Written by: Kristi Sellers, Trade Regulations Branch, International Trade Management Division
Exporting goods from the United States to a foreign country may require having Electronic Export Information (EEI) in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). If filing is required for your shipment, an Employer Identification Number (EIN) issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is needed prior to exporting.
What is an EIN?
An EIN is a nine-digit numerical code typically used by the IRS to identify a business entity. EINs are also used by individuals exporting goods from the United States when applying for an ACE exporter account. Individuals exporting from the United States must have an EIN even if they do not own a business. Whether you are exporting on behalf of a U.S. company or simply shipping a personal vehicle or gift to a family member, the requirement to obtain an EIN remains the same.
Why do you need an EIN?
The Office of Management and Budget mandated the U.S. Census Bureau eliminate the collection of the Social Security Number (SSN) for EEI filing purposes. This rule was implemented to ensure that a U. S. citizen’s or resident’s SSN is protected in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, Title 5, United States Code, Section 552a. The Census Bureau complied with this federal law by eliminating the use of the SSN as of December 3, 2009.
How do you obtain an EIN?
An individual can apply for an EIN by phone, fax, mail and online. The approximate timeframes for receiving an EIN are as follows:
- Online or by telephone: Approximately 15 minutes.
- Fax: Four business days.
- Mail: Four weeks.
To access step-by-step instructions to apply for an EIN, go to www.census.gov/foreign-trade/regulations/trb_obtaining_an_ein.pdf.
To apply for an EIN online, go to www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online.
For additional information on applying for an EIN, go to <www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/online-ein-frequently-asked-questions.
For questions about obtaining an EIN, please contact the EIN Help Line at 1-800-829-4933.