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How to Apply for an EIN Number as a Non-US Resident in 2024

Apply for an EIN Number as a Non-US Resident
(Last Updated On: December 14, 2023)

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In the expansive realm of business and financial transactions, the term “EIN” often arises, and for good reason. The Employer Identification Number, also known as EIN, is a crucial identifier for any business entity operating in the United States. 

While it may appear straightforward for U.S. residents, obtaining an EIN as a non-US resident can be a complex process involving many regulations and requirements. But fear not! We have you covered in this comprehensive guide for 2024. We aim to demystify the process and shed light on how non-US residents can obtain an EIN number step by step. 

Whether you’re an international entrepreneur seeking to establish your business in the United States as a foreigner or simply navigating through the intricacies of the U.S. tax system, understanding how to secure your EIN is vital. Together, let’s embark on this journey to ensure that you possess all the necessary knowledge to thrive within the U.S. business landscape.

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What Is an EIN Number?

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a unique 9-digit number the IRS provides. It serves as a Federal Tax ID Number and is used by the U.S. federal government to identify businesses for tax-related matters. 

Any business operating in the U.S. as a partnership, multi-member LLC, or corporation with employees must obtain an EIN. Foreign companies conducting business within the U.S., including e-commerce and Amazon sellers, must have an EIN to report their income and fulfill tax obligations.

Read more: How to Get a US LLC as a Non-Resident

EIN vs. SSN vs. ITIN

The IRS issues various types of federal tax ID numbers, including the Employer Identification Number (EIN), Social Security Number (SSN), and Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). However, eligibility requirements for these numbers vary.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

When a business owner lacks an ITIN or SSN, they utilize an EIN for tax purposes. Business owners must present an Employer Identification Number if they don’t possess an ITIN or SSN when importing goods into the United States.

EINs are utilized for:

  • Completing the process of submitting tax returns for a company
  • Establishing a bank account specifically for business purposes
  • Handling the necessary procedures for withholding, reporting, and remitting payroll taxes 
  • Developing creditworthiness for the business to facilitate obtaining financial support
  • When applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) using Form SS-4, there’s a requirement to provide personal information such as the name and Taxpayer Identification Number (Social Security Number, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or EIN) of the person who’s responsible for overseeing or managing the entity. Note that this individual must be an actual person and not a separate business entity.

Social Security Numbers (SSN)

Social Security Numbers serve as unique identification numbers for individuals who are either citizens of the United States or its territories. Non-US citizens aren’t qualified to obtain an SSN. American citizens can apply for an SSN by completing IRS Form SS-5.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to individuals who need a U.S. taxpayer identification number but are unable to obtain a Social Security Number. 

With an ITIN, people, residents, and nonresident aliens, can adhere to federal tax regulations by filing tax returns and fulfilling tax obligations. To obtain an ITIN, individuals must submit IRS Form W-7.

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Steps for Obtaining an EIN Number as a Non-US Resident

Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility for an EIN Number as a Non-US Resident

Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria as a non-US resident before applying for an EIN. It’s important to have an existing or planned business or trade in the United States.

If you’re starting a business registered at the state level, such as an LLC or a corporation, it’s advisable to wait until your business has been approved by the state before applying for your EIN. This will prevent any complications with obtaining a different EIN or submitting a notification of name change if your LLC or corporation paperwork gets rejected by the state.

Step 2: Obtain a Physical Mailing Address in the United States

Although it’s not strictly necessary to have a physical address in the U.S. to obtain an EIN, having one will greatly facilitate the process of opening a bank account in the country.

Step 3: Complete the IRS Form SS-4

Fill out Form SS-4, which is the application used to obtain an Employer Identification Number. It’s necessary to furnish details pertaining to your business, such as its legal name, address, and personal information.

Step 4: Submit the Completed Form SS-4 to the IRS by Fax or Postal Mail

After finishing the IRS Form SS-4, you can send it to the IRS either through fax or postal mail. The IRS website provides the correct mailing address and fax number for submission. 

It’s crucial to include all required details when sending in the form and carefully verify their accuracy. Any mistakes on the form might result in processing delays or even rejection of your application.

>> Get an EIN With Firstbase >>

Step 5: Wait to Receive Your EIN Number From the IRS, Which Typically Takes 4 to 6 Weeks

Once you have submitted the Form SS-4, wait for the IRS to review your application and give you an EIN number. The processing period normally lasts between four and six weeks, although it might be longer during busy times. After obtaining your EIN number, store it in a secure location since it will be necessary for tax-related matters.

