How to Apply for EIN without an SSN or ITIN

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How to Apply for EIN without an SSN or ITIN

Important notes:
– This information is for non-US residents (“foreigners”) forming an LLC in the U.S.
– Make sure you’ve read what is an EIN and IRS taxpayer ID numbers.

There is a lot of incorrect information online about non-US citizens and non-US residents (foreigners) getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.

Most of the information online is either wrong or incomplete, either due to lack of knowledge or because someone is trying to sell you something.

At LLC University®, we don’t create content in order to sell you something. We create content in order to educate and inform.

In this article, we will debunk a few myths, tell you the truth, and show you how to get an EIN for your LLC without needing an SSN or ITIN.

Myth #1 – An EIN costs money

This is false.

EINs are completely free ($0) from the IRS.

The only reason you would pay money is if you hire someone to get your EIN for you.

While you certainly can hire someone to get your EIN, you can also apply for an EIN yourself. It’s not complicated and this article will walk you through the steps.

Myth #2 – You need to be a US citizen or US resident to get an EIN

This is false.

You don’t have to be an American to get an EIN.

You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to get an EIN.

And you don’t have to be a U.S. resident to get an EIN either.

In fact, there are no citizenship or residency requirements to forming an LLC in the U.S. and there are no citizenship or residency requirements for getting an EIN for your LLC.

As long as you complete Form SS-4 properly (which we’ll show you below), the IRS will give you an EIN for your LLC.

Myth #3 – You need an SSN to get an EIN

This is false.

You don’t need an SSN (Social Security Number) to get an EIN.

You only need an SSN (or ITIN) if you want to apply for an EIN online.

Solution:
You can get an EIN without an SSN by sending Form SS-4 to the IRS by mail or fax.

Myth #4 – You need an ITIN to get an EIN

This is false.

You don’t need an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) to get an EIN.

In fact, you can’t even apply for an ITIN unless you need to file a U.S. tax return. Meaning it’s impossible to get an ITIN before forming your LLC because the LLC would first need to exist and generate income for a tax year, then when April 15th of the following year comes around, you would submit your U.S. tax return along with your ITIN application.

Solution:
You can get an EIN without an ITIN by sending Form SS-4 to the IRS by mail or fax.

Note: If you read the IRS May 13th 2019 update that says you need an SSN or ITIN, that information is not true. It does not apply to non-US residents or non-US citizens. For more information, please see here: the IRS May 2019 requirements for EIN applications (and why most websites are wrong).

Myth #5 – You need a Third Party Designee to get an EIN

This is false.

You are not required to use a Third Party Designee to get an EIN.

You only need to use a Third Party Designee if you are hiring someone to get your EIN, not if you are applying for the EIN yourself.

Solution:
You can get an EIN without a Third Party Designee by sending Form SS-4 to the IRS by mail or fax.

Myth #6 – You need an attorney or accountant to get an EIN

This is false.

While yes, you can certainly hire an attorney or an accountant to help you get an EIN (they’ll act as your Third Party Designee), you are not required to do so.

Solution:
You can get an EIN without an attorney or an accountant by sending Form SS-4 to the IRS by mail or fax.

Myth #7 – You can get an EIN online

This is false.

You can’t get an EIN online unless you have an SSN or ITIN.

And even if you have an ITIN, many foreigners get an error message (an IRS reference number) at the end of the online EIN application and end up having to use Form SS-4.

Solution:
You can get an EIN by sending Form SS-4 to the IRS by mail or fax.

Myth #8 – You need to call the IRS to get an EIN

This is false.

While yes, the IRS does have a department called the International EIN Department (1-267-941-1099), as a foreigner who’s formed a U.S. LLC, you can’t call this number to get your EIN.

This phone number is used for companies that were formed outside of the U.S., not companies formed inside the U.S. that are owned by foreigners.

Solution:
You can get an EIN by sending Form SS-4 to the IRS by mail or fax.

Myth #9 – You need a U.S. address to get an EIN

This is false.

You don’t need a U.S. office address or U.S. mailing address to get an EIN.

The IRS just needs a “mailing address”, which can be a U.S. address or it can be a non-U.S. address.

However, if you want to open a U.S. bank account for your LLC, it looks much better when your EIN Confirmation Letter shows a U.S. address. For this reason, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year). Northwest will let you use their address for your Registered Agent address, your LLC’s office address, and your EIN application so you can open a U.S. bank account for your LLC. Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded to your online account.

