What is an EIN?
An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN), is like a Social Security number (SSN) for your business.
The unique nine-digit EIN number allows the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify businesses for tax reporting.
Business owners will usually need an EIN when they:
When Does Your Business Need an EIN?
When Does a Sole Proprietorship Need an EIN?
A sole proprietor normally uses their own personal social security number for their business but even they must obtain an EIN to hire employees or files excise taxes. Learn more in our Does a Sole Proprietor Need an EIN guide.
Single-member LLCs should also generally obtain an EIN number and operate using their EIN number in order to maintain their corporate veil.
How to Do an EIN Lookup Online
You can locate a lost or misplaced EIN by the following
- Check to see if you have any notifications from the IRS , they will usually include your EIN number in any letters or notifications. Any previously filed tax return will also contain your EIN.
- If you used your EIN to open a business bank account, you can contact your bank for your EIN
- If you used your EIN with the a State Agency or local authority to obtain any business licence or permit you can also contact them.
- You can call the IRS directly to retrieve your EIN Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. The phone number for the Business & Specialty Tax Line is 800-829-4933. Keep in mind that Mondays are the busiest days to call the IRS. An IRS representative will ask you some qualifying questions to confirm business ownership or to verify that you’re authorized to be provided with the EIN.
If you are trying to find the EIN of business other than yours there are a few options.
- If the company is publicly traded, you can search The Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR online Forms and Filings (SEC) database for the EIN (I.R.S. Employer Identification No.).
- If you have relationship with the company, eg they are a vendor etc you should simply ask the company for its EIN
- If the business is a nonprofit you may locate it in the IRS tax exempt organization Search.
Paid Method of Finding an EIN For a Business
Try purchasing a business credit report from any of the major credit agency.
Are You Forming an LLC? We will lead you through the simple steps for forming an LLC in our free guides—from naming your business to getting an EIN.
Get a Free EIN
The quickest and simplest way to get a free EIN is to apply for one through the EIN Assistant on the IRS website.
You must form your business before getting an EIN. The IRS will ask for your business formation date and legal business name.
You can also apply for an EIN 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.
Frequently Asked Questions: EIN Number Lookup
Do I need an EIN if I’m self-employed?
You don’t need an EIN if you’re self-employed; you can simply use your Social Security number. Some people who are self-employed choose to apply for an EIN instead of using their Social Security number to reduce the risk of identity theft; it’s less likely for someone to break into your accounts when you keep business finances and personal finances separate.
I have a sole proprietorship with a DBA (doing business as or fictitious name). Do I Need an EIN?
Having a DBA doesn’t impact whether or not you are required to have an EIN for your sole proprietorship. The same rules apply to a sole proprietorship with a DBA as apply to a sole proprietorship without a DBA.
Per the IRS, “A sole proprietor without employees and who doesn’t file any excise or pension plan tax returns doesn’t need an EIN.” Once you hire employees or file excise or pension plan tax returns, you will immediately require an EIN.
Is there a difference between an EIN and a TIN?
No, there isn't a difference between an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Both refer to the nine-digit number issued by the IRS to identify your business.
Is there a difference between an EIN and a FEIN?
No, there is not a difference between an EIN and a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). A FEIN can also be referred to as a Federal Tax Identification Number.