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What Is a Business Registration Number? – Ultimate Guide

What is a business registration number

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As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, navigating the complex world of business becomes an imminent necessity. Within this intricate landscape of thoughts, plans, and aspirations, you encounter an apparently cryptic aspect that is instrumental to your company’s identity – the Business Registration Number (BRN). This blog post is designed to shed light on the enigma of this unique identifier.

By comprehending the intricacies of the BRN, you’ll be equipped to address the demands of regulatory compliance, financial administration, and a plethora of business opportunities that lie ahead. Therefore, we invite you, the audacious entrepreneurs, to immerse yourselves in the intriguing realm of BRNs. Discover how this essential numerical identifier can propel your enterprise toward unparalleled success.

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What Is a Business Registration Number (BRN)?

The Business Registration Number, also known as the Employer Identification Number (EIN), is a distinctive numerical identifier allocated to a business entity, facilitating its recognition by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Predominantly utilized by employers for tax reporting purposes, this number comprises nine digits and follows the format XX-XXXXXXX.

Do I Need a Business Registration Number?

The IRS mandates specific businesses to secure a Business Registration Number for compliance with their reporting obligations. A company is obliged to register for and obtain a Business Registration Number if the company:

  • Employs any staff
  • Functions as a corporation or a partnership
  • Submits employment, excise, or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms tax returns
  • Withholds taxes on income dispensed to non-resident aliens
  • Possesses a Keogh plan
  • Participates in various types of organizations encompassing but not limited to trusts, estates, or non-profits

Furthermore, businesses altering their ownership structure typically need to apply for a new Business Registration Number. For example, sole proprietors who wish to incorporate their enterprise must register for a new Business Registration Number.

For guidance on business formation, please refer to our comprehensive guide on premier business registration services. Services such as ZenBusiness, LegalZoom, and Bizee can be employed to designate registered agents and ascertain the necessary business licenses for your company.

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What Is a Business Registration Number (BRN) for a Business?

Every business that satisfies certain predefined conditions requires a BRN before commencing its operations. Analogous to how Social Security Numbers (SSNs) serve to identify individual residents, Business Registration Numbers are utilized to identify businesses within the United States.

Often referred to as a Federal Tax Identification Number, or Employer Identification Number, a BRN includes details about the state in which your business is registered. Furthermore, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses BRNs to identify those taxpayers that are obliged to file a variety of business tax returns.

A Business Registration Number is essential if you function as a corporation or partnership, withhold taxes on income other than wages, file certain tax reports, or employ staff.

The subsequent business entities can apply for and obtain BRNs:

  • Corporations
  • S corporations
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
  • Partnerships
  • Sole proprietorships
  • Non-profit organizations (NPOs)
  • Government Agencies
  • Trusts
  • Estates

Moreover, it’s crucial to understand that the IRS does not differentiate between companies of varying sizes. This means that even businesses with a single employee are just as eligible for a Business Registration Number as multinational corporations.

Additionally, unlike SSNs which are considered confidential and sensitive, BRNs are not treated as private information. Instead, businesses freely distribute BRNs online and in printed materials.

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How to Obtain a Business Registration Number?

To acquire a Business Registration Number (BRN), applicants are required to complete the form SS-4: Application for Business Registration Number, which can be readily accessed on the IRS website.

To process the application for a BRN, the IRS mandates the inclusion of specific information. This includes the name of the organization’s primary official, partner, trustor, proprietor, or any individual holding a significant position, supplemented by their taxpayer identification number.

Read more: How to Find a Business Registration Number

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How To Get a Free Business Registration Number (BRN)?

The most efficient and straightforward method for taxpayers to secure a complimentary BRN is through an online application process via the IRS website, utilizing the BRN Assistant feature.

It is imperative to note that your business must be officially established before requesting a BRN. The IRS will necessitate details such as your official business commencement date and its legally recognized name. Consequently, you must register your enterprise and receive approval for the chosen business name from your state authorities before proceeding with the BRN acquisition.

Business Registration Number Application Overview

Applying for a Business Registration Number (BRN), also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), can be undertaken directly through the IRS website or via an independent service that completes the process on your behalf. Read more about how to look up an EIN number.

Upon the completion of your application, the BRN will be issued instantly. If a confirmation letter is also required, it is recommended that Adobe Reader be installed before initiating the process. The application process entails the following 12 steps:

1. Verify that You’re Eligible

Depending on your entrepreneurial status, an online application for a BRN may not be feasible. If your circumstances are unique, appropriate research to identify any potential restrictions that must be addressed is advised.

