Getting an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also called a Federal Tax Identification Number. It identifies a business entity for tax purposes like filing returns or making deposits. Generally, businesses need their own identification number. 

If your business is in the United States (or in a United States territory), you can apply for an EIN online, by mail, or fax. International applicants can get an EIN by phone, mail or fax, but not online.

Even if you already have an EIN, certain business events require a new one. Generally, businesses need a new EIN when their ownership or structure has changed. Since the reasons vary for different types of business, see Do You Need a New EIN at 

You can also recover a lost or misplaced EIN. For details, see What should I do?, below.

How to Apply

Apply Online

You can complete your application for an EIN online at

This is the fastest way to get your number. The site will validate your information and issue the EIN immediately. To use the online application, the following must be true:

  • Your principal business, office, or legal residence is located in the United States or a United States Territory.
  • The responsible party (principal officer, general partner, grantor, owner, trustee, etc.) must have a valid Social Security number, Individual Taxpayer Identification number (ITIN), or Employer Identification Number. 
    • NOTE: The IRS can’t process your application online if the responsible party is an entity with an EIN previously obtained online. 

Apply by Fax or Mail

Complete an IRS Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, and fax or mail it to the IRS. Where to send it depends on if your business is inside or outside the US – the addresses are on  

If you provide a fax number on the application, you should receive a fax with the EIN within four business days. The processing time for a mailed application is about four weeks. 

Apply by Phone 

Only international applicants can apply for an EIN by phone. Call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time, Monday through Friday). 

The person calling must be authorized to receive the EIN and be able to answer the questions on IRS Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number. It’s helpful to fill out the form before calling because the IRS employee will need that information. You can receive your EIN by phone and use it immediately to file a return or make a payment. 

If you lost your EIN

If you have lost your EIN, there are a few places you should look: 

  • The original confirmation of your EIN application,
  • Previously filed tax returns, and
  • A bank or agency if you used your EIN to open an account or get a license.

You can also ask the IRS to search for your EIN. Call the Business & Specialty Tax Line - (800) 829-4933. The line is open 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday.

Need to cancel an EIN? 

EINs cannot be canceled – they are unique identifiers that are not reused. However, if you got a number but later decide you don’t need it (for example, if the business or exempt organization never started up) you can write a letter to the IRS and ask it to close your business account

It is very important that each individual business with filing and payment responsibilities have its own identification number.

If you applied for an EIN but haven’t received it by the time you have a return or a payment due 

If you don’t have the EIN by the time a return is due, file the return and write, “Applied For” and the date you applied in the space for the EIN. Do not put your SSN or another business EIN in this space. 

If you haven’t received your EIN and you have a tax deposit (payment) due, file your IRS Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, and write “Applied For” and the date you applied in the space for the EIN. Make your check or money order payable to the Internal Revenue Service and show your name (as shown on the IRS Form SS-4), address, kind of tax, period covered, and the date you applied for your EIN.

Online EIN FAQ’s

Employer ID Numbers (EINs)

Publication 1635, Understanding your EIN

Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number

Instructions to Form SS-4, Instructions for Application for Employer Identification Number

Have a different tax issue?  Browse common issues and situations at Get Help.

Is your tax problem more complex?  If your issue is causing you financial hardship, you have tried repeatedly and aren't receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights are being violated, consider contacting Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

Do you feel that you need help from a tax professional but can’t afford one? You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Last modified July 27, 2016