EIN vs ITIN: What's the Difference and Who Needs Them?

By Brett Melson Tuesday, February 11, 2020

ein vs itinThere are many numbers that are used to identify ourselves and our corporations or LLCs, such as a Social Security number, driver's license number, passport number, DUNS number and EIN (Employer Identification Number).

Many business owners and employees wonder about the differences between the Federal Employer Tax ID number (EIN) and the individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).


The Federal Tax ID Number, known as an EIN, is an identification number used by the IRS to administer tax laws. The Federal Tax ID Number is used to identify an entity to the IRS, banks and other businesses.

Think of this number as the social security number for a business. This number is typically needed to operate your business in the United States, do banking in the United States, hire employees and file taxes with the IRS.

We can help you obtain an EIN for an existing company or form a company and obtain an EIN.

Non-U.S. residents, please note that once you submit your EIN order, you will be required to provide a copy of the passport or government-issued ID for the person listed as the responsible party.


The individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) is a tax number only available to certain non-U.S. residents and resident aliens and their spouses and dependents who are not able to obtain a social security number (SSN). ITINs always start with a "9" and are typically formatted like a Social Security number: 9xx-xx-xxxx.

The ITIN is needed by many non-U.S. residents who form a Delaware corporation or LLC. If there is a tax filing requirement with the IRS, an ITIN is needed.

For example, if a company has U.S. source income and profits or losses that flow through to the member or shareholder, owners typically need to obtain an ITIN in order to complete a tax filing with the IRS.

ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and non-resident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code.

Do you need help getting your ITIN? You can obtain an ITIN Number by completing Form W-7 and mailing it to the IRS. Alternatively, you can contact one of the ITIN acceptance agents listed by the IRS for assistance. There are agents available within the U.S. as well many countries internationally.

Next: Tax IDs for Non-U.S. Citizens


*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such source’s content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.

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There are 17 comments left for EIN vs ITIN: What's the Difference?

Tahir said: Sunday, October 11, 2020

I am a non US resident, nor I have visited US in past. I want to create a company in US without visiting US, to start an online business. Please tell me whether LLC is the best option or the Incorporation Inc. company? Moreover, I don't have any physical address, nor anyone in US whose physical address I can provide in forming a company or business bank account. How I can create my company in such conditions. Please assist in this regard

HBS Staff replied: Wednesday, October 14, 2020

As a non-resident, you can still create either an LLC or corporation. The choice depends on your objectives for the business so unfortunately we cannot tell you which is the right choice for you. Most US banks will require you to visit in person in order to open an account. Some of our international clients have had success with Merucy Bank, so you might want to check with them.

Leon Rashed said: Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Is the vendor ID the same as the IRS tax ID for a sole proprietorship. Reply

HBS Staff replied: Thursday, July 16, 2020

This would depend on the form that you are completing. We can't be sure what Vendor ID is referring to. Sorry we can't be of more assistance.

Mohamad Farchoukh said: Thursday, July 9, 2020

Hello, I created a delaware LLC for my online business, and i'm trying to get a payoneer bank card for my company. They are asking me for an ITIN. Since i havent paid any taxes yet, and i'm not a US citizen or living in the US, can I get one? if yes, how?

HBS Staff replied: Thursday, July 9, 2020

You can obtain an ITIN Number by completing Form W-7 and mailing it to the IRS. Alternatively, you can contact one of the ITIN acceptance agents (https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/acceptance-agent-program)  listed by the IRS for assistance. There are agents available within the U.S. as well many countries internationally. Additional info here.

ALI said: Sunday, June 14, 2020

I am an alien resident in the US, i am eligible stay in US but still don't have SSN, i made a personal company and have now EIN, can i use my company to work as subcontractor in the field of transportation and construction or other fields or not.

HBS Staff replied: Monday, June 15, 2020

With a Delaware company, you can operate legal business activities anywhere in the world, including contracting with other parties. However, we cannot advise on other factors, such as your immigration status, that may affect your eligibility to engage in that particular relationship.

dennis shostle said: Friday, May 1, 2020

I just purchased a cafe I geeked out for a EIN but don’t know if I needed a TIN instead. Could you please let me know what I need

HBS Staff replied: Monday, May 4, 2020

A TIN (Tax Identification Number) is just another term for EIN. An ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) is typically used by individuals who do not have a U.S. social security number. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

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