How to get an ITIN in Two Hundred and Fifty steps

It’s quite fantastically easy when you know how.  However, you need to make several very stupid mistakes as I did in order to make it more exciting.  A month of preparation and a thirty second result.  This is how to do it:

  1. Download your W7 form from Amazon or Createspace and sweat over the instructions which don’t make any sense.  I got the best advice from and finally got the form filled in correctly.  Thank you Scarlett!
  2. Make a date to go to the US Embassy in London.  It helps if you live there:  if you don’t, travel in and make a day of it.  You can also send your stuff in by mail – make sure it’s recorded delivery because you have to send your passport.
  3. Get flu two days before you’re set to go, a result of being so damn nervous.
  4. Make another date for a month later.
  5. Pull a muscle in your knee so you can hardly walk.
  6. Choose the coldest fucking day of the year with dots of icicles falling out the sky and a wind like knives that chop you up if you stand still for a second.
  7. Wear your one and only suit that you used to wear to interviews.  This guarantees that you look smart but freeze your arse off.
  8. Have a bad hair day and have to scrape it all back in a stupid pony tail which rather ruins the effect of the smart suit.
  9. Leave home FAR too early and get there with FORTY MINUTES TO SPARE.
  10. 8.20 and the visa queue is half a mile long.  Ask some security guards where to and get told by Fred (I’m making up his name because I got to see him quite a lot) to go for a coffee and come back at 9.00.
  11. Wander off, find a Starbucks, drink an enormous, tasteless cappuccino very, very, very slowly.
  12. Go to the loo.  Check lipstick.
  13. Wander back to US Embassy.  Wander around Grosvernor Square.  Ask all the wrong security people where to go (the visa queue is now seventeen miles long) until Fred tells you to stand “over here.”
  14. The “over here” queue gets quite long but hey, you’re at the front.  Woohoo.
  15. Freeze your fucking arse off all over again, having defrosted slightly in Starbucks.
  16. Finally you’re in!  Security room where your bag gets sent through and you get to walk through the Big Detector.
  18. Don’t take your mobile or any kind of electronic device, even if it means you can’t phone your supervisor and say what time you’ll be doing your shift.
  19. Don’t take large bottles of water.  I took a tiny one and it was fine.
  20. AND THEN!  NO FUCK NO!!!!!!!  I had a goddamn memory stick in my bag!  Holy fuck and all the rest of it!  I was SO careful – how could it all go wrong now??!!  I get sent out to get instructions on where to go and store it.  The storage place is miles away and badly sign posted AND you have to pay.  Fuck that, I thought, with my usual eloquence, I’m just gonna throw the damn thing away.  What I actually did was go and bury it under a tiny hedge next to the statue of Roosevelt on the square, put a leaf on top of it and pray that it would still be there when I got back.
  21. Then stand in the “over here” queue AGAIN – this time last.  Fred looks at you as if you are nuts which you probably are.
  22. Finally you are through.  See?  If you’d followed my instructions and not taken any electronic stuff in, you would have been in first and done in even less time than I was.
  23. March purposefully around the building, following the red signs, report in at reception, get sent down the steps to the IRS office where one very large bloke is being dealt with at the counter.
  24. Wait for ten minutes in the tiny office, slowly defrosting.  Offer your seat to a couple who come in after you because frankly, you are so hyped up on nerves, adrenalin and bad coffee that you can’t sit still.
  25. Then it’s your turn.
  26. You have your correctly filled in W7, your passport AND your printed out ITIN letter from Amazon.  For interest’s sake, the letter from Amazon and Createspace are virtually identical, signed by the same guy, so I really don’t think it matters which one you take.  I took the Amazon one because I figured Amazon own Createspace.
  27. While you write your name and date (American style, remember!) on the ITIN letter (download it at the Amazon website – come on, keep up, you should know these details by now if you’ve read all the instructions!) and then look up as your passport is handed back to you.
  28. “It’ll take 6 to 8 weeks,”  says the nice lady at the counter.
  29. “I’m done?”  I say.  “Wow, I’m really impressed!”
  30. And I was.  Honestly, thirty bloody seconds after all those nerves, stupid memory stick mistake, too early, making myself sick with flu…..all done.
  31. There are several more steps to go.  Once I get the ITIN, I have another vast form to fill in.  Be sure to follow the next riveting account here…..
  32. When you’re done, check your watch:  it’s 9.30 and you feel great.
  33. Dig up your memory stick and thank Mr Roosevelt for looking after it.  (I just have to pick out the mud with a toothpick but otherwise, it’s fine…)
  34. Go to John Lewis and buy school socks for your daughter, just to remind yourself that the whole world isn’t hard ass security and men with Seriously Big Guns.
  35. Come home and put jeans on.
  36. Remember that you still have to go to work sometime.
  37. Any queries welcome – I’ll gladly help anyone through this!

About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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