27 thoughts on “How to invest without SSN?

  1. Thank you so much for the information on the blog
    I was looking for this information for a long time. Very usefull information
    I will beggin to open an account as soon as posible from the Dominican Republic

  2. Thank you for you information!

    I have a quick question, “W-8 withholding was automatically withheld by the broker when dividend was paid out” so do you have to file taxes on this (non resident alien, not living in the US)?

    • No, you do not have to file taxes.

      See IRS website here.

      Second bullet point applies to the situation: A nonresident alien individual who is not engaged in a trade or business in the United States and has U.S. income on which the tax liability was not satisfied by the withholding of tax at the source.

      In this case, the tax liability is satisfied by the withholding.

      • Hey Bobby! thanks for the great post. I’m a U.S resident alien (have no green card yet, but been in the US for over 183 days every year for the past 6 years) that should be taxed as a U.S person. However, most online brokers do not have options for someone in my situation. I called TD Ameritrade and the sent me hardcopy application to fill along with the W-8. I dont think I should fill that since I should be taxed as a US person (per RIS) Please let me know if you can help explaining to me what’s the best way to do it. I would like to utilize your professional service as well if possible.

        Thank you,

        • Hi Ben, I do not have any professional services that I charge for.

          IRS says the following:

          “Do not use Form W-8BEN if you are described below.

          You are a U.S. citizen (even if you reside outside the United States) or other U.S. person (including a resident alien individual). Instead, use Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, to document your status as a U.S. person.”

          You are a resident alien individual. So you need to give a W-9.

          I am not surprised that TD Ameritrade gave you the wrong information. Customer service reps are ill trained to say the least and TD is no exception.

          If you already have a brokerage account, just send them a W-9. If you do not have an account yet, then open an account like a resident alien and the below screenshot says you will be treated the same way as someone with a Greencard.

          Resident Alien

          • You have no idea how helpful your comment is. I have been researching stocks for a while and I got disappointed that I couldn’t get an account going. I wish people who work in customer service know this information, however, I know my case might not be common either.

            I do indeed have a W-9 form, but since I did not have an account with them yet, then I will just go ahead and choose the green card option because I’m a resident alien. Tax wise I will be treated as US person.

            P.S I think you got the wrong screen shot. You meant to pick the I’m a permanent resident or resident alien option, then check the “I have a green card” box right?
            P.S 2 You are awesome. Thank you!

          • Yes, you are right – I just copy pasted the screenshot, did not select the exact radio button. Please pick the second radio button – permanent resident or resident alien option.

            About customer service – your situation is not the most common but it is quite basic. We could hope that they would know the answer but very often they provide us with incorrect information.

            Welcome to the world of investing, I am here to answer any questions.


  3. Hi Bobby,

    I’m from Europe and would like to open an account with TD Ameritrade as a Nonresident Alien (a) however I’m a bit puzzled with the W-7 form. I want to get it right so I’m asking for your guidance.

    The how-to guide says this:
    “a. Nonresident alien required to get an ITIN to claim tax treaty benefit.

    If you check this box to claim the benefits of a U.S. income tax treaty with a foreign country, also check box h. On the dotted line next to box h, enter the appropriate designation for Exception 1 or 2”

    Should I write Exception 1? If yes then what documents do I have to submit beside my W-7 form?

    • Hi,

      I do not know which “how to” guide are you referring to but I think it is not accurate.

      You do not need to check box ‘h’. IRS says – “h. Other. If the reason for your ITIN request isn’t described in boxes a through g, check this box.”

      • I got my passport verified by the US Consult yesterday and also posted my ITIN application form to the IRS on the same day.
        Let’s see if they accept it or not. Fingers crossed 🙂

          • My application has been rejected with the following reason:

            “We rejected your application for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) because you didn’t provide an exception number as listed in the form W-7 instructions, or correct information in check box (h)”

            Now I need to figure out what I shall write in that box exactly …

        • Hey!

          I would like to know if you got this solved. I am also but presently in the US visiting and would like to complete this task. I can take my application to the IRS office personally but would like to know what to correctly have on that W-7 form.

          Thanks for your help! 🙂

  4. I’m not a US citizen, not a permanent resident, don’t have visa etc. I try to fill the application online. But, I can’t download the application paper. It says I’m not eligible to open account on TD Ameritrade.

    No application paper means, I can’t even send any supporting document as in your tutorial above. What’s your opinion?

    • “It says I’m not eligible to open account on TD Ameritrade” – It probably means that you are in a country where they are not (or cannot) offer brokerage accounts.

      Why they are not (or cannot) offer brokerage accounts might be because of several reasons – for example, may be there are global sanctions (regulatory restrictions) in the US about your country because of some political reasons.

      You can call their customer service and they will be able to give you a more definitive answer.

  5. Hey Bobby,

    I am a resident of Trinidad and Tobago, Ameritrade informed me that they currently do not accept residents from my country. Are there any other brokers that you can recommend?

  6. Hi Bobby,

    I am applying for TD Ameritrade account right now and it is asking me to fill in the Deposit Slip. It makes sense until Part 2: Funding Your Account which I will be using a check from my US bank but I do not know what I need to put for Part 3: Security Deposit.

  7. I am Syrian and Ameritrade can’t offer me a brokerage account, do you have any advise how I can trade in the US market ?

  8. Hi Bobby. I have a slightly different scenario which I was hopping you’d help me with.
    I spent some time in the US as a student with a work permit and therefore I have a SSN.
    It’s been about ten years now that I got back to my country and I was looking into applying for an account with TD Ameritrade. Should I fill in the W-7 form and apply for an ITIN or there is some different process flow for non-residents and former visa holders with a SSN?

    Thank you.

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  10. Bobby, great post! Thanks! My understanding is that a foreign person can actually save the hassle of complicating their own taxes by owning an LLC and having the LLC invest. Do you have any knowledge about that?

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