A few important notes:
2. This lesson is about how to get an EIN for an LLC, not another type of business or trust.
3. The instructions below are for U.S. citizens or U.S. residents who have a Social Security Number (SSN) or for foreigners who have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you don’t have an SSN or ITIN, please see here: how to get an EIN without an SSN or ITIN.
4. The IRS also has an online EIN Application. The online application is easier and faster than mailing or faxing in Form SS-4. We actually recommend getting an EIN online, unless you’re not able to apply online. There are two reasons why you wouldn’t be able to apply online. First is that you don’t have an SSN or ITIN. If that’s the case, follow the lesson in #3 above. Second is that you received an EIN reference number (error message) at the end of the online application. If that’s the case, then you can follow the instructions below.
Apply for an EIN using Form SS-4
Tip: You can either print the form, fill it out by hand (use a black pen), then sign; or, you can type in the form on your computer, then print and sign. When printing, use regular white paper (8.5″ x 11″).
Download IRS Form SS-4:
IRS Instructions for Form SS-4:
EIN (upper right)
You’ll see an “EIN” box in the upper right of the form. DON’T ENTER ANYTHING HERE. The IRS will enter your EIN number in this field after they approve your application.
1. Legal name of entity (LLC)
Enter your LLC name in the exact same way in which it is listed in your Articles of Organization, Certificate of Organization, or Certificate of Formation.
Note: If you’re forming an LLC in Louisiana or West Virginia, you may need to obtain your EIN before forming your LLC, so make sure your LLC name is available (or you’ve reserved it, as per Louisiana filing instructions) before getting an EIN for your soon-to-be LLC.
If you’re forming your LLC in any other state, don’t apply for your EIN until after your LLC is approved.
2. Trade name of business (if different than #1)
Most people who have formed an LLC don’t also have a Trade Name (aka DBA, Doing Business As, or Fictitious Name).
Most filers leave #2 blank.
(related article: Do I need a DBA for my LLC?)
If on the other hand, you’ve filed a DBA after forming your LLC, your DBA is owned by your LLC, and you want your LLC to do business under that name, then you can enter your Trade Name/DBA Name/Fictitious Name in #2.
If you’re converting from a Sole Proprietorship to an LLC, please see this lesson: change a Sole Proprietorship to an LLC.
3. Executor, administrator, trustee, “care of” name
Leave this blank. This field does not apply to LLCs obtaining an EIN.
4a. Mailing address
Enter the street address (example: 123 Main Street or 123 Main Street, Apt. 2) where you want the IRS to send your LLC/EIN documentation.
This address can be located in any state, or this address can be located outside of the U.S.
If using an address outside of the U.S., enter the street address only (not the city, town, etc.).
This street address can be the same street address you have listed on your LLC filing forms, but it doesn’t have to be. Just use an address where you are able to receive mail and that is checked often.
Note: This is the address that you should use on your IRS tax returns, so it’s best to use your actual/reliable mailing address. Don’t worry though, if you need to change your LLC’s mailing address later, you can always do so by filing Form 8822-B with the IRS. It’s free to file Form 8822-B. There is no filing fee.
4b. City, state, and zip code
If your LLC mailing address is inside the U.S., enter the city, state, and zip.
Example: Austin, Texas, 78613
If your LLC mailing address is outside the U.S., enter the city, province or state, postal code, and the name of the country. Don’t abbreviate the country name, use the full name instead.
– Quezon City, Manila, Philippines 6100
– Granada, Andalucía, 18006, Spain
– Koramangala 8th Block, Bangalore, Karnataka, India, 560095
5a. Street address (if different)
You can leave 5a blank.
5b. City, state, and zip code
You can leave 5b blank.
6. County and state where principal business (LLC) is located
Enter the county (not the country) where your LLC is located.
This will either be your LLC’s principal address or your LLC’s Registered Agent address.
Example: Travis County, Texas
Tip: If you’re not sure what county your LLC’s address is located in, you can use the following tool: What County Am I In.
7a. Name of Responsible Party
The LLC’s Responsible Party must be an individual person. Therefore, it will be an LLC Member (owner).
