Should I get an EIN Before I Form an LLC (or After)?

Home » Should I get an EIN Before I Form an LLC (or After)?

Note: EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. It’s also called Federal Tax ID Number or FEIN. However, we’ll just refer to it as EIN throughout this lesson. Also, if you’re still learning about LLCs, please also read your LLC’s EIN.

It’s best to get an EIN for your LLC after your LLC is approved by the state. The reason for this is that you want to make sure your LLC name is approved before “attaching” an EIN to it.

Also, in the IRS’s EIN online application, you’ll need to enter your LLC’s date of formation, so naturally, this information would be confirmed after your LLC is formed.

However, you can also get an EIN for your LLC before your LLC is approved, but we do not recommend doing this.

We get lots of questions from people who obtained their EIN first, are in the process of forming their LLC, and are scratching their heads, wondering, “Did I screw this up?

Don't have an LLC yet? Hire Northwest to form your LLC for $39 + state fee (then add EIN to your order).

Have an LLC, but no EIN? Hire Northwest to get your EIN:
I have an SSN | I don't have an SSN

Here’s what’s interesting:

The IRS doesn’t check to see if your LLC is in existence before issuing your EIN.

So if you’ve already obtained an EIN (but haven’t formed an LLC yet), let’s look at 2 scenarios to determine whether or not you need to cancel your existing EIN.

Scenario 1: EIN obtained before LLC approved & LLC gets approved

Let’s say the IRS issues an EIN for the company “Rob’s Grub Shack LLC” (before the LLC actually exists).

Then a week later, you file an LLC called “Rob’s Grub Shack LLC” and it’s approved by the state.

There is nothing you need to do. You can leave things as-is with the IRS since the names match up and there were no issues with your LLC filing.

Scenario 2: EIN obtained before LLC approved & LLC gets rejected

Let’s say the IRS issues an EIN for the company “Super Cycles LLC” (before the LLC actually exists).

Then a week later, you file an LLC called “Super Cycles LLC” and it gets rejected by the state.

Note: Depending on the state where you’re forming an LLC, “Super Cycles LLC” could be rejected for a few reasons. For example, most common is that a “Super Cycles LLC” or “Super Cycles Inc.” already exists. Second most common would be that the name is deceptively similar to an existing business name. For example, if “Super Cycle LLC” already exists, most states will reject your filing. For more tips on choosing an LLC name, please see how to choose your LLC name.

If your LLC was rejected because of its name, you’ll need to re-file using a different LLC name.

That means you now have an EIN “attached” to the wrong LLC.

Tip: Most states will issue a refund if your filing is rejected, but some will not. Make sure to properly search your LLC name before filing your LLC. And if you need to get a refund for a rejected filing, call your Secretary of State’s office for instructions.

Here’s what you’ll need to do

1. Cancel the first EIN
2. Re-file your LLC (fix the issues)
3. Wait for the LLC to be approved
4. Apply for a new EIN (how to get an EIN for LLC)

You don’t need to wait for your Confirmation Letter

If you’re going to cancel an EIN, the IRS will send you a Confirmation Letter once they’ve done so.

You don’t have to wait for the Confirmation Letter to arrive before applying for your LLC’s new EIN.

Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Matt Horwitz has been the leading expert on LLC education for the past decade. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC that other companies weren't offering. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
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.

54 comments on “Should I get an EIN Before I Form an LLC (or After)?”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. I’m filling out my docketing statement and it asks for my ein, however I didn’t create one yet, what should I do?

    • Hi Sally, within the Pennsylvania Docketing Statement, you can write “applied for”. You’ll file your PA LLC Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement, and then wait for your LLC to be approved. Once approved, you can then get an EIN for your LLC. Hope that helps!

      • I did what Patricia did, but in PA.

        So I had already submitted an EIN without LLC (part of the EIN instructions say NOT to include punctuation or LLC, but that’s for the Trade Name I realized now).

        I then attached that EIN to my LLC filing, which of course included LLC as required.


    • Hi Leon, that EIN is likely attached to you or your DBA (as a Sole Proprietorship). If you are forming an LLC, you’ll want to form your LLC first, wait for it to be approved, and then get a new EIN for your LLC. Hope that helps.

  3. I made the mistake of filing for an EIN first, and then the LLC. I filed the EIN without LLC in the name. The LLC was approved by the state with LLC in the company name.
    Do I need a new EIN to include the LLC in the name?

    • Hi Patricia, yes, I’d apply for another EIN for your LLC. By state law, your LLC name must have a designator (such as “LLC”) at the end. You’ll want your EIN Confirmation Letter (CP 575) to match that. After you apply for a new EIN, you can cancel your first EIN. Hope that helps!

