When a nonresident alien submits an IRS Form W-7 to the IRS he or she must include with the W-7 supporting documents to prove the identity and country of citizenship of the nonresident alien.  Take care to submit the proper documentation or the IRS will reject the W-7.  The IRS will only issue ITINs when applications include original documentation, such as passports and birth certificates, or certified copies of these documents from the issuing agency.  ITINs will not be issued based on applications supported by notarized copies of documents.

What is the difference between a “certified” and a “notarized” document?

A certified document is one that the original issuing agency provides and certifies as an exact copy of the original document and contains an official stamped seal from the Agency. These documents will be accepted. A notarized document is one that the taxpayer provides to a public notary who bears witness to the signing of the official document and affixes a seal assuring that the document is legitimate. These documents will not be accepted for ITIN applications. Note there are some applicants who are exempt from this change. This exemption is described in a previous question.

Will the IRS return my original documents to me? How long will it take to get them back?

IRS currently receives original documents with some applications and has a process in place to ensure documents are returned to the applicant. The documents will be sent to you via standard U.S. mail within 60 days of receipt and processing of your application.

Whom should I contact if I do not receive the documents within the allotted period?

If you do not receive your original documents within 65 days of mailing to the IRS, allowing 5 days for postal mail receipt, you may call 1-800-908-9982 (U.S. only) or for international, call 1-267-941-1000 (this is not a toll free number).

Best Supporting Document

Richard Keyt recommends that you use your passport certified by the country that issued the passport to prove your identity.  If you are submitting a passport or a certified copy of a passport, no other documentation is required to prove your foreign status or identity.

You can submit copies of original documents if you do any of the following:

  • Have the copies certified by the issuing agency or official custodian of the original record.

CautionPhotocopies of documents must bear an original authentic certified seal/stamp placed there by the proper authority. Photocopies of previously notarized or certified documents are not acceptable and will be returned to the applicant.

Proving your ‘‘foreign status’’ or “identity.” If you submit an original valid passport (or a certified copy of a valid passport), you do not need to submit any other documents to prove your “foreign status” or “identity.” Otherwise, you must submit at least two of the documents listed in the chart below.  The documents must be current*, verify your identity (that is, contain your name), and support your claim of foreign status. If you submit copies of documents that display information on both sides, copies of both the front and back must be attached to the Form W-7. At least one document must contain your photograph.  Do not attach expired documents.

*Current documents are:

  • Civil birth certificates—since civil birth certificates do not contain an expiration date, they are considered current at all times.
  • Passports and national identification cards—these documents will be considered current only if their expiration date has not passed prior to the date the Form W-7 is submitted.

Documents to Prove Foreign Status & Identity

The following table lists the documents that can be submitted with the W-7 to the IRS to prove foreign status and identity.  An X in the middle or right column means the document can be used to establish foreign status or identity.

Supporting DocumentationForeign StatusIdentity

Passport (the only stand-alone document). This is the best document to use and it proves both foreign status and identity.


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification


Visa issued by U.S. Department of State


Foreign driver’s license


Foreign military identification card


National identification card (must be current and contain name, photograph, address, date of birth,and expiration date)


Foreign voter’s registration card


Civil birth certificate


Medical records (valid only for dependents under age 14 (under age 18 if a student))


School records (valid only for dependents under age 14 (under age 18 if a student))


U.S. state identification card


U.S. driver’s license


U.S. military identification card


* Can be used to establish foreign status only if they are foreign documents.