We’ve received a lot of questions from our non-U.S. customers lately about how to go about obtaining an EIN (employer identification number) if you are not a U.S. citizen and are outside the U.S. There are a few services out there that will do this for you, but at insane prices! We’ve broken this down for everyone as the process can be a little sticky at best, and a nightmare at worst! (Note: If you’re already in the U.S. you can get an EIN online in about 5 minutes through the IRS website.)
Why Do I Need an EIN?
An EIN is a tax identification number that the IRS (internal revenue service) uses to track and receive income taxes for businesses. There are two main reasons you will need an EIN as an Amazon seller. First, Amazon requires some sort of tax id when creating a professional sellers account in the United States. If you’re outside the U.S., you most likely won’t have a social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), so you will need to enter an EIN for your business. Second, in order to import goods into the United States you will either need a tax id (SSN, ITIN, or EIN), or you can file some complicated forms with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In our experience, it is much easier (and cheaper) to get an EIN in order to import, but we wanted to let you know there are other options.
How Do I Get an EIN?
Obtaining your EIN can be complicated, and there are many services out there that will do it for you, charging upwards of $500! Follow the steps below and save yourself some money!
Step 1: Get a U.S. Mailing Address
The first thing you’ll need is a mailing address in the U.S. If you’re an Amazon seller outside the U.S. you probably don’t have one of these. You can get a nice friend to loan you theirs, or pay a service to receive mail for you/your company. We researched a few of the biggest providers of U.S. mailing addresses and USAMail1 was our favorite. They had great user reviews, and very reasonable pricing at just $10 per month. They’ll hold your mail/packages for you, and forward them to you whenever you request.
Step 2: Fill Out IRS Form SS-4
The form you need to fill out to obtain an EIN is the SS-4. The form can be found on the IRS website, and the instructions can be found here. The caveat with this form is you won’t actually need to file it, so don’t stress too much about having everything perfect, you’ll just need the information when you call to get your EIN. (Note: You can fill out the SS-4 and mail it to the IRS. They will take 30 days to have an EIN created and mailed to your U.S. address, and if there are any errors on the form it will most likely get rejected. It is much easier to just call and get your EIN instantly.)
Step 3: Call the IRS
Once you have a U.S. address and form SS-4 filled out it’s time to call the IRS and get your EIN. This call WILL take close to an hour, including hold time, and the number is not toll-free, so be prepared. We recommend using a service like Google Voice or Skype for cheap international calling. The number to call is +1 267 941 1099. Keep in mind this is not a 24 hour phone line. The hours of operation are between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (GMT – 5:00), Monday through Friday.
You’ll need to press 1 for a foreign EIN, and then hold anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes (don’t run out of Skype credit!) When you finally get an agent on the phone let them know you need an EIN for a foreign sole proprietorship. The agent will most likely ask if you have filled out form SS-4, and then proceed to ask a few more simple questions about your business. Once you have answered all of the questions the agent will issue you an EIN that you can begin to use immediately. Write your EIN down and don’t lose it. You will not be mailed a copy for a few weeks, and even then it will be to your U.S. address.
Step 4: Use Liberally!
Now that you have an EIN go to town! You’ll be ready to set up your U.S. based Amazon seller account, import goods into the U.S. and lots of other great things. Now that you’re all set, click here to start an order with us!
Update: It has come to our attention that a US mailing address may no longer be required. Please speak to your IRS representative for more details.
Have a question? Contact our customer service agents at firstname.lastname@example.org.