What is a FinCEN Identifier?
A FinCEN Identifier, or FinCEN ID, is a unique identifying number that’s issued to certain companies or individuals by the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. It is issued on request and is designed to make updating or filing a Beneficial Owner Information Report (BOI) easier. Let’s take a closer look at FinCEN Identifiers and who can benefit from using one.
In this article, we'll cover:
FinCEN Beneficial Owner Rule and IDs
The Beneficial Owner Information Report is a filing requirement for (most) LLCs and corporations operating in the U.S. BOI reports help identify who controls and benefits from a company’s finances. A FinCEN Identifier is a unique identifying number which can be used on your BOI Report instead of your personal information. You’ll still have to submit your information to FinCEN at least once, though. The main benefit is that you won’t have to give out the same information repeatedly.
What are FinCEN IDs used for?
FinCEN Identifiers exist thanks to the Corporate Transparency Act, a federal law that goes into effect January 1, 2024. The law requires certain companies to submit beneficial ownership information in the form of a BOI Report. In some cases, they must submit company applicant information as well. For both beneficial owners and company applicants, the same four pieces of information are required:
- Legal name, date of birth, address
- A unique identifying number from one of the following: a non-expired driver’s license, a non-expired ID issued by a state, local government, or tribe, a non-expired U.S. passport, or, if none of the above or available, a non-expired foreign passport.
- The state or jurisdiction that issued the identifying document
- An image of the identifying document
Since you must submit the information electronically, you’ll first need to create an account on login.gov.
If an individual is submitting their own beneficial ownership or company applicant information, they can receive a FinCEN ID by submitting the above information at any time. If a company is filing the information on behalf of the company applicant or beneficial owner, then they can only receive a FinCEN ID after filing their initial BOI Report.
In either case, obtaining a FinCEN ID allows individuals or companies to provide their unique ID number when they need to update or correct information on the BOI Report. This keeps them from having to submit the same four pieces of information every time they need to update their BOI Report.
Why Get an ID for the FinCEN Report?
FinCEN IDs are not mandatory, but they can still be useful. There are two circumstances in particular where getting a FinCEN ID makes a lot of sense.
To Protect Your Privacy
If you want as few people as possible handling your personal data, a FinCEN ID could be the answer. This lets you submit your information directly to the government without anyone at your company seeing it first.
For instance, let’s say you’re a beneficial owner, and you need to submit your information for a BOI Report. The company asks you to provide your information to a company employee who is in charge of submitting the BOI Report, but since you’d prefer your information to go directly to the government, you decide to apply for a FinCEN ID. You can then give that ID number to your company, allowing them to submit the BOI Report without ever seeing your personal data.
Once your data is submitted, it will go into FinCEN’s internal system. The government says this database will be highly secure and only available to certain entities, including law enforcement agencies who obtain a court order.
While you may not have a choice about giving some information to the government, you do have a choice about how many people get access to that information when it’s submitted to the government.
Do LLCs have to report to FinCEN?
Yes. Under Corporate Transparency Act regulations, beneficial ownership information (BOI) reports must be filed by every entity that qualifies as a “reporting company”. The CTA defines LLCs as reporting companies. Any LLC formed in the USA will have to file a BOI report, unless it qualifies for an exemption. Exemption isn’t a free pass, either, as most businesses that qualify for one do so because they’re already required to file reports to comply with government regulations on their industry or business type.
To Save Time
Many beneficial owners are involved with multiple companies, so having a single number to reference is quicker than repeatedly gathering, verifying, and submitting the same pieces of information on FinCEN reports.
If you’re involved with 20 or 30 companies, you can submit the same FinCEN ID for all of those companies. The same is true if you’ve acted as a company applicant to dozens of reporting companies: a FinCEN ID keeps you from having to submit your personal information repeatedly. Instead, you can just use one number and be done with it.
Keep in mind that an individual’s FinCEN ID is distinct from a business’ FinCEN ID, even if that individual is a beneficial owner of the business. So a business that applies for and receives a FinCEN ID would generally only be able to use that ID for one BOI Report, whereas an individual who owns 20 LLCs can use their FinCEN ID for 20 different BOI Reports.
FinCEN Beneficial Ownership ID FAQs
Will there be a lot of people applying for FinCEN IDs?
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network doesn’t expect there to be. It estimates that about 1% of the companies required to file a BOI Report will apply for a FinCEN ID in 2024. FinCEN doesn’t give details about how it calculated that estimate, though FinCEN does say the number of expected applications is “relatively low” when compared to the expected benefits of having a FinCEN ID.
How long does it take to apply for a FinCED ID?
It should take about 20 minutes, according to government estimates. That breaks down to 10 minutes to read about the application process and 10 minutes to fill out the required information.
What if the information I used to apply for the FinCEN ID changes?
If something like your address changes, you’re required to update it by submitting a new application. Currently, you have 30 days from when your information changes to file a new application. The same rules also apply if you realize you put the wrong information your original FinCEN application. So if you move a lot or otherwise change your personal information often, applying for a FinCEN ID could be more trouble than it’s worth.
Where is my FinCEN ID information stored?
Your information will be stored in FinCEN’s BOI internal database. Only groups like law enforcement agencies and financial institutions will be able to access your information. It’s not going to be a public database that anyone can peruse.
When do I have to file my Beneficial Ownership Information Report?
Your due date depends on when your company was formed. If your business was formed or registered before January 1, 2024, your BOI Report is due by January 1, 2025. But if your business is formed in 2024, you have 90 days to file a BOI Report. These 90 days start once you receive notification from the relevant jurisdiction that your company has officially been formed. Businesses formed in or after 2025 will have 30 days to file their report.
*This is informational commentary, not advice. This information is intended strictly for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. This information is not intended to create, nor does your receipt, viewing, or use of it constitute, an attorney-client relationship. More information is available in our Terms of Service.