How To Apply Online for an Employer Identification Number

Information Needed for Online EIN Applicatoin

Online Employer ID Application
Applying for an Employer ID Online. Hero Images/Getty Images

Applying for an EIN using the Online Application Process

Most small businesses will need an Employer ID Number (EIN). Although this form is used for identification of employers, it required for other legal purposes, and you will most likely be required to supply it for a bank account and other applications. 

Before You Begin the EIN Application Process

Before you begin the process, print out a copy of Form SS-4 and answer all the questions.

Use this completed form as a guide during the process. The online application takes some time to complete and the EIN Assistant will time you out if you delay too long in answering questions. You won't be able to save your information and come back again later.  

STEP-BY-STEP Process for Filing an EIN Application Online

First, a disclaimer: This "how to" is intended to provide a general discussion for new business owners. It is not intended to provide legal or tax advice. Each situation is different and your tax advisor may require you to complete this form to comply with this specific situation. Please consult with your attorney or tax advisor make sure you are in compliance with the tax laws and that you receive the best tax advantage for your specific situation.

1. Go to the IRS EIN Assistant Page

Begin by going to the  EIN Assistant, online at the IRS website. Make sure you are not on a FAKE EIN application site.

 Look carefully at the URL: It should be https://sa.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp and the heading should be IRS.gov with the IRS logo to the left. 

2. Select Your Type of Legal Structure  

Select the legal structure of your business. When you click "continue," you will see a page describing the income tax structure for this type of business.

If your business is an LLC, you will be asked how many members (owners).

3. Why Are You Requesting an EIN?

The options are:

4. Designate Responsible Party 

You must designate a responsible party to sign off on your EIN. The responsible party must be someone associated with the business with authority to sign for the business. Read more about the difference between a "nominee" and a "responsible party" if you are not sure who to designate for this item.

5. Provide Information About Your Business

  • Legal name
  • Trade name/DBA if different from the legal name.  
  • County, State
  • If a corporation, partnership, or LLC, ​the state in which the business is registered.
  • The start date of the business (month/year).  The start date is important if you are starting around the end of your fiscal year. Check with your tax advisor about the tax implications of startup dates.

6. Include Applicable Taxes

The next page asks questions to determine if your business is engaged in activities subject to federal taxes:

  • Highway motor vehicle operation
  • Gambling/wagering
  • Federal excise taxes
  • Alcohol, tobacco, or firearm sales
  • Number of employees expected in the next 12 months

7. Describe Business Category/Business Activity  

You must choose a type of business activity. If you can't find your business category, select "Other" and enter the activity in the box provided.

8. How You Want to Receive Confirmation

You have the option to receive your confirmation letter online or by mail. The mail option takes up to 4 weeks. If  you have to take the confirmation to a bank, taxing authority, or lender, take the online option.

9. Review the Information 

You have an opportunity to review the information you have entered before you submit the application. If  something is incorrect, you must begin a new application. 

10. When You Receive Your EIN

When you have received your EIN, print out the number or write it down. You will need it for lots of documents during startup.

You will receive a confirmation by mail, which you should keep in a safe place.

If you are not sure you need an EIN, take a look at this article describing the circumstances when you need an EIN. You might also want to ask your CPA or attorney.

When it doubt, get the EIN. It costs nothing and you never know who might ask for it.