What Is the Difference Between an ITIN and a SSN?

An important difference between an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and a Social Security Number (SSN) is the requirement of being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. To be eligible for a SSN, you must be born in the U.S. or have gained citizenship. Nonresidents and foreign nationals who earn income within the U.S. need an ITIN and should begin the ITIN application process before beginning work.

An ITIN is used by non-citizens when filing annual income tax returns. You will use this number until you are eligible to receive a SSN and obtain one. Unlike SSNs, your ITIN must be renewed periodically, or it will expire. You will be notified by mail when it's renewal time.

The Application Process 

ITIN applications can be confusing due to the documents required. It’s best not to delay, however, because not having an ITIN can result in your tax return not being handled properly. A problem concerning your ITIN status could cause you to be ineligible to obtain tax credits or unable to receive a refund for taxes withheld from earnings.

Documents to be submitted for ITIN processing can include:

- Original or certified copy of a valid (unexpired) passport 

- Photo ID issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 

-Visa issued by the U.S. State Department 

-ID card or driver's license issued by any of the 50 state governments 

-Foreign voter's registration from country of residence

- Verification of foreign national or military ID card

A Convenient Way to Get Started

ITIN W-7 Application provides a convenient way to make first-time ITIN requests a smooth process. We also make the ITIN renewal application an easy task. Our online forms, information pages and support team will help ensure that everything goes well. When applying for an ITIN, it typically takes between six and eight weeks for the IRS to process and mail a new number. To check application progress, you can contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. If you are located outside the U.S., the contact number is 1-267-941-1000.