An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is a tax identification number that the IRS (Internal Revenue Service in the United States of America) uses to track and receive income taxes for businesses. You may need this number if you are doing business inside the United States, also some U.S. companies may require this number when creating an account through their website online like being an Amazon seller.
U.S. citizens can easily obtain EIN from the IRS website during their working hours as long as they provide their Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Foreign individuals overseas can only obtain EIN by fax or by phone.
Complete the IRS Form SS-4
- Line 1: type your name
- Line 4a: your street address
- Line 4b: your city, state, country and postal address
- Line 7a: type your name again
- Line 7b (required): type “EIN” as you are a foreign individual and you don’t have SSN
- Line 8a: choose “NO”
- Line 9a: choose “Sole proprietor”
- Line 10: Choose “Compliance with IRS regulations”
- Line 11: Enter the date of starting business
- Line 13: enter zero number in each field
- Line 16: Choose applicable field for your business or choose “other” and enter the field of your business
- Line 18: choose “NO”
- Sign the form with your handwriting and fill the date of your signature.
- Make sure to include your fax number in the designated field if you are applying by fax.
Applying for EIN by Phone Without SSN
As stated on the IRS website “International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.”
This is the easiest and fastest way to obtain your EIN from outside the United States of America but you must be a fluent English speaker to communicate with the IRS employee through the telephone. The employee will ask you about each line in your SS-4 form and will file the application for you through the telephone call. At the end of the call you will be provided with your EIN. You will receive a confirmation letter on your address by regular mail after 2 weeks to a month. You may also ask the employee to send you a confirmation fax at the end of the call.
Applying for EIN by Fax Without SSN
Applying by Fax is also an option for you especially if you are not a good English speaker. The process for applying by fax is harder and time consuming you will have to send the signed complete form SS-4 to the IRS international fax number. Be sure to provide your fax number so the IRS can fax the EIN back to you. The IRS says that you can receive your EIN by fax generally within 4 business days but it usually take longer than 4 days. You should receive your SS-4 sent back to you by fax with the EIN assigned written at the top right of the form.
Whether you applied by phone or by fax you should receive a confirmation letter by regular snail mail on your address.
Failed Fax Attempts
Sending the SS-4 by fax may fail for many reasons
- The fax transmission may fail and you may not know that.
- Your fax machine may malfunction and fail to receive the reply back from the IRS
- There may be an error in filling your form or you forgot to include your fax number.
You may get a reply from the IRS about missing required information that you didn’t include. In this case you will have to complete the required information and send the application again to the designated number.
In case you have sent your form and didn’t receive a reply back after 10 business days then you should call the IRS to obtain the number by phone. Obtaining EIN should be free without any charges for any person around the world, please note that the IRS phone and fax numbers may change so you must get the updated number from the IRS website. This page is not a legal advice, please review the official IRS website for updated information.