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Do You Need an ITIN

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Do you need an ITIN

Individual Tax Identification Number

Many individuals that wish to invest in the United States must obtain a US tax identification number [ITIN]. They are not eligible to acquire a Social Security Number but the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] of the United States wants to know what income they might derive when investing in the USA. Why? So they can tax that income, of course!

As an individual, you will find that almost all investment companies, banks, mutual funds and real estate transactions will require you to either have or apply for an ITIN.

Is getting an ITIN difficult?

While the process seems to be simple and easy, in practice obtaining an ITIN can be frustrating and time-consuming. A Form W-7 is required and must be attached to your first US tax return or other required tax documents. Where the challenge arises is the proof of identity. A valid passport is the BEST document to prove your identity. But the IRS requires that you send them your passport! or a certified copy of one.

How do I go about obtaining an ITIN?

  • Who wants to send their passport to a foreign government for 2 months? Very few. Obtaining a certified copy of a passport may be an easier choice. If you are near a location where your passport was issued, that government officials may be able to create a certified copy. Other alternatives include:
  • If you are in a country other than your home country, go to your nearest Embassy or Consulate to obtain a certified copy. This applies if you are in the USA as well. A certified document is one that the original issuing agency provides and certifies as an exact copy and also contains an official stamped seal from that agency.
  • Have officers at a US Embassy or Consulate overseas provide you with certification and authentication services for your identification documents. If you are in the USA but not near an Embassy or Consulate, search for a CAA – an IRS Certified Acceptance Agent. The CAA will scan your documents for authenticity and certify copies of them to go with your Form W-7 application. CAA's typically charge a fee for this service. Our firm is a CAA.
  • There are other documents that may be used for proof of your identity required for you to obtain an ITIN. These include birth certificates, valid drivers’ licenses. See the instructions for Form W-7 at for further details. 
  • If you are in the USA and near Austin, Texas, you may call to make an appointment with an agent at the ITIN Operation.
  • If you need an ITIN for your children (dependents), you must prove their US residency unless you are from Mexico or Canada. Another important point is to have identification documents that match your mailing address in the foreign country. Your supporting documents should be current.

What may persons be required to have an ITIN?

  • There are many individuals that require an ITIN. A person who has been present in the USA for more than 183 days during the calendar year may be required to file a US income tax return and would require an ITIN.
  • An individual that purchases and rents US real estate.
  • An individual that purchased US real estate and is now wanting to sell the property.
  • An individual that comes to the USA for temporary work assignments.
  • A nonresident spouse of a US citizen or resident alien.
  • Step-children of resident aliens or US citizens or resident aliens may need an ITIN.
  • Dependents of nonresident aliens who are present in the USA.
  • The estate of a nonresident alien who is deceased but must file a US Estate Tax Return.

Where do I send my application for an ITIN?

Mail the completed Form W-7 along with your tax return or other necessary documents plus all of your required proof of identity documents to:

Internal Revenue Service ITIN Operation

P.O. Box 149342 Austin, TX 78714-9342

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