If you’re planning to start a business, knowing how to register your company is important. The process varies based on your location and business structure.
Typically, the first step is to register a legal name with your state. You should also select a registered agent who will receive official documents and legal notices on behalf of the company.
Determine Your Business Structure
The structure you choose for your small business has a major impact on how taxes are filed and how personal assets are protected. It will also affect the company hierarchy, how you raise funds, and much more. Your decision at this stage will have repercussions for years to come.
You’ll need to know your business structure before you register your business, as different structures have different legal requirements. For example, you could need to submit a fake name registration with your state to reserve your name, or an LLC would need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS as well as a registered agent who will be in charge of receiving legal papers and filings from the state.
Some firms, such as sole proprietorships that do business under a trade name or a DBA (Doing Business As), may be registered higher than the state level. However, you should contact them to learn more about the laws in your state. You must register federally and receive an EIN if you hire staff or collect sales tax.
Gather the Required Documents
The next step is gathering the necessary documents after determining your business structure and selecting a name. The paperwork you need varies by state and the type of business. For example, a sole proprietorship can get away with very little registration, but corporations and LLCs must register to operate legally.
Some businesses must also register for federal taxes and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is especially important for companies hiring employees or collecting sales tax. Additionally, if you intend to apply for government contracts, be sure your company is registered as a recognized entity with the government.
Finally, some business owners may want to trademark their company or brand name to prevent others from using it. This process is done through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Fill Out the Forms
Your business structure impacts how you register, which forms you must fill out, and the fees you may be required to pay. Some types of businesses need licenses or permits, and other specific governmental agencies require registration for certain industries, such as financial investment advisors or medical practices.
For instance, you must file the articles of organization if you choose to create an LLC. The company’s name, location, members, and important executives will contain this. Additionally, it usually names a registered agent who will take legal notices on the company’s behalf.
Along with submitting a tax ID number, you may also need to pay taxes and registration costs for your firm and obtain any appropriate licenses or permits. This procedure is crucial since it lets you steer clear of prospective issues. After completing these steps, you may immediately position your company for success.
Secure a Legal Address
You must register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service to hire employees. Typically, you’ll need to file an application and pay a fee.
In addition, you’ll need to secure a legal business address to receive important documents from local and state government agencies. You must also provide a legal address when opening bank accounts and applying for loans. Using your home address as your business address may expose you to privacy and security concerns.
Once you have a legal name for your business, consider registering a trade name or doing-business-as (DBA) name. This will help protect your business and brand from copyright or ownership issues. Be sure to choose a name that’s unique and available for a web domain. The state of New York has a free tool you can use to check for availability. You’ll also want to ensure your company name isn’t already registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Apply for Permits or Licenses
You may need to apply for certain permits or licenses depending on your business structure and location. This step is also called “registering” a business, but that term can mean different things depending on where you’re located and how you’ve chosen to organize your company.
For instance, if you’re operating as a sole proprietorship, there may not be any registration requirements at all—you can operate under your legal name and use your social security number for tax filings. But suppose you have a partnership or corporation or have chosen to be taxed as an S corporation. In that case, you must register your business and obtain an EIN (employer identification number).
In addition, many professions require you to be licensed to work legally. You’ll need to check with your state or local government’s Department of Taxation and Finance or an online resource, like the Small Business Administration’s permit and license index, to determine what requirements apply to your type of business. These permits or licenses are often valid for a specific period and must be renewed regularly.