Setting a business in the USA

Setting up a company in the United States or investing in the country is not a very difficult matter for those who are well prepared. One of the first thing to do is to conduct marketing or feasibility studies, define the structure of the company (Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Partnership, Sole Proprietorship), register the trade mark and register the company in the local trade register. Do not hesitate to seek help from an accountant or tax lawyer if necessary.  Bear in mind that formalities and legal procedures may vary from one state to another.


There is no real specific visa for self-employed people in the U.S. If you intend to work freelance or as a self-employed person in the U.S., first apply for a work visa sponsored by a local employer in order to be legally authorized to work in the country before applying for a green card and create your own job. Note however that obtaining a green card is time consuming and very lengthy.


It is highly advised to contact the chamber of commerce or the economic mission of your country established in the U.S. in order to get assistance or additional information about the legal procedures in the country.


Ascertain the legal configuration of your business

You need to organize your business as a legal entity. There are numerous options to account for, and all have various legal, financial and tax considerations. The right legal configuration for your business depends on a number of things. These include the level of control you want to have, your business’ vulnerability to lawsuits and financing needs. The legal structure chosen by you will determine additional registration requirements. You may have to file registration forms with your state and/or local government, after you have chosen a legal structure. The various considerations which need to be taken into account change from state to state. Some firms / businesses need to be registered with your state government.


A nonprofit organization / A limited-liability company or partnership

You won’t need to register your business at the state level, if you set up your business as a sole proprietorship (also known as sole trader – a business entity owned and run by one individual). For many states, it is necessary that sole proprietors use their own name for the company / business name unless they formally register another name. This is referred to as your Doing Business As (DBA) name, trade name or a fictitious name.


Your first choice of a business type is not permanent. You can initially register as a sole proprietorship, and if your business expands and your personal liability risk goes up, you can change your business to an LLC.

Register your business / firm name

The legal name of a firm / business by default is the name of the person or organization that owns a business. The legal name will be your full name, if you are the exclusive proprietor of your firm / business. However, if your business is a partnership, the legal name is the name outlined in your partnership agreement / the last names of the partners. The business’ legal name is the one that was registered with the state government, for limited liability corporations (LLCs) and corporations.

Your business’ legal name is a prerequisite on all government documents. Forms include your application form for employer tax identifications, licenses and permits. If you decide to set up a shop or sell your products under a separate name, then you might need to file an “assumed name” registration form with your state and local government.


Acquire your federal tax ID

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) / Federal Tax Identification Number is needed to distinguish a business entity. Companies / businesses normally need an EIN. There are a number of ways in which you can put through an application for an EIN, including applying online. This service is free. It is offered by the Internal Revenue Service. You are required to check with your state to see if you need a state number / charter.


Employment Taxes

Business owners with employees are also accountable for paying the appropriate taxes required by the state, as well as federal employment taxes. Payment of state workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment insurance taxes is required by all states.

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