I've recently started a UK Limited Company and I'm trying to fill out W-8BEN (Link here) so I can receive payments for showing ads provided by Facebook, but the terminology is totally foreign to me. I can do Part I, that's easy enough.

Part II

I assume I need to tick 9a and 9b. Even with reading the instructions, I have no idea what c and d are about, and I assume I don't tick e.

9c - The beneficial owner is not an individual, derives the item (or items) of income for which the treaty benefits are claimed, and, if applicable, meets the requirements of the treaty provision dealing with limitation on benefits (see instructions).

9d - The beneficial owner is not an individual, is claiming treaty benefits for dividends received from a foreign corporation or interest from a U.S. trade or business of a foreign corporation, and meets qualified resident status (see instructions).

I also have absolutely no idea what I need to fill in for line 10. It sounds like I need knowledge of the tax treaty itself.

10 - Special rates and conditions (if applicable—see instructions): The beneficial owner is claiming the provisions of Article ................ of the treaty identified on line 9a above to claim a ................ % rate of withholding on (specify type of income): ................ . Explain the reasons the beneficial owner meets the terms of the treaty article: ................................

Part III

I don't really understand this either. What do I need to do here?

I have provided or will provide a statement that identifies those notional principal contracts from which the income is not effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States. I agree to update this statement as required.

If someone could please explain to me in layman's terms what all this means and what I need to fill in that would be appreciated.

  • 1
    Companies do not file W8-BEN, only individuals do. Check the top of the form.
    – littleadv
    Jul 14, 2015 at 20:58
  • 1
    Oh, and the form you're using is not the current form. See here: irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw8ben.pdf
    – littleadv
    Jul 14, 2015 at 20:59
  • @littleadv Thanks for pointing that our. For some reason that's the form Facebook are currently providing. I assume I should be filling in this form instead? Any ideas what a UK Limited company would fall under in question 5? Jul 15, 2015 at 6:21
  • Frankly not a clue and it is out of scope for personal finance. I suggest talking to a US-proficient tax adviser (US-licensed EA/CPA). There are some options listed here: london.usembassy.gov/tax_preparation_services.html
    – littleadv
    Jul 15, 2015 at 8:10
  • @WillCalderwood for the record yes, that is the "entity" version of the form, suitable for use by a UK limited company. (source: Apple requires the completion of this form by all UK limited companies selling on the App Store).
    – John
    May 4, 2018 at 9:40

1 Answer 1


As answered in the comments earlier, the W-8BEN-E form is a variant for companies. The exact answer which one to do depends on what sort of a company you have, but if you're not doing anything complex, just being a vendor who is paid by a business in the US, then W-8BEN-E should be the right one. Either way, the heading of each of those IRS forms contains a list of "If you are X..." with the name of the other form to use instead listed on the right-hand side.

The main thing to understand is who these forms are after - AFAICT they're meant to prevent American taxpayers from moving money into overseas tax shelters. The American payer is faced with a 30% withholding tax if they send money to any sort of an entity that can hold it in their name and later just give them that money back. This is why there's so many categories of FFIs - foreign financial institutions - in the list in W-8BEN-E.

From what I was able to deduce from recent googling, a typical Ltd company that does actual business and doesn't exist merely as a vehicle to shuffle money around (invest, etc) or hold a bunch of passive income - is supposed to be filed as an "Active NFFE", an active non-financial foreign entity.

The only other possibly obscure form field that should be mentioned is the one that says foreign TIN, meaning tax identification number, which is where you can put your VAT ID number I suppose.

Disclaimer: IANAL

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