ITIN Procedures Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the IRS change ITIN program procedures?

Section 203 of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114-113, div. Q, enacted on December 18, 2015, modified section 6109 of the Internal Revenue Code, and in so doing, made significant changes to the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) program.

Also, please refer to ITIN Expiration Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the difference between a "certified" and a "notarized" document?

A certified document is one that the original issuing agency provides and certifies as an exact copy of the original document and contains an official stamped seal from the Agency. These documents will be accepted. A notarized document is one that the taxpayer provides to a public notary who bears witness to the signing of the official document and affixes a seal assuring that the document is legitimate. These documents will not be accepted for ITIN applications. Dependents of U.S. military personnel can submit original documents, certified copies or notarized copies of identification documents.

Which documents are acceptable?

See the instructions for Form W-7PDF. These instructions list the 13 acceptable documents.

Will the IRS return my original documents to me? How long will it take to get them back? (updated December 2021)

Original documents will be returned to the address on record after processing your application. The IRS is currently processing Form W-7s within 11 weeks after receipt. We are taking every action to minimize delays, and we are processing requests in the order they were received.  If you will need your original documents for any purpose within this processing timeframe, you may wish to apply in person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center or CAA.  You may also choose to submit certified copies from the issuing agency instead.  Original documents you submit will be returned to you at the mailing address shown on your Form W-7.  You don’t need to provide a return envelope. Applicants are permitted to include a prepaid Express Mail or courier envelope for faster return delivery of their documents.  The IRS will then return the documents in the envelope provided by the applicant. 

Whom should I contact if I do not receive the documents within the allotted period? (updated September 10, 2021)

If your original documents aren’t returned after the timeframe noted above, you can call the IRS at 800-908-9982 (U.S. only) or for international, call 267-941-1000 (this is not a toll-free number).

Are there any alternative options for me if I do not want to mail the original documents I have such as my passport?

In lieu of sending original documentation, you may use an IRS authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA) or make an appointment at a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) location. To find a local CAA in your area, you can visit Acceptance Agent Program. CAAs can authenticate all the identification documents for the primary and secondary applicant.  For dependents, they can authenticate the passport and civil birth certificate; however, they must send the original or certified copies of all other documents directly to the IRS.

If I cannot get the documents I need to apply for an ITIN, can I apply for a Social Security number instead?

If you have or are eligible to obtain a social security number, you are not eligible for an ITIN.

Can my foreign consulate or embassy certify my documents?

You may be able to request a certified copy of documents at an embassy or consulate. However, services may vary between countries, so we recommend that you contact the appropriate consulate or embassy for specific information.

Can CAAs and AAs still submit Forms W-7 to the IRS for taxpayers?

Yes, CAAs and AAs can still submit Forms W-7 on behalf of their clients. CAAs are allowed to use Form W-7 (COA) to certify that they have reviewed and verified the original documentation or a certified copy from the issuing agency of those documents through face-to-face or video electronic interviews. CAAs must have the original identification documents in their possession during the interview, in order to see the security features and authenticate the documents. CAAs are required to submit copies of the documents that they reviewed along with the Form W-7 (COA). For dependents, CAAs are allowed to authenticate the passport and birth certificate. For all other documents, you are required to attach the original documents or certified copies from the issuing agency.