Selling books in America via Amazon or CreateSpace?

Then you’ll need an ITIN (International Tax Identification number) otherwise you’ll get hit with a 30% tax withholding. Assuming that you come from a Country or Territory that has a Tax treaty with the U.S. (as we do here in the UK) then you can apply for a non-U.S. citizen ITIN and avoid the 30% tax.

To do this you will need to complete a W-7 form – and fill it out correctly, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. For UK-based people you will most likely need to select ‘a’ “Nonresident alien required to get ITIN to claim tax treaty benefit”, and ‘h’ “Other” and include “Exception 1(d) – Royalties” on that line. Where it asks for “Additional information for a and f:” you’ll also need to add “United Kingdom” for treaty country, and “Article 12 (book royalties)” for treaty article number.

Fill out all the sections in 1a (your name), 2 (your address), 3 (you can just put “as above” if the address is not different from ‘2’), 4 (using the format mm/day/year and include country and city of birth), 5 (sex), 6a (United Kingdom), 6d (leave blank – I’ll come back to that in a moment), 6e (probably tick “No” if you haven’t previously received a IRSN (Internal Revenue Service Number) or EIN (Employer Identification Number). For now leave the signature, date and phone number elements empty.

Now, you could post this to the U.S. Embassy IRS department (United States Embassy, IRS – Box 44, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6AH) but you’ll need to have a professional – such as a Notary Public – authorise an official (Passport, driving license etc) document that the info it shows is actually you, which can be expensive. What I would recommend is that you go down to the U.S. Embassy (nearest tube Bond Street) and hand it in personally. Make sure you take the proper ID  documents and then sign/date and select the ID documents section etc once there. They don’t take appointments but accept drop-ins Tuesday-Thursday 9-1 and 2-4. The Embassy doesn’t allow mobile devices, batteries etc on site (there is a big list, so check it first) but there is a place a minute’s walk from the Embassy where you can leave these items, for a cost. It’s the ‘Gould Pharmacy’ 37 North Audley Street (020 7495 6298) and they bag items securely for a cost of £3 (at time of writing) – they were very professional when I used them and have been supplying this service for quite a while, so they know what they’re doing.

Now, what you will also need is a letter from the ‘publisher’ stating that you are, or will be, publishing in the States. They won’t process the ITIN application without one. The Amazon ITIN ‘authorisation’ letter can be found here. Add your details to the name and date fields (I put the date in U.S. format (mm/dd/year)) before you print it out. Once I got to the Embassy the process took me approx. 10 minutes and the lady who served was extremely friendly and helpful – I know, I know; that doesn’t sound like ‘Tax’ people, but she really was.

If you want to call the U.S. Embassy IRS department their number is 020 7499 9000 ext. 2477 (9-12 Tues-Thurs). If you can’t get hold of anyone – they always seem to be busy – then just press ‘0’ without dialling the ext. number to get through to main reception for general enquiries. They were very helpful when I rang them.

Your ITIN should be returned within 6-8 weeks.

I hope that this will make the whole process easier for you – I wish that I’d read something like this before I tried to figure out what needed to be done.


Addendum 1/11/13 – I received a letter back from the U.S. IRS today saying that the application couldn’t be processed as because of 10th September they no longer accept the Amazon/CreateSpace self-printed form letter as proof of publishing. This would have been nice to know earlier, and Amazon/CreateSpace still have the form letter online and state that is is acceptable. It isn’t.

I’ve mailed Amazon/CS to see what alternative they can provide and will let you know their answer.



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5 responses to “Selling books in America via Amazon or CreateSpace?

  1. Your blog about trying to get an ITIN mirrored my own situation. Glad to know I’m not alone in this. I will watch you blog to see how you solve the predicament while searching for my own solution. So far the only idea I’ve seen is to sign up with — word has it that they will actually send you an original signed letter, by snail-mail, for use in getting your ITIN. If I discover an alternate idea, I’ll let you know. Thanks for your blog.

  2. apgoodman

    Hi Bill,
    CreateSpace eventually got back in touch with me and suggested that I send my details etc to the IRS office in Austin, Texas. Not very practical, especially as they would require my original proof-of-ID documents. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t feel too comfortable sending my driving license or passport oversees.
    I have subsequently learned that, for UK tax payers, there is a section for ‘Foreign earnings’ whereby we can claim back any Tax withholding due to the tax treaty between the US and UK. I’m guessing that other countries have a similar section on their tax forms.
    Hope this helps,

  3. Seonaid

    Hi Andy,

    Just to let you know that I contacted CreateSpace with the same issue and they are sending me a different letter via snail mail which I hope will be acceptable. They were very helpful about it, though we’ll see what the IRS and the London Embassy say about the letter!


    • apgoodman

      Hi Seonaid,
      Thanks for the info. I’d be interested to hear what sort of letter they send you. They just sent me the same one as the online version.
      p.s. great name, by the way.

      • Seonaid

        Hmmm, maybe it’s not going to be useful after all! Will let you know.

        The name is Scottish Gaelic. Pronounced ‘shona’. Now that I live in London, it causes me some trouble!


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