Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN)

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) staff are not tax professionals or certified public accountants. For professional advice, please consult with a licensed tax professional with experience in nonresident taxes or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a nine-digit tax processing number issued to nonresidents for tax purposes who:

  1. are not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN), and
  2. have taxable income from a U.S. source.  

ITINs are issued by the IRS and used for federal tax reporting only. Note that the ITIN:

  • does not provide authorization for work in the United States
  • does not provide eligibility for Social Security benefits
  • does not provide any income tax credits or deductions 

Instead, ITINs allow individuals to comply with United States tax laws. 

Do I need an ITIN?

If you received taxable income from U.S. sources during the previous year but were not employed and therefore do not have – and are not eligible to receive – a Social Security Number (SSN), then you will need to apply for an ITIN so that you can file your required federal tax return. Taxable income can come in a variety of forms, including fellowships, grants, and scholarships.

Other reasons to obtain an ITIN is if you will be included on the tax return of someone else and you do not have and are ineligible to obtain an SSN.

When not to get an ITIN

An ITIN is not required if you did not have any taxable income from U.S. sources during the tax year (January 1-December 31).

If you already have an SSN, then you do not need and are not eligible for an ITIN. 

Finally, if you obtain an SSN, any ITIN(s) that were previously issued to you are no longer valid.  

How do I apply for an ITIN?

There are three ways to apply for an ITIN. It is important to apply early to be ready for tax season. Tax season is February 1-April 15 each year. While it is possible to apply for an ITIN and file your federal income tax return at the same time, it is easier to have it beforehand. Please choose a method that will allow you to remain in possession of your passport and visa stamp. 

We do not recommend that you mail your original passport and visa to the IRS. 

Method One: Mail

Individuals who need an ITIN can apply directly to the IRS without ISSS assistance. To apply by mail, you will need the following documents: 

  1. Complete Form W-7
  2. Certified copy of your passport*
  3. Certified copy of your visa stamp with date of first entrance to U.S. in current status*
  4. Letter of non-approved work authorization from DSO. 
    1. This letter can be obtained by emailing your request to (for F-1/J-1 students) or (for J-1 Professors/Research Scholars/Short-Term Scholars/Student Interns).
  5. Copy of your I-20 (front and back) or DS-2019

Once you have compiled your documents, mail them to:

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

You can also find comprehensive instructions and forms on the IRS website.

*You must either submit certified copies from the issuing agency (your country’s embassy or consulate) or present the documents to an IRS Authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent (see below). To obtain this documentation from the issuing agency, contact your Embassy or Consulate here in the U.S. for assistance.

Method Two: IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center

You can visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center for in-person assistance with the ITIN application process. Not all IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers can process ITINs, so be sure to locate an office that is able to assist with the ITIN application process. View the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers in Texas.  

Method Three: IRS-Authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent  

You also have the option to apply for an ITIN through an IRS-authorized Certified Acceptance Agent. There are over three dozen in the Austin area alone.

More ITIN Resources