Sending Form SS-4 to the IRS to get an EIN

Form SS-4 is called the Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Once you fill out Form SS-4 you can then send it to the IRS by mail or fax.

Fax has a faster approval time than mail.

We’ll discuss the details of how to complete Form SS-4 further below, but before we do, there are a few other important things to discuss first.

Make sure your LLC is approved before getting an EIN

Make sure your LLC is approved first before applying for your EIN to avoid having an EIN attached to the wrong LLC name (if your LLC filing gets rejected).

You’ll also want to send to the IRS your LLC approval along with the EIN application. The name of your LLC approval form will vary depending on the state, but it will either be a stamped/approved Articles of Organization, Certificate of Organization, or Certificate of Formation.

However, if you apply for your EIN first and your LLC is later approved, then there are no issues. The IRS doesn’t check to make sure an LLC exists first before getting an EIN, so if the LLC name on your state forms matches your EIN Confirmation Letter, you’re good.

If you apply for your EIN first and then your LLC is rejected because of a name conflict, you’ll need to resubmit your LLC filing forms, get a new EIN, and then cancel your first EIN. You don’t have to wait for your first EIN to be cancelled before getting a new EIN.

The only exceptions are if you’re forming an LLC in Louisiana or West Virginia where you may need to get your EIN before forming your LLC.

EINs are used for:

An EIN is primarily used by foreigners to open a business bank account in the U.S. for their LLC.

Your EIN will also be used for U.S. tax reporting and filing requirements, hiring employees (if applicable), and sales tax licenses/permits.

Your LLC’s EIN will also be used for account registrations for Amazon FBA, eBay, Youtube, Google Adsense, Paypal, Shopify, Stripe, and many more.

Many foreigners have online businesses these days, like dropshipping, affiliate marketing, blogging, and freelance work, where they need an EIN for their LLC.

How to complete the EIN Application (Form SS-4) for Foreigners

Download Form SS-4:
https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss4.pdf

IRS Instructions for Form SS-4:
https://www.irs.gov/instructions/iss4

Complete Form SS-4 by hand or on your computer:
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.

USE CAPITAL LETTERS:
If you are filling out Form SS-4 by hand, we recommend using ALL UPPERCASE letters. The IRS prefers UPPERCASE letters and this can help speed up your EIN application.

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 it’s 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 your LLC is approved.

2. Trade name of business (if different than #1)

Most foreigners who have formed an LLC don’t also have a Trade Name (aka DBA, Doing Business As, or Fictitious Name).

Most foreigners 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.

3. Executor, administrator, trustee, “care of” name

Leave this blank. This field does not apply to LLCs obtaining an EIN.

4a and 4b: Mailing address

On lines 4a and 4b enter a mailing address where the IRS can send you reminders and tax documents.

This address can be a U.S. address or it can be a non-U.S. address. This address can be the same address you used listed on your LLC filing forms, but it doesn’t have to be.

This address should be one that is reliable and where you can regularly receive mail for your LLC. This should also be the address that you will use when filing future tax returns with the IRS.

However, using a U.S. address here may make it easier when opening up a U.S. bank account. The address that is listed in 4a and 4b will be the same address that is listed at the top of your EIN Confirmation Letter. Some banks accept this as a proof of U.S. address.

The best and least expensive way to get a U.S. address (if you don’t have friends or family in the U.S.) is to hire a Registered Agent that will allow you to use their address not only as your LLC’s Registered Agent address, but also as your LLC’s office address. The company we recommend for this is Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year). They’ll let you use their address for your U.S. LLC and any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned and uploaded to your online account. They are a great company and have been in business for over 20 years.

Notes:
• If the address is a non-U.S. address, make sure to enter the city, province (or state), postal code, and the name of the country. Enter the full country name, don’t abbreviate it.
• If you need to change your LLC mailing address in the future, you can always do so by filing Form 8822-B with the IRS. It’s free to file Form 8822-B.

5a and 5b: Street address (if different)

You can leave 5a and 5b blank.

6. County and state where principal business (LLC) is located

Enter the county (not the country) where your LLC is located in the U.S.

This will either be your LLC’s principal address or your LLC’s Registered Agent address.

Example: Broward County, Florida

Tip: To find out 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 EIN Responsible Party must be an individual person, therefore, it will be an LLC Member (owner).

If you own a Single-Member LLC, you will be the Responsible Party.

If you own a Multi-Member LLC, any of the LLC Members (owners), including yourself, can be the Responsible Party.