The person who is the Responsible Party will also be the IRS’s “contact person”. This will be the person who the IRS sends mail and correspondence to. The IRS will be providing information to the LLC or requesting information from the LLC.
If you have a Single-Member LLC, you will be the Responsible Party.
If you have a Multi-Member LLC, any of the LLC Members (owners), including yourself, can be the Responsible Party.
For more information on the Responsible Party, please see this page: EIN Responsible Party for LLC.
7b. SSN, ITIN, or EIN (of Responsible Party)
Enter the SSN or ITIN of the person in 7a.
Although it looks like an EIN can be accepted (in the case of an LLC being owned by a parent company), but this is not the case. The IRS made changes regarding the Responsible Party in 2018 that no longer allow an EIN to be used here. The Responsible Party must be an individual person. It can’t be an entity.
Reminder: If you don’t have an SSN or ITIN, you can still get an EIN for your LLC. Just follow the instructions on this page: how to get an EIN without SSN or ITIN.
8a. Is this application for a limited liability company (LLC)?
Check off “Yes”.
8b. If 8a is “Yes,” enter the number of LLC members
Enter the number of LLC Members (owners) for your LLC.
Single-Member LLC: Enter “1”.
Multi-Member LLC: Enter the number of Members in your LLC.
Husband & Wife LLC:
If you formed a husband and wife LLC in a community property state and you want your LLC to be taxed as a Qualified Joint Venture LLC, then enter “1”, since the married couple is treated as 1 “legal unit”.
If you formed a husband and wife LLC that’s not in a community property state (aka a common law state), or you don’t want your LLC taxed as a Qualified Joint Venture LLC, then you must enter “2”.
If your LLC is a subsidiary owned by another company (or companies), enter the number of companies that own this LLC.
8c. If 8a is “Yes,” was the LLC organized in the United States?
Check off “Yes”.
9a. Type of entity
Note: We strongly recommend that you have a conversation with an accountant (or multiple accountants) before deciding how your LLC will be taxed.
And to better understand how the IRS treats an LLC for federal tax purposes, we recommend reading how are LLCs taxed before completing this section.
Because LLC’s do not have their own tax class with the IRS, by default, the IRS will tax the LLC based on the number of Members (owners) it has and who those Members are.
Single-Member LLC (owned by a U.S. individual):
If you’re forming a Single-Member LLC that is owned by a U.S. individual and it will be taxed as a Sole Proprietorship, check off the Other (specify) and enter:
“Disregarded entity – Sole Proprietorship”
(related article: what is a disregarded entity LLC?)
Single-Member LLC (owned by foreigner):
If you’re forming a Single-Member LLC that is owned by a foreigner (non-US resident/non-US citizen), check off the Other (specify) and enter:
“Foreign-owned U.S. Disregarded Entity”
Note: If you’re a foreigner obtaining an EIN for the sole purpose of a Form 5472 reporting requirement, enter “Foreign-owned U.S. Disregarded Entity – Form 5472” instead.
If you’re forming a Multi-Member LLC you can choose to be taxed as a Partnership or a Corporation.
– If you want your LLC to be taxed as a Partnership, check off “Partnership“.
– If you want your LLC to be taxed as a C-Corporation, check off “Corporation (enter form number to be filed)” and enter “1120” on the line.
– If you want your LLC to be taxed as an S-Corporation, check off “Corporation (enter form number to be filed)” and enter “1120S” on the line.
Note: The same thing will apply to Multi-Member LLCs that are owned by foreigners or foreigners and U.S. persons. You can choose for your LLC to be taxed as a Partnership or a C-Corporation. If you’re a non-resident alien, you can’t own an LLC taxed as an S-Corporation.
Multi-Member LLC (husband + wife):
If you’re forming a husband and wife LLC (with no other owners), please read our Qualified Joint Venture article before proceeding.
• If your LLC is formed in a community property state, and you want your LLC to be taxed as a Qualified Joint Venture, then check off Other (specify) and enter:
“Disregarded entity – Sole Proprietorship”
• If your LLC is formed in a community property state, and you don’t want your LLC to be taxed as a Qualified Joint Venture (but instead as a Partnership), then check off Partnership.
