4 Easiest Ways to Get an EIN

Find out how to apply for an employer identification number.

What is an EIN? An employer identification number or EIN — a type of federal tax identification number or TIN — is what the IRS uses to identify companies. Business owners use an EIN for any related activities that would typically require a Social Security number. You’ll need to use one for a number of things, including opening a bank account in your business’s name, furnishing independent contractors with tax forms, applying for business permits and more.

A federal tax ID number enables Social Security to match its records with those of the IRS via tax ID lookup. Additionally, the federal government uses your EIN to compile statistics. Cover all your bases — starting with your EIN — if you own or are thinking of starting a business.

How to Apply for an EIN

It’s not difficult to fill out an EIN application and get your number. Here are four ways you can get an employer identification number:

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1. Apply for an EIN via Fax

Complete IRS Form SS-4 and fax it to 855-641-6935 if your legal residence or principal business address is in the U.S. If your primary address isn’t in one of the 50 states or Washington, D.C., but you are faxing from within the U.S., fax your application to 855-215-1627.

If you’re filing from outside the U.S., fax your application to 304-707-9471. If you’re eligible, you’ll receive your new tax ID within four business days at the fax number you provided.

2. Mail Your EIN Application

You can also mail in your completed application. Expect a turnaround time of about four weeks if you apply this way. If your principal business address is located in the U.S., send your application to:

Internal Revenue Service
Attention: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

If you’re located outside the U.S., send your application to:

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Internal Revenue Service
Attention: EIN International Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Read This: Business Receipts You Should Keep for Filing Taxes

3. Call to Apply for an EIN

Only international applicants can apply for a new EIN by phone. To apply, call 267-941-1099 from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. If you call on behalf of someone else you must be authorized to answer questions and receive an employer identification number. In addition, you must complete the signature section to validate an EIN.

4. Apply for an EIN Online

If your primary business address — or legal residence if you’re an individual — is in the U.S. and your entity’s primary owner or operator has a valid taxpayer ID number, you can apply online. Most of the information you’ll need to apply for an EIN is basic, but you might need to gather some details in advance, including:

  • Business name — and trade name if applicable
  • Executor, administrator, trustee or “care of” name
  • Street address and mailing address if different
  • Business entity type: nonprofit, corporation, trust, LLC, etc.
  • Business start or acquisition date
  • Projected maximum number of employees for the following year
  • First date of paid annuities or income
  • Industry type and products or services offered
  • Any previous EINs
  • Reason for applying

When you apply online, all your information is verified during the application process. If approved, you’ll receive your EIN immediately.

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See: 5 Banks That Make Starting a Small Business Easier

When You Should Apply for an EIN

A tax ID number isn’t just a must for filing taxes — you’ll likely need one to apply for a business license or to open a business bank account. You’ll also need a new EIN if your business structure or ownership has changed.

Tax ID Application Tips

Be sure you have everything you need to complete your application at once. Incomplete information can cause approval delays.

If your business name contains characters other than letters, numbers, hyphens or ampersands — the only characters the IRS system accepts — decide beforehand whether you’ll spell out those characters or omit them from your EIN application. Keep in mind that the IRS issues a maximum of one EIN per responsible party daily.

Next Up: How to Get a Business Loan

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About the Author

Stacy Calvert

Stacy Calvert creates online content from her home in Peoria, IL. She ghostwrites product descriptions, blog posts and static webpage content for small, medium and large businesses. Stacy has written articles for the Houston Chronicle, NestMagazine and other publications online.

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4 Easiest Ways to Get an EIN
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