Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the IRS to business entities operating in the United States. It is your permanent identification number and can be used for most of your business needs, including:
- Opening bank accounts
- Applying for business licenses
- Obtaining business loans
- Hiring employees
- Build business credit
- Filing tax returns
- Forming LLCs and corporations
Once an EIN is issued by the IRS, it is permanent and does not expire. It stays for the life of the business until ownership or structure changes, or other exceptional circumstances. Obtaining an EIN is easy and free. Here are 4 ways to get one.
What is Required For an EIN Form
Whatever method of application you select to get your EIN, here’s everything the EIN form will ask for:
- Legal name of entity (or individual) for whom the EIN is being requested
- Trade name of business
- Executor, administrator, trustee, “care of” name
- Mailing address
- Street address (if it is different)
- County and state where principal business is located
- Name of responsible party
- SSN, ITIN, or EIN
- Type of business entity
- Reason for applying
- Date business was started or acquired
- Closing month of accounting year
- Highest number of employees expected in the next 12 months
- First date wages or annuities were paid
- Principal activity of your business
- Principal line of merchandise sold, specific construction work done, products produced, or services provided
- Whether or not you’ve ever applied for and received an EIN
What is an EIN
EIN vs. FEIN: A Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) is another name for an EIN.
EIN vs. SSN: A Social Security Number (SSN) is an individual tax identification number, whereas an EIN is a business's tax identification number.
EIN vs. Tax ID: The number assigned by the IRS for tax purposes is the Tax ID, and an EIN is a type of Tax ID, specific to businesses.
EIN vs. ITIN: Your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) acts as a Social Security Number for non-U.S. residents and resident aliens. An ITIN is also used for their spouses and dependents who are not able to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). Overall, it’s for an individual, whereas the EIN is for a business.
EIN vs. DUNS: The Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) is a nine-digit number issued by Dun & Bradstreet. A DUNS number helps businesses create and identify their credit reports. An EIN is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS for business tax reporting.
Now that those details are covered, it’s time to walk you through applying for an EIN.
1. Apply For EIN Online (Best and Fastest Option)
Applying online is the best and fastest way to obtain your EIN. You may be eligible to apply for an EIN online if you satisfy the following requirements:
- Your principal business is located in the United States or U.S. Territories.
- The person applying online must have either a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
- There is a limit of one EIN per responsible party per day.
You can apply for the SS-4 online and obtain an EIN right after it’s completed.
Beware of Fake EIN Application Websites
When searching how to “apply for an EIN,” you will find many websites that resemble the IRS. If a website asks for money to file, do not waste your time or money. Applying for an EIN is a free service. Beware of websites and companies that charge.
The reason you would pay money is if you hire someone to get an EIN for you. While you certainly can hire someone to get your EIN, you can also apply for an EIN yourself.
Fill Out an Online Application
Below, you will find the sections that you will need to fill out in an online application for an EIN.
Define Business Structure
Identify the type of legal structure you are applying for, which will be “Limited Liability Company” in this instance. The next page will explain what an LLC is and what an LLC is not.
The next section will ask you for information about the members of the LLC. Enter the total number of LLC members. You can select between a single and multi-member LLC. You will then select the state where your LLC was formed.
Tip: It is recommended to speak to an accountant regarding which method of taxation is best for your LLC since there will be questions regarding this.
You will then need to select a reason for requesting an EIN.
Authenticate Contact Person
After selecting the reason for requesting an EIN, you will be asked to authenticate the EIN Responsible Party. The EIN Responsible Party is the LLC’s “contact person” for the IRS. The IRS will send mail and correspondence to this person, either providing information to the LLC or requesting information from the LLC.
Note: In order to complete the online EIN Application, the EIN Responsible Party must have a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Indicate Physical Address
You will need to note where the LLC is physically located. The IRS will use this address to send your LLC any mail or correspondence. A PO box address is not allowed, but you can use a mailbox with a commercial street address here.
You can also use the address of your registered agent, home, lawyer, or even CPA. Just make sure to check if they will allow this first before you do it.
