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Q: What New Hire Paperwork Do I Need?

When you’ve hired a new employee, they need to fill out some paperwork in order for you to onboard them and run payroll. Below are the main pieces of new hire paperwork that they—and you—need to fill out.

Some forms you’ll simply stash away, while others you’ll mail off to the government, insurance carriers, or other entities.

What forms do new employees need to fill out?

Form I-9

Each employee needs to fill out Form I-9 and provide a valid form of ID (you can also check what’s valid via the instructions on the form) to verify their identity and that they’re legally authorized to work in the United States.

You don’t need to submit the form, but you must keep it on file (a digital copy works just fine) for the entirety of the employee’s employment, plus a minimum of either three years from their hire date or one year from their last day—whichever is longer.

You can also choose to verify the employee’s work status online using the IRS’s E-Verify tool.

Form W-4

New hires need to complete this form to calculate their tax withholding. And you (or your payroll system) will need to know the employee’s number of withholding allowances to calculate their income tax correctly.

Similar to the I-9, this form doesn’t need to be mailed anywhere, but each company is legally required to keep every employee’s W-4 on file for a minimum of four years.

Do your employees need guidance on filling it out? Check out our W-4 how-to. (Note: You cannot fill out the form on your employee’s behalf. And some employees may be exempt from withholding.)

Your state’s W-4 equivalent

Does your state have income tax? Then your employee may need to fill out your state’s W-4 equivalent so that you, the employer, know how much to withhold from their paycheck and remit those taxes to the right state agencies.

Check your state’s labor department website or the list of state W-4s here to find the form your team should fill out.

Any benefits enrollment forms

If you provide benefits such as group medical insurance, 401(k) retirement plans, or gym stipends, be sure to enroll the new employee with your benefit provider.

New employees will have to give you details about the family members they’d like covered, any beneficiaries they have, along with their decision on which plan they want.

What should employees bring on their first day?

Here’s what you should ask new employees to bring on day one so they can breeze through all the paperwork we just mentioned.


Make sure they bring a valid form of ID in on day one. What counts as valid? Some examples include:

  • A driver’s license and Social Security card

  • A passport

Essential info

Regardless of how you choose to onboard, you’ll need some essential details from your employee. You may want to create a single internal onboarding form that collects all of these nuggets so you have them handy in case you need them:

  • Emergency contact details

  • Routing numbers for direct deposit

  • Home address

  • Etc.

What do employers need to do?

File a new hire report

Each state has a department to report your new hires. You typically have 20 days to submit a new hire report with your new employee’s info, like their name, address, and social security number, to your designated state agency.

This report is used to figure out if people owe child support to the state. You’ll have anywhere from a few months to a couple of days to send off the information, so be sure you know your local laws so you can get it in on time.

Check your local state tax, labor, and workforce website for more information. In California, for example, an employee has to file a DE-34.

What forms do new contractors need to fill out?

If your new hire is a contractor, the paperwork will look different. Not sure if your new hire is an employee or contractor? Follow this guide to figure out your worker’s classification.

Form W-9

Form W-9 is used to make sure your contractor is exactly who they say they are. It captures their name, address, business entity, and most importantly, their Taxpayer Identification Number.

Once you receive it, double check that they excused themselves from withholding taxes. That’s because they should file taxes on their own since they’re self-employed. After you verify the form, keep it somewhere safe for at least four years.

Where should I keep this paperwork?

Good question! It’s best to keep all this information and paperwork in an employee file that’s confidential and secure. If you use a payroll and HR service like PayNortheast, you can distribute, fill out, and store these documents digitally in a safe place.

Check your state’s labor website to see if there are any extras you need to add to your list. Use this article as your starting base, and you’ll be in tip-top form with all the forms you need to handle.

This article is not intended to be used as legal advice.

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