I am opening an international/offshore company in US and, as a non-US resident, I don't have a SSN. Can I still obtain an EIN?
Short answer: yes
Non-US citizens/residents can obtain EIN for free with the IRS. The only difference is that international applicants cannot obtain it online, mail or fax, but by phone.
Everything is detailed here: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/how-to-apply-for-an-ein
Applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a free service offered by the Internal Revenue Service. Beware of websites on the Internet that charge for this free service.
- Applying for an EIN is a free service from the IRS.
- There are 4 ways to apply: online, by fax, by mail, and by telephone (for international applicants).
- You’ll need to fill in the SS-4 form, but international applicants will do this by phone—you spell out the information, and the IRS staff will fill them into their computer for you.
- To apply for an EIN by telephone, you need to call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.
As soon as you provide all the required information, you’ll receive your EIN number immediately by phone and you can start using your EIN for your small business or self-employment requirements. The IRS will send you the docs about 2 to 4 weeks after you received the EIN number.
The four possible ways, whether for residents/citizens or not, are:
The Internet EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN. Once the application is completed, the information is validated during the online session, and an EIN is issued immediately. The online application process is available for all entities whose principal business, office or agency, or legal residence (in the case of an individual), is located in the United States or U.S. Territories. The principal officer, general partner, grantor, owner, trustor etc. must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (Social Security Number, Employer Identification Number, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) in order to use the online application.
Apply by Fax
Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 (PDF) application to the appropriate fax number (see Where to File Your Taxes (for Form SS-4)), after ensuring that the Form SS-4 contains all of the required information. If it is determined that the entity needs a new EIN, one will be assigned using the appropriate procedures for the entity type. If the taxpayer's fax number is provided, a fax will be sent back with the EIN within four (4) business days.
Apply by Mail
The processing timeframe for an EIN application received by mail is four weeks. Ensure that the Form SS-4 (PDF) contains all of the required information. If it is determined that the entity needs a new EIN, one will be assigned using the appropriate procedures for the entity type and mailed to the taxpayer. Find out where to mail Form SS-4 on the Where to File Your Taxes (for Form SS-4) page.
Apply by Telephone – International Applicants
International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN. The person making the call must be authorized to receive the EIN and answer questions concerning the Form SS-4 (PDF), Application for Employer Identification Number. Complete the Third Party Designee section only if you want to authorize the named individual to receive the entity’s EIN and answer questions about the completion of Form SS-4. The designee’s authority terminates at the time the EIN is assigned and released to the designee. You must complete the signature area for the authorization to be valid.