4 Easy Ways to Apply for an Employer ID Number (EIN)

How to Apply for an Employer ID Number
How to Apply for an Employer ID Number. mevans/Getty Images

What is an Employer ID Number? 

An Employer ID Number (EIN) is an identifier used by the IRS for businesses and other entities. Most businesses need an EIN even if they don't have employees. For example, many banks require an EIN before you can apply for a business checking account. Consider the EIN Although it is primarily used for employment tax identification purposes, an EIN can also be used as a general tax number.


Be sure to check out the information on FAKE Employer ID applications at the end of this article. 

Before You Decide Which Application Method to Use

To apply for an EIN by any of these methods, you will first need to review the application, IRS Form SS-4. and the Instructions for Form SS-4. For more information, read this article on how to complete the EIN application form on Form SS-4. Then print out an application form and complete the application so you are sure you have all the information at hand when you apply. 

4 Ways to Apply for an EIN

You can apply for an EIN in one of four ways:

You can apply online

Many people use the online EIN application form, called the EIN Assistant. In this case, it's best to have the application completed and all the questions answered before you go online, because you will have to begin over if you have to stop to figure out the responses. The IRS says: 

  • You must complete this application in one session, as you will not be able to save and return at a later time.
  • For security purposes, your session will expire after 15 minutes of inactivity, and you will need to start over.

When you have completed the form, the information is validated and you can receive your EIN immediately. The online method is available for businesses located in the U.S. or its territories. You must have a valid taxpayer identification number before applying online.

You can apply by phone

Call the Business & Specialty Tax Line at (800) 829-4933.

The hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. Someone will take your information over the phone and assign you an EIN at the end of the conversation. Note: International applicants must call (215) 516-6999 (Not a toll-free number).

You can apply by FAX

Fax the completed SS-4 application form to your state fax number. If you include your fax number, you will receive your EIN by fax within four business days.

You can apply by mail

Mail your completed SS-4 Form to the appropriate IRS office. You will receive your EIN by mail within four weeks.

As you can see, if you are comfortable applying online or by phone, you can receive your EIN immediately instead of waiting days or weeks.

Beware of FAKE EIN Application Web Sites

If you search on "apply for EIN" you will find lots of sites that look like they are the IRS. They will start you on the application process, but only when you get ready to file will they ask for money. Don't waste your time or money. The EIN application process is free, relatively painless, and quick. 


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