• If your LLC isn’t located in a community property state and your LLC will be taxed as a Partnership, then check off Partnership.
LLC that will elect S-Corporation taxation:
If you have a Single-Member LLC or a Multi-Member LLC and you don’t want the default tax classification (Sole Proprietorship or Partnership), but instead you’d like your LLC taxed as an S-Corporation, then check off Corporation and enter “1120S” to the right.
After you receive your EIN you must then file Form 2553 to make your S-Corp election.
Reminder: Make sure you’ve spoken with an accountant (or a few) to make sure your LLC will have enough net income to make the administrative costs of S-Corp taxation worth the potential self-employment tax savings.
LLC that will elect C-Corporation taxation:
If you have a Single-Member LLC or a Multi-Member LLC and you don’t want the default tax classification (Sole Proprietorship or Partnership), but instead you’d like your LLC taxed as a C-Corporation, then check off Corporation and enter “1120” to the right.
After you receive your EIN you must then file Form 8832 to make your C-Corp election.
Note: Electing to have an LLC taxed as a C-Corporation is not very common, so if you are thinking of going this route, make sure you’ve spoken to an accountant (or a few) to make sure this is the best tax election for your LLC.
Subsidiary LLC (Single-Member):
If your LLC is a subsidiary LLC that is owned by one entity, then you can either:
- Choose the default tax classification: select Other (specify) and enter “Disregarded entity“, which means the subsidiary LLC will be taxed in the same manner as its parent company (and the profits/losses are reported as a part of the parent company’s tax return), or
- Choose a specific type of tax classification for the subsidiary by making the appropriate election in this section.
Subsidiary LLC (Multi-Member):
If your LLC is a subsidiary LLC that is owned by multiple entities, then you can either:
- Choose the default tax classification by selecting Partnership, or
- Choose a specific type of tax classification for the subsidiary by making the appropriate election in this section.
Note: Each parent company will need to receive a K-1 and include that with their respective tax filing, such as a 1120, 1120s, or 1040.
9b. State & foreign country (if applicable)
Enter the state where your LLC was formed. Use the state’s full name. Don’t use its abbreviation.
Note: This lesson is written for people who have formed an LLC in the U.S., not for people who have formed a company outside of the U.S. and now bringing that company to the U.S.
10. Reason for applying
Select “Started a new business (specify type)” and enter the type of business your LLC will be engaged in to the right.
The best place to start is to look at the options in #16. If one of the default checkboxes in #16 matches your LLC’s business purpose, then just enter those words here.
If not, enter a word (or words) you see fit, or you can use language from the NAICS Code, which is the business classification system used by the IRS.
The NAICS Code (North American Industry Classification System) is used by government agencies to identify a business’s line of work.
The IRS uses the NAICS Code for two primary reasons:
- Statistical purposes which are used to produce reports and industry analysis.
- In the case of an audit, the IRS will know how a business may compare against similar businesses in the same industry.
Please see NAICS Code for LLC for more instructions on how to find the NAICS Code for your LLC.
Note: Although your LLC may have multiple purposes, multiple products or services, and multiple revenue streams, just enter the primary business activity. And don’t worry, this doesn’t force your LLC into doing this and only this. And you can change your LLC’s line of work at any time and you don’t need to update the IRS. This information is just needed on the LLC’s initial EIN application.
11. Date business started
Enter the date (month, day, and year) your LLC was approved (aka LLC effective date).
Look on your approved Articles of Organization, Certificate of Organization, or Certificate of Formation (different forms for different states) for your LLC’s approval date. That is the date your business started, even if there wasn’t actual business activity.
If you are converting from a Sole Proprietorship to an LLC, don’t enter the date you started your Sole Proprietorship. Just enter the date your LLC was approved.
12. Closing month of calendar year
Most filers run their taxes on the calendar year, which is January through December. If that’s the case for your LLC, enter “December”.
