Helpful tips for effectively receiving a tax refund for taxpayers living abroad


The quickest way to receive your refund is by direct deposit to a checking or savings account, including an individual retirement arrangement. However, you need a U.S. account (a member of the Federal Reserve System), or a correspondent bank (foreign or international) that maintains an account at a Federal Reserve Bank, to request a direct deposit.

If you do not have a U.S. bank account, you may visit the FDIC website or the National Credit Union Administration using their credit union locator tool for information on where to find a bank or credit union that can open an account online and how to choose the right account for you. If you are a Veteran, see the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) for access to financial services at participating banks. You may also ask your preparer if they have other electronic payment options that they offer.

If you do not have a U.S. account, or do not choose to receive your refund via direct deposit, a check will be mailed to the address you provided on your tax return.

To help ensure your refund check is mailed to the correct mailing address, you should carefully review and follow the Name and Address section in the instructions to the corresponding Form 1040 or 1040-NR to provide a complete and accurate address on your tax return. If you file Form 1040-NR, you have the option of providing an alternative mailing address outside the United States for the refund check.

If you move or change the physical address where a paper check will be mailed, make sure you file Form 8822, Change of Address.

To check the status of your refund, go to Where's My Refund. If the response indicates that your refund checked was mailed, but you do not receive it within 45 days after the mailing date, call the international taxpayer service call center by phone or fax.

Nonresident aliens who request a refund of tax withheld on a Form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding, need to allow additional time before contacting the International Call Center. See discussion of Form 1042, Form 1042-S and Form 1042-T.

If you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (green card holder) traveling or living outside the United States, please register with the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and provide them with your most current contact information (local address and phone number, email address, etc.) and update them as frequently as necessary. This will help them contact you about the delivery of any refund check that may not include your correct mailing address.

For general information on refunds, see Tax topic 152, Refund information, and Publication 2043, IRS Refund Information Guidelines for the Tax Preparation Community PDF.