Once you incorporate your company, you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It’s essential for hiring employees, filing taxes, and opening a bank account for your company.

How you get an EIN depends on whether or not you are a US citizen with a social security number (SSN). If you’re a US citizen, getting an EIN is fairly straightforward.

If you aren’t, you’ll first need to get an individual tax identification number (ITIN) in lieu of an SSN, and use your ITIN to apply for an EIN.

Summary

  • If you have an SSN, you can apply for an EIN by filing Form SS-4 online with the IRS
  • If you don’t have an SSN, you can get a tax ID (an ITIN, specifically), and then using it to file Form SS-4 online
  • If your business is not registered in the US, you’ll need to apply for an EIN by submitting Form SS-4 via phone, snail mail, or fax

How to get an EIN if you already have an SSN

If you’re already a US citizen and you have an SSN, you can apply for an EIN by filling out and submitting Form SS-4 to the IRS.

Information you need in order to fill out Form SS-4

Before you sit down to fill out Form SS-4, make sure you have the following information at your disposal:

  • Your company’s legal name, as well as its doing business as name (DBA) if applicable
  • Your company’s address
  • The name, SSN, and signature of your principal officer (referred to by the IRS as a responsible party)
  • The date your corporation was formed
  • The maximum number of employees you expect to have within the next 12 months
  • The date on which your financial year ends

How to submit Form SS-4

You can submit Form SS-4 online, via the IRS website.

When you incorporate using Capbase, we obtain an EIN for you—no need to fill out a submit Form SS-4.

How to get an ITIN if you don’t have an SSN

If you don’t have an SSN, you’ll need an ITIN in order to apply for an EIN.

Once you have an ITIN, you can provide it while filling out Form SS-4 and submitting it online (covered in the section above).

Only one person at your company needs an ITIN: the individual acting as your principal officer (referred to as a responsible party by the IRS.)

Note: This only applies if your company is incorporated in the US. If you are incorporated in a different country, and need to apply for an EIN (for instance, in order to hire American employees), you can only get one by submitting Form SS-4 via phone, fax, or snail mail.

Since the vast majority of startups raising funds in the US are incorporated in the US, the rest of this guide assumes you have a US company.

How to get an ITIN

To get an ITIN, you must fill out and submit IRS Form W-7.

To fill out Form W-7, you’ll need the following information:

  • Your address

  • A current (non-expired) passport or another supporting document, certified by the issuing agency


You must submit Form W-7 by mail, or via an acceptance agent (AA) or certified acceptance agent (CAA).

By mail, send your application to: 

ITIN Operation

P.O. Box 149342

Austin, TX 78714-9342



If you’re sending your application by private delivery service, send it to: 

ITIN Operation

Mail Stop 6090-AUSC

3651 S. Interregional, Hwy 35

Austin, TX 78741-0000



To submit via an AA/CAA, find an acceptance agent in your home country.

Company BuildingCompliance For Startups
author avatar

Bryce Warnes is West Coast based writer specializing in fintech and entrepreneurship.

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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.