What is an Individual Tax Number (ITN) and its significance for international students in Canada?

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issues an ITN to individuals who are not eligible for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) for tax identification purposes. If you are an international student who is ineligible for a SIN, an ITN is necessary if you receive a scholarship from a university or need to file a tax return while living in Canada.

To ensure that your university can produce T4A tax forms, you must input either a SIN or an ITN into your Student Service Centre (SSC) by January. Additionally, depending on your circumstances, you may need to file a tax return as an international student residing in Canada.

Applying for an ITN is recommended if you plan to file a tax return in Canada or dispose of taxable Canadian property by applying to waive or decrease Canadian withholding tax on payments you receive. Keep in mind that an ITN can only be issued once, so it is worthwhile to obtain one even if your circumstances change. Not having an ITN may result in paying unnecessary withholding tax or missing out on certain tax benefits.


Eligible Applicants for ITIN

Regardless of their immigration status, both residents and non-residents are eligible to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If an individual is not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN), they can apply for an ITIN on behalf of themselves, their spouse, and any dependents. The following individuals may require an ITIN:

  • Non-resident aliens who are required to file tax returns.
  • Dependents or spouses of U.S. citizens or resident aliens
  • Resident aliens who are required to file a tax return due to the number of days they have spent in the country
  • Dependents or spouses of nonresident alien visa holders

In addition, taxpayers residing overseas can also obtain an ITIN.


Application Process

To request an ITIN, you must complete the IRS Form W-7, which is a one-page application with a nine-digit number similar in structure to an SSN. The following information must be provided on the application:

  • Full name, birth name, and place of birth (if different)
  • Proof of identification, such as a passport, driver’s license, or other government-issued identification. Original or certified copies of foreign immigration or status documents may also be accepted.

If you have previously used an ITIN, you must provide the number on your application.


Closing Statement

The Individual Tax Number (ITN) is a crucial identification number for your documents, particularly during tax season. It is a nine-digit number that both residents and non-residents in Canada can obtain. If you encounter any difficulties, don’t hesitate to contact the CRA or seek guidance from an expert for a better understanding.