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IRS Updates “” Identify Verification Process for Americans Living Abroad

January 13, 2022

Are you an American living outside the U.S.? The good news: Americans living outside the U.S. are now able to view their IRS accounts, gaining access to their tax return transcripts and other useful web tools. The bad news: Getting verified requires (lots of) perseverance.

Based on my own personal experience and the experiences of other U.S. persons abroad, here are some useful tips for getting verified.

What does it mean to be “verified”?

The IRS uses a service called, which is a trusted technology provider of identity verification and sign-in services, to allow taxpayers to securely access IRS tools when living and working abroad. This is part of the IRS’ increased effort to combat identity theft.

How do you set up an account?

Your first attempt is likely to fail if you do not have a U.S. address and U.S. phone number (Skype “landlines”, Google VOIP, etc. are unlikely to work.) At the time of this writing, there is no way to enter a foreign country or get past the requirement to enter a U.S. state in the default address section in the signup.

Did your first attempt fail?

Once you fail to get through the default verification process because you can’t enter a foreign address or phone number, there are a few options.

  1. Keep trying until you fail enough times, and the system offers you the ability to get verified with a Trusted Referee.
  2. Contact via their website or through Facebook messenger.

What constitutes a “failure” isn’t obvious because there’s no error message; you simply can’t move forward. It may be best to contact the help desk to make yourself heard.

Watch out for incorrect information

Be forewarned, at this first contact with an customer service agent, incorrect information may be relayed. For example, I received the following message in an email from

“Unfortunately, you will need a U.S. address and telephone number to verify your identity.”

Don’t give up, instead, ask the agent for a link to get verified by a Trusted Referee. You may have to ask numerous times. Once a link for a Trusted Referee is obtained, a foreign address can be entered in your profile. Progress!

How do you upload documents and photos?

When it comes to uploading documents or taking a “selfie” the option to take a picture with your phone isn’t going to work if you haven’t been able to enter a validated U.S. phone number.

You can get around this using a scanner or taking pictures with your phone, saving them to your computer, and then uploading them.

The next step is digging up the correct identity documents and uploading them to Read their FAQs carefully to see what kinds of documents are required. Once your documents pass the review process a link will be issued for a video call with a Trusted Referee.

Other things to note:

  • The address on your account must match the verification documents exactly or they will not pass the review process.
  • Documents in a foreign language may be rejected.
  • The documents must fall into one of their categories (e.g., gas bill, bank statement).
  • Even with clear and readable documents, the upload process often fails. Try saving your documents in different formats.
  • During the call with the Trusted Referee, you will also have to show certain physical documents such as your passport and your social security card.

Having trouble? We can help- contact our International Tax Services Team today.

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