To conduct business in any state, region or locality, a form of business registration is required. Time frames for registration can vary according to the nature of the business, the size of the business, internal structure and licensing procedures.
In every state, the Department of Corporations handles all business legal filings regarding structure and business reporting.
Types of Business Registrations
First, register the legal structure of your business. This structure explains the form of your business for state and federal tax reporting purposes. Depending on the type of structure chosen, the process of finalizing and obtaining registered status varies from one day to six months.
Second, register your business to obtain licenses required to operate your business. The business license is a component of registering your entire business. Depending on your industry or profession, registering for a business license can range from one day to six months. Some license filings are investigated by the applicable local or state departments before being approved for usage.
In most cases, the type of business venture also dictates the time frames for registration and obtaining clearance to operate.
Classification of Registered Business Structures
By law, several legal business types can be registered, many of which have different time frames for processing the paperwork needed to establish the business with local, state and federal government agencies.
The types of businesses required to register in most states are limited liability partnerships (LLP), limited liability companies (LLC), corporations (S and C classifications), nonprofit corporations and sole proprietorships. The registration time for most of these business structures can be from one day to three months. According to the Internal Revenue Service, when applying for a Federal nonprofit designation, the application process can take anywhere from three months to one year.
Registering Sole Proprietorships
In most cases, there is no specific time frame for registering a sole proprietorship. The Small Business Administration defines a sole proprietorship as a business whose entire ownership lies with a single owner.
There is no corporate structure in a sole proprietorship. Many states don’t require sole proprietorships to file legal registrations with their applicable state. However, a sole proprietorship must apply for the appropriate business license to operate, which could take from one day to two weeks.
Online Registration of Businesses
Many states and municipalities offer "e-filing," or online filing services, to register your business and apply for business licenses. You can file with the department in your state that handles business registrations. Once the computer accepts your form and paperwork, you automatically are filed with the state or local jurisdiction that you live in. At most websites, the filing time is estimated at 10 minutes.
Certain complex business registrations cannot be filed online. These registrations can be walked through at the applicable government business office or mailed or faxed through, and can take from 30 to 90 days to be registered.
In many states, it is mandatory to register a home business; the process is similar to registering any other business structure. Home businesses must also obtain an operational license and follow laws pertaining to city zoning codes, parking and emergency access. Complying with these requirements could make the registration process longer.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Lee Chisholm