How to Register a Sole Proprietorship in Pennsylvania

by Christopher Carter; Updated September 26, 2017

A Pennsylvania sole proprietorship appears as an unincorporated business owned by a single person, or a husband and wife. According to the Pennsylvania Open for Business website, a sole proprietorship appears as the simplest way to organize a business, and provides the owner with complete control over business decisions. Pennsylvania sole proprietors don't have to file documents with the state to begin operations. However, Pennsylvania sole proprietors must obtain the appropriate licenses and permits to legally operate in the state.

Step 1

Check business name availability with the Pennsylvania Department of State. The business name of a Pennsylvania sole proprietorship appears as the same name as the owner of the business. However, sole proprietors in the state of Pennsylvania may file a "doing business as" (DBA), or a fictitious business name. Filing a fictitious business name will allow a Pennsylvania sole proprietor to use a business name different from the owner's name. Pennsylvania law requires sole proprietorships to have a business name unlike any other registered business name in the state of Pennsylvania. Conduct a business name availability search on the Pennsylvania Department of State's website. As of 2010, it costs $70 to file a fictitious business name in the state of Pennsylvania, as indicated by the Citizen Media Law Project website. Pennsylvania sole proprietors may register the fictitious business name on the Pennsylvania Department of State website or by mail.

Step 2

Publish an advertisement in two newspapers located in the county where the business will operate. According to the Citizen Media Law Project website, Pennsylvania law requires sole proprietors to publish a notice of filing, or intent to file a fictitious business name registration application. The advertisement must include the fictitious business name and the address of the business, as well as the name and address of the person filing the fictitious business name. Obtain a list of approved newspapers from the Pennsylvania Department of State. Retain proof of publication with the business records.

Step 3

Request an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. Pennsylvania sole proprietors may obtain an EIN by phone, online, mail or fax. Pennsylvania sole proprietors who apply by phone or online will receive an EIN for immediate business use. Sole proprietors in the state of Pennsylvania that opt to apply by fax will receive an EIN in approximately four business days. Pennsylvania sole proprietors that elect to mail Form SS-4 must wait as long as four weeks to receive an EIN.

Step 4

Register for Pennsylvania state taxes. The taxes a Pennsylvania sole proprietorship will need to register for will depend on the nature of the business. For example, sole proprietorships in Pennsylvania that engage in selling goods must obtain a sales and use tax permit, as well as a seller's permit. Pennsylvania sole proprietors that sell alcoholic beverages and tobacco must register for the appropriate Pennsylvania business taxes. Sole proprietors may register for Pennsylvania business taxes using the online version of the PA-100 Enterprise Registration form, located on the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue website. Pennsylvania sole proprietors must provide the name and address of the business, the business type, as well as a Social Security number or EIN.

Step 5

Obtain permits and licenses to operate the Pennsylvania sole proprietorship. The permits and licenses needed to legally operate a Pennsylvania sole proprietorship depend upon the business type. For example, Pennsylvania sole proprietors that provide professional services, such as lawyers and architects, must obtain an occupational license from the state of Pennsylvania. Sole proprietors in the state of Pennsylvania may be required to obtain a zoning permit based on the location of the business. All sole proprietors in the state of Pennsylvania must obtain a general business license from the city or county clerk's office where the business resides. Contact the city or county clerk's office where the business operates to ensure full legal compliance in regards to license and permit requirements.

About the Author

Christopher Carter loves writing business, health and sports articles. He enjoys finding ways to communicate important information in a meaningful way to others. Carter earned his Bachelor of Science in accounting from Eastern Illinois University.