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

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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?

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
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! LLC University® teaches people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your business journey.
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.

34 Comments

  1. Tim September 15, 2018

    This was very valuable information. It answer every what if question I have thanks

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz October 17, 2018

      You’re welcome Tim!

      reply
  2. Sally October 8, 2018

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

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz October 25, 2018

      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!

      reply
  3. LEON October 10, 2018

    I HAVE ALREADY GOTTEN AN EIN NUMBER, WHAT DO I DO TO BECOME LLC I AM SO CONFUSED WITH THIS!!!!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz October 25, 2018

      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.

      reply
  4. Patricia November 8, 2018

    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?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz November 23, 2018

      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!

      reply
  5. Javier Sanchez December 12, 2018

    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?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz December 18, 2018

      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.

      reply
  6. Miguel Castro January 14, 2019

    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.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 14, 2019

      Yes, certainly. You can operate as a Sole Proprietorship if you’d like.

      reply
  7. Tiombae January 25, 2019

    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?

    reply
  8. Adria January 26, 2019

    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?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 28, 2019

      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)?

      reply
      • Adria January 28, 2019

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

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz February 6, 2019

          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.

          reply
  9. KIrk February 7, 2019

    Hello, If I am applying for single member LLC here in NM will I need EIN? Thanks

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 13, 2019

      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.

      reply
      • KIrk February 13, 2019

        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.

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz February 13, 2019

          Hey Kirk, I’m glad it was so helpful :) You’re very welcome!

          reply
  10. Kaveh February 8, 2019

    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,
    Kaveh

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 14, 2019

      Hey Kaveh, you would first get the EIN for your LLC, then you’ll file Form 2553. The EIN needs to be in place first. We have more info on LLC/S-Corp here: LLC being taxed as an S-Corporation.

      reply
  11. James January 13, 2020

    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?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 13, 2020

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

      reply
  12. James January 13, 2020

    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

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 13, 2020

      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.

      reply
  13. McKenzie January 22, 2020

    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.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 27, 2020

      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.

      reply
  14. Julian January 23, 2020

    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!

    reply
  15. Kent February 14, 2020

    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.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 23, 2020

      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.

      reply

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