An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is a Federal Tax ID number issued to identify a business entity. While all EINs are issued to businesses, not all businesses are required to have an EIN. Those who plan to hire employees to work for you, are operating as a corporation or a partnership, expect to file excise, employment, or ATF tax returns, or you do not pay income taxes for earnings of a non-resident alien, then you will need to get an EIN. Simply follow the steps below to learn how to obtain an EIN.

Apply Online

One of the easiest ways on how to obtain an EIN is by filling out your application online at the government website IRS.gov. It is a three-step process where you first determine your eligibility, complete the application, and then submit it. The entire process should take no more than 15 minutes and once your information is validated your EIN will be issued.

By FAX

Another way to get your EIN is by sending an application in by FAX. This can be done by completing the Form SS-4 application and faxing it to the appropriate fax number. If everything is in order, you should expect to receive a return FAX within four business days with your new EIN number.

By Mail

You can also send in your Form SS-4 through the mail. Once the form is completed with the required information you can send it back to the IRS through the US postal service. If everything is in order, the entire process should take about four weeks to complete.

By Telephone

For those applicants who are located outside of the US, there is also the telephone option. Anyone who wants to know how to obtain an EIN by phone can simply call 267-941-1099 (this is not a toll free number) between the hours of 6:00AM and 11:00PM, Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday. Make sure that the person making the call is the one authorized to receive the EIN and qualified to answer all the questions they will ask. If everything is in order you should receive your new EIN immediately.

There are many ways you can apply for an employer identification number but no matter which method you use you will be expected to complete the government Form SS-4 before a new number can be issued. Keep in mind that the IRS, as of May 21, 2012, limits the number of EINs issued. Only one for per day can be issued to a responsible party. So if you need to have more than one number issued expect to complete the process several times over a period of several days.

The IRS will need to verify that the person filing the form is the actual responsible party before a number can be issued. There is a Third Party Designation section on the SS-4 Form but the signatures on the document will always have to be that of the responsible party. The third party may be allowed to answer questions on your behalf but that person’s authority will automatically be terminated the moment your EIN is issued.