When Shipping a Container from the USA to Australia, You Will Need to Get an EIN

All US citizens are required to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Here is a link to a search I did on the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website that explains in detail why and what you need to know.

Note: This is for US citizens either importing or exporting. At the time I’m writing this, “foreign passport numbers or any other number assigned by CBP can only be used if the foreign individual was physically in the U.S. at the time the goods were purchased or obtained for export” US Customs and Border Protection.

The international shipping company should inform you of but just to cover all the basics, I’m going to set you up with how to get your EIN and why it’s needed.

Back in 2008, when we moved to Sydney, we did not need an EIN. At that time my husband’s social security number was used for identification of our shipment. Now that is no longer acceptable.

You need an EIN when filing the Electronic Export Information (EEI) in the Automated Export System (AES). EEI filing is a requirement for every shipment exported from the US. If the EEI is not correctly filled out, US Customs and Border Protection can refuse to export your shipment.

Don’t worry, getting an EIN is simple. The movers may offer to do it for you if you are comfortable giving them your social security number. If not, then do it yourself and send them your EIN.

It takes about 10 minutes max to do online. It will probably take you longer to read through the steps than to fill out the application.

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16 steps to getting your EIN.

1. Go to “Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online.” The hours of operation are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time. The Online EIN Assistant is not available outside the hours of operation.

2. Click on the blue “Apply Online” button. It will redirect you to the EIN Assistant site and a warning will popup telling you that you are being monitored.

3. Click “Continue” in the popup window. It’s really the only choice you have. If you do not want to continue with the online EIN application, you can apply by mail or phone.

4. Read through the info on the EIN Assistant page before clicking “Begin Application.”

5. You will be taken to a webpage titled “What type of legal structure is applying for an EIN?” Select sole proprietor.

6. On the next page, you will need to let the IRS know if you are a Sole Proprietor or a Household Employer. Select sole proprietor.

7. You need to confirm your selection. Click continue.

8. Once you have confirmed your selection, you will need to choose a reason for applying for an EIN. Any of the reasons listed can be selected so we’ll just go with the first “Started a New Business.”

9. Fill out the form with your name and social security number. Below the form select “I am a sole proprietor” and click continue.

10. On the next page, leave the field for Trade Name blank and enter the United States as the country. Then select your State and enter today’s date as “Sole Proprietor Start Date.” Click continue.

11. Answer no to the five questions on the next page and click continue.

12. For “What does your business or organization do” select “Other.” Click continue.

13. For your business’ activity, select “Other” and enter “Relocation.” Click continue.

14. Next, select “Receive Letter Online” and click continue.

15. Review your info and print up a copy of the letter for your records. Click continue.

16. The following page will have your EIN. Print your confirmation letter and save this for your records.

Congratulations, you are now ready to ship your household to Australia. Be sure to let your movers know what your number is and email them a copy of the confirmation letter.

Here are a few pdf you might want to read through if you need more info on why you need an EIN and the specific regulations behind it.