What is an EIN? (Employer Identification Number)

After forming a Delaware corporation or LLC (limited liability company), the next step is to get an EIN number -- also known as an Employer Identification Number or Federal Tax ID Number.

What is an EIN?

Think of the EIN as the social security number for your company. It is a nine digit number that is issued by the IRS: for example, 01-2345678. You can apply for an EIN online, by mail, via fax, or with a phone call.

The Federal Tax ID Number is necessary for an LLC or corporation to lawfully conduct business activities, especially if you're operating a business in the United States. All U.S. companies are required to apply for an EIN when they open a U.S. bank account, obtain loans, hire employees, filing taxes and may be required for obtaining business licenses and permits.

The EIN is valid for the life of the company. However, if your business changes its entity type (for example, it changes from an LLC to a corporation), a new Federal Tax ID Number is typically required.

How to Apply for an EINThere are several options to apply for an Employee Identification Number.

Processing time after filling out the EIN application will depend on how it can be submitted to the IRS. If an EIN filing contains a non-U.S. address or the member does not have a SSN (Social Security Number) issued by the United States, it must be submitted by fax or scan.

All other employer identification number filings can be processed online unless the EIN cannot be obtained, in which case it will have to be faxed. Processing times begin after you sign and send the SS-4 application form.

EIN applications submitted online to the IRS: 3-4 business days

EIN applications submitted by fax to the IRS: 20-45 business days


Please note that if you do not have a U.S. Address or U.S. Social Security Number, you will be required to provide a copy of the passport or government-issued ID for the person listed as the "responsible party" after submitting your EIN application.



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Can I use my Social Security Number (SSN) instead of an EIN for my business?

You can, but it is not recommended to use your personal Social Security Number. Generally, it is best to obtain an EIN as it is the SSN for the business and a authorized number from the government to conduct lawful business activities in the United States.

EIN Lookup: if you lose your EIN?

It's not uncommon for an employer identification number to get misplaced. If you can't locate the Federal Tax ID Number for your company, do not start another EIN application. There are several ways to find your Federal Tax ID Number.

If you lose your EIN, you can contact the IRS directly within the U.S.at 800-829-4933, or at (267) 941-1099 if you are not in the U.S., and request a replacement confirmation letter (also called a 147C letter). The IRS will fax it to you.

If Harvard Business Services obtained the EIN number on behalf of your company, feel free to request that the 147C letter be faxed to us at (302) 645-1280. Once the fax has been received, we will email the letter to you as a courtesy.

Unfortunately, we are not able to contact the IRS on behalf of your company due to strict privacy policies. Be prepared for lengthy hold times when you call the IRS; our clients have reported that hold times tend to be shorter the earlier in the morning you call. Try calling as close to 9 a.m. Eastern Time as possible.  

If you have any questions about obtaining an EIN for your Delaware company or requesting a 147C letter from the IRS, feel free to contact us with your questions at 800-345-2677 or info@delawareinc.com.


How to Look up Any Company’s EIN

Sometimes, individuals or businesses need to locate the EIN number for another business for tax reporting or simply to validate information.

In many cases, if this is a company you are dealing with in a business capacity, you can simply ask them for their EIN number. If you will be making payments to them, you will also want to request a w-9 form, which notes the EIN number.

If you are not working with them directly, there are often other ways to locate a company’s EIN. For instance, if the company is publicly traded, you can use a searchable public database on the SEC website to find documents that will show any company’s EIN number. There's nothing wrong with looking up an EIN Number, since this number is public information.

For private companies, you may still be able to do a quick EIN number lookup by searching the internet for official documents available to the public, such as filings required by their local municipalities or industry permits.

As a last resort, you can use a service such as Credit.net to find and purchase a business credit report that typically includes the EIN number. We recommend verifying that the employer identification number will be included before making payment to any such service.

Can I use the same EIN for multiple businesses?

It is best to have a seperate EIN for all of your businesses to keep finances and company assets seperated.

Please note: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not affiliated with the State of Delaware or the IRS.


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