Get Employer Identification Number As a Foreigner
Employer Identification Number
What is it?
Employer Identification Number also known as EIN is a number provided to you by Internal Revenue Service in the USA, in order for them to collect taxes from you. Actually, it’s more like you need it to pay taxes to them. Most of the countries have taxes and all individuals have to pay them – welcome to democracy.
Why do you need it?
Not everyone needs it, that’s a fact. If you are doing your business outside of the USA, no one asks or talks about this number. You have to care about your country’s tax system only. The problem becomes more complex if you are a foreigner doing or wanting to do business in the United States while living abroad. That’s where this number comes to the help. By having it you are allowed to do business in the United States. Without it – there are very strict and tough rules to follow and most of the time you can neither import nor sell anything.
How do you get it?
Within United States
The easiest way is for the US residents. Surprised? As long as you have your Social Security Number you can even apply for Employer Identification Number online. To be honest, you don’t even need EIN as you can use your SSN instead till there is a need to incorporate your company. But here comes the harder part – what if you are not US resident? There are a few options.
One of the options is to join already active business or create a partnership with someone who is US resident. This is fine as long as you have any acquaintances in the US. But what if you don’t? Honestly, I didn’t have anyone there.
The trick is you can apply for EIN yourself even if you are a foreigner. Don’t forget – government loves your money. I have been looking for this myself and it took me quite a while to find out what I needed and what I didn’t. There are so many tutorials and none of them are right. I have just got my EIN like two hours ago, so I will tell you what I have done and how you can get one too.
Outside of United States
First of all you need to download SS-4 Form. There are 3 pages in this file. You just need to fill out the 2nd one. Some tutorials say you have to fill it out nicely, because IRS associate might ask you to fax it and that’s true. They didn’t ask me for this, but they may ask this from you, so don’t scribble too much.
The second thing is that some tutorials say you definitely need your mail address to be in the US. Nonsense – I couldn’t find such thing anywhere in IRS documentation and it was fine when I called them up too. So don’t make too much fuss about it and just use your local address. I spent loads of time looking at different US Mail forwarders and their pricey services.
The third thing is your type of entity – use Sole Proprietor with SSN as N/A. The reason for applying – select Started New Business with type as Sole Proprietor. Make the date of business started as a day before the call to IRS. The number to call is +12679411099. Use Skype for a call – it’s 1.8p a minute. Just be patient, it took me 30min waiting in the queue and listening for the same music again and again, and another 15min to actually get the documents filled out and EIN confirmed. Don’t lose the document – you will need it eventually!