Step 6: Notify the IRS If There Are Changes to Your Business

Once you have successfully obtained your EIN number, it’s absolutely crucial to keep the IRS informed about any changes that occur within your business. These changes include modifications to your business mailing address, business location, or even the person responsible for your business operations. Alterations in the responsible party must be communicated within a period of 60 days.

To promptly notify the IRS about these changes, all you need to do is complete and submit Form 8822-B. This form can be easily accessed on the official website of the IRS. However, if your previous business address was located in one of several states including Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and many others listed above, then you’ll need to send this form specifically to Internal Revenue Service Cincinnati at OH 45999-002.

By diligently adhering to these guidelines and promptly updating any relevant information with the IRS using Form 8822-B as necessary; you can ensure that all communication lines remain open between yourself and this important governing body.

By informing the IRS about any changes pertaining to your business address you contribute towards maintaining compliance and avoiding possible penalties or fines.

>> Get an EIN With Firstbase >>

Getting an EIN Number as a Non-US Resident – Buyer’s Guide

Applying for an Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN) 

Many individuals hold the belief that a Social Security number (SSN) is a prerequisite for obtaining a business EIN, but this assumption is incorrect. Non-U.S. citizens who possess businesses can still acquire a business EIN even if they do not possess an SSN. 

It’s important to note that Social Security numbers are designed for individual persons, while business EINs are meant for business entities; as such, the IRS handles these two types of tax IDs differently.

Although it’s unnecessary to possess an SSN in order to register for a foreign EIN, having one simplifies the process. This simplification arises from the fact that acquiring an EIN online mandates users to have a valid Taxpayer ID Number. Non-U.S. citizens or “foreign persons” generally cannot obtain a U.S. SSN; however, there exists another taxpayer identification option known as the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

If you’re ineligible for obtaining an SSN, you can apply for an ITIN by completing IRS Form W-7. Acquiring an ITIN can prove helpful throughout attaining your business EIN since it enables you to use the online IRS form when completing your application.

Therefore, non-U.S. citizens who own businesses have options available when it comes to obtaining their business EINs and should not be deterred by misconceptions regarding SSNs and their necessity in this regard.

The ITIN enables you to apply for an EIN online, but only if your business will be incorporated within the United States. The IRS states that if you were incorporated outside of the U.S. or its territories, you cannot apply for an EIN online.

If your business is already incorporated outside of the U.S., obtaining an ITIN may not be necessary. Instead, you will need to follow a different procedure for applying for a business EIN, which is explained below.

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Applying for an EIN Without an SSN or ITIN

To obtain an EIN, individuals who do not have an SSN or ITIN must use Form SS-4 and submit it via mail, fax, or phone. The form will inquire about several details concerning the business, such as its U.S. mailing address, the type of entity it is (e.g., partnership, LLC, corporation), the purpose behind requesting an EIN, and the industry in which the business operates.

Apply by Mail

International individuals who do not have a legal residence, main office, or main agency in the United States or its territories may submit their completed IRS Form SS-4 by mail. If they choose this method, they should send it to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN International Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

Obtaining a business EIN through this process may take several weeks when applying outside the United States. Once the application is received by mail, the IRS typically takes four weeks to process it. Therefore, additional time should be considered for the assigned EIN to be delivered via mail.

Apply by Fax

International candidates have the option to send their completed Form SS-4 to the IRS fax number specifically designated for individuals residing outside of the United States: 304-707-9471.

In most cases, it typically takes around four business days to obtain an EIN after submitting a request via fax.

Apply by Phone

International applicants are eligible to apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) through the IRS by phone. The instructions on Form SS-4 state that if you don’t have a legal residence, principal place of business, or principal office or agency in the U.S. or U.S. possessions, you can call 267-941-1099 (not toll-free) between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday, to obtain an EIN.

It’s important that the person making the call is authorized to request the EIN on behalf of either themselves as the business owner or as a Third Party Designee with authorization to act on behalf of the business.

To expedite the process and save time during your phone call with the IRS, it’s recommended that you prepare beforehand by familiarizing yourself with and providing accurate information requested on Form SS-4.

Assuming all information provided is correct and complete, receive your assigned EIN after your phone conversation with IRS representatives.

