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What is an ITIN? 

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, is a tax processing number that ensures those who work in the U.S. have a method of paying taxes, even if they don’t qualify for a Social Security number (SSN). ITINs are assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the United States taxation agency. 

The ITIN is a nine-digit number, much like the Social Security Number. Qualifying resident aliens and non-resident aliens alike can receive an ITIN, along with their spouses and dependents. 

If you do not have a Social Security Number — and cannot get one — you must get an ITIN to be able to file your taxes. 

What do you need to apply for an ITIN? 

Regardless of how you apply for an ITIN, you will need to provide the following two documents to the IRS: 

    1. Proof of your identity 
    2. Proof of your foreign nationality or U.S. residency status 

What qualifies as proof of identity? 

By IRS standards, qualifying proof of your identity can include: 

    • A passport (this can prove both your identity and residency status)
    • A U.S. Department of State-issued visa 
    • U.S. driver’s license 
    • USCIS photo ID 
    • U.S. military ID 
    • Foreign driver’s license
    • Foreign military ID
    • U.S. state ID 
    • Foreign birth certificate 
    • National ID card with your name, address, date of birth, photo, and expiration date 
    • Foreign voter’s registration card  

Who can get an ITIN? 

Regardless of U.S. immigration status, anyone who needs to file a U.S. tax return can get an ITIN. 

This includes: 

    • The dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen, resident alien, or non-resident alien visa holder;
    • A non-resident who needs to file a federal income tax return; 
    • A resident foreign national working in the U.S.; or 
    • Living outside the United States but working for a U.S. company.  

The IRS’s official website contains large quantities of helpful information regarding the ITIN application process. 

What’s the difference between an ITIN and an SSN? 

Although they both function as taxpayer identification numbers, ITINs differ from Social Security Numbers in several key ways: 

    • ITINs are issued by the IRS, while SSNs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). 
    • ITINs are tax ID numbers, and that’s it — they serve no other purpose. Meanwhile, Social Security Numbers serve as ID numbers for other services and benefits, such as: 
      • Unemployment income
      • Social Security Disability 
      • Access to federal loans and subsidies 
      • Medicare enrollment  
    • ITINs alone do not qualify people for work in the U.S. 

Do ITINs expire? 

Yes, ITINs will expire regardless of use. If your ITIN has expired, Liberty Tax can help you renew it when you file your tax return. Here’s a few tips for ITINs: 

    1. If your ITIN wasn’t used on a U.S. federal tax return at least once in the last three years, your ITIN will expire. 
    2. After five years, regardless of use, your ITIN will expire. 
    3. You will receive Notice CP565 when your ITIN is renewed.

you can get


Don’t want to deal with the IRS? We don’t blame you. Avoid the TAXiety of navigating the IRS website and contact our tax experts directly.

Follow the steps below to apply for an ITIN with us: 

    1. Schedule an appointment with your local Liberty Tax 
    2. Provide us with the necessary documents 
    3. We will help you apply for an ITIN - for free! 

Want to apply for an ITIN by yourself? 

To apply for an ITIN yourself, you can: 

    1. Schedule an appointment with an IRS-authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA) 
    2. Submit an application at a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. 
    3. Apply for an ITIN at the same time you file your taxes. To do so, submit a completed W-7 form alongside your completed tax return. In addition, you will need to provide original or certified copies of documents proving your identity and foreign status.  

How long does it take to get an ITIN? 

After applying for an ITIN, you will typically hear a response from the IRS within seven weeks — as long as you’ve sent all the required supporting documentation, of course. If the IRS deems your application incorrect or incomplete, it may take much longer.  

If you haven’t heard from the IRS within seven weeks of submitting your application, you can check on your application status by calling the IRS toll-free at (800) 829-1040, or (267) 941-1000 if you are currently outside of the United States.