Why do some overseas suppliers request my social security number, EIN, importer or IRS number?

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If you import goods into the US, you may have received an e-mail from a supplier asking for you to provide your SSN, EIN, importer or IRS number.

Before I answer the question, let’s go back to the beginning of the import process. Any goods entering the US from overseas will be considered an importation. All importations must be “cleared” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

As the importer in the US, CBP considers you (whether individually, or your company) as the ultimate importer. You as the ultimate importer can clear the goods or have a Customs Broker (Broker) clear them for you.

Formal entry of goods requires the Broker to write down your identification number on CBP Form 7501 (Entry Summary). This identification number is either your EIN/tax identification number or a number assigned by the IRS or your social security number.

On the other hand, goods can also be cleared informally (usually less than $2,500 in value) and not in “commercial quantities”.

As most foreign suppliers are now aware that CBP requires an ID number, they will often ask for you (the purchaser’s) SSN to include on the export documents.

If you have any import questions, feel free to give us a call, 832.896.6288 or email us at dhsu@givensjohnston.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.