I am a non resident of US. I'm setting up this online store where you can buy consumer products - targeted at US market. When I approached wholesale suppliers who don't have any affliate model they asked for EIN/ seller license.
Thanks in advance.
An EIN is an Employer Identification Number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is also called a Tax ID. See http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98350,00.html It is not a "Seller License" and I am not aware of a license required to sell. Some items are restricted from export and if one is importing/exporting there are documents required for such activity.
Each state has their own laws regarding business entities/structures. Separate from a business structure is a business license. Typically, you will establish the structure first (Corporation, LLC, Sole Proprietorship) then get the required licenses (state, county, local) - if any.
You will also need to get information about state sales tax, if any.
Your Delaware LLC needs to apply for a TIN. It's free and can be done online in seconds. That's it. That's all the IRS and your partners need to report the flow of money to the US government to make sure that everyone pays the taxes they owe.
To clarify the terminology and some background that a non-US person would not normally know:
TIN = Tax ID number
EIN = Employer ID number
SSN = Social Security Number
ITIN = Individual TIN
If you are not a corporation, you use your SSN as your identifier to the IRS.
So much for tax ID numbers :)
About sales permits: Wholesalers ask you for this because we have a sales tax structure. It is not a VAT (Value added tax). What that means is that if you buy merchandise for resale, you do not pay tax on it. You, as the final seller, pay zero sales tax on your mechandise, and you collect the full sales tax from whom you sell to (that does not have a reseller ID). So you have to pay sales tax based on your sales. This is different from a VAT structure where you pay sales tax at purchase time regardless of whether or not you will resell the merchandise.
The wholesaler that sells to you will report that they sold the goods to you and did not charge you sales tax, because you are a reseller. They need to report your reseller permit number to justify to the authorities why they did not charge you sales tax. This is why the number is necessary. In most states (if not all) you do not need to be a corporation (ie, have an EIN) to have a reseller ID number. You can be a sole proprietor (not have a corporate entity) and be a reseller at the same time.
Now, to make this even more complicated: There is no national sales tax here. The sales tax structure is set by your state. This means that you have a bunch of different sales tax rates and rules for collecting sales tax, depending on which state your company has a physical presence on. Almost. Some states have begun charging sales tax for any sales made to that state (regardless of where the seller is located). Or charging sales tax for sales of goods shipped out of state (which did not have to pay tax until recently.
It becomes a big mess.
Fortunately, this is stuff that many accountants (if not all) know. Instead of us making a bad effort to clarify things here, it would be a very good idea for you to get a hold of an accountant at your state and have the accountant tell you exactly what you need to know about sales taxes for your state. Even if we could give you an accurate picture of how to do it here, it would vary by state.
Anyone, please feel free to correct anything that I might have explained wrong here.
I believe your real issue is obtaining an EIN as a company that does not have an officer here in the U.S. with a social security number to which the EIN can be tied.
Please see "Foreign Company Alert: Obtaining an EIN may be your Biggest Challenge in the U.S.", which addresses precisely this issue.