How to Get an EIN for Your Business

How to Get an EIN for Your Business

If you’re a small business owner, you’ll probably need an employer identification number — also known as an EIN or a federal tax ID — at some point. An EIN is a unique nine-digit number issued to your company by the IRS for business and identification purposes.

Do you really need an EIN for your biz, though? What’s it even for? And how do you get one? We answer all these questions for you below!

What an EIN is used for

An EIN is used to identify your business, much like your Social Security number can be used to identify you. An EIN is also required for business banking. If you open a new line of credit or open a business bank account (which is a super important legal step  when starting a business) your bank will usually ask for an EIN.

You’ll also need an EIN to  file for a new LLC. Before you pick a business address and after you choose your LLC name, you’ll need an EIN to complete your LLC form.

If you don’t have an EIN, you’ll probably have to provide your Social Security number instead as a form of identification. So even if you don’treallyneed an EIN — more on that in a minute — it’s a good idea to have one to keep your Social Security number private.

How do you know if you really need an EIN?

According to the IRS, if you answer “Yes” to  any of the following questions, you need an EIN:

  • Do you have employees?
  • Do you operate your business  as a corporation or a partnership?
  • Do you file any of the following tax returns: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms?
  • Do you withhold taxes on income, other than wages, paid to a non-resident alien?
  • Do you have a Keogh plan? (A Keogh plan is a retirement plan for those who are self-employed.)
  • Are you involved with any of the following types of organizations?
    • Trusts, with some exceptions
    • Estates
    • Real estate mortgage investment conduits
    • Nonprofits
    • Farmers' cooperatives
    • Plan administrators

Not sure if you already have an EIN?

If you don’t remember your existing EIN or whether you’ve gotten one already, you can:

  • Check your most recent tax return for it;
  • Call the IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933;
  • Or check with the institution who might’ve issued one to you, like your bank.


How to apply for an EIN

Ready to get your EIN? You’ll need the following bits of information, which you can find by looking over  Form SS-4: Application for Employer Identification Number:

  • Name, address, and taxpayer identification number or Social Security number
  • Type of business entity
  • Your reason for applying
  • The date you started or acquired your business
  • The closing month of your accounting year (which is usually December)
  • The highest number of employees you expect to hire in the next 12 months
  • The first date your wages were or will be paid
  • What your business does

Once you have Form SS-4 filled out, you have a few options for filing your application.

Apply online

Applying online is the easiest and most convenient way to get your EIN. The information you submit is validated while you’re applying, and an EIN is issued to you immediately.

Apply by fax

Need to fax your Form SS-4 instead? You’ll fax it to  one of two addresses based on your information. You’ll then receive a fax back with your new EIN within four business days. 

Apply by mail

If you’re mailing your EIN application, you’ll send it to one of the two aforementioned addresses based on your business info. Your new EIN will be mailed back to you within four weeks.

Apply by phone if you’re international

If you’re not based in the United States, you can call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, to apply. You’ll answer questions about Form SS-4 in order to get an EIN.

When should I apply for an EIN?

You should apply for an EINbeforeyou need it for tax purposes or for business banking. Don’t wait until the last minute! Remember, you can get an EIN immediately by applying online, but if you choose to apply by fax or mail, it can take anywhere  from one to five weeks.

If for some reason you don’t have your EIN by the time you need to file a tax return, the IRS recommends you write “Applied for” and the date you applied in the space for the EIN. Don’t input your Social Security number in that space.

Need help getting your biz set up?

Getting an EIN is easy peasy, right? And you definitely need it if you decide to open a business bank account, file an LLC, hire employees, and all those other lovely reasons listed by the IRS.

Applying for an EIN is just one early but crucial step in starting your business on solid legal ground. Even though getting an EIN is easy, we know that all those other steps can be much more complicated and overwhelming. That’s why our comprehensive and super-affordable course,  Lawless to Flawless®, is here to help you out!


Lawless To Flawless The Contract Shop

Lawless to Flawless® will teach you everything you need to know to get your business up and running with multiple modules, helpful videos, downloadable worksheets, and other resources. You can complete it on your own time and at your own pace, too!

Oh, and did we mention you can gain access to  Lawless to Flawless® for just $14  for life? That’s a pretty sweet deal. What are you waiting for?


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