  4. Im oppening a vape shop in 2019 in Puerto Rico, but i need the EIN for suppliers research purposes but i dont have an LLC yet specially because is hard to get an llc in PR can i do a sole propietor for the EIN?

    • Javier, I wouldn’t say it’s hard to get an LLC in Puerto Rico. Did you receive our email with filing company recommendations? You can operate as a Sole Proprietorship (and get an EIN), but you’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable with that. We recommend reading LLC vs Sole Proprietorship. Hope that helps.

  5. Is it possible to run a business with only a sellers permit and EIN? My business will have a very small chance of being suit so I don’t really want to get an LLC.

  6. I applied for my EIN first with LLC on the end of the business name. However, I just incorporated with the state and I didn’t use the abbreviation (LLC). I used Limited Liability Company spelled out. Does that matter? Should I reapply for a different EIN without the abbreviation or is this ok?

  7. Thanks so much for your article. I requested and received an EIN number 3 months ago, but then life happened and I am only just now applying for the LLC to begin the business. Would it be better to change EIN numbers so that the start date will be the same for both the EIN and the LLC? Will it matter that my EIN number (unused so far) has a different start date than my LLC?

    • Hey Adria, did you apply for an EIN for the LLC or for yourself as a Sole Proprietorship? Is the correct LLC name at the top of your EIN Confirmation Letter (CP 575)?

      • The name is the same and I applied for the LLC the first time, not the sole proprietor.

        • Okay, I see. If the LLC names match, then you’re good. If you haven’t filed any returns yet and want to “do it over” though, you certainly can. You can just apply for a new EIN then cancel the other EIN. Hope that helps.

    • Hi Kirk, a Single-Member LLC doesn’t need an EIN for the IRS. You can just use your SSN. However, you’ll want an EIN for opening an LLC bank account. Also, if someone requests a Form W-9, most people would rather give out an EIN instead of an SSN for identity theft/security reasons. There are other items too, like licenses/permits, maybe payroll in the future, etc., where having an EIN will be necessary. Hope that helps.

      • Wow Matt, thank you so much! I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge, am extremely grateful for your expertise in this matter. Huge help! Thank you Thank you Thank you.

  8. Hello Matt,
    I am in Illinois and today I received the Secretary of State’s approval on my LLC filing.
    My plan is to have my LLC to be taxed by IRS as an S-Corp.

    My understanding is that I would have to file the form 2553 with IRS for S-Corp filing. Is this accurate? if so, for the EIN number, should I wait until S-Corp taxation gets confirmed and then apply for EIN, OR, I can just get the EIN anytime regardless of the S-Corp status.

    Thank you very much in advance,

  9. I filed with the state of Texas for an LLC. Have a filing number and reflect an “In Existence” status on Secretary of State website, but when I go to file for and EIN with the IRS they say that the business name already exists and cannot give me an EIN with no further assistance. What to do now?

    • Hi James, did you apply for the EIN online or by mail or fax? What is the exact message you received from the IRS?

  10. Initially online and received an EIN Reference Number 101. Then I called to ask what it meant- the answer was ambiguous. I then faxed it. Heard nothing back. Followed up by phone and was told there is another entity with that name. Thanks for the quick reply. However, it seems as though our business is active with our filing details on SOS-TX

    • Okay, thanks for the details. You can find info on 101 here: EIN reference numbers. In short, you just need to send your approved Texas Certificate of Formation along with SS-4 either by mail or by fax. If you didn’t include the Certificate of Formation along with your fax, just wait for the IRS to reply to your application and then send it to them.

  11. I applied for an EIN before applying for an LLC and then life happened so I never was able to get around to filing for the LLC.
    How do I file taxes and do I need to file to become an LLC for my online boutique or is there a different business I can file as? Like a sole proprietorship? If I don’t file as an LLC do I need to get a new EIN?
    My EIN has been used for 3 purchases through a wholesale website.

    • Hi McKenzie, since you didn’t create a business entity, such as an LLC, you have been operating as a Sole Proprietorship. So that’s how you’ll file your taxes. If you want to form an LLC, after it is approved, you will need to get an EIN Number for the LLC. Hope that helps.

  12. Hey Matt,

    I had an EIN number when I was a sole proprietor but I just now got my LLC approved. Do I need to get a new EIN or can I just attach my old EIN to my new LLC?

    Thank you!

  13. I am glad that I came across this. I am working on getting my LLC and was sitting here thinking if I should get my EIN before or after my LLC is formed. Now I know to do it after. My fiancé got ahold of the DOS here in PA and the name I have picked out is open. I am going to see a lawyer about forming the LLC.

