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FAQ > Can you start a business without an ITIN?

Yes, you can start a business in the United States without an ITIN, but you do need an EIN. An ITIN is an individual tax identification number and is only required when an alien needs to file taxes, such as with an individual tax return. An EIN is an employer identification number and is often required to open a U.S. business checking account, for payroll purposes to pay employees, and for the filing of business tax returns.

There are a few steps to opening a business without an ITIN:

  • Choose a tax structure for the business, such as S-corporation, C-corporation or LLC.
  • Register the business with the State
  • Apply for EIN

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need an ITIN or Social Security number to apply for an EIN. You only need to fill out the proper documentation to register your business with state and federal authorities. Once you have filled out the proper paperwork and received an EIN, you should be good to start your business. You will file any of your business tax returns using the EIN.

You need an ITIN if you are working in the U.S., and intend to file personal taxes for yourself instead of your business, however. You may apply for the ITIN when you file your federal income tax return. There are W-7 form-specific instructions for filing an application for an ITIN, and they usually send the form with your tax return and original identity documents to the IRS. There are at least two identification documents required for ITIN. If you have a valid passport, you will only meet the documentation requirements.

You can find the documents to apply for an ITIN online, but the application and all applicable documents must be mailed to the IRS. You will need to send original documents or certified copies of documents proving that you are an alien to the IRS as part of the application.

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