The AdSense PIN is a unique identification number issued to every publisher in their advertising network. The PIN is issued on a folded postcard that is sealed along the bottom, and mailed to your home address (the address used when you signed up for Adsense).
We've seen several problems when people try to sign up using some fictitious address in a different country because they think it will be easier to get approved. This usually doesn't work. Most of the time the application is rejected for incorrect information, but in the few cases where it has worked (usually when they have someone located in that country do the signup), when it comes time to get paid, they cannot receive a payment. To get your payment, it must be issued to the same country location as your address. These people end up being stuck with no way to get their payments.
No, you can't just change the country and address to receive the payment. The country can't be changed.
This is one of the purposes of the PIN. Sure, the PIN might be issued to the fictitious address, but the publisher would never receive it. If they used a friend or family member's address in a different country, the friend/family member might be able to get the PIN and give the publisher the PIN number to enter into their account.
While that might work to verify the address, come payment time ... the publisher won't receive his or her payment. If you use EFT or Wire Transfer (the majority of accounts now use this option) the bank account you have your earnings issued to must be your own - using your own name. It must also be located in the country where your address is. If you live in India but have a UK address in your AdSense account, then you need a bank account in the UK.
Most countries won't allow you to open a bank account if you don't reside in that country, and you usually need some sort of photo-ID and/or government ID to open a bank account.
So, the result is that you will save yourself a lot of trouble if you just use your own address in the first place.
When is the PIN Issued
In most countries, the PIN threshold is around $10US or the equivalent in local currency. What may be confusing for some is the fact that this threshold is the value of "verified" earnings, and not estimated earnings.
AdSense used to send the PIN once estimated earnings reached $10, but haven't been doing that for some time now. Once your Payments page has a total of verified earnings at or over the $10 required threshold, the PIN would usually be issued with a week or so of that amount showing up on your Payment page.
You'll know when they've issued your first PIN - there will be a red notice in your AdSense account telling you that your payments are on hold until you enter your PIN. The PIN is sent out in the regular mail services, so it's no different than if you bought a postcard, stuck a stamp on it and dropped it off at the post office to be sent out to someone else. Adsense does the same thing (not literally).
How Long Does it Take
Once they stick it in the mail, how long it takes to get to your home address depends entirely on the mail services. AdSense has no control over how long the postal service takes to deliver it, nor even whether it gets delivered at all. If the postal service loses it, or delivers it to the wrong address, the publisher might not get the first PIN at all.
You can request a second PIN about 4 weeks after the first one had been issued. If you don't get that, you get one more opportunity to request your PIN (again about 4 weeks after the second was issued). If you don't get your third PIN ... is it "3 strikes, you're OUT!!!" ?
No - not necessarily. There is still a way to verify your address (depending on where you live). At least, there is if you really live at the address you included in your AdSense account.
About 4 weeks after you request the third PIN if you haven't entered a PIN into your AdSense account, AdSense will ask you to submit documentation to prove your address. This option will appear in your Adsense account, with a link so you can upload documents. If it hasn't been 30 days/4 weeks since your last PIN was issued, you will NOT be able to submit the documents, and may get redirected to the PIN Troubleshooter.
What you'll need is an official document or two that shows your name and address - a passport if it shows your address (not all passports show an address in text); a government issued identification card; a driver's license; sometimes they'll accept a utility or tax bill. If you aren't sure which is best, it wouldn't hurt to submit two documents.
PROBLEMS WITH UPLOADING DOCUMENTS
There are some cases where a link to submit your documents won't appear, but you'll get a link to request a new PIN instead. In these cases, you need to request a new PIN. That's because there are some areas in the world where you won't be able to use documents to verify your account. You'll know whether or not you live there if you never see the option to upload documents in your account and you just keep getting a link for a new PIN. There isn't much more I can add, because this is a fairly new change in the process.
No, we don't have a list of places, suffice it to say, you MUST use an address in your account where you actually live. Not a fake one, or someone else's address. Yours.
What if My Payments are on Hold?
In some cases, those at or past the threshold who have been waiting through several payment cycles may see their payments issued within a few days, and those who only got to the payment threshold will probably see their payment issued during the upcoming payment cycle.
If you aren't using EFT or Wire Transfer then you would not receive payment until the next payment cycle.
What if I enter my PIN wrong 3 Times?
I used find it hard to believe that any one could accidentally enter the number wrong 3 times in a row, but considering how many people use mobile devices to access their accounts, it is a lot easier to make that mistake than it used to be.
However, if you "accidentally" enter your PIN wrong 3 times on purpose (because you are just guessing at it and haven't actually received it yet) ... you could find yourself with no way to complete the process, and no way to contact anyone ... and in the end, you have an account that is stuck. In this case, there wouldn't be any way to ever collect those earnings.
Entering the PIN wrong 3 times won't get you a link to submit your documents, so don't waste your trying time suggestions from some silly YouTube videos or blogs you found online. If it's not an official video from AdSense's OWN YouTube channel, or instructions from the AdSense help center, then don't consider it any sort of official instructions.
posted by J. Gracey Stinson
(updated Aug. 27, 2016)
(updated Aug. 27, 2016)