    • Hi Kent, that is great news! You definitely saved yourself a mini headache. If you have any other questions, feel free to reference our PA LLC guide. Hope that helps and best wishes.

      • Hi Matt,

        I hope you’re well.

        I was hoping you can help me regarding a subject matter regarding forming my LLC.

        Would gladly donate afterward.

  14. Hello I submitted for my fictitious name for the state of Florida it was just two words Hands United for a nonprofit. When I looked through the website I saw that there was only one company that had it but thiers was like “United Hands Foundation” and not just two words. I still submitted the application to the State. Since mine is a nonprofit I did not put any other abbreviation such as Inc. Did I need to submit my name with any other abbreviation since it’s a nonprofit? Do you think I will get rejected? I have not submitted for EIN yet waiting for approval first.

    • Hi Audrey, have you first formed a Corporation in Florida? Has the Corporation been granted tax-exempt/non-profit status by the IRS? That is the first step for forming a tax-exempt Non-Profit (for example, a 501C3). Just filing a Fictitious Name is not sufficient. In Florida, Fictitious Names don’t have exclusive rights to their name. So the Fictitious Name will be approved, assuming the rest of the filing is correct.

  15. Hi Matt,
    I first of all want to say thank you for the many answered questions you’ve answered to different people and the patience you have which leads me to asking you a question. I have run a business in the past in 2005 and it was ran in my husband and I’s name but doing business as K&T Blissful Kreations but I really didn’t understand a lot of things then. I was wondering should I have an LLC going into our new business We are starting up, Candle business and body oils business. 1st question: Would it be just as easy to get an EIN number if we’ve had a business before or will we need to look or do something different? Second question do we necessarily need an LLC for this business?
    Thanking you in advance

    • Hi Teresa, thank you very much. You’re very welcome :) Getting an EIN isn’t dependent upon whether you did or did not have a prior business. And that doesn’t matter if it was a General Partnership or an LLC or any other business entity. Said another way, you won’t have any issues getting an EIN, regardless of the structure you choose for your new business.

      And you’re not required or forced to form an LLC (it’s your choice), however, an LLC does offer liability protection that a General Partnership does not. Please see our LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship page. From a liability perspective, a Sole Proprietorship and a General Partnership are the same. In a Sole Proprietorship, one person is the legal person (and assumes the business liability). In a General Partnership, two people are legal persons (and assume the business liability). In an LLC, the LLC is the legal person (and assumes the business liability, not the LLC owners).

      If you decide to go with a General Partnership, business insurance can help reduce liability, however, an LLC with business insurance will be a stronger setup. Hope that helps.

  16. Greetings. Hi Dear, hopefully you’re doing a great Top line :-) I actually applied already for a Delaware LLC from the government website, but I need an EIN. Can you help me?
    Kind Regards, Govind singh
    Al Jubail, Sharjah UAE

  17. Hi, I made the mistake by doing my EIN first and I just filed for my LLC…should I just cancel my EIN now? Or wait til I get approved?

    • Hi Shan, you can just wait. If you entered the same LLC name in both places, then the EIN will still work. The IRS doesn’t check for state approval first. Was your LLC approved by the state?

  18. I faxed my LLC application through fedex.
    I know my application is approved because the $300 filling fee was taken out of my account a few days ago.
    My question is…will they send me my LLC approved Application through mail or faxed too fedex ?

    Only asking because I want to get my EIN but you say to send a copy of the approved LLC With it.

    • Hi Carlos, I don’t understand what you did. What do you mean by “fax through FexEx”? You sent something in the mail via FedEx… or did you send a fax? I’m not sure what you paid $300 for. You submitted an SS-4, but you didn’t include a copy of your LLC approval? Are you a non-US resident?

  19. I plan to incorporate in California on 10/28/2022, but the future effective date for the LLC to initiate would be 01/01/2023. If I apply to get an EIN today (10/28/2022), would it cause to file a corporate tax to the IRS for the year 2022?
    Note: I will file later (01/01/2023) form 2553 to be taxed as an S-Corp.

    • Hi Jose, no, you won’t have any 2022 tax obligations if you’re using a delayed LLC effective date of 1/1/2023. And getting an EIN Number for your LLC in 2022 will also not affect this. That’s because when you apply for an EIN for LLC, there is a section called “LLC start date”, where you’ll be able to enter January 2023. Hope that helps!

  20. I just filed to open a llc in Florida, but it is still pending. Now I want to apply for the ein number however I’d like to know when to file for form2553 scorp status. Can I apply for my ein number first and then apply for form 2553?
    Thank you so much


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