Your Step-by-step Guide on How to Apply for EIN—aka Employer Identification Number

If you want to buy a car or house, open a bank account, or get a job, you need a Social Security number. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like that—but for your business. Many businesses need an EIN to operate. And if your business is one of them, you must know how to apply for EIN. Luckily, the EIN application isn’t terribly complicated. In fact, it’s a pretty quick process, especially if you apply online. And if you want to make it even easier, read on to learn how to do it before you get to the application. 

What is an EIN?

An Employer Identification Number is a federal taxpayer identification number that identifies a business. 

Also called a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), EINs are unique nine-digit numbers the IRS assigns to businesses. The format for an EIN is: 12-3456789.

If you must apply for EIN, keep the number handy for business or tax documents. The IRS and Social Security Administration identify businesses by their EINs. Businesses with EINs use them on documents such as Forms:

W-2, Wage and Tax Statement 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return 944, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return

One thing to keep in mind is that you should not use your Employer Identification Number in place of your SSN. EINs are for business purposes only. 

Do you need an EIN?

Not all businesses need an EIN number to operate. You might be wondering, “Do I need an EIN?” Well, wonder no more. The IRS determines which businesses need an EIN. 

Complete the IRS EIN application if you:

Have employees Structure your business as a corporation or partnership File employment; excise; or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms tax returns Have a Keogh plan Are involved with qualifying trusts, estates, nonprofits, farmers’ cooperatives, or plan administrators

Did you answer yes to any of the above? If so, you need to create an EIN. 

How to apply for EIN

So you need to get an EIN, do you? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Applying for an EIN does not cost anything. And when it comes to how to get an EIN, you have options—three options to be exact. You can apply online, via fax, or through the mail. If you are an international applicant, you can apply over the phone. 

Keep in mind that you cannot apply for more than one EIN number per day if you own multiple businesses. 

Regardless of the method you choose, the information you provide the IRS is the same. You’ll need to disclose things like:

Legal name  Address Business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship) Reason for applying

So, how do you get an EIN using each method? Read on to find out.  

1. Online

The IRS prefers that businesses get their EIN online. The application is on the IRS’s website. It is available from 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. EST, Monday – Friday. 

To apply online, your principal business must be in the United States or U.S. Territories. And, you need a valid taxpayer identification number (e.g., SSN) to apply.

The EIN online application consists of five parts:

Identify Authenticate Addresses Details EIN Confirmation

There is no way to save your application and return to

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