How Long Does it Take to Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number)?

    by Benjamin Aronson
Updated November 25, 2021

So you’re starting an LLC and you need to file your Employer Identification Number (EIN). But how much time does it take and why do you actually need an EIN?

We’re going to go over everything you need to know about getting an EIN and how long it takes.

What is an EIN?

In short, an EIN acts as an identification number for your business. An EIN is to a business, what a Social Security Number is to an individual taxpayer. A form of identification.

This Tax ID is provided by the Internal Revenue Service and its main purpose is for identification.

How Long will It take to get my Tax ID Number?

It can take anywhere from 5 minutes to four weeks to get your federal tax number. Below we’re going to go over the main ways to obtain an EIN from quickest to slowest.

How Long Does it Take to Get an EIN Online?

You can apply online and receive your EIN immediately. The online application is the fastest way to receive your EIN and we strongly recommend taking this route. Just fill out the online application and send it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Note: You can only send in your application Monday – Friday from 7 am – 10 pm EST, so make sure you take note of that.

How Long Does it Take to Obtain an EIN by Phone?

You can call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 and get your EIN on the spot, but only if you’re a non-US citizen. The IRS is nio longer issuing EIN’s to us citizens by phone. Again, only international applicants, no us citizens can receive an EIN by phone.

ss4 form

U.S citizens can no longer get an EIN by phone

Make sure to call in from Monday-Friday, 6:00 am – 11:00 pm EST.

How Long Will it Take to Get an EIN By Fax?

It usually takes one to two weeks to receive your EIN when you apply by fax. Just print out the application for an Employer Identification Number (Form SS-4 ) and fill it out.

Once you read it over and double-check that the information is accurate, fax the form to the IRS at (855) 641-6935. Be sure to add a return fax number to ensure that get back to you quickly!

How Long Does it Take to Get an EIN By Mail?

Applying by mail is the slowest method and it can take up to four weeks to obtain an EIN. If you’re not in a hurry and technology bothers you, this is definitely a way to apply for an EIN, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

If you decide to go for it anyway, the IRS mail address is:

Internal Revenue Service Attn: EIN International Operation Cincinnati, OH 5999

If you’re not interested in doing it yourself, you can always hire an accountant or an incorporation service to fill out your EIN application and take care of what you need from the IRS.

Can I Get my EIN Number Today?

You can absolutely get your EIN today if you apply online or call the IRS Assistance for Businesses. If we were going to choose, we recommend starting the application process online. It’s very easy, straightforward, and you get an answer on the spot.

Applying for an EIN via phone call is also doable, but be prepared to wait for an IRS agent to pick up the phone.

How Long Does it Take for an EIN to Become Active?

The nice thing about applying online is that you immediately get your EIN, but just because you received your LLC taxpayer identification number doest mean it’s necessarily active.

On average it takes about two weeks for your business EIN to be properly synchronized into the IRS database. You can still use it to apply for a loan or open a bank account but filing an immediate tax return most likely wouldn’t work.

Why do I Need an EIN?

The main reason why you may need an EIN is for your tax returns. Your Employer Identification Number is directly connected to your business entity and is used by the IRS to identify taxpayers. You will need your Tax ID for just about every tax return that you file with the IRS.

Who Needs an EIN?

About half of the population associates EINs with huge corporate monsters and the other half don’t have a clue what EINs are so, let’s make it clear who needs an EIN number.

The main reason to apply for an EIN would but to register a business entity. If you are setting up any of the following, you need an EIN:

For more information deciding if you need an EIN, the IRS has an article answering most of the general questions.

How Long is an EIN Number?

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number sequence. All EIN numbers should be nine digits and they all follow the same basic pattern.

The first two numbers are separated but a dash, then followed by the remaining seven digits. For Example, a Tax ID number looks like this: 12-3456789.

Can I get an EIN Without an SSN?

If you were born in the US then you should have a Social Security Number and it shouldn’t be an issue.

This would be a question asked by a non-US resident forming a business entity like an LLC in the United States.

Yes, you absolutely can obtain an EIN without an SSN. If you don’t have an SSN, you unfortunately can not apply online and will have to apply by mail or by fax. This is because you need an SSN or an ITIN to apply online for an EIN.

Form ss4

Section 7b in form SS-4

Simply fill out Form SS4 and in section 7b where it says SSN, ITIN, or EIN, just write “N/A” or “Foreign” as the responsible party is a U.S foreigner.

Picture of the IRS handbook

Snapshot of the IRS SS-4 instrucitonal handbook

The Image above was taken from the IRS Instructions for SS-4 Form as as you can see, write “N/A” or “Foreign” as the responsible party if you are a non us citizen.

How Long Does an EIN Number Last?

Your EIN number will never expire and once your business entity receives a Tax ID that number will never be reissued or reused.

If you inherited a business and just want to make sure the LLC is in good standing, give the IRS a call at (800) 829-4933.

I Have my EIN Number, Now What?

Now that you have your EIN you can begin establishing up your business properly. Whether it be setting up a business bank account for your LLC or having an accountant file your annual taxes, an EIN is the “right of passage” that lets you hit the ground running!

Below are a few other things that you can do now that you have your EIN:

  • File a DBA or a Foreign LLC if your business is in growth mode
  • File for a trademark or a patent
  • Apply for specific business licenses or permits

How Much is it to Get an EIN Number?

Filing your Tax ID yourself (DIY) doesn’t cost any money. The IRS offers this free service to ensure that small business owners set up LLCs and corporations properly. And let’s be honest here, it’s in the Internal Revenue Services’ best interest to set up businesses with a free Tax ID, that way they can identify taxpayers.

Resources:

  1. (IRS) How Long Does it Take to Obtain an EIN
  2. (IRS) Employer ID Numbers
  3. (IRS) Instructions for SS-4 Form
  4. (IRS) Telephone Assistance Contacts for Business Customers
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