e.g., 1040 or 1040NR form)
  • If you need to file a joint tax return (a single tax return for married couples)
  • If you’re looking to claim specific tax treaty benefits 
  • If you’re a student, professor, or researcher who needs to file US taxes
  • If you have a business in the US which generates US-based income and need to file taxes

You might also need to get ITIN number if you are a dependent or are married to:

  • A US citizen or resident
  • A nonresident with a valid US Visa
  • A resident alien for tax purposes and are filing a joint tax return 

how to get itin number for nonresident and apply by yourself

How to Get ITIN Number for Nonresident: Document Requirements

Here is the documentation you’ll need to prepare, for the most part, to get an ITIN number:

  • A valid passport and copy 
  • ID Card from the nation of your citizenship
  • Driver’s license (from your nation of citizenship or US)
  • Your birth certificate
  • If you’re in the military service, you can prepare your military ID (from your nation of citizenship or the US)
  • A valid Visa
  • Medical Records for children under 6
  • School records for children under 18
  • A W-7 form
  • A federal tax return form

It’s important to note here that you’ll probably only need one form of identification. So, if you have a valid passport, you probably won’t be asked to show your birth certificate, ID card, or any other document that shows your identity.

Applying for ITIN: Three Main Ways

There are three ways to submit your ITIN application — in person, by regular mail, or via an IRS-certified acceptance agent. It’s important to note here that however you choose to submit your ITIN application, you should first:

  • Fill out the W-7 form — Fill out the form correctly and follow all of the instructions IRS provides. Any inaccuracies in this form can increase processing times (make the whole of getting ITIN as nonresident last much longer than it has to) and can cause a myriad of other issues.
  • Make sure to include the federal income tax return — Depending on your legal status and your status for tax purposes, you’ll be required to fill out either the 1040 or 1040NR form
  • Provide documents to prove your identity — Ensure you have valid documents (passport, ID, etc) that prove your identity. The IRS is actively looking for people who provide false or inaccurate information, so ensure you have all the documentation before submitting your ITIN application.

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Applying for ITIN: In person

The first way to submit your ITIN application is to visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. Make sure to bring all of the documents we’ve mentioned above to avoid delays in your submission. 

The important thing to note here is the processing times for the ITIN application, which are usually between 7 and 11 weeks, depending on the specific period of the year. As the peak of the tax season is between January 15th and April 30th, you can expect your ITIN application process to last longer during that period.  

Applying for ITIN: Via Regular Mail

The second way of submitting your ITIN application is via regular mail to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service. ITIN Operation. P.O. Box 149342. Austin TX 78714-9342

Make sure to take into account the mailing and ITIN application processing times when submitting the application this way. For example, if it takes a week for your application to arrive by mail, that will increase the ITIN application duration to around 8-12 weeks (instead of 7-11 weeks if you do it in person).

Applying for ITIN: Via IRS-certified Acceptance Agent

An Acceptance Agent is a person or an entity (like an agency) that is fully authorized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help nonresidents get an ITIN number. 

Going through an Acceptance Agent to get an ITIN can significantly cut down on the processing times, allowing you to get your ITIN number faster. Another important thing about acceptance agents is that they will make sure that every step of applying for ITIN is done accurately and according to the IRS guidelines.   

We work directly with an acceptance agent and can help you get your ITIN number fast and for a price of only $400. Book a free call to learn more!

How To Get ITIN Number For Nonresident: Main Benefits

There are numerous benefits of having an ITIN number as nonresident, including:

a woman applying for her ITIN number from her home in Paris with the help of the agent

Having an ITIN Number Card: Examples

Here are some real-life examples of people applying for ITIN:

Having an ITIN Number Card: Example 1 

Leo Martin is a Canadian citizen who got a US mortgage loan and bought a rental property in the States. Because his property is generating rental income, he must pay taxes in the US. But because he is a foreigner and doesn’t have an SSN to file tax returns and comply with US laws, Leo needs to get an ITIN

Having an ITIN Number Card: Example 2

Dasya Bahl is from India and is studying in the US. Due to his excellent academic performance, Dasya has become eligible to get a student grant. But, in order to apply for a US student grant, he needs to get an ITIN

Having an ITIN Number Card: Example 3

Diego Alvarez is a US Green Card holder who lives and works in the US. He has a wife and two kids who are residents in the US but don’t have an SSN like Diego (thanks to his Green Card). Diego wants to claim his wife and children as dependents on his tax returns (to lower his federal taxes). But before he can do that, he needs to get ITIN numbers for both his kids and his wife. If they don’t have an ITIN, Diego won’t be able to claim them as dependents and won’t get any deductions on his taxes.

What to Do if Your ITIN Is Lost or Expired?

If you lose your ITIN number, don’t immediately apply to get a new one. What you should do instead is:

  • Find copies of your previous tax returns (if you have any) and review them until you find the ITIN number you’ve written on the form.
  • Contact the IRS via telephone number 1-800-829-1040

The official IRS policy is to deactivate any ITIN that hasn’t been used on a federal tax return for five years in a row. This means that every time you file taxes in the US with an ITIN number, you’ll extend the expiration date of your ITIN by another five years. However, if your ITIN expires (i.e., you don’t file federal taxes for five consecutive years), you will have to get a new one and go through the entire process of applying for ITIN again. 


Can you apply for ITIN number online? 

No, you can’t. You can fill out the necessary paperwork online, but you will have to print it out and send it in paper form via mail or hand-deliver it directly to one of the IRS Assistance Centers.

How long to get an ITIN?

Depending on different circumstances and the period you choose to submit your ITIN application, it can take anywhere between 7-11 weeks to get an ITIN. 

During the peak period of the tax season in which IRS staff is the busiest (between January 15th and April 30th), you should expect the ITIN application processing times to be longer. 

Need Help Getting an ITIN? Try out NRI! 

NRI is a one-stop solution for foreigners filing taxes in the US. As part of our services, we offer tax and legal advice, including help with getting an ITIN number. We work directly with an IRS-certified Acceptance Agency and can save you all the hassle of applying for ITIN by yourself. For a fixed fee of $400, we’ll ensure your application is filled out correctly and to the exact specifications of the IRS.

Looking to get ITIN? Book a free call to get started!

Founder & CEO
Luka Malkovich is a serial entrepreneur with years of experience in international real estate investing. As the CEO of Nonresident Investor, Luka’s mission is to educate foreign nationals about the US real estate market and help them secure funding and buy property in America. That’s why he’s using his expertise to turn the NRI blog into a knowledge hub for anyone interested in learning about US real estate. This article was written by a professional content writer in conjunction with Luka Malkovich. Luka has thoroughly reviewed this article and has given his final approval before publishing.

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