When hiring a W-2 employee, as their employer, you must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment taxes on their wages.
On the other hand, you can hire 1099 independent contractors, in which you are not responsible for withholding and paying the above taxes.
We cannot help you determine whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor, however, you can speak with your accountant, in addition to reading the following provided by the IRS: employee vs independent contractor.
If you plan to hire employees within the next 12 months, then enter the approximate number of employees in each category (Agricultural, Household, and Other). If there won’t be employees in a certain category, enter “0”. Don’t leave a field blank.
If you won’t be hiring employees within the next 12 months, you’ll need to enter a “0” “0” “0”.
An agricultural employee is someone who works on your farm and may take on various roles, such as harvesting agricultural or horticultural products, raising livestock, operating machinery, clearing land, and more. For more details on agricultural employment, please see page 9 of the following IRS guide: Agricultural Employer’s Tax Guide.
A household employee is someone who works in or around your home on a regular and continual basis. Think of wealthier people who employ people in their home on a regular basis. Some examples are maids, housekeepers, babysitters, and gardeners. And keep in mind, this isn’t the same thing as hiring these people in an independent contractor scenario. For more information on what determines a household employee, please see this page from the IRS: household employees.
For the majority of filers who have (or plan to have) employees, their employees will likely fall within the “Other” category.
Important: Just being an owner of your LLC doesn’t make you an employee of your LLC.
A lot of people use the word “work” or “work for” very loosely. And while you can still do that in a general context, when reading anything about taxes or the IRS, the word “work” means to work as a W-2 employee.
As long as you don’t elect to have your LLC taxed as a C-Corporation or an S-Corporation, you will be self-employed (not an employee) and you’ll file a Schedule C (single-member LLC) or a 1065 Partnership Return (multi-member LLC).
If you elect to have your LLC taxed as an S-Corporation, then you must take a salary as an employee. If you elect to have your LLC taxed as a C-Corporation, then you have the option of taking a salary as an employee.
14. Employment tax liability
If you have (or will have) employees, you’ll need to withhold and pay certain taxes to the IRS on behalf of your employees. Please speak with your accountant to first estimate your employment tax liability.
If your employment tax liability will be less than $1,000 in an entire calendar year, you can choose to file Form 944 annually (instead of filing Form 941 quarterly). If you’d like to do that, you’ll need to check the box in #14.
Leave the box unchecked in #14 if:
- You don’t have employees
- Your employment tax liability will be greater than $1,000
- Your employment tax liability will be less than $1,000, but you’d rather file Form 941 quarterly
15. First date wages or annuities were paid
If you don’t have employees, enter “N/A”.
If you have employees and have already begun paying wages (or annuities), enter the date (month, day, year) they were first paid.
If you have employees, and you’re not sure when you will begin paying them, just enter an estimated date. Don’t worry, the IRS isn’t going to hold you to it and it won’t mess up your EIN application. You’re simply just giving them an approximate heads up.
16. Principal activity
You can make #16 match what you entered in #10.
Check a box if it’s applicable or select “Other (specify)” and enter whatever you entered in #10.
17. Explain #16 (merchandise, construction, products, or services)
#17 is just asking for a little more details regarding your LLC’s principal business activity.
The IRS wants to know, within that business activity, what is your primary product being sold, service being offered, type of construction being done, or line of merchandise you’re selling.
Just enter a few words to explain the above.
18. Applied for an EIN before?
If you’ve applied for an EIN for this LLC before, select “Yes” and enter the previous EIN.
Most filers have not applied for an EIN for their LLC and they select “No.”
Third Party Designee
If you’re completing this form for your own LLC and you are the Responsible Party, then leave the following 4 fields blank:
- Designee’s name
- Designee’s telephone number
- Designee’s Address and ZIP code
- Designee’s fax number
Applicant’s signature, phone, and fax
Name and title: Enter your full name and title. If you are an LLC Member (owner), use the title “Member”. For example, “John Smith, Member“.
Signature and date: Sign your name and enter today’s date.
Applicant’s telephone number: Enter your phone number. This can be a home, office, or cell number.
