I am negotiating doing some work for a US-based organisation as a contractor. I am now being asked to provide a W9 form. Google provides a link, but it seems to apply to residents/citizens. Is this correct? If so what is its purpose and how does a non-resident file a W9 form?

  • are you sure you're not a resident?
    – user102008
    May 9, 2014 at 21:55
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    @Flimzy what about foreign students? I understand that in this particular case the OP is probably not in the US and is not an expat, but the actual question is still relevant.
    – littleadv
    May 10, 2014 at 4:50
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    @Flimzy it does, you just don't understand it.
    – littleadv
    May 13, 2014 at 16:04
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    "What is the purpose of W9" is one of the first things an expat asks when arriving to the US. The difference between W9 and W8 crucial for many expats, especially foreign students in the US. Clear enough? Coming from someone who asks tax questions non-related to being an expat, you really shouldn't be so strict on others.
    – littleadv
    May 13, 2014 at 16:07
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    I am an expat, but explaing the expat part of the question would make the question only unreadable, that is why i tried to be as generic as possible
    – Andra
    May 13, 2014 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


If you're non-resident and non-citizen you do not submit form W9 to anyone. Form W9 is used to certify that you are a US resident for tax purposes.

If you're not a US resident for tax purposes, you use form W8, not W9. There are several different kinds of form W8, most will either need W8-BEN or W8-ECI, depending on what kind of income they're expecting.

Form W8/W9 is used by the payer to know how to treat your payments from tax perspective. Payments to foreigners (those providing form W8) may be subject to withholding. You need to talk to a US-licensed tax adviser (EA/CPA) about what it means for you and what your options may be (some treaties reduce or eliminate the withholding, some payments don't require it).

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