>> Get an EIN With Firstbase >>

Best Services to Get EIN Number as a Non-US Resident

If you’re unable to apply for an EIN number or would rather not, there’s the option of utilizing a third-party service to acquire an EIN number on your behalf. This can alleviate much of the anxiety and concern associated with the process.

Firstbase

Firstbase.io offers a simplified approach to launching a business in the United States by delivering a comprehensive online solution through an integrated dashboard. This encompasses tasks ranging from company registration, setting up banking services, and managing transactions and payroll, to ensuring ongoing compliance with regulations. 

The platform has established valuable partnerships to streamline documentation and procedures for legally establishing one’s entity. By utilizing Firstbase.io, individuals gain access to benefits US-based companies enjoy, such as legal protection, transact in USD currency, and adherence to US tax laws. The platform guides at each stage to ensure a seamless and user-friendly process.

With Firstbase Start™, entrepreneurs can kick-start their venture by paying a one-time fee of $399 with a 7-day money-back guarantee. While Firstbase specializes in streamlining overall integration processes, users may consult an attorney for more intricate legal matters if needed.

>> Start a Business in the USA as a Foreigner With Firstbase >>

ZenBusiness

Zenbusiness logo

ZenBusiness is a digital platform specializing in forming Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and providing essential services to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners in launching and expanding their enterprises. 

Their offerings encompass economical yet all-encompassing LLC formation options that include registered agent services, annual report submission, among other notable features. Besides these provisions, ZenBusiness extends continuous help and valuable resources aimed at ensuring businesses remain compliant with regulations while achieving prosperity.

>> Visit ZenBusiness >>

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent provides tailored help and business solutions, such as registered agent services, compliance management, and document submission. 

Their expertise lies in forming LLCs and offering continuous support and resources to ensure businesses remain compliant and thrive. Northwest Registered Agent is a reputable ally for those seeking LLC formation services.

>> Visit Northwest Registered Agent >>

Incfile

Incfile specializes in delivering efficient and reasonably priced services for forming Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). Their range of packages includes registered agent services, compliance management, and document filing. Incfile’s platform is user-friendly and streamlined, ensuring that forming an LLC is straightforward and stress-free. 

They offer continuous support and access to valuable resources to assist businesses in maintaining compliance and achieving success. If you’re seeking affordable yet convenient LLC formation services, Incfile is a top-notch choice.

>> Visit Incfile >>

How to Get an EIN Number as a Non-US Resident – FAQs

Can an Immigrant Get an EIN Number?

Regardless of their legal status, all immigrants can make a living by working as freelancers or establishing their own businesses using an ITIN, EIN, or SSN. People also have the option to acquire an EIN to identify their business and hire staff members. It’s possible to use an ITIN to obtain an EIN for this purpose.

How Long Does It Take to Get an EIN as a Non-Resident?

Please be aware that obtaining a business EIN through mail from outside the United States may take several weeks. The IRS takes around four weeks to process mail applications, so you should allow for additional time for your assigned EIN to be delivered by mail.

Is Foreign TIN the Same as EIN?

No, an EIN and a foreign Tax Identification Number (TIN) aren’t interchangeable. While a foreign government provides a TIN, the IRS issues an EIN specifically for businesses operating within the United States. 

The key distinction between an EIN and either an ITIN or TIN lies in their purpose: whereas an EIN is used to identify business entities, ITINs or TINS are used for individuals. Specifically, a TIN serves as identification for individuals subject to taxation within the United States.

How to Apply for an EIN Number as a Non-US Resident – Bottom Line

To sum up, acquiring an EIN number as a non-U.S. citizen may appear to be a complicated endeavor; with proper guidance and comprehension of the prerequisites, it’s entirely feasible. Keep in mind that possessing an EIN can unlock many possibilities, including launching a business based in the United States or making investments in American assets.

>> Get an EIN With Firstbase >>

About the author

Dr. Alexander Sterling, Esq, a distinguished legal scholar with a business law degree and a Doctor of Juridical Science, is a leading expert in business registration and diverse business departments. Renowned for his academic excellence and practical insights, Dr. Sterling guides businesses through legal complexities, offering invaluable expertise in compliance, corporate governance, and registration processes.

As an accomplished author, his forthcoming book is anticipated to be a comprehensive guide for navigating the dynamic intersection of law and business, providing clarity and practical wisdom for entrepreneurs and legal professionals alike. With a commitment to legal excellence, Dr. Alexander Sterling, Esq, is a trusted authority dedicated to empowering businesses within the ever-evolving legal landscape.

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