So, if you want to get paid by a U.S. company and you don’t want the U.S. government withholding 30% of it – then you need to fill out two forms:

  • W-8BEN (to declare to the U.S. why you shouldn’t be taxed at 30%)
  • SS-4 (to get an Employer Identification Number [EIN] which is used in your W-8BEN)
The EIN number is relatively easy to obtain. Simply fill out the SS-4 form here http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss4.pdf  (detailed instructions are here http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iss4.pdf).

You can then call the IRS on a special number for international applicants on 001 267 941 1099 and a little old lady will guide you through the form.  She will give you your EIN number there and then although the paperwork will take three weeks to arrive in the post.

For the W-8BEN form (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw8ben.pdf), here is a cheat sheet:

Part I

1. <Your Company Name>
2. United Kingdom
3. Tick “Corporation”
4 <Your Company Address>
5. Postal Address (if different from above)
6. Your EIN number (as obtained from the little old lady) and tick the “EIN” box
7. Optional (I ignored this)
8. Ignore

Part II

9a – Tick and enter “United Kingdom” in the space provided
9b – Tick
9c – Tick
Ignore the rest.

Part III

Ignore

Part IV

Sign, date (in U.S. format MM-DD-YYYY) and enter “Director” as capacity in which acting
That’s it. Write me a nice message if I saved you a shed load of time 🙂