Getting an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also called a Federal Tax Identification Number. It identifies a business 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 changes. 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 the What should I do? section, 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 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 can 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've lost your EIN

If you've 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 can't be canceled – they are unique identifiers that aren't reused. If you got a number but later decide you don’t need it (For example: You received a number, but never started the business or exempt organization.) 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 must file a tax return or make a payment 

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

If you haven’t received your EIN and you need to make a tax deposit (payment), 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 include your name (as shown on the IRS Form SS-4), address, kind of tax, tax period, and the date you applied for your EIN.

Online EIN Frequently Asked Questions

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

Browse common tax issues and situations at Get Help.

If your IRS problem is causing you financial hardship, you've tried repeatedly and aren't receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights are not being respected, consider contacting Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent (EA) associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs may also provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language.

Last modified March 21, 2018