How can a UK company obtain a US EIN?

How can a UK company obtain a US EIN?

Many UK companies believe, wrongly, that only a US business entity can obtain a US employer identification number (also known as an “EIN” or “FEIN”). Although there are many good reasons to form a US business entity, the need for a US EIN isn’t one of them. Getting a US EIN for a UK company is usually an easy process.

As an initial matter, why would a UK company need a US EIN? Perhaps, the UK company has US sourced income that requires it to file federal and/or state tax returns. Alternatively, the UK may need an EIN to register as the importer of record for importation of its own goods. Having an EIN may even be a requirement to sell via US online selling sites and marketplaces.

Whatever the motive, here are 4 easy steps to get an EIN for your UK company:

1. Identify the responsible party. The EIN application requires that you identify a “responsible party” for the UK company. The responsible party is the person or entity that controls, manages, or directs the foreign corporation and its disposition of funds and assets. An individual responsible party need not have a US tax identification number.

2. Prepare Form SS-4. Form SS-4 (“Application for Employer Identification Number”) is the official IRS form used to request an EIN. When asked in Section 7b for the “SSN, ITIN, or EIN” of the responsible party, simply write “ForeignUS” if the responsible party does not have a US tax identification number. In most cases, the type of entity in Section 9a will be “Corporation” and the form number to be filed will be “1120-F.” For most UK companies, the “reason for applying” in Section 10 will be “Other”, with the additional comment, “Commencement of Trade or Business Activities in the US.” Be sure to hand sign the application, rather than signing electronically.

3. Submit Form SS-4. You can submit the SS-4 by fax or post using the fax number or address in the instructions. Foreign corporations cannot submit Form SS-4 online. If submitting by fax, the cover letter should specify that you would like the EIN to be returned to you by fax.

4. Await EIN assignment. If you have submitted the SS-4 by fax and requested that a number be returned by fax, you should have a number within 5 to 7 business days. If you have submitted the SS-4 by post, your number should arrive by post within 5 weeks.

A foreign corporation with no place of business or office in the US can also request an EIN by phone, by calling +1-267-941-1099. Be aware, however, that wait times when calling the IRS can last hours. Thus, unless you have an immediately need for an EIN, applying by fax or post may be the better course.