7b. SSN, ITIN, or EIN (of Responsible Party)

This is the box that confuses most people who don’t have an SSN or ITIN and want to get an EIN for their LLC.

The solution is to enter “Foreign”.

The IRS issues EINs to foreigners all the time and this is what you must enter if you don’t have an SSN or ITIN.

Note: If your LLC is owned by another LLC (a “Parent LLC”), you can’t use your Parent LLC’s EIN. You must enter “Foreign”. And you also must list a person (not a company) in 7a.

For more information on the Responsible Party, please see this page:
EIN Responsible Party for LLC

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 total number of Members in your LLC.

Note: 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”. Although your LLC will be foreign-owned, your LLC will still be organized in the United States.

9a. Type of entity

Notes:
• We recommend that you have a conversation with an accountant before deciding how your foreign-owned LLC will be taxed.
• The term “foreigner” means non-resident alien.
• The term “U.S. person” means U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien.

You will pay U.S. taxes based on what country you are from, what tax treaty is in place, how and where your LLC makes money, where your clients are, if your LLC has a “permanent establishment” in the U.S., if your LLC’s income is “effectively connected” to a U.S. trade or business, and much more.

Taxes are complicated for U.S. residents. Taxes are more complicated for foreigners, so please speak with a professional.

We are unable to provide tax assistance or tax advice. Thank you for understanding.

Single-Member LLC (foreign-owned):

If you have a foreign-owned Single-Member LLC you can choose to be taxed as a Disregarded Entity or as a C-Corporation.

– If you want your LLC to be treated as a Disregarded Entity, check off “Other (specify)” and enter “Foreign-owned U.S. Disregarded Entity” on the line.

– If you want your LLC to be treated as a C-Corporation, check off “Corporation (enter form number to be filed)” and enter “1120” on the line. After you receive your EIN you must then file Form 8832 to make your C-Corporation election.

Notes:
• All foreign-owned Single-Member LLC Disregarded Entities must file Form 5472 every year. More information here: Form 5472 and foreign-owned LLC.
• If your Single-Member LLC is owned by a foreign company, your LLC will be considered a branch or division of the parent company for tax purposes.
• If you are considering LLC taxed as C-Corporation (which is not very common), please see here: LLC taxed as C-Corp.

Multi-Member LLC (foreign-owned):

If you have a foreign-owned Multi-Member LLC you can choose to be taxed as a Partnership or a C-Corporation.

– If you want your LLC to be treated as a Partnership, check off “Partnership“.

– If you want your LLC to be treated as a C-Corporation, check off “Corporation (enter form number to be filed)” and enter “1120” on the line. After you receive your EIN you must then file Form 8832 to make your C-Corporation election.

Note: The same thing will apply to Multi-Member LLCs that are owned by a foreigner (or foreigners) and a U.S. person (or persons). You can choose for your LLC to be taxed as a Partnership or a C-Corporation. If you are considering LLC taxed as C-Corporation (which is not very common), please see here: LLC taxed as C-Corp.

9b. State & foreign country (if applicable)

Enter the state where your LLC was formed. Use the state’s full name. Don’t use an abbreviation.

For example, enter “Florida”, not “FL”.

Note: This lesson is written for foreigners who have formed an LLC in the U.S., not for people who have formed a company outside of the U.S. and are 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 in #10.

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:

  1. Statistical purposes which are used to produce reports and industry analysis.
  2. In the case of an audit, the IRS will know how a business may compare against similar businesses in the same industry.

Here are 3 places where you can find the NAICS Code business categories:
https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag_index_naics.htm
https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag_index_alpha.htm
https://taxmap.irs.gov/taxmap2016/instr/i1040sc-016.htm

Just use the word (or words) that best match your LLC’s business activity.

Note: Although your foreign-owned 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 forever. You can also 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 by the state (aka the 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.

This is the date your business started, even if there wasn’t actual business activity.

It should be formatted like this: month/day/year. For example, if your LLC was approved on January 15th 2020, you would write 01/15/2020.

12. Closing month of calendar year

Most foreigners run their taxes on the calendar year, which is January through December. If that’s the case for your LLC, enter “December”.

13. Employees

Note: Most foreigners won’t have U.S. employees, so this section may not be applicable. Most foreigners will be entering “0” “0” “0” in #13.

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 information provided by the IRS: employee vs independent contractor.

