How to Get an EIN for an LLC in California - How to Start my LLC

How to Get an EIN for an LLC in California

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Carolyn Young has over 25 years of experience in business in various roles, including bank management, marketing management, and business education.

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For over 15 years, Sarah Ruddle has been a noteworthy leader in the business and nonprofit world.

How to Get an EIN for an LLC in California

How to Get an EIN for an LLC in California

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses your business’s employer identification number (EIN) to identify your company, much the way a Social Security number is used to identify individuals. 

When you form a limited liability company (LLC) in California, you’ll usually need an EIN, mainly used for tax filing purposes. 

Do I Need an EIN?

If your LLC has more than one member or if you are going to hire employees, you’ll need an EIN. But these aren’t the only factors. The IRS offers a test to determine if you need an EIN:

  • Do you have employees?
  • Do you operate your business as a corporation or a partnership?
  • Do you file any of these tax returns: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms?
  • Do you withhold taxes on income, other than wages, paid to a non-resident alien?
  • Do you have a Keogh plan?
  • Are you involved with any of the following types of organizations?
    • Trusts, except certain grantor-owned revocable trusts, IRAs, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Returns
    • Estates
    • Real estate mortgage investment conduits
    • Non-profit organizations
    • Farmers’ cooperatives
    • Plan administrators

If you answer yes to these questions, your business needs an EIN.

Benefits of Having an EIN

Advantages of having an EIN

There are several reasons to get an EIN, even if you’re not required to have one.

Opening a business bank account is often required, commonly creating a separation between your business and personal finances because your business will be identified by creditors and the IRS by your EIN instead of your social security number. 

Also, it helps establish business credit, which will boost your access to financing. And, if you do end up hiring employees in the future, you’ll already have your EIN and be ready to go. 

What Do I Need to Get an EIN in California?

According to the IRS:

All EIN applications (mail, fax, electronic) must disclose the name and Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, or EIN) of the true principal officer, general partner, grantor, owner, or trustor. This individual or entity, which the IRS will call the ‘responsible party,’ controls, manages or directs the applicant entity and the disposition of its funds and assets. Unless the applicant is a government entity, the responsible party must be an individual (i.e., a natural person), not an entity.

When you fill out the application, you’ll need the following:

  • DBA name, if you have one
  • Name, title, and Social Security number of managing member or owner
  • Business address
  • State in which your business is registered
  • Reason for applying
  • Main business activity
  • Products/services offered 
  • Closing month of your accounting year
  • Contact phone number and email

How to Apply for an EIN in California

The application is Form SS-4, and you can submit it via the IRS website. Alternatively, you can print the form and fax or mail it. If you apply online, your EIN will be issued immediately. 

There is no cost to obtain an EIN, which never expires.

Register for California Taxes

You also may need to register for business taxes in California. 

If you have employees, you’ll need to register for a payroll tax account on the Employment Development Department website. This will register you withholding employment taxes, including state unemployment taxes.

If you sell goods or services subject to sales tax, you’ll need to register with the Department of Tax and Fee Administration

Your local government may also require tax registrations.


How much is the fee for applying for an EIN for my LLC in California?

The IRS provides EINs for free. There are no charges when you apply for an EIN for your LLC, irrespective of the state.

After submitting my application, how long will it take to receive my EIN in California?

Online applications generally provide an immediate EIN upon successful completion. If you choose to fax your application, expect a four-business-day wait. Mailed applications might take 4-5 weeks.

Can I simply use my Social Security Number (SSN) instead of obtaining an EIN for my California LLC?

Though sole proprietors sometimes use their SSN, it’s advisable for LLCs to have a separate EIN. This helps in maintaining privacy and meeting specific business operation requirements.

Do I need to renew my EIN in California periodically?

No, once your LLC is assigned an EIN, it remains with the business indefinitely. However, major changes in the LLC’s structure or ownership might necessitate a new EIN.

Can non-U.S. citizens apply for an EIN for their LLC established in California?

Yes, non-U.S. residents can obtain an EIN for their LLC in California. If they don’t possess an SSN or ITIN, they might need to apply using fax or mail.

Are there any EIN application requirements specific to California?

While the EIN application process is consistent federally, once you have your EIN, you should be aware of any state-specific regulations or obligations for businesses in California.