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US Taxpayer Identification

Individuals receiving US-based payment typically require a US taxpayer identification number to appropriately report any payment relationship(s) for a variety of official government purposes. For international students, scholars, and employees, your personal identification requirements may vary and may change over time. Please review information below on eligibility criteria for common taxpayer identification numbers.

Keep in mind that these identification numbers are an important component of your financial identity in the US and should be kept safe and confidential. Please check our Identity Theft handout and guidance on avoiding scams.


Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a national identification number used to track US earnings and to report required tax information. It is assigned permanently and does not change or expire, even after you return home or during an extended absence from the country.

Eligibility: Since the purpose of the SSN is to track compensation/earnings, eligibility to obtain this number varies according to the individual's ability to work. If your immigration status requires or generally incorporates work activities (H-1B, J-1, TN, etc.), you will likely be eligible automatically. However, F-1 and J-1 students will need to demonstrate their need for the SSN and secure documentation from ISO in order to apply.

More Information: Please review ISO's section on the US Social Security Number for more details on required documentation, application process, and UR coordination.


Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

According to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website: “An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).”

Eligibility: The IRS intends to assign an ITIN at the time a required US tax form is filed. However, there are some exceptions available when tax treaty benefits or withholdings associated with ongoing payments need to be established before the tax forms are due. Therefore, the timing and eligibility for your ITIN application may vary according to your situation. Your application must be filed directly to IRS with original documentation, or by a Certified Acceptance Agent.

More Information: Please review ISO's section on the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for more details on required documentation, application process, and UR coordination.


What if I'm not eligible for a SSN or an ITIN?

Given the nature of these identification tools, some international populations may never need one. This may change over time, as well. For instance, a newly arrived student with no payments from UR at first, may secure an on-campus job or be selected for an award. As your circumstances change, ISO is available to help asses your eligibility and need for either the SSN or ITIN. Whether you are applying for a number the first time or need to renew/replace your identification, the application process will require demonstration of your eligibility at that point in time. While the number may not change, how you utilize and document that information will depend on your circumstances.