Non-U.S. citizens who do not live in the U.S. who need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) may be able to secure one from outside the United States.
The IRS has permanent staff available which are able to help process Forms W-7, IRS Application Number and Instructions (PDF) at the following U.S. embassies overseas: Beijing, Frankfurt, London, and Paris. The addresses and phone numbers of these overseas offices may be found at Contact My Local Office Internationally. In addition, there are public accounting firms overseas in certain countries which are Authorized Acceptance Agents for ITIN numbers. You will find their names and addresses at the Acceptance Agent Program page.
The IRS also accepts a Form W-7 by mail accompanied by ORIGINAL documents which establish:
- the identity of the foreign person, and
- the foreign status of the ITIN applicant.
The Instructions for Form W-7 list 13 documents that can be used to prove foreign status and identity. A foreign passport is the only one that can stand alone (i.e., establishes both foreign status and identity). If a passport is submitted, there is no need to submit any other documents. If a passport is not submitted, a combination of at least two other documents, with at least one containing a photograph, must be submitted with the ITIN application.
Apostille in Lieu of a U.S. Notary
In addition to the above, there is an alternative procedure for notorizing original documents when an individual resides outside of the United States. The United States is an official signatory of a multilateral agreement issued in 1961 known as THE HAGUE CONVENTION ABOLISHING THE REQUIREMENT OF LEGALISATION FOR FOREIGN PUBLIC DOCUMENTS (“The Hague Convention”). This agreement is one of many such multilateral agreements issued under the auspices of The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an organization of member states whose official purpose is to, as much as possible, standardize certain legal procedures among nations in order to expedite international legal, commercial, and personal matters. You may find the complete texts of all the Hague Conventions at: List of Hague Conventions.
One of the Hague Conventions is called the ” CONVENTION ABOLISHING THE REQUIREMENT OF LEGALIZATION FOR FOREIGN PUBLIC DOCUMENTS“
After the Hague Conference issues a convention on a certain subject, then each nation that wishes to avail itself of its provisions must become an official signatory in order for the provisions of the convention to apply in that nation. The United States is an official signatory of this convention. Translations of this convention into certain foreign languages may be found at: Translations. The complete list of the nations which are signatories of the Hague Convention mentioned above may be found at: Signatories. Australia and New Zealand are signatories to the Hague Convention.
Under the provisions of this Hague Convention, an individual in one signatory country who is required to present certified copies of certain documents to government officials of another signatory country may have these copies of documents certified, not by the agencies which issued the documents but rather by certain “competent authorities” of each country listed at the latter website noted above. These competent authorities will complete a one-page form known as an “apostille”, which they will then either sign or impress with a seal. This apostille can then be attached to the copies of the documents needed by the other government, and serves as a legal authentication of the signatures on the documents, a certification of the capacity in which the person signing the documents has acted, or as a certification of the identity of the seal or stamp which is on the documents. The attachment of this apostille to the copies of the documents avoids the necessity of having the copies of the documents certified by the government agencies which issued them, or by diplomatic or consular officers of either government, and it avoids having to send the originals of the documents to government officials of the other country.
Thus, in the case of an individual who lives abroad and who is filing Form W-7 with the IRS to apply for an ITIN, instead of attaching his/her original passport, national identity card, birth certificate, etc. to Form W-7, he/she can attach “copies” of these documents to Form W-7 accompanied by an apostille properly signed or sealed by one of the appointed competent authorities of his own nation. A model apostille may be found at: Apostille. In addition, refer to Apostille Section.