An employer identification number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit identifier that's issued by the IRS. It's also known as a federal tax identification number or a business tax ID number. There are a number of ways to determine a business's (EIN).
All businesses are eligible to apply for an EIN and even small businesses, such as sole proprietors, will often obtain an EIN. This is because an EIN is typically required for non-tax-related business tasks, such as opening a bank account or applying for a license or permit.
Reasons Why You Might Need to Find a Company's EIN
While you should always know your own business tax ID number, or EIN, there are also a variety of legitimate reasons why you might need to know the EIN of another company. These include the following:
- Unemployment benefits. Many states require the EIN of your former employer when you apply for unemployment benefits.
- Vendor information. If you're looking into using a new vendor and they've given you their business information, you may need their EIN in order to make sure the information you've been given is valid.
- Client information. You may need to know the EIN of new business clients in order to verify the information they've given you.
- Daily business operations. Some industries, such as insurance, may require the EINs of different companies as part of their day-to-day operations.
Keep in mind, though, that a company's EIN is much like an individual's social security number. Therefore, you should only look for a company's EIN if you have a valid reason for doing so.
Finding Your Own Business's EIN
If you've lost or misplaced your EIN, there are a number of ways you can locate it:
- EIN confirmation letter. When your business first applied for an EIN, the IRS would have sent you an EIN confirmation letter. Your EIN will be located in that letter.
- Business and tax filings. Check for your EIN on copies of any previous business or tax filings you've made. For example, if you applied for a state business license, you may have been required to provide your EIN.
- Ask your bank. If you opened up a business bank account or obtained a business loan from your bank, chances are they will have your EIN on file.
- Contact the IRS. You can call the IRS's Business & Specialty Tax Line and ask them to search for your EIN. You will have to provide identifying information, as the IRS will only provide a company's EIN to persons who are authorized to receive the information.
If the company you need the EIN for is a publicly traded company, you will be able to obtain its EIN through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR database. Input the company name into the Company and Person Lookup search field, and check its latest Form 10-Q or Form 10-K filing for the company's EIN.
You can locate the EIN of a nonprofit or charitable organization through a database like Guidestar. If the nonprofit is registered as a tax-exempt organization with the IRS, you can also search for it on the IRS's tax-exempt organization search page.
Finding the EIN for a private company can be more challenging, as there are no free one-stop databases that aggregate this kind of information. The following are the best ways to find the EIN for a private company:
- Check your Form W-2. If you are an employee of the company, you will receive a W-2 form every year from them. The company's EIN will be on this form.
- Search government filings. If the company has made any state filings—for example, license or permit applications—you may be able to find their EIN on your state's searchable business databases.
- Contact the company. As long as you have a legitimate reason for obtaining a company's EIN, you can always try calling them directly for the information. The company's accounting department is often the best place to learn a company's EIN.
Other Ways to Determine a Business's EIN
In addition to the free methods listed above, there are other, fee-based ways to find a business's EIN:
- Purchase a business credit report. You can buy a business's credit report from a credit report company. The company's EIN should be included in the information in the credit report.
- Use a paid legal database. Legal search companies maintain databases of companies that typically include companies' contact and tax information.
- Search a fee-based EIN database. There are a number of paid EIN search databases you can use to obtain a company's EIN information, for a fee.
Depending on whether the company whose EIN you're looking for is a publicly traded company, a nonprofit company, or a private company, there are a number of ways to determine its EIN. As long as you have a legitimate reason for obtaining this information, the process is usually not difficult and may involve nothing more than picking up the phone and contacting the company directly.
This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.