December 19, 2014

Applying for a U.S. Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

Your visa documentation determines whether or not you are permitted to work/accept payments in the US. The Social Security number is available to all residents and nonresidents that are permitted to work in the US. If the individual is not permitted to work in the US an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) should be applied for. Payments for services to Foreign Nationals without either a Social Security Number or ITIN are subject to 30% tax withholding and reporting. Some scholarships/fellowships are also subject to 30% tax withholding and reporting. An exception to that rule is a taxable scholarship/fellowship paid to a nonresident in F, J, M or Q immigration status which would be subject to 14% tax withholding and reporting.

How to Apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

  1. Review Form W-7 Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. This form can be downloaded from the Internal Revenue Service web-site The chart on “Exception 2” Table covers wages, salary, compensation, honoraria, scholarships & fellowships, along with the documentation required to support the W-7 application.
  2. The IRS and the MBL have an agreement by which the MBL can assist you in the application process on behalf of the IRS. This allows the process to be more convenient for you and reduces the burden of certification on the IRS. It is necessary for an applicant to go on line and enter their information in FNIS, before the application process can begin. Please contact Kate Ahern-Wolseley for more information and to schedule an appointment once you arrive at the MBL.
  3. Alternately you may mail the documentation, along with the Form W-7, to the Internal Revenue Service, ITIN Operation in Austin, Texas (address provided on form) or present it at IRS walk-in offices. The Boston office is located in the JFK Federal Building, 15 New Sudbury St., Boston, MA 02203-9112; 1-800-829-1040.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number

  1. Complete the Application for a Social Security Card. This form can be obtained from the Financial Services Administrator or you may download it from the Social Security Administration website at
  2. Provide original documents showing your age, identity and lawful alien status (including your permission to work in the U.S.) The application form provides a detailed list of acceptable documents.
  3. Visit one of the Social Security Administration offices in the U.S. to apply for a number. The Falmouth office is located in Technology Park, 48 Research Road, East Falmouth, MA 02536, 508-548-8150. (North on Route 28 to Thomas B. Landers Rd.; Turn right; Turn right again on Research Road.)

Contact Information:
Kate Ahern-Wolseley
Financial Services Administrator
Marine Biological Laboratory
7 MBL Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1015

Office Location: Homestead 212
Phone: (508) 289-7275
Fax: (508) 289-7931