If you plan to hire U.S. 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 U.S. 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 foreigners who have (or plan to have) U.S. employees, their employees will likely fall within the “Other” category.

Important: Just being an owner of your LLC does not make you an employee of your LLC.

14. Employment tax liability

Note: Most foreigners won’t have employment tax liability, so this section may not be applicable. Most foreigners will just leave the box unchecked.

If you have (or will have) U.S. employees, you’ll need to withhold and pay certain taxes to the IRS on behalf of your U.S. 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 U.S. 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

Note: Most foreigners won’t have wages or annuities paid, so this section may not be applicable. Most foreigners will just enter “N/A”.

If you don’t have employees, enter “N/A”.

If you have U.S. employees and have already begun paying wages (or annuities), enter the date (month, day, year) they were first paid.

If you have U.S. 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 type of 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 your LLC’s principal business activity.

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 foreigners 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 the 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. This number can be a U.S. phone number or it can be a non-U.S. phone number. If you’re entering a non-U.S. phone number, make sure to put the country code at the beginning of your 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 blank. If you are submitting SS-4 by fax, then you must enter your fax number. If you’re using a digital fax like we recommend below, the number will be a U.S. fax number. You can also use a non-U.S. fax number here.

Page 2

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 throw it away.

Make a copy of Form SS-4 before sending to the IRS

We recommend making a few copies of Form SS-4 before sending to the IRS.

Just keep the copies with your LLC’s business records.

Include your LLC approval

Along with your Form SS-4, send the IRS your LLC approval. Depending on the state where you formed your LLC, this will either be a stamped/approved Articles of Organization, Certificate of Organization, or Certificate of Formation.

How to file Form SS-4

You can send Form SS-4 to the IRS in one of two ways:

  1. By mail
  2. By fax

Approval time by mail is 4 to 8 weeks.

Approval time by fax is 4-7 business days.

If you’re mailing Form SS-4 to the IRS

You can mail Form SS-4 to the IRS from any country. It doesn’t have to be from the U.S. And it doesn’t matter what address you list on the envelope as your “from address”. Just mail your completed and signed SS-4 form to:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, Ohio 45999

Note: There is no street address (ex: “123 Main Street”) for the IRS. The above address is the complete address.

If you’re faxing Form SS-4 to the IRS

If you want to fax Form SS-4 to the IRS for a faster approval time, fax SS-4 to:

1-855-641-6935

No cover sheet needed:
You don’t need a cover sheet with your fax. You can just just fax page 1 of Form SS-4 to the IRS.

A digital fax is recommended:
It’s best to fax from inside the U.S. and the easiest way to do this is by using a digital fax service.

This way, when the IRS faxes you back your EIN Confirmation Letter, the digital fax service will just deliver it to your email.

We recommend getting a U.S. phone number from Phone.com. Their phone plans are only $13 per month and they automatically include the fax feature at no additional cost.

After you sign up with Phone.com, you can just call their support team or do a live chat and they’ll show you how to send a digital fax. It should only take you a few minutes.

Once in your account, click “Fax” in the upper right corner.

phone dot com fax

Then enter the IRS fax number (1-855-641-6935) at the top, followed by your name and email.

Here is a screenshot from the fax setting page:

phone dot com fax

Set the fax quality to “high” and then click “Choose File” under “Add Attachments”.

Once ready, click the “Preview Fax” button at the bottom.

On the next page you’ll see a note about “FCC regulations require us to use a US geographical caller ID when sending faxes to toll-free numbers”. This is just phone.com letting you know that your “from” fax number will be different. But don’t worry, this will not impact your EIN fax application with the IRS at all.

Click the “Send Fax” button at the bottom to fax your EIN application to the IRS.

Congratulations. Your EIN application has been sent to the IRS for processing!

Now you just need to wait for your EIN approval.

EIN approval time for foreigners

Once the IRS approves your EIN you will receive an EIN Confirmation Letter.

This is your official EIN confirmation and it is also called a CP 575.

Your EIN confirmation letter will be sent back to you the same way you sent Form SS-4 to the IRS. If you mailed Form SS-4 to the IRS, they will mail your EIN approval. If you faxed Form SS-4 to the IRS, they will fax your EIN approval.

EIN approval time (mail filing):
You will get your EIN Confirmation Letter by mail within 4 to 8 weeks.

EIN approval time (fax filing):
You will get your EIN Confirmation Letter by fax within 4 to 7 business days.