A frequent problem encountered by business proprietors is the attempt to apply for a BRN online after having previously obtained one through the same medium. In such instances, the application must be submitted either by fax or mail.

Only individuals who satisfy the following criteria are eligible to apply for a BRN:

  • Possess a principal business located in the U.S. or one of its territories
  • Hold a valid tax ID
  • Own or control the company and have only obtained one BRN on that particular day

Should your company not be incorporated in the US or one of its territories, an online application for a BRN is not an option.

2. Understand the Application Process

The completion of the application should be carried out in one sitting, as there is no feature to save your progress and return it later. Be aware that your session will be terminated if you do not proceed within 15 minutes.

As a rule of thumb, it’s advisable to apply for a Business Registration Number (BRN) immediately after establishing your company. If you miss this opportunity, the most suitable time to apply is at least two weeks before filing your taxes or seeking a business loan.

This timing is suggested due to the approximately two-week period the IRS requires to process your BRN, despite providing the ID number instantly.

3. Determine Who Will Apply

The IRS will only issue one BRN to your business per responsible party (the person who owns or controls the business) each day. Hence, it’s crucial to determine who will apply. You have the option to delegate a third party to navigate this process, but this necessitates granting prior authorization.

To permit third-party authorization, the following steps are required:

  • Complete and sign Form SS-4, including the section designating the third party.
  • Read and sign a statement granting the nominee the power to apply for and receive a BRN on your behalf.
  • Ensure the nominee retains a copy of the authorization statement in their records.

All of these steps must be accomplished before the application begins. Once approval is granted, the IRS can disclose your BRN to them. As the taxpayer, you will be notified about the application status and filing once you submit the online form.

4. Gather Documents For the Online Application

To substantiate your business registration under an eligible business structure, you will need the following documents:

  • Personal identification: Social Security card, ITIN, and birth certificate.
  • Company identification: Articles of incorporation, business registration certificate, and DBA name.
  • Employee information: Corporate resolution specifying the names, titles, and maximum salaries of any new employees.

Applicants who are confident in the accuracy of their documents’ information do not need physical copies. However, if you intend to submit your application via mail or fax, ensure you have the SS-4 form ready.

5. Accept permissions

Before initiating the online application, you will need to acknowledge an IRS disclaimer, stating that the government reserves the right to oversee your activities throughout the document. Click “OK” to proceed.

6. Identify yourself

After confirming your correct legal business structure, you’ll be required to furnish additional information about yourself and any partners, if applicable. You will also need to identify the state where your company’s headquarters are located and the number of members in your organization. The application will inquire if you’re married to your business partner.

The information provided here should pertain to the responsible party (the owner or a member of the company). If you’re applying on behalf of the responsible party, this should be disclosed at this stage.

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7. Establish Your Reason For Applying

In the process of registering for a Business Registration Number (BRN), you are required to clarify your reasons for this registration. The IRS acknowledges a variety of situations that may necessitate a BRN. These include scenarios where you have:

  • Initiated a new business venture
  • Employed one or more individuals
  • Opened a business bank account
  • Altered the structure of your business
  • Acquired an existing business

8. Complete Authentication

At this juncture, the verification process demands you to provide either your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). In the absence of both, you will not be able to continue with the application.

9. Disclose Addresses

The BRN application obligates you to disclose the physical location of your business. The address provided in your application cannot be a P.O. Box; instead, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Be situated within the US
  • Represent a physical location

10. Enter the Final Details

This represents the final step before you select your preferred method of receiving your confirmation letter and submit the application. You will be asked to provide additional information about your business, such as:

  • The legal name of the company
  • Location (including county, state, and territory)
  • Business commencement date

11. Finalize BRN Confirmation

The BRN confirmation portion of the application allows you to choose the method by which you prefer to receive your confirmation letter. Your options are:

  • Online: Utilize Adobe Reader to download and print the letter.
  • Mail: The IRS may take up to two weeks to mail your letter to the provided address.

12. Submit Your Application

Upon completion of the application and answering any subsequent questions based on your responses, you can apply. Following this, a BRN will be instantly provided. You can then download, save, and print the BRN confirmation notice.

When Should A Business Get a BRN?

