When do Foreign Corporations need to file IRS Form SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN)?

U.S. Federal Law

Foreign Persons & IRS Employer Identification Numbers (EIN)

Foreign entities that are:
1️⃣ Not individuals (i.e., Foreign Corporations, etc.); and
2️⃣ That are required to have a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) in order to claim an exemption from withholding because of a tax treaty (claimed on Form W-8BEN-E) ...
Need to submit Form SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number to the Internal Revenue Service in order to apply for such an EIN.

Special Instructions for Foreign Entities (Seeking Tax Treaty Exemption) ➲ No Requirement to File a U.S. Income Tax Return

Those foreign entities filing Form SS-4 for the purpose of obtaining an EIN in order to claim a tax treaty exemption and which otherwise have no requirements to file a U.S. income tax return, employment tax return, or excise tax return, should comply with these "Special Instructions" when filling out Form SS-4.
When completing line 7b of Form SS-4, the applicant should write "N/A" in the block asking for an SSN or ITIN, unless the applicant already has an SSN or ITIN.
When answering question 10 on Form SS-4, the applicant should check the "other" block and write or type in immediately after it one of the following phrases as most appropriate:
"For W-8BEN Purposes Only"
"For Tax Treaty Purposes Only"
"Required under Reg. 1.1441-1(e)(4)(viii)"
"897(i) Election"
If questions 11 through 17 on Form SS-4 do not apply to the applicant because they have no U.S. tax return filing requirement, such questions should be annotated "N/A".
A foreign entity that completes Form SS-4 in the manner described above should be entered into IRS records as not having a filing requirement for any U.S. tax returns.

Immediate Response to the IRS Required ➲ No Requirement to File a U.S. Income Tax Return

However, if the foreign entity receives a letter from the IRS soliciting the filing of a U.S. tax return.
The foreign entity should respond to the letter immediately by stating that it has no requirement to file any U.S. tax returns.
Failure to respond to the IRS letter may result in a procedural assessment of tax by the IRS against the foreign entity.
If the foreign entity later becomes liable to file a U.S. tax return, the foreign entity should not apply for a new EIN, but should instead use the EIN it was first issued on all U.S. tax returns filed thereafter.

International EIN Applicants

If you have no principal place of business, office or agency, or legal residence in the United States or U.S. Territories, you're considered an international applicant.

This is a free service offered by the Internal Revenue Service and you can get your EIN immediately.

You can only apply for an EIN as follows:

By Telephone - If you're an international applicant, you may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number), 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, to obtain an EIN.

You MUST be authorized to receive the EIN and answer questions concerning the Form SS-4.

When applying by telephone, it's helpful to complete the Form SS-4 before contacting the IRS.

An IRS representative will use the information from the Form SS-4 to establish your account and assign you an EIN.

By Fax or Mail - You can apply by fax or mail as indicated above.

References/Related Topics

Source: IRS ➲ Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN)

Further Reading:

Do you need an EIN?

How to Apply for an EIN

9 Benefits of Getting an EIN (Even If YOU Don't Have To)

Employer Identification Number ➲ Understanding Your EIN

Do you need a New EIN?

How to complete the W-8BEN-E Form for Australian Companies


This FAQ was created by James D. Ford Esq., GAICD CIPP/US CC | Attorney-at-Law, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

State of California Bar Number: 346590