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:

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When does the IRS require an EIN number?

If any of the following statements are true, you'll need to get an EIN:

  • Your business has employees
  • Your business is a partnership or corporation
  • Your business files excise taxes
  • Your business withholds taxes for nonwage income paid to a nonresident alien

All businesses can benefit from having an EIN. Visit our EIN Benefits guide to learn more.

A sole proprietor must have an EIN to hire employees. Learn more in our Does a Sole Proprietor Need an EIN guide.

When does a business need a new EIN number?

According to the IRS, a business needs a new EIN when:

  • The structure of the business changes
  • A business is inherited or purchased from another owner
  • The business is subject to bankruptcy proceedings

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Starting a Business? Learn about EINs and more on our free state-by-state How to Start a Business guides.

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How to Do an EIN Lookup Online

The Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR online Forms and Filings (SEC) database offers an EIN search tool for publicly held companies.

If the company you’re looking for is registered under the SEC, you can look up the EIN. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Filing’s page
  2. Search for the company
  3. Click on SEC filing documents
  4. Find the EIN on the first page
  5. The Tax ID number is under “IRS No”
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Need Help Filing Business Taxes? Schedule a consultation with a business accountant today.

How to Find an EIN Number by Phone

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.

The business's responsible party should call to request the EIN and will be expected to provide his or her Social Security number. 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.

Once business ownership or authority to act on behalf of the responsible party has been established, you can request the IRS EIN Department to send you a copy of the EIN Letter by fax.

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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.

How to Find an EIN Number Through Business Documents

You can search for your original computer-generated confirmation that was issued by the IRS when your EIN was initially assigned to your company.

You can also search for an EIN if your business has previously filed taxes with the state. Your EIN should be available in your tax return records.

 An EIN is required to file taxes if your business is a:

  • Multi-member LLC
  • Partnership with employees
  • Corporation
  • Single-member LLC with employees
  • Sole Proprietorship with employees

Other reasons you may have an EIN to file taxes include if you’re a/n:

  • Trustee of a trust
  • Executor of an estate

If you have an accountant, you can call him or her to search through your tax documents to find your EIN.

You can also review your business’s bank account documents where you will be able to get your EIN from the original paperwork. Note that an EIN is required when you open a company bank account, so you can even go to your local bank and ask a representative to assist you in finding your 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 will need to register your business and get approval for the business's name from your state before getting an EIN. Visit our LLC before EIN guide to learn more.

For help with business formation, visit our free Form an LLC or Form a Corporation guides for step-by-step instructions.

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.

Here is some helpful information to guide you in requesting your EIN through the IRS website:

  • The IRS’s hours of operation for obtaining your EIN are Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m
  • Only United States and U.S. Territories-based businesses are eligible
  • You must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, EIN)
  • The entity owner or responsible party may only apply once per day
  • Your application must be filled out in one session and cannot be saved
  • The session will time-out after 15 minutes if not in use
  • You will immediately get an EIN after the form is completed
  • Applications cannot be processed if an EIN was previously obtained online