Applicant’s fax number:
If you are submitting SS-4 by mail, you don’t have to enter a fax number. You can just leave this field blank. If you are submitting SS-4 by fax, then you must enter your fax number.
Important: Make sure you’re using a fax number that you have access to. The IRS will send your EIN Number back to this fax number.
Page 2 is just an informational page and you don’t have to submit it to the IRS. Although, if you happen to send in Page 2, don’t worry, the IRS will just discard it.
Make a copy of Form SS-4 before sending to the IRS
We recommend making a copy (or two) of Form SS-4 before sending to the IRS. Just keep the copies with your LLC’s business records.
Methods of filing
You can send Form SS-4 to the IRS in one of two ways:
1. By mail
2. By fax
If mailing Form SS-4 to the IRS, the approval time is slower (4-8 weeks).
If you fax Form SS-4 to the IRS, the approval time is faster (4-7 business days).
If you don’t have a fax (and you can’t apply for an EIN online), but you need your EIN approved as soon as possible, then we recommend getting a digital fax service from Phone.com. After you sign up, you can just call their support team and they’ll walk you through how to send a digital fax. And when the IRS faxes back your LLC’s EIN approval, it’ll simply arrive in your email.
You can’t get an EIN over the phone
There is a lot of incorrect information on the internet about getting an EIN for an LLC, particularly about getting an EIN by calling the IRS’s EIN International Department.
This is not true.
You can only call the EIN International Department and get an EIN by phone if you’ve formed a company in another country (outside of the U.S.) and you need an EIN.
How do foreigners get an EIN for their LLC then?
If you are a non-US citizen or a non-US resident (“foreigner”) you can’t use the EIN International Department to get an EIN by phone. You instead have to mail or fax Form SS-4 to the IRS just like everyone else. There are some special instructions though, which you can find here: apply for an EIN without SSN or ITIN.
Mail in Form SS-4
If you are going to mail Form SS-4 to the IRS, please it send to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, Ohio 45999
You can send via certified mail, or with tracking, but you don’t have to. You can also just place it in a regular envelope and use a regular stamp. Just 1 stamp is needed.
Fax Form SS-4 to the IRS
If you are going to fax Form SS-4 to the IRS, please fax to:
You can include a cover sheet if you’d like, but it’s not required.
EIN Approval Times
The EIN approval is officially called the EIN Confirmation Letter. And the technical name for the EIN Confirmation Letter is “CP 575“.
- If you mail Form SS-4 to the IRS, your EIN Confirmation Letter will be mailed back to you.
- If you fax Form SS-4 to the IRS, your EIN Confirmation Letter will be faxed back to you.
The EIN approval times listed below may vary depending on what time of the year you file. For example, the IRS is much busier during the first part of the year (January through May), however, the following are the official approval times from the IRS:
Approval time by mail:
If you mail Form SS-4 to the IRS, you’ll receive back your EIN Confirmation Letter (by mail) within 4 to 8 weeks.
Approval time by fax:
If you fax Form SS-4 to the IRS, the IRS will fax you back your EIN within 4 to 7 business days. This will be sent to the fax number you listed on the form. Additionally, they’ll mail you an EIN Confirmation Letter in 4 to 8 weeks.
LLC Business Bank Account
Once you get an EIN for your LLC, you’ll be able to open an LLC business bank account.
You’ll need the following items in order to open an LLC bank account:
- EIN Confirmation Letter
- LLC approval (approved Articles of Organization, Certificate of Organization, or Certificate of Formation)
- LLC Operating Agreement
- Your driver’s license and/or passport
IRS Phone Number & Contact Information
If you have any questions about Form SS-4, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933.
The IRS phone hours are Monday through Friday between 7am and 7pm. The earlier you call, the shorter the wait times.
How are LLCs taxed
EIN Reference Numbers
IRS Taxpayer Identification Numbers
How to apply for an EIN online
How to apply for an EIN without an SSN or ITIN
Qualified Joint Venture (husband and wife LLC)
Should I get an EIN before or after my LLC
How to cancel an EIN
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.