How to apply for an Individual Tax Number (ITN)

What is an ITN?

An Individual Tax Number (ITN) is a unique number that Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) uses to identify you for tax purposes if you aren't eligible for a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

If you are an international student who is not eligible for a SIN, you need to get an ITN if:

  • You received a scholarship or award from UBC.
    You must enter a SIN or ITN into your Student Service Centre (SSC) by January so UBC can issue your T4A tax forms.
  • You want to file a tax return.
    As an international student now living in Canada, you may need to file a tax return depending on your situation.

Overview of the application process

Supporting documents

In addition to the application form, you will need to submit:

  • Copy of your passport bio-data page (e.g., the page containing your name and photo)
  • UBC enrolment letter
  • Copy of your study permit, if you have one

If you do not have a study permit

Please submit all of the following:

  • Copy of passport page(s) containing entry stamps to Canada (if applicable)
  • Copy of your flight ticket to Canada (if applicable)
  • Copy of any UBC scholarship or award offer letters (if applicable)
  • Proof of request for an ITN from Enrolment Services (if applicable)
  • Cover letter explaining why you need an ITN

The photocopy of your passport and study permit must be notarized or certified (signed with a notation that this is a true copy of the original and their official title) by a local official, such as a professor or doctor.

Mailing the application

We suggest using Canada Post Xpresspost to mail your documents securely. If you do not receive your ITN within 6 weeks, you can call the Canada Revenue Agency's International Tax office.

We highly suggest applying for an ITN from within Canada (e.g., before you leave Canada). If you have already left Canada and you need to apply for an ITN, we suggest you include a cover letter explaining your situation to avoid confusion and delay. You may call the Canada Revenue Agency's International Tax office before submitting your application to ensure your application contains sufficient documentation.

Understanding the form

Reason for applying

Indicate "Filling a Canadian income tax return" as the reason you are applying for an ITN.

ITN Screenshot

The difference between Foreign address and Mailing address

The “Foreign Address” refers to your address in the country where you permanently or normally reside. The “Mailing Address” refers to a Canadian address to which the CRA will send the written notification of your ITN.

Foreign address and Mailing address fields

What do I put for “Foreign Tax Identification Number”?

If you don’t have a Foreign Tax Identification number, you may write “N/A”.

Who should sign under the “CERTIFICATION” section at the bottom of the application form?

You should be the one signing. The local official (e.g., your professor) should sign and certify the PHOTOCOPY of your passport and study permit.

certification field

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I work with an ITN?

No. To start working in Canada and receive benefits from employment, you need to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to replace your ITN.

What if I forgot to apply for ITN before the Tax Season?

Do not apply for an ITN in late February or March, as it takes about 4-6 weeks to process. You may send your ITN application and the tax return to the same address specified at the back of the ITN form.

Does an ITN expire? Do I have to renew ITN?

No. The ITN does not have an expiry date and once you are issued an ITN, you can use it for future tax filing purposes. But remember that if you get a job in the future, you will need a SIN.

If I lost my ITN or need to make changes to my personal info, should I apply for a new ITN?

No. You must contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to notify them about the lost ITN or changes to your personal information. You can then either get your previous number re-issued or keep using the number you have.

Do I need an ITN to file my taxes?

If you plan on filing your tax return just once, you do not need ITN as the CRA will assign you a temporary taxation number for a single tax return. However, you will need an ITN if you need to file more than one Canadian tax return so CRA can trace your records.

I am outside Canada. Can I get my documents certified by a doctor/lawyer/professor/etc. outside Canada in order to submit my ITN application on time?


If you have questions

International Student Advising is ready to support you on questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada.

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