How To Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) For Your Startup

Nancy Thankiby Nancy Thanki • 7 min readpublished March 15, 2021

Getting an EIN for your Startup

After you incorporate your startup, you should get an employer identification number (EIN) as soon as possible. An EIN is essential to running your business: It lets you set up a US bank account and do payroll. And you need it to file your taxes.

When you incorporate with Capbase, we’ll automatically gather all the information you need to apply for an EIN. But if you don’t use Capbase, be ready to do it yourself.

What is an EIN?

Your EIN is a unique nine digit number the IRS uses to identify your business. You’ll include it any time you file a federal tax return.

Think of your EIN as a social security number for your business. While your EIN typically isn’t considered sensitive information in the same way a social security number is, you should be careful about who you share it with. Your EIN can be used for the purpose of identity theft.

EIN, FEIN, TIN, and tax ID, oh my!

Your EIN may also be referred to as a Federal Employer Information Number (FEIN) or a Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN). These all mean the same thing.

Likewise, when your bookkeeper or accountant refers to your tax ID, federal tax ID number, or business tax ID number, they’re referring to your EIN.

Do you really need an EIN?

Briefly: Yes. As long as you’re incorporated, you need an EIN. Other businesses—sole proprietors—aren’t legally required to have an EIN, so long as they meet certain conditions. In that case, they use the business owner’s SSN.

Importantly, you need an EIN to open a bank account.

Just to clear the air, if any of the following apply to you, you legally require an EIN—regardless of your business structure:

  • Your business has employees
  • You file employment or excise tax returns
  • You withhold taxes from income other than wages paid to a non-resident

Even if none of the above apply, you’ll need an EIN to pay employees and take care of other essentials.

How to get an EIN

Applying for an EIN is pretty straightforward, but there are a few variables involved depending on your location. Also, you’ll need to complete the application in one sitting, so make sure you have everything you need on hand before you get started.

When you incorporate using Capbase, all the information you need to provide the IRS is automatically collected, so applying for an EIN is easy.

Applying for an EIN as a US taxpayer

United States Residents can apply online for an EIN through the IRS website, or complete and mail in IRS Form SS-4.

Applying for an EIN as a non-US resident

If you don’t have legal residence in the USA, or your principal place of business is outside the USA, you qualify as an international applicant. The process of applying for an EIN is a bit more complex.

You’ll need to:

  • Call the IRS at 267-941-1099 between 6am and 11pm EST Monday – Friday.
  • Answer questions pertaining to IRS Form SS-4. To make the process go smoothly, it’s best to fill out the form beforehand.
  • The IRS agent will fill out a Form SS-4 and open an account for you.

Alternatively, you can fax or mail your application according to the instructions on Form SS-4.

Starting a company?🚀

Capbase makes applying for an EIN easy. When you incorporate your startup as a Delaware C corporation with Capbase, we collect all the information you need to get an EIN. You’ll be ready to bring on employees and set up payroll ASAP.

What you need to apply for an EIN

You can get an idea of the information you need to apply for an EIN by looking at IRS Form SS-4.

In summary, you’ll need the following information:

  • Legal and trade names of your business
  • Executor, administrator, or trustee name
  • Your business address
  • Your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Your entity type
  • Your reason for applying
  • The date you started your business
  • The closing month of your accounting year
  • The first date you paid wages
  • The principal activity of your business

Also, if you’d like to designate a third party to receive your EIN, you need their name and contact information; the IRS will get in touch with them to answer questions about Form SS-4.

After you apply, the IRS will send you a letter (Notice 147C), which includes your EIN.

Changing your EIN address

If your principal place of business changes, you need to notify the IRS. You can do this by filling out IRS Form 8822-B and mailing it to the applicable address listed on the form.

After this, the IRS will send a letter (Notice CP148A) to both your old and new addresses, confirming the change. To confirm the change, you don’t need to do anything.

If, for some reason, the address change is wrong, you need to return the letter to the IRS along with a complete IRS Form 8822-B listing your address.

How to look up another company’s EIN

If you need to find the EIN of another company, the process is straightforward. You can either:

  • Look on the back of a Form W-2 the company sent to an employee—the EIN will be listed there
  • Use the SEC’s EDGAR tool if the company is publicly traded
  • Get in contact with the company’s accountant, or pay to use an EIN lookup service like TINCheck.
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Ready to get started?

Creating a company on Capbase is as easy as filling out a few forms! Get started today and get your Delaware C Corp and a bank account setup in just a few clicks!

Nancy Thanki

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DISCLOSURE: This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as nor should be taken as legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should consult an attorney in your geographic area. Capbase's Terms of Service apply to this and all articles posted on this website.