You should form your limited liability company (LLC) before getting an employer ID number (EIN).
This is because you'll be asked for the date of business formation and for the business's legal name when you request your EIN.
LLC Before EIN
You need to form your LLC before getting an EIN. This is because the IRS will ask for your business formation date and legal business name on the EIN application.
You will need to register your business and get approval for the business's name from your state before applying for an EIN. You can't be sure of your business name until it's approved by your state.
If you get an EIN first, and your LLC name is rejected, you will need to cancel the EIN, re-file your LLC formation documents, wait for LLC approval, and then apply for a new EIN.
Our LLC formation guides will help you choose an LLC name that will be accepted by your state.
Do I Need An EIN For My LLC?
We recommend that all LLCs get an EIN but the US Internal Revenue Service requires EINs for LLCs under the following circumstances:
If your business entity is a single-member LLC with no employees or excise tax liability, then you are not required to get an employer ID number.
It’s still recommended (and sometimes required) to open a bank account, to hire employees later, and in order to maintain your corporate veil.
Learn more about EINs for single-member LLCs.
Multi-Member LLC or Partnerships
If your business structure is a partnership or multi-member LLC, you will need to get an EIN number. This is because the LLC must file a partnership return and provide K-1s to members of the LLC and those forms require an EIN number.
Benefits of Having an EIN
An EIN might not be required for your LLC, but an EIN can make it easier to successfully run your business.
Protecting Against Identity Theft
Applying for an EIN instead of using your Social Security number (SSN) will keep your SSN more private, reducing the risk of identity theft. If you’re a sole proprietor without an EIN, and you continue giving out your SSN to clients or vendors, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk.
If you have an EIN, you can hire employees as soon as the need arises.
Maintaining The Corporate Veil
If you’re a single member LLC, an EIN helps you maintain your corporate veil. The corporate veil protects business owners from personal liability for the business’s debts.
Opening a Business Bank Account
Most banks require an EIN in order to open a business banking account. A business bank account is another way to keep your personal finances and professional finances separate. It will simplify the process of tracking and managing your professional expenses.
Build Business Credit
Just like a Social Security number tracks your personal credit, lending and credit agencies use an EIN to track your business’s credit. Establishing strong credit will help to maintain your business’s financial stability, and applying for an EIN is an essential step. Having good business credit can lead to better interest rates, more loan qualifications, and a higher chance of expanding your company in the future.
Qualify for More Business Loans
Although an EIN isn't required to apply for all business loans, a lot of lenders prefer a company that has established its business credit through a business bank account. You’ll have a better chance of qualifying for loans if you have strong business credit. To start establishing credit, you need to get an EIN.
How to Form an LLC
Our free state guides can help make registering your LLC even easier.
In our Form An LLC guides we cover the five steps to forming an LLC:
- Name Your LLC
- Choose a Registered Agent
- File Your LLC with the State
- Create an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN
How To Get An EIN
The quickest and easiest way to get an EIN for free is on the IRS website Monday thru Friday from 7 am to 10 pm.
You can apply for an employer identification number by fax or mail by completing Form SS-4.
If you are submitting by fax, send your EIN application to fax number (855) 641-6935.
If applying by mail, submit to Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN Operation, Cincinnati, OH 45999.
For more information about whether your LLC is required to obtain an EIN, visit our EIN for LLC guide.
How do I look-up an EIN?
If you keep paperwork for your LLC, you can find your EIN on the EIN confirmation letter that is sent after your EIN application. Your EIN can also be found on old tax returns and tax documentation.
If you can’t find documentation containing your EIN, you can ask the IRS to search for your EIN by calling the Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933.
How long does it take to get an EIN for an LLC?
Eligible EIN applicants receive their EIN number immediately after submitting their forms on the IRS website.
Applications sent by mail or fax can take 4 weeks to process.
After forming an LLC, when do I get an EIN number?
After forming an LLC, you should apply for your EIN number as soon as the LLC is officially registered and approved by the state.
If I’m a sole proprietor, does my EIN change when I become an LLC?
If you are a sole proprietor and you become an LLC, you will need a new EIN per IRS guidelines.
When the ownership of an LLC changes, do you need a new EIN?
If the ownership of an LLC changes by 50 percent or more within a 12 month period, it will need a new EIN. If the ownership goes from 1 owner to more than one owner, it will need a new EIN.
When is a new EIN required for an LLC?
A new EIN is required for an LLC when ownership goes from 1 owner to more than one owner or if it goes from multiple owners to one owner.
A new EIN is required if an LLC is purchased or inherited and then becomes a sole proprietor.