Foreign EIN Number for Non-U.S. Residents

A Foreign EIN (Employer Identification Number) allows non-U.S. residents to obtain a unique identification number for tax and business purposes without needing a Social Security Number. Dive deeper to understand the benefits and application process for a Foreign EIN, ensuring smooth business operations in the U.S. even if you're overseas.

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Are you a non-U.S. resident looking to start a business in the United States? One of the first things you’ll need to do is get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). But if you don’t have a Social Security number (SSN), you may be wondering if you’re eligible to apply for an EIN as a non-U.S. resident. We’ll walk you through the process of obtaining a foreign EIN number for non-U.S. residents. 

Eligibility Requirements for Obtaining an EIN Number as a Non-U.S. Resident

To be eligible for an EIN number as a non-U.S. resident, you must have a business or trade in the United States, or be planning to start one soon. If you have a Social Security number (SSN), you could apply for an EIN online. As a non-U.S. resident, though, you can still get an EIN without an SSN, but the process is more involved.

Can I apply for EIN without SSN?

Yes, you can apply for an EIN number without an SSN if you’re a non-U.S. resident. You’ll do so by completing Form SS-4 and submitting it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by postal mail or by fax. Without a Social Security number, you can’t apply online.

This process can take quite a while. During the pandemic, some applicants had to wait as long as three and a half months. Today, however, most SS-4 applications are processed in approximately four to six weeks. Faxing tends to be faster than mail.

How can a foreigner get a tax ID number?

A tax ID number is an umbrella term for several such numbers, including SSN, EIN, and Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is a tax number available only to certain resident and nonresident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who can’t get an SSN.

To get an ITIN, you would need to complete Form W-7, IRS Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. However, you don’t need an ITIN to get an EIN, and you won’t even be able to get one until you file a tax return in the U.S. You just need to complete Form SS-4 to get your EIN.

Important note: The IRS’s Form SS-4 is very misleading about what’s required to apply for an EIN. In section 7b of the form, you’re asked to provide an SSN, ITIN, or EIN, implying that you need one of these numbers to get an EIN. However, if you’re a non-U.S. resident and don’t have any of those tax identification numbers, you can simply write “Foreign” in this space. There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation online about this issue, but our EIN experts at ZenBusiness have confirmed that the IRS can accept this method of completing the form, though it is still ultimately up to them as to whether they will provide an EIN to a non-U.S. resident. 

Steps for Obtaining an EIN Number as a Non-U.S. Resident

Step 1: Determine your eligibility for an EIN number as a non-U.S. resident

Before applying for an EIN, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements as a non-U.S. resident. You must have a business or trade in the United States or be planning to start one soon.

If you’re starting a state-registered business like a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation, wait until your business has been approved by the state before applying for your EIN. This will prevent you from having to apply for a different EIN or submitting a Notification of Business Name Change if the state rejects your LLC or corporation paperwork. 

Step 2: Obtain a physical mailing address in the United States

While you technically don’t need a physical address in the U.S. to get an EIN, having one will make it much easier to get a bank account in the U.S. 

Step 3: Complete the IRS Form SS-4

Complete Form SS-4, the application for an Employer Identification Number. You’ll need to provide information about your business, including the legal name and address, as well as your personal information.

Step 4: Submit the completed Form SS-4 to the IRS by fax or postal mail

Once you have completed the IRS Form SS-4, you can submit it to the IRS by fax or postal mail. You can find the appropriate mailing address and fax number on the IRS website. When submitting the form, be sure to include all the necessary information and double-check that everything is accurate. If there are any errors on the form, the processing time may be delayed or the application may be rejected altogether.

Step 5: Wait to receive your EIN number from the IRS, which typically takes 4 to 6 weeks

After submitting the completed Form SS-4, you’ll need to wait for the IRS to process your application and issue your EIN number. The processing time typically takes between four to six weeks, but it can take longer during peak application times. Once you’ve received your EIN number, be sure to keep it in a safe place because you’ll need it for tax purposes.

Step 6: Notify the IRS if there are changes to your business

Once you have obtained your EIN number, it’s important to keep the IRS updated on changes to your business. Specifically, this means changes to your business mailing address, business location, or the identity of your responsible party. Changes to your responsible party must be submitted within 60 days.

You can notify the IRS of these changes by submitting Form 8822-B, which is available on the IRS website. If your old business address was in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin, you will send the form to: Internal Revenue Service Cincinnati, OH 45999-002.

If your old business address was in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, or any place outside the United States, you will send the form to: Internal Revenue Service Ogden, UT 84201-0023.

By keeping the IRS informed of any changes, you help ensure that your business remains compliant and avoids any potential penalties or fines.

Alternative to Applying for an EIN Number

If you’re unable to apply for an EIN number or prefer not to, you could use a third-party service to obtain an EIN number on your behalf. This can eliminate much of the stress and worry involved in the process. 

We can help!

At ZenBusiness, we understand that obtaining an EIN number as a non-U.S. resident can be a complex and time-consuming process. That’s why we offer a range of services designed to help make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. From assisting with the completion of Form SS-4 to providing a registered agent in the United States, we’re here to assist you every step of the way. With our EIN service, you can obtain your EIN number quickly and efficiently, so you can focus on what really matters — building your business.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

EIN for Non-U.S. Residents FAQs

  • A foreign EIN is an Employer Identification Number that is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to non-U.S. entities or individuals who conduct business in the United States.

  • An EIN for a foreign applicant is a unique identification number that is assigned by a foreign government to businesses or individuals for tax purposes.

  • No, a foreign Tax Identification Number (TIN) is not the same as an EIN. A TIN is issued by a foreign government, whereas an EIN is issued by the IRS for businesses operating in the United States. The main difference between an EIN and an ITIN or TIN is that an EIN is used for business entities while an ITIN or TIN is used for individuals. A TIN is used to identify people who can be taxed within the United States.

  • Non-resident aliens can usually obtain an EIN number from the IRS if they need to conduct business in the United States. However, it will always be at the IRS’s discretion to assign anything to a foreign applicant, whether they have an ITIN or not. International applicants may call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 for help.

  • Immigrants can usually apply for an EIN if they need to conduct business in the United States.

  • Yes, though it’s still at the IRS’s discretion. The IRS’s Form SS-4 is misleading about what’s required to apply for an EIN. In section 7b of the form, you’re asked to provide an SSN, ITIN, or EIN, implying that you need one of these numbers to get an EIN. However, if you’re a non-U.S. resident and don’t have any of those tax identification numbers, you can simply write “Foreign” in this space. The IRS does not explain this on the form.

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