The above approval times are estimates provided by the IRS. However, depending on what time of the year you file Form SS-4, things may take a little bit longer so please remain patient. The IRS is busier in the first 5 months of the year (January through May).

You can’t use an EIN (of a parent company) on line 7b

Although it says “SSN, ITIN, or EIN” on line 7b, you can’t enter an EIN here (unless you are a government entity).

In 2018, the IRS made changes to the rules of Form SS-4, and the EIN Responsible Party can’t be a company. And you can’t enter an EIN. The Responsible Party must be an individual person.

For more information, please see this article: who can be the Responsible Party for my LLC.

Form 5472 requirements for Single-Member LLCs

If you have a foreign-owned Single-Member LLC, you must also file Form 5472 and Form 1120.

If you don’t, the IRS can charge penalties of $10,000 USD or more.

For more information, please see this article: foreign-owned LLC and Form 5472.

U.S. taxes for foreigners

This page does not discuss additional tax requirements that foreigners must follow in order to properly report and file taxes with the U.S. government.

You will need to hire an accountant/tax professional who works with foreigners that have a U.S. LLC.

Here are a few (but not all) of the things that may apply to you:

  • Sales tax and/or excise tax
  • Effectively Connected Income (ECI)
  • Fixed, Determinable, Annual, Periodic Income (FDAP)
  • Conduct of a U.S. trade or business (USTB)
  • Federal Withholding Tax for Foreign Nationals
  • Foreign Bank Account Annual Report (FBAR)
  • Payroll taxes (if applicable)
  • Form 1042-S
  • Form W-8 BEN
  • US Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return (1040NR/1040NR-EZ)
  • Federal and state unemployment taxes (if you have U.S. employees)
  • Real Estate and Foreign Investment Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA)
  • And more

How to find an accountant for a foreign-owned LLC?

The best way to find an accountant for a foreign-owned LLC is to use our “knights of the roundtable” strategy + the IRS Acceptance Agent list.

The IRS Acceptance Agent page lists tax professionals that work with foreigners. You’ll want to find about 5-10 tax professionals that are located in the same state where you formed your LLC.

Write down their information and call them all and ask a few questions. Each tax professional will give you a few minutes of their time for free since you are a potential customer.

Then use our “knights of the roundtable” strategy when making your phone calls. This will help you eliminate bad candidates and find the best tax professional for your LLC.

Worldwide information sharing & tax treaties

The U.S maintains tax treaties with over 60 countries around the world. These treaties usually include disclosure agreements, where each government agrees to share information on a person or LLC’s taxable activity outside their country of origin when requested by his home country.

The agreements are in place to make sure that people and companies who earn income outside their home country file the proper returns and pay their taxes in both the U.S. and in their home country.

How to open a U.S. bank account for a foreign-owned LLC

U.S. banks don’t all do things the same way. Things vary from bank to bank. Things vary from state to state. And even within the same state and within the same bank, things can vary from branch location to branch location.

However, in general, nearly all banks will allow you to open a business checking account for your foreign-owned LLC.

While there are some online banking solutions for foreigners (like Payoneer, OFX, and World First), these are not true U.S. banks and they each come with their pros and cons.

There are typically two solutions for foreigners who want to open a U.S. bank account for their LLC.

1. Visit a local branch of an international bank
You may be able to open a U.S. business banking account for your U.S. LLC by visiting the branch in your home country. You’ll want to call the bank ahead of time and make a detailed list of what documents are required.

You’ll want to make sure the bank can open a U.S. bank account that is located in the same state where you formed your U.S. LLC.

Here are banks with locations in the U.S. as well as internationally:

  • Bank of America (“BOA”)
  • Capital One
  • JP Morgan Chase (“Chase”)
  • CitiBank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • HSBC
  • TD Bank (Canada only)
  • Wells Fargo

2. Appear in person in the U.S.
First do google searches for banks in the same state where your LLC was formed. Than call and ask to speak to the branch manager. Tell them you are a non-resident alien and want to open a business bank account for your LLC. Ask them what documents are required. You’ll need to show proof of identity (foreign passport and foreign driver’s license) and you’ll need proof of business address. Usually your approved LLC filing and EIN Confirmation Letter may work, but a bank may also ask for another proof of address, like a phone bill or a lease.

For more details on opening up a U.S. bank account for your foreign-owned LLC, please see: Non-US Resident Opening a U.S. Business Bank Account for LLC

IRS Contact Information

You can call the IRS at:

The International Department at 1-267-941-1000. Hours are Monday through Friday, 6am – 11pm, U.S. Eastern Time.