Describe Your LLC
You will need to fill out the name of your LLC - do not use periods, commas, or special characters. You will also need to list the county and state/territory where the LLC is physically located.
Other information about your LLC will include the start date. You can find the date on your LLC’s Articles of Organization or Certificate of Formation.
You will be asked more required questions about your LLC.
- Does your business own a highway motor vehicle with a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more?
- Does your business involve gambling/wagering?
- Does your business need to file Form 720 (Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return)?
- Does your business sell or manufacture alcohol, tobacco, or firearms?
- Do you have, or do you expect to have, any employees who will receive W-2 Forms in the next 12 months? (W-2 Forms require additional filings with the IRS.)
You will then describe what your business will do from a list of given choices. If your business purpose does not fall under the choices, you can select “other” and specify it further.
You are at the last stage of confirmation. It is recommended that you select “Receive letter online” as this is the fastest way to receive your EIN Confirmation Letter.
You will see a message confirming that an EIN has been assigned to your LLC. Make sure to download and print a PDF copy of your EIN Confirmation Letter. The IRS will also mail you a duplicate copy, which will arrive in 4-5 weeks.
2. Apply for EIN by Mail
Depending on the state where you formed your LLC, this will either be a stamped/approved Articles of Organization, Certificate of Organization, or Certificate of Formation.
You will receive your EIN by mail within 4-8 weeks, or possibly longer, depending on how busy the state is. You should apply for the EIN as early as possible before you actually need to hire or open bank accounts.
3. Apply For EIN by Phone
If you have any questions while going through the online EIN application, you can call the IRS at (800) 829-4933.
The IRS hours to apply for an EIN are Monday through Friday between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM Eastern Time. The earlier you call, the shorter the wait times. Someone will take your information over the phone and assign you an EIN at the end of the phone call. The person making the call must be authorized to receive the EIN and answer questions concerning the Form SS-4.
If you were incorporated outside of the United States or the U.S. territories, you cannot apply for an EIN online. For international applicants, please call (267) 941-1099 Monday through Friday between the hours of 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM Eastern Time.
4. Apply For EIN by Fax
Fax the completed SS-4 application form to your state fax number. You don’t need a cover sheet with your fax. You can just fax page 1 of Form SS-4 to the IRS.
If you include your fax number, you will receive your EIN by fax within 4-7 business days. For international applicants, you can send your completed SS-4 application to (215) 516-1040. The fax method to apply for an EIN is faster than mail.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need an EIN before or after I form my LLC? In most states, you will need to get your EIN before you form your LLC because the IRS will need your business name and formation date.
Q: Do I need an EIN for my DBA? No, you do not. A DBA is only for a name for the business.
Q: How do I change my business address? Your EIN information must be up-to-date at all times, and this includes your business address. To change your mailing address or business address, fill out Form 8822-B, Change of Address - Business. Then, mail the completed form to the IRS.
Q: How can I look up my EIN? If you lost or forgot your EIN, check your old tax returns, or you can call the Business & Specialty Tax Line of the IRS at (800)-829-4933.
Q: Can I cancel my EIN? You can’t cancel your EIN because it’s assigned to your business as long as it is in existence and will never be assigned to another business. Instead, you can close your business account with the IRS. To do that, mail the IRS a letter that includes the following:
- Complete legal name of the entity
- Business address
- The reason you wish to close your account
- If you have a copy of the EIN Assignment Notice that was issued when your EIN was assigned, include that as well.
There are 4 main ways to obtain an EIN for your LLC. If your principal business is located in the United States or U.S. Territories and you have an individual applicant who has an SSN, then the fastest and best way is to apply for the EIN online.
For international companies, you will not be able to apply online so it will take more time to obtain the EIN. Therefore, it is recommended that you apply for one as soon as possible so you have ample time to get that EIN.
No matter which method you choose, just remember that applying for an EIN is simple and free.
Get a Video Walk Through of How To Apply For Your EIN
TruStart's EIN course you'll get a visual step-by-step of how to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC. Get video lessons covering the two ways you can obtain your EIN (online and SS-4).