Regardless of your business type, it’s typically beneficial to acquire a Business Registration Number (BRN). This unique identifier is a prerequisite when you’re seeking to establish a business bank account or apply for a business credit card. The majority of banking institutions necessitate a BRN for the initiation of a commercial banking account.

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Why Get a BRN If It’s Not Mandatory?

Typically, individuals like independent contractors, freelancers, entrepreneurs operating small businesses from their homes, and those engaging in side jobs within the gig economy are not mandated to obtain a Business Registration Number (BRN).

However, even if the IRS doesn’t explicitly require a BRN, there are several reasons why you might consider procuring one:

  • To establish a separate bank account designated for business income and expenditures
  • To purchase business-related items using a company card
  • To secure a business loan for launching or expanding your business
  • To avoid using your personal Social Security Number

Remember, a BRN is exclusively for business purposes and cannot replace your SSN for personal tax filing purposes.

Benefits of a Business Registration Number

A Business Registration Number (BRN) provides a unique identification for businesses and remains valid indefinitely without re-issuance, even if the original business ceases operations. Obtaining a BRN offers several significant advantages in professional operations.

Firstly, a BRN is essential for conducting business activities. It is a prerequisite for initiating and maintaining business operations. Without a BRN, it is not possible to legally run a business. Additionally, a BRN is required for various important tasks, including:

  • Hiring and compensating employees: A BRN is necessary for managing employee payroll and fulfilling legal obligations related to employment
  • Establishing financial accounts and managing funds: Opening bank accounts, securing credit, and effectively investing surplus funds are facilitated by having a BRN
  • Safeguarding corporate identity: Maintaining corporate shields, such as separate legal entities, is made possible by obtaining a BRN
  • Meeting tax obligations: Filing business taxes and registering for state taxes is a vital aspect of compliance, which necessitates the use of a BRN
  • Enhancing credibility: Possessing a BRN contributes to building trust and credibility as it establishes the business owner’s commitment and responsibility towards their enterprise
  • Qualifying for business loans: Financial institutions often require a BRN as part of the application process for business loans, as it helps assess the legitimacy and financial standing of the applicant
  • Establishing specialized entities: A BRN is essential for creating estates, non-profit organizations, or trusts, enabling the pursuit of specific legal and financial objectives

Furthermore, obtaining a BRN enables a clear separation between personal and business finances. This segregation safeguards personal information, mitigating the risk of identity theft or unauthorized access.

Self-employed individuals, such as subcontractors, are typically mandated to obtain a BRN. The primary contractor utilizes the subcontractor’s BRN to report all income paid to the subcontractor to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), ensuring compliance with tax regulations.

In summary, a Business Registration Number (BRN) provides indispensable benefits to businesses by facilitating essential operations, ensuring compliance with legal and financial requirements, enhancing credibility, and safeguarding personal information.

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Closure of Your Business Registration Number

Once a Business Registration Number (BRN) is assigned to your company, it becomes permanently linked to your entity, and it cannot be canceled by the relevant authority, such as the IRS.

The BRN holds significance in mandatory financial reporting. Even if the entity does not file any returns, the BRN remains associated with it. In the future, if the entity requires the identification number, it can utilize the previously assigned BRN.

However, if you receive a BRN but subsequently determine that it is unnecessary, the IRS can close the associated business account. This situation often arises for startups that do not proceed with their operations. To initiate the closure process, a formal letter must be sent by mail, including the legal name, business address, BRN, and the reason for the account closure. While the BRN itself will persist, the IRS business account will be suspended accordingly.

Business Registration Number vs Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)

A Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is a general term referring to any type of identification number used for tax purposes. Among various types of TINs, the Business Registration Number (BRN) is a specific category. TIN serves as a collective designation encompassing several numbers that can be utilized on tax forms, including but not limited to:

  • Business Registration Number (BRN)
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN)
  • Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number (PTIN)

The choice of TIN employed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) depends on the specific taxpayer’s circumstances. Sole proprietors often use their Social Security number as their TIN, while corporations, partnerships, trusts, and estates commonly employ a Business Registration Number (BRN), known as an EIN.

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Business Registration Number vs. Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)

A Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) is a unique identifier issued by the federal government for businesses. It fulfills the same function as a Business Registration Number but is specifically issued at the federal level rather than by individual states. In addition to its identification role, a FEIN enables businesses to enroll in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), which facilitates convenient tax payments via phone or online channels.

