Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Last Updated: April 29, 2022

What is an ITIN?

The ITIN is issued by the Internal Revenue Service to certain foreign citizens who need a tax identification number to comply with US tax laws.   For international students (F-1/J-1) the receipt of a taxable scholarship, fellowship, or grant would be the most common reason to need an ITIN.

Am I eligible for an ITIN?

An ITIN is a substitute for the Social Security Number (SSN) on US tax-related forms. Anyone who works in the US is required to have an SSN. Therefore, anyone who is working or plans to work should NOT apply for an ITIN but should instead use their SSN on all forms related to income that may be taxable. If you are not yet working but plan to work in the near future, do not apply for the ITIN but instead wait until you have a job offer and then apply for the SSN.

How do I apply for the ITIN?

The IRS has outlined a special process for ITIN applications for students in F or J status. The process was in response to an announcement the IRS made in June 2012, requiring ITIN applicants to submit ORIGINAL documents (passport, etc.) or “certified copies” of these documents from the issuing agency as part of the application. Since it is not advisable for international students to be without their passports, and since it is not always possible for international students to obtain a certified copy of their passport from their home country government, the IRS offered an alternative option to allow a university’s Designated School Officials (DSO) to certify photocopies of identification documents used in the ITIN application, and to issue letters verifying their authenticity. ONLY the ISS can provide the DSO certification and verification for international students attending the UHM.

1. Prepare the following:

  • Complete the W-7 application (W-7 Instructions). For help, please contact the Taxpayer Assistance Center in Honolulu
  • Photocopy your passport ID page and any pages that have authorized an extension.
  • Photocopy BOTH sides of your I-94 card OR if you entered the US after the paperless I-94 system was in place (summer 2013) you must print out your I-94.
  • Photocopy current I-20 or DS-2019
  • Photocopy your scholarship/fellowship/grant award letter (if applicable)
  • Attach copies of any other supporting documents needed per the W-7 instructions

2. Schedule an appointment with an ISS advisor.

State that the reason for the appointment is to request ITIN certification.

3. ISS will mail your ITIN application and supporting documents to the IRS for you.

If I become eligible for an SSN after obtaining an ITIN, what should I do?

The Honolulu Social Security Administration will process your SSN application and issue the number assuming you are eligible, whether or not your ITIN has been issued.   However, under IRS regulations you cannot have both the SSA and the ITIN, and it is your responsibility to request that your ITIN application be withdrawn, or if the ITIN has been issued, rescinded.  For help, please contact the Taxpayer Assistance Center in Honolulu.