How To Apply Online for an Employer Identification Number

Information Needed for Online EIN Applicatoin

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Applying for an EIN using the Online Application Process

Most small businesses will need an Employer ID Number (EIN). Although this form is used for identification of employers, it is required for other legal purposes, and you will most likely be required to supply it to open a bank account and other applications. 

New IRS Requirement for EIN Applications

To increase security, the IRS now requires individuals applying for an EIN to use a Social Security Number or ITIN for the responsible party on the form. 

Before You Begin the EIN Application Process

Before you begin the process, print out a copy of Form SS-4 and answer all the questions. Use this completed form as a guide during the process. The online application takes some time to complete and the EIN Assistant will time you out if you delay too long in answering questions. You won't be able to save your information and come back again later. 

STEP-BY-STEP Process for Filing an EIN Application Online

First, a disclaimer: This "how to" is intended to provide a general discussion for new business owners. It is not intended to provide legal or tax advice. Each situation is different and your tax advisor may require you to complete this form to comply with this specific situation. Please consult with your attorney or tax advisor make sure you are in compliance with the tax laws and that you receive the best tax advantage for your specific situation.


  1. Go to the IRS EIN Assistant Page
    1. Begin by going to the EIN Assistant, online at the IRS website. Make sure you are not on a FAKE EIN application site. Look carefully at the URL: It should be and the heading should be with the IRS logo to the left.
  2. Select Your Type of Legal Structure
    1. Select the legal structure of your business. When you click "continue," you will see a page describing the income tax structure for this type of business. If your business is an LLC, you will be asked how many members (owners).
  3. Why Are You Requesting an EIN?
    1. The options are:
    2. New business
    3. Need to hire employees within the next 12 months
    4. Banking purposes
    5. Changed type of organization‚Äč
    6. Purchased an active business
  4. Designate Responsible Party 
    1. You must designate a responsible party to sign off on your EIN. The responsible party must be someone associated with the business with authority to sign for the business. Understand that there is a difference between a "nominee" and a "responsible party" If you are not sure who to designate for this item consult an attorney.
  5. Provide Information About Your Business
    1. Legal name
    2. Trade name/DBA if different from the legal name.
    3. County, State
    4. If a corporation, partnership, or LLC, the state in which the business is registered.
    5. The start date of the business (month/year). The start date is important if you are starting at the end of your fiscal year. Check with your tax advisor about the tax implications of startup dates.
  6. Include Applicable Taxes
    1. The next page asks questions to determine if your business is engaged in activities subject to federal taxes:
    2. Highway motor vehicle operation
    3. Gambling/wagering
    4. Federal excise taxes
    5. Alcohol, tobacco, or firearm sales
    6. Number of employees expected in the next 12 months
  7. Describe Business Category/Business Activity 
    1. You must choose a type of business activity. If you can't find your business category, select "Other" and enter the activity in the box provided.
  8. How You Want to Receive Confirmation
    1. You have the option to receive your confirmation letter online or by mail. The mail option takes up to 4 weeks. If you have to take the confirmation to a bank, taxing authority, or lender, take the online option
  9. Review the Information
    1. You have an opportunity to review the information you have entered before you submit the application. If something is incorrect, you must begin a new application.
  10. When You Receive Your EIN
    1. When you have received your EIN, print out the number or write it down. You will need it for lots of documents during startup. You will receive a confirmation by mail, which you should keep in a safe place.

If you are not sure you need an EIN, you might also want to ask your CPA or attorney.

When in doubt, get the EIN. It costs nothing and you never know who might ask for it.