In addition to obtaining an employer identification number (EIN) by fax, phone, or mail, IRS allows you to request the number online at the IRS website and have your request processed within minutes under an improved procedure. For most purposes, your EIN can be used immediately.

You can apply for the EIN using IRS's interactive web site. The site requests information and does automatic validity checks. If the information entered doesn't pass the validity checks, the application is rejected. If your application is rejected, you can correct the information and resubmit it. The requested information is tailored to the type of entity that you are establishing. Help screens are provided so that it is not necessary to print the instructions to Form SS-4 and look for answers during the application process.

When the application process is completed, you can view, print and save the confirmation notice, instead of having to wait for IRS to mail it to you. Other parties that you authorize can receive the EIN but cannot view, print or save the confirmation notice. IRS then mails the confirmation notice to you.

The online application process, however, is only available to domestic taxpayers.

The advantage of using the online process is the elimination of a time lag between applying for the EIN and receiving it from IRS, which can delay the first use of the EIN for business purposes.

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