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The IRS uses Social Security numbers to identify individuals’ earnings records. An EIN is the corporate equivalent of a Social Security number (SSN). Small businesses and large companies have Employer Identification Numbers. Knowing this 9-digit number can help you get business financing, get business licenses, build credit for your business, and access additional resources.

Business owners will need an EIN to open several accounts. It serves as your company’s tax identification number. It’s a good idea to keep your EIN somewhere you can readily find it. As you fill out your company’s EIN more often, you may be able to memorize it. However, if you don’t know your 9-digit number and can’t find it, you can access your EIN online for free. This guide will show you how to find and set up an EIN for your business entity.  

Do I need an EIN number?

You don’t need an EIN when you are starting as a sole proprietor. However, your company may need an EIN as it grows. Not having an EIN number can also restrict your opportunities as a business owner. While it’s optional in some cases to have an EIN, these are some of the scenarios when you are required to have one:

  • Your company hires part-time or full-time employees
  • Your business is a partnership or corporation
  • The IRS requires an EIN for some business industries
  • You have a Keough plan
  • You withhold taxes on non-wage income paid to non-resident aliens

If you don’t have one already, you can apply for an EIN online. The IRS offers a straightforward process for online applications. You can also call the IRS, send a fax, or put your application in the mail to apply for a new EIN.

Benefits of an EIN number

Having an EIN offers several advantages for business owners. You can access more resources and safeguard your finances. These are some of the highlights:

  • Business financing: An EIN allows you to get business financing instead of relying on personal loans and lines of credit.
  • Build business credit: Building business credit will help you qualify for better rates and terms when you need to borrow money. Your company must have an EIN number to establish business credit.
  • Hire employees: You're required to have an EIN for your business before hiring part-time or full-time employees. It’s possible to hire freelancers before getting an EIN.
  • Reduce the risk of identity theft: If you don't have an EIN, you'll have to provide your Social Security Number for business-related activities. Using your Social Security Number too often can lead to more identity theft. An EIN eliminates this issue and can make your business more secure.
  • Open a business bank account: Banks will request your EIN before letting you open a business bank account. This account can help you distinguish personal expenses from business expenses. A business bank account can also increase your chances of getting approved for a loan.
  • Separation of personal and business finances: Using a business tax ID number lets you separate your personal assets from your business assets. EIN-only business credit cards allow you to avoid using your Social Security Number, eliminating the need for a personal guarantee or any impact on your personal credit score.
  • Make the tax season less complex: Keeping personal and business information separate can make the tax season more straightforward. 

How do I find my EIN number?

If you forget your company’s federal tax ID number, there are a few ways you can find it. The first choice for online applicants is to review your EIN confirmation notice. Business owners receive this notice upon getting approved and can look for it in their inboxes. You can also print this document and store it in a safe location so you don’t have to worry about losing it.

However, a business owner can lose that email if their messages get deleted. It’s also possible that the EIN confirmation email was sent to an email address that you can no longer access. 

You have a few backups if you've done business while using your employer identification number. Any business tax returns, licenses, loan applications, and business bank account statements will include your EIN. Business owners who receive 1099 forms from their clients can also look for their EINs on those forms.

As a last resort, you can call the IRS during the weekday at any time from 7am to 7pm to get your EIN. You can call the agency’s specialty tax line toll-free at 1 (800) 829-1040. You'll have to confirm your identity and prove that you have a corporate partnership or entity in place. 

What happens if I lose or misplace my EIN?

If you lose your EIN, you can come across your company’s 9-digit number through any of the methods discussed earlier. It’s important to know your number so you can open business bank accounts, get additional financing, and access additional perks.

Are EIN numbers public?
EIN numbers aren't listed in a public database. The IRS has EINs in its private database, and you can call a representative to confirm your number. The IRS keeps these numbers private for security purposes.

How to find another company’s EIN number

Although the IRS website doesn’t have a public database that lists every EIN number, it’s still possible to discover another company’s 9-digit number. These are some of the strategies you can use.

Review databases when applicable

You won’t find the EINs of small businesses, but it is possible to find EINs for publicly traded corporations and non-profit organizations. The Security and Exchange Commission database allows people to locate the EIN of any corporation that trades on a stock exchange. The IRS has a useful tax-exempt organization search that lets you find the EIN of a tax-exempt business.

Call the company

You can call a business and inquire about their EIN. This approach works best if you have a working relationship with the company. A representative may decline to offer the company’s EIN. They aren't required to provide the 9-digit number.

Online research

Local, state, and federal websites have information on many employers. It’s possible to come across a company’s EIN if you do enough research. You can also request a business credit report and see if it contains the EIN number.

How to find an employer’s EIN number

Workers don’t have to jump through many hoops to find their employer’s EIN number. This number will show up in Box B of your W-2 form. Look for a nine-digit number with a dash separating the second and third numbers. 

If you have not yet received a W-2 form from your employer or can’t find a copy of a form that you previously submitted, you can reach out to your company’s accountant. No one is obligated to provide the EIN, but you’re more likely to receive it since you work for the company.

Employer Identification Number vs. Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)

An employer identification number helps the IRS identify a company. However, a taxpayer identification number is for an individual. You can only use an EIN for company-related taxes and purposes. A TIN is always used for individual purposes. Some business owners who operate sole proprietorships may be able to use a TIN when filing taxes for business income and expenses. 

Using an EIN for business activity and a TIN exclusively for individual activity can streamline your taxes. You can technically use a TIN for business activities, but you can lose some of your privacy. Using a TIN for business activities also ties up your personal assets to the outcome of a potential business lawsuit. An EIN can separate your personal assets from your business assets.

Closing an EIN number

Business owners must send a letter to the IRS stating why they want to close their EIN. The letter should contain the following information:

  • Your company’s legal name
  • The EIN number
  • The business address
  • Why you want to close your account

Business owners should also include a copy of the EIN Assignment Notice in the letter if they have it. You can send your letter to one of the following addresses:

Internal Revenue Service
MS 6055
Kansas City, MO 64108


Internal Revenue Service
MS 6273
Ogden, UT 84201

Get a Ramp corporate card with just your EIN number

An EIN number lets you access more financial products that can give your business a competitive edge. Unfortunately, some companies offering financial products will want both your EIN and your Social Security Number when you apply. 

Ramp offers corporate cards even if you only want to provide your EIN number. Your Social Security Number isn’t required, and that’s where the perks begin.

The Ramp Corporate Card has built-in expense management tools and auto-generated reports. You can limit how much each team member spends with corporate cards and stay on top of your business expenses from one platform. 

Ramp lets you issue unlimited charge cards and allows you to get up to 20 times higher credit limits than traditional business credit cards. You’ll also earn 1.5% cash back on purchases and can access up to $175,000 in partner perks.

Try Ramp for free
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CPFC, Contributor Finance Writer
Marc Guberti is a certified personal finance counselor and a freelance writer. His work has been featured in US News & World Report, Newsweek, Fox Business, and other publications.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.


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