Banks and other financial institutions are required by the IRS to collect certain tax documents from account holders, based on their residency status.

If your bank’s records show you as a nonresident alien, they will ask you to complete Form W-8BEN to comply with these regulations. If you are a nonresident alien, you should fill out the form as requested. The IRS Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Individuals), is used by nonresident aliens to certify their foreign status, claim tax treaty benefits, and report income not effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the U.S.

However, if you are actually a resident alien for tax purposes, the bank’s records might not be up to date or they might be missing some key information about your tax status. You should instead complete IRS Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification. This form provides your bank with your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and confirms that you’re not subject to backup withholding.

If you’re unsure about your status or how to proceed, consider consulting a tax professional or attorney. They can provide advice tailored to your specific situation.