OR

The EIN Department at 1-800-829-4933. Hours are Monday through Friday, 7am – 7pm, local time.

It’s important to know that the IRS will answer general questions, but they don’t give out tax advice and can’t explain every single requirement to you over the phone. For that reason, as we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to find an accountant for help.

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.

33 Comments

  1. Mustapha December 10, 2019

    Thank you for those pieces of information.
    I have a question, please!
    If I create an LLC in Wyoming, and I am a foreign person. The LLC will be a foreign-owned single-member and I’ll choose to make a disregarded entity LLC, Should I send every single year the 5272 FORM and pay taxes?

    Waiting to read your comment.
    Cordially.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz December 10, 2019

      Hi Mustapha, we’ve written about Form 5472 here: Form 5472 for foreign-owned Single-Member LLC. You will need to speak with a tax professional to find out if you have US tax obligations. We recommend GW Carter as they specialize in working with non-US residents. They can also help you file Form 5572 too. Hope that helps.

      reply
  2. Jay December 12, 2019

    It worked! I got the EIN without using an ss. Now how do i get a bank account without using an ss? Is there an article for that? Thanks for the great work!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz December 12, 2019

      Hey Jay, happy to hear that! We have that information here: non-US resident opening LLC bank account. We are in the process of updating that page with a new recommendation. However, if you scroll to the bottom of the comments, you’ll see our new recommendation. Hope that helps!

      reply
  3. Yasmine December 16, 2019

    Thank u sooooo much! You can’t imagine how much all these informations you gave are helpful! Good bless u forever

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz December 16, 2019

      Hi Yasmine, you’re very welcome! I’m happy that we could help :)

      reply
  4. Jason January 1, 2020

    Hi Matt,

    Great article.

    I have created an account on phone.com, sent the fax to the IRS (got an email confirmation from phone.com that the fax was sent successfully) and included the fax number I purchased from phone.com (let’s call it number X)

    Here is my issue: a day later phone.com canceled my subscriptions for “security reasons” without providing any further explanation. I cannot have access anymore to number X and hence I am in no way to retrieve the IRS reply. Number X might be invalid by now or assigned to some other customer.

    I am worried that the form be faxed by the IRS to a third party by mistake (for obvious security reasons)
    And how do I retrieve my EIN: will the IRS mail it to the company as well as part of the proceedings?

    Any advice on how to proceed now?

    Thanks in advance

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 1, 2020

      Oh wow, so sorry to hear about this. That is a major bummer. The good news is that the IRS will still mail you an EIN Confirmation Letter (CP 575) after they approve your EIN Number. It will be mailed to the address you listed in 4a and 4b of Form SS-4. It can take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive. However that is 4 to 6 weeks after the EIN is approved, so in total it could take about 2 months before you get your EIN Confirmation Letter (CP 575) in the mail. You can also get a new fax number and call the IRS in a few weeks and ask for an EIN Verification Letter (147C) which serves the same purpose as the EIN Confirmation Letter (CP 575). We have instructions here: EIN Verification Letter (147C) for LLC. You can also call or email Phone.com and tell them your situation. Maybe they have a suggestion or can give the number back. Please feel free to keep us updated. And if you hear why they closed your account, please let us know. Hope that helps.

      reply
      • Jason January 3, 2020

        That’s not as bad as I thought then. I should expect the CP 575 around mid-February. I guess I’ll call the IRS mid-January, hopefully, they’ll have the EIN ready by then to get going with my business. That’s precious advice. Thanks, Matt.

        In the meantime, would you advise that I bill clients through the LLC to my personal account until I get my EIN? In case of a lawsuit, would that be enough ground to consider it “piercing of corporate veil”?

        I contacted phone.com a couple of times. In their own terms “It is their policy to never disclose details after a security review and they are in no “obligation” to give me access to that number or help me recover incoming fax from that number”. It is very odd. It’s their bad really lost a potential long term client. Any other phone company you would advise?

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz January 3, 2020

          Yea, it’s just a bit of an annoyance and a longer wait time (unless you call and get the 147C). It’s hard to say regarding piercing the corporate veil. You may want to consider just billing clients personally and then later using the LLC once an EIN and a bank account are in place. Good job looking at those terms. We use Phone.com ourselves, so that’s why we recommend them. We don’t have another recommendation as of right now, but I’m sure there are other places that offer similar services. If other people have issues with Phone.com, we will gladly update and change our recommendation. Hopefully this was a rare occurrence.

          reply
          • Jason January 10, 2020

            Hey Matt,

            Just to let you know I got the CP 575 mailed to my agent yesterday. So that’s good news, I can get right away with invoicing now.

