Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN): Practical Guidelines for Individuals

Last Updated

December 29, 2008

What is an ITIN?

ITIN stands for Individual Tax Identification Number. It is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who do not qualify for a Social Security Number (SSN). The ITIN always begins with the number 9 and has a 7 or 8 in the fourth digit. For example: 9XX-7X-XXXX.

An ITIN permits individuals without a valid Social Security Number (SSN) to:

  • Pay taxes (report their annual earnings to the IRS)
  • Open an interest-bearing bank account.

Can an ITIN be used for work purposes?
No. An ITIN cannot be used to show work authorization. The purpose of the ITIN is to assist individuals without a SSN to pay their taxes and/or open an interest-bearing bank account. Note: ITINs do not entitle the recipient to Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Who needs an ITIN?

  • Individuals that earn income in the U.S. and must file a U.S. tax return but do not have a SSN. (According to U.S. law, unless your income is exceedingly low, you are legally required to file an income tax return.)
  • Spouses and dependents that are listed on a U.S. tax return but do not have a SSN. (Spouses and dependents must fill-out separate Forms W-7 and submit them together with the principal taxpayer.)
  • Individuals that would like to open an interest-bearing bank account but do not have a SSN.

Does the use of an ITIN indicate that the applicant is undocumented?
No. The ITIN is available to a range of foreign-born persons that are not eligible for SSNs. The IRS has stated repeatedly that an ITIN does not create an inference about an individual’s immigration status.

How does an individual apply for an ITIN?
Individuals must complete IRS Form W-7, “Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer
Identification Number.” This Form may be obtained from any IRS office, U.S. consular office aboard, or any Acceptance Agent. It also is available on-line at, or by calling 1-800-TAX FORM. Form W-7 is available in both English and Spanish.