Register with federal agencies
Most businesses do not need to register with the federal government to become a legal entity, other than simply filing to get a federal tax ID. Small businesses sometimes register with the federal government for trademark protection or tax exempt status.
If you want to trademark your business, brand or product name, file with the United States Patent and Trademark office once you have formed your business.
If you want tax-exempt status for a nonprofit corporation, register your business as a tax-exempt entity with the IRS.
Register with state agencies
If your business is an LLC, corporation, partnership, or nonprofit corporation, you will probably need to register with any state where you conduct business activities.
Typically, you are considered to be conducting business activities in a state when:
- Your business has a physical presence in the state
- You often have in-person meetings with clients in the state
- A significant portion of your company's revenue comes from the state
- Any of your employees work in the state
Some states allow you to register online, and some states make you file paper documents in person or through the mail.
Most states require you to register with the Secretary of State's office, a Business Bureau, or a Business Agency.