Business registration is one of the many steps you can take to make your business known to the world. But many business owners have doubts about when, how and why they should register their venture.
Keep reading for an answer to the often-asked question, "Do I have to register my business?"
Business registration can refer to one of many actions taken to establish a business in a formal way. For example, it could mean registering a business name in the record of a government agency. It could also mean getting a permit to do business in a given town.
You can register a business with federal, state and/or local agencies. Each level offers different ways to register.
The answer to the question "Do I have to register my business?" depends on your business structure, location and industry.
Complex structures ask for more registration tasks in general. For example, sole proprietors may only need to file a "doing business as" (DBA) form, if that. Partnerships may need to get a DBA and an Employee ID Number (EIN). LLCs or corporations may have to take those steps and file articles of incorporation.
The steps you take to register at the state and/or local level also depend on the state where you run your business. For example, in Oklahoma, you don't need a business license just to do business there. But you do in Nevada.
Your specific industry may also call on you to get a trade-specific license to operate in a given locale. For example, architects need a special license to do business in the state of Alaska. Certain food businesses must register at the federal level with the USDA.
The best way to find out whether you have to register a business at the federal level is to check with the FTC. You can find out if your business needs an EIN with an IRS survey. At the state level or lower, check with your department of state or city or county registrar.
It is common to register a business as early as possible once you have a firm idea of your business concept. But the agency in charge of a registration task will often spell out a deadline for taking a step. For example, you would need to get a business license by day one if you're in a state where you need the license to do business.
In other cases, not taking one step may prevent you from taking another. For example, getting a business bank account may depend on getting a DBA form. In this case, you would need to get a DBA form before you open the business bank account.
Registering a business comes with many advantages:
Now that you know the answer to the question, "Do I have to register my business?" proceed to register it.
At the federal level, registering a business can involve doing or more of the following:
At the state and local level, registering a business can involve one doing or more of the following:
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