What is a Taxpayer Identification Number, and do all countries issue such a number?

Taxpayer Identification Number, or TIN, is a unique combination of characters assigned by a country’s tax authority to a person (individual or entity) and used to identify that person for the purposes of administering the country’s tax laws.

 

Some countries do not issue a TIN in any situation; such countries include Bahrain, Bermuda and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Other countries issue TINs only to entities, but not to individuals; such countries include Sri Lanka, Oman, and Qatar. In other countries, whilst TINs may be issued to both individuals and entities, individuals or entities in particular situations may not be issued with a TIN.

 

In some countries, another high integrity number with an equivalent level of identification (a functional equivalent) may be used instead of a TIN to identify a particular person.

  • For entities, such functional equivalent TIN types include, the Permanent Account Number (PAN) in India, and the Business Registration Number in Hong Kong;
  • For individuals, such functional equivalents may include a social security/national insurance number, a citizen/personal identification/service code/number, or a resident registration number. For example:
    • In the UK the National Insurance Number (NINO), or the Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) serves as a TIN for individuals;
    • In Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID) Number serves as a TIN for individuals;
    • In Pakistan, the Computerised National Identity Card (“CNIC”) serves as a TIN for individuals;
    • In Guernsey, the social security number serves as a TIN for individuals.

The above examples are neither meant to be exhaustive, nor to constitute tax advice. If you need help to determine your TIN, please seek professional tax or legal advice.