An employer identification number (EIN) is also referred to as a federal tax identification number. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues EINs to businesses for identification purposes. Businesses can apply for an EIN online or by phone, fax or mail. Companies are required to state their EIN on their tax returns and other tax-related documents. If you were issued an EIN but do not remember it, or if you did not receive it, you can retrieve it a number of ways.

Contact the IRS. If you applied for an EIN and the IRS approved your application, you should have received a notice indicating your EIN. If you do not have this document, you can retrieve your EIN by calling the IRS Business and Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933. The line is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in your local time zone.

Ask for your EIN from your bank or state agency. If you used your EIN to open a bank account or to apply for a state license, the related bank or state agency should have your EIN.

Use EDGAR to retrieve your EIN. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (EDGAR) system. The law requires all foreign and domestic firms to file registration and periodic reports through EDGAR. Companies must list their federal identification number when filing these documents. The EDGAR database is free to use, and anyone can access it online via the SEC’s website (see the link in Resources).

Check for your EIN on Melissa Data, a service that gathers demographics on companies for free public use. For instance, if you need statistics on the number of teachers at a specific school, you can find it using Melissa Data. This service is especially useful in finding EIN for nonprofit businesses. If your business is nonprofit and you need your EIN, use the “Free Lookups” option on the Melissa Data website (see Resources for a link).