How to Get an ITIN Number

how to get an itin number

Numbers are frequently used to uniquely identify a variety of things.

When you buy a new computer, one of the things you record is the serial number. That number is unique, identifying your specific computer. 

The same is true for taxes—every business needs a tax identification number, and every individual person in America needs a tax identification number.

There are two kinds of individual tax identification numbers. Both numbers have the same format: 000-00-0000.The first type of individual tax number is the Social Security Number. These are available to all United States citizens, permanent resident aliens and temporary residents authorized to work through a work permit.

The second type of individual tax number is the ITIN number.

What Is an ITIN Number?

The acronym ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Any person who needs a tax identification number but is not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number can apply for an ITIN. An ITIN is easy to identify, as it always begins with the number “9.”

Obtaining an ITIN number does not qualify a person to legally work in the United States, nor does it provide eligibility or access to Social Security benefits. ITIN’s are issued by the Internal Revenue Service. The following people should utilize an ITIN number:

  • Foreign nationals who do not qualify for Social Security Numbers but who have U.S. federal tax reporting requirements or wish to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number)
  • Non-resident aliens not eligible for a Social Security Number who are required to file a United States tax return in order to claim a tax refund
  • Resident aliens filing a U.S. tax return
  • Dependents or spouses of U.S. citizens or resident aliens who have U.S. federal tax reporting requirements
  • Dependents or spouses of a non-resident alien visa holder who have U.S tax reporting requirements

The ITIN program has not been around for very long. The program began around 1996. It was set up so individuals without Social Security Numbers could file taxes and abide by U.S. tax laws.

Remember—obtaining an ITIN number does not grant you the right to work and receive income in the United States, and it has nothing to do with Social Security, or the right to receive Social Security benefits.

Can You Claim a Dependent With an ITIN?

If your U.S. resident status fits one of the above categories, you will need an ITIN in order to file income taxes.  Unlike a joint bank account, where two people can share the same account number, each person listed on a tax form must have his/her own ITIN number.

If you have any dependents, make sure each of them also has an ITIN. Since they are listed on the tax form, the government needs to ensure that only one taxpayer is claiming that person as a dependent.

Other Reasons Why  You Need an ITIN

There are additional situations in which you may need to apply for ITIN, and they are all tax-related. For example, you may need to create an ITIN number for your LLC. If you open a business bank account, the bank must have the tax identification number for your business. The bank may also require the ITIN number of any other people connected to the business bank account.

Since I have outlined a few of the ways in which an ITIN number is utilized, it makes sense to discuss the ways in which an ITIN can never be used. Remember that “ITIN” stands for Individual Tax Identification Number. The key here is tax identification.

The only manner in which the United States government is allowed to utilize an ITIN number is for tax purposes. It is not to be used by other United States agencies, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The U.S. government and the IRS just want to be certain that anyone who earns money abides by the same set of rules in regard to income taxes.

How Long Is an ITIN Number Good For?

If you do have an ITIN, be very careful and make sure you file your annual income taxes. Your ITIN will expire if it is not used on a federal income tax form for five (5) consecutive years.

There was a brief period of time, from 2012 to 2014, when ITIN numbers with 5-year expiration dates were issued. Check your paperwork to ensure you were not issued one of the ITIN numbers that is only valid for five years. The IRS revised this rule, however, and it now states the ITIN will only expire if you do not file taxes for five years in a row.

Obtaining an ITIN Number

Do you need help getting your ITIN? You can obtain an ITIN Number by completing Form W-7 and mailing it to the IRS. Alternatively, you can contact one of the ITIN acceptance agents listed by the IRS for assistance. If you'd like to learn more about how to get an ITIN Number, there are agents available within the U.S. as well many countries internationally.

*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such source’s content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.

More By Brett Melson

There are 10 comments left for How to Get an ITIN Number

Ken said: Wednesday, October 3, 2018

For Estate Planning Purposes: What kind of Tax ID # ITIN or EIN is required by US financial institutions to leave estate assets to a non resident alien who is a non green card holder from a US citizens Living Trust or Will?

HBS Staff replied: Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ken, for specific quesitons about estate planning, we recommend you consult a lawyer to ensure your concerns are addressed properly.

Balaji said: Thursday, February 8, 2018

I have owned a wyoming llc recently and got ein number, my agency is not supporting to get ITIN , I'm a non us resident, please do let me know. reach me at or 9849555180 India Mobile

HBS Staff replied: Monday, February 12, 2018

Unfortunately, we cannot assist you in obtaining an ITIN either. Every person in need of an ITIN must call the IRS himself.

Konstantinos Alvertos said: Thursday, December 21, 2017

I would like to ask with an ITIN number can I open a bank account in the US even though I do not reside. I do have a company in Delaware though. If yes what is the procedure to open a US bank account?

HBS Staff replied: Thursday, December 21, 2017

This blog contains the information you are seeking:

Unfortunately, as the article explains, most U.S. banks require someone from the company to appear in person in order to open a bank account.

Mona said: Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hi. I am a non USA resident who would like to start an online company with its base being located in the USA. Is it possible for me to get an EIN number? If yes how do I go about getting one?

HBS Staff replied: Friday, August 25, 2017

We can help you obtain an EIN number for a non US client;the process takes 10-15 business days and the cost is $95.00. You can order it on online at or call us at 1-800-345-2677.

onur hasoz said: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hi I want to get ITIN number. What is required? I'm waiting for your answer.

HBS Staff replied: Monday, June 26, 2017

We do not handle ITIN numbers; you will need to contact the IRS directly with any questions and to apply for it.

1 | 2

Leave a Comment
* Required
* Required, will not be published