What to Do in Case of Loss or Misplacement of Your Business Registration Number?

If you have lost or misplaced your Business Registration Number (also known as the EIN), it is important to take the necessary steps to recover it. First, refer to any correspondence you have received from the IRS at the time your Business Registration Number was issued, as it may contain the necessary information. Additionally, you can reach out to the financial institution with which you conduct your day-to-day banking to inquire about the retrieval of your Business Registration Number.

Another avenue to explore is reviewing your previous tax returns, as the Business Registration Number is typically included in those documents. If these initial efforts prove unsuccessful, it is advisable to contact the Business & Specialty Tax Line of the IRS directly at 1-800-829-4933. However, before engaging in a conversation with an operator, ensure that you have relevant identifying information readily available.

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What Situations Require a BRN?

Sole proprietorships and contractors generally do not require one. However, a BRN is necessary if you:

  • Established a business
  • Intend to hire employees
  • Plan to open a company bank account
  • Altered your business’s structure
  • Created a trust using estate funds
  • Intend to withhold non-wage earnings from an expatriate
  • Implemented a pension plan
  • Require one to comply with IRS withholding requirements
  • Formed a corporation or partnership
  • Manage the estate of a deceased individual that includes a business
  • Administer someone’s estate through probate court after their passing
  • Are a state or local agency
  • Pay federal excise taxes
  • Offer a pension, profit-sharing options, or retirement plan
  • Own a business that becomes a multiple-member LLC, regardless of your chosen tax classification
  • Own a single-member LLC that elects to be taxed as either a C corporation or an S corporation
  • Are a representative overseeing an estate that operates a business following the owner’s death

International BRN Applicants

If you don’t have a Social Security Number (SSN) and you are not a U.S. citizen, you can still obtain a BRN (Business Registration Number). Simply download and complete IRS Form SS-4, ensuring to leave section 7b blank.

To submit your application, contact the IRS at 267-941-1099 (this is not a toll-free number) from Monday to Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Alternatively, you can apply for a BRN via fax at 304-707-9471.

Please note that this phone number is not toll-free. To save costs on the call, we recommend using a web calling service. Expect to spend approximately one hour on the phone before receiving your BRN. Since Mondays tend to be the busiest day for the IRS in terms of call volume, we suggest contacting them on any other day of the week.

What is a Business Registration Number (BRN)? – Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Will It Take to Get a BRN?

When applying online, you can obtain a BRN immediately. Alternatively, if you choose to fax your BRN application to the relevant authority (formerly known as the IRS), the processing time may take up to two weeks. Another option is to submit a paper mail application, with an anticipated turnaround time of approximately four to five weeks.

Can I have multiple BRNs?

Yes, you can have multiple BRNs corresponding to each of your business entities. However, it’s important to note that each business can only possess a single BRN. If you make significant changes to your business, such as modifying its structure, you may need to apply for a new BRN.

Is it better to use a Social Security number or a BRN?

Even if the authority (formerly known as the IRS) does not mandate an individual to obtain a BRN, it is highly recommended to utilize one for your business. One key advantage is mitigating personal risks. By using a BRN, you reduce the likelihood of:

  • Identity theft
  • Tax penalties
  • Liability issues
  • Utilizing a BRN facilitates the separation of your personal and business finances. It reserves your Social Security number exclusively for personal purposes, safeguarding your personal assets from identity theft. The authority recommends using your Social Security number only if you have a straightforward business structure and no employees.

Furthermore, if you intend to establish a Keogh plan, it is advisable to employ a BRN instead of your Social Security number. If you plan to utilize your Social Security number for business identification or tax purposes, it is recommended to promptly set up a fraud alert.

Bottom Line on What is a Business Registration Number (BRN)?

In summary, the Business Registration Number is an invaluable identifier in the business realm, often overlooked but essential for efficient tax compliance, effective financial management, and sustainable business expansion. Recognizing the importance of this distinctive numerical code empowers entrepreneurs to navigate the intricate maze of the business world with confidence.

Whether you’re embarking on a new entrepreneurial journey or overseeing a well-established enterprise, always keep in mind that the BRN serves as your unwavering ally, playing a crucial role in nurturing the growth and triumph of your venture amidst the demanding landscape of commerce.

About the author

Dr. Gabriel O'Neill, 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. O'Neill 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. Gabriel O'Neill, Esq., is a trusted authority dedicated to empowering businesses within the ever-evolving legal landscape.