            So to summarize the timeline:
            16 Dec 2019: I faxed the SS-4 to the IRS (handwritten).
            27 Dec 2019: EIN number confirmed by the IRS and CP 575 mailed.
            10 Jan 2019: CP 575 mail to my corporate mailbox.

            It seems to have taken 11 days for processing and 24 days to have final confirmation by mail.

            Cheers

            reply
            • Matt Horwitz January 10, 2020

              Jason, wow, that’s really fast! Usually, EINs for non-US residents aren’t processed that quickly. This is great news. I really appreciate the reply and the details. Very helpful to know :)

              reply
  5. Kuma F. January 2, 2020

    Greetings, Matt

    I’m an oversees online entrepreneur recently my LLC was approved and on my way to file to my EIN (Foreign) application. I was confused under the section 9a ‘type of Entity’.

    As i mentioned previously my plan is to set up an online store E-Commerce. Do i fall under the category “Foreign-owned U.S. Disregarded Entity” ?

    Your assist is highly appreciated,

    Hopefully waiting for your response sooner,

    Kind Regards,

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 3, 2020

      Hi Kuma, this section is not used to explain what the business will do. If the LLC has one owner (a Single-Member LLC) who is not a US resident or US citizen, you should list “Foreign-owned US Disregarded Entity”. Hope that helps.

      reply
  6. Ricardo January 13, 2020

    Hello Matt:
    First of all, thank you very much for your effort into compile all that information, it’s really useful.
    I followed your advice and sent the SR4 on december 19th. Today, January 13th I received the fax with the EIN.
    In your comments you´ve mentioned that it is necesary to find a bank brach of the same state where the LLC was created. Is that true? or Can I open the bank account in any state that accepts to open it?
    Thank you

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 14, 2020

      Hi Ricardo, you’re very welcome! That is great to hear. Most of the time this is the case, however, it’s not 100% of the time. We recommend reading this page for more details: non-US resident LLC bank account. Hope that helps.

      reply
  7. Paata January 16, 2020

    Hi Matt,

    I am a US-resident (Lived more than half a year in the USA in 2019) but don’t have SSN or ITIN and can’t get one. Can I still form an LLC and get EIN?

    If yes, then how would your instruction (to fill the form SS-4) be different in this case? As you say the instruction above is only for Non-US residents (foreigners).

    I appreciate your answer.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 18, 2020

      Hi Paata, while you may be a US resident for tax purposes, you can still complete the SS-4 and write “Foreign” in order to get an EIN for your LLC. Before filing your US taxes, you’ll need to apply for an ITIN. You can hire an accountant and they can submit your tax return along with your ITIN application. Hope that helps.

      reply
      • Mustapha Smail January 18, 2020

        Hello Matt,

        Thank you for all of this, you really helped me to get my LLC, but I still don’t have an EIN while I sent to the IRS the Ss4 form by fax. It’s said that I should have a response by 4 to 8 business days, but it’s been a month now and I don’t have any response, I se’t them an email and same, no response.
        Would you please help me by telling me if there is a way to contact them and get a response ASAP?

        Waiting your comments,

        Cordially.

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz January 18, 2020

          Hey Mustapha, you’re welcome. It’s usually not that fast and it can take up to 2 months before you get your EIN. In order to check on the status, you need to call the IRS. If the EIN was approved, you can ask for an EIN Verification Letter (147C). Hope that helps.

          reply
      • Paata January 18, 2020

        Hi Matt,

        Thank you for your answer.

        So, let’s assume I filled the SS4 as a foreigner, got an EIN, started working and in Jan-April, 2021 filed a tax return along with ITIN application. What happens with the requirement to file forms 5472, 1120 and other reporting requirements as foreign-owned LLC? Will I not have those requirements anymore? As you write not fulfilling those requirements can cost $25,000. I am a bit scared.

        Thank you for your time.

