Registering your business is a must if you want to make sure it is a distinct legal entity. However, there are many things that impact how to register your business including your location and how you wish to structure your business. Here we look at the things you should know when registering your business.
Do I Have to Register?
This is a good question as it really depends on the type of business you have. In the case of small businesses, for example, it is a simple process requiring you to register your name with your state and local government. However, if you are just a sole proprietorship operating as yourself, this isn’t necessary. You want to consider what your business offers and how at-risk you are for personal liability whether it is due to debt for your business or more serious litigation against your company. There could also be potential tax benefits for registering your business.
How Do I Protect My Trademarks?
Trademarking your business, brand or product name must be filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. First, you must form your business, then you can file for your trademark.
Do I Have to Register with State Agencies?
You only have to register with state agencies when you have an LLC, corporation, partnership, or nonprofit corporation. Sole proprietorships do not need to register with the state. However, it does not only apply to your own state location. You should register your business in any state where you:
- Have a physical presence such as a branch office
- See clients in the state often, or generate revenue in the state
- Have employees working in the state
You’ll have to check each state involved to find out their requirements. Also, the state where you form your business will be responsible for deciding if your business is considered “domestic” or “foreign” based on where you do the majority of your business.
What is Foreign Qualification?
If your business is qualified as foreign, it notifies the various states that a business from outside the state is active there. Unfortunately, this often means you’ll need to pay taxes and annual report fees not only in the state where you form your business but also where you’re foreign qualified. Because this varies from state to state it makes sense to check any states you intend to do business with to understand their foreign qualification requirements and any associated fees.
When Do I Need a Registered Agent?
If your business is the same as those listed above, you need a state-registered agent. They work on your behalf receiving your legal documents. You can opt to use a registered agent even as a sole proprietor, but it is not a requirement.
What Information Do I Need to Register?
It varies based on your location and type of business but usually includes:
- Business name
- Business location
- Ownership, management structure, or directors
- Registered agent information
- Number and value of shares (if you’re a corporation)
Here is what is required by business type:
- LLC: Articles of organization and operating agreement
- Limited partnership: Certificate of a limited partnership, limited partnership agreement
- Limited liability partnership: Certificate of limited liability partnership, limited liability partnership agreement
- Corporation: Articles of incorporation, bylaws, or resolutions
These tips can help you understand the business registration process and also help you make better decisions on how and where you operate. Register your business today.