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz January 18, 2020

          Hi Paata, I believe it depends on timing. Meaning, you may only be considered a US resident for a certain tax filing period and then you may be considered a non-resident for the rest of the time. For something like this, we recommend speaking to Gary at GW Carter. He specializes in doing taxes for non-US residents and is familiar with all the details. Hope that helps.

          reply
  8. Kuma F. January 20, 2020

    Hi Matt, I submitted my application to IRS 15 days ago and haven’t heard anything yet so far. Does it take longer processing time like 2 or 3 months to hear from the IRS ?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 20, 2020

      Hi Kuma, it can take 1-2 months before you are issued your EIN. I’ve never seen it take longer than 2 months though. We recommend just a bit more patience and you should have it soon. After 2 more weeks, feel free to call the IRS and ask for an EIN Verification Letter (147C). If your EIN has been issued, the IRS representative will be able to fax you the EIN Verification Letter while you wait on the phone. Hope that helps.

      reply
  9. Harrison January 21, 2020

    This blog is Awesome! So many thanks for your help Matt!

    I have some questions: I’m from colombia and formed an LLC in the U.S. (New Mexico) with incfile and use a mailing address of pembroke pines, FL… That address was used to fill 4.a and 4.b (SS-4 FORM ) and i don’t know if i have to leave blank the points 5.a and 5.b or put an address of New mexico?

    By the other hand in the point 6, i have indicated the county and state of my registered agent (New Mexico), is ok?

    Any advice for me is pure gold!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 21, 2020

      Hey Harrison, thanks man! You’re very welcome :) You don’t need to enter anything in 5a or 5b. For number 6, you need both the county and state name. In the US, most cities exist inside of counties. In order to determine what county your New Mexico address is in, you can use this tool: Map developers: what county am I in. Hope that helps!

      reply
      • Harrison Piedrahita January 22, 2020

        Thanks! “Map developers” is amazing, i fill the point 6 with the county and state of New mexico (Los Alamos, New Mexico).

        Friend, No problem if i used a Florida mailing address for the points 4.a – 4.b even though if my LLC was created in New Mexico?

        Sorry for this basic question :)

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz January 27, 2020

          Hi Harrison, the IRS doesn’t care much about which address you use. They treat the address as a “mailing address” for your LLC. However, depending on what type of bank account you are opening (see non-US resident LLC bank account) you may want that address to match the rest of the address(es) on your LLC. For example, if you are going to visit the US to open a bank account, you’ll want to call the bank ahead of time and see if they require the address on your Articles of Organization to be the same as the address on your EIN Confirmation Letter (or EIN Verification Letter). Many banks will want them to be the same, but a few may not care. However, if you’re going to open an account with Mercury (which is what we recommend), then the addresses don’t have to be the same. Hope that helps.

          reply
  10. Medrit January 24, 2020

    Hello,

    Thanks for the such a amazing content! Could you please help:

    6. County and state where principal business (LLC) is located

    My LLC was formed in Alaska and Registered agent is in Alaska as well. But my Virtual address is in Delaware. Which county I need to mention in number 6? Delaware or Alaska?

    For the 4a I will use Virtual address in Delaware.

    reply
    • Medrit January 25, 2020

      Forgot to ask one more question:

      9b If a corporation, name the state or foreign country (if applicable) where incorporated

      – I have formed LLC, should I fill this field? If yes, I should mention the state i have where i have registered my llc + the country i am located?( i am ij Europe)

      Thank you!

      reply
    • Harrison Piedrahita January 25, 2020

      Hi friend, My LLC was formed in New Mexico, Registered agent is in New Mexico and my Virtual address is in Florida. I leaved blank the points 5.a and 5.b and for the point 6 i used the county and state name of My LLC was formed (New Mexico).

      My application was sended via FAX January 6th and receive the CP 575 January 21th but via mail (No receive any FAX yet).

      Thanks Matt for all.

      Greetings!

      reply
  11. abdela January 25, 2020

    hi matt thanks for ur valuable blog
    CAN I FAX THE SS4 FROM EUROPE AND GET THE ANSWER TO THE SAME NUMMBER?( to get the ein number)
    IM JUST THINKING THAT I DONT REAALY NEED AN AMERICAIN BANK ACCOUNT…,? DO U THINK IT S IMPORTANT ANY ADVISE ? IM DOING E COMMERCE IN EUROPE
    THANKS

    reply
  12. Medrit January 25, 2020

    Forgot to ask one more question:

    I am bit confused.

    9b. If a corporation, name the state or foreign country (if applicable) where incorporated.

    I have registered LLC, should I still fill this 9b field? If yes, then i should mentioned the state where the company was registered + country i am located? ( i am in Europe)

    Thank you!!

    reply

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