Steps to Incorporating Your Business: Corporate Name Check & More

Incorporation is important for your business; it ensures limited liability of shareholders and ensures that personal assets cannot be seized to repay debts. Retirement plans, such as the 401k, are more easily set up with a corporation. It has become much easier to incorporate your business today, and the process involves just three basic steps.

The first step is to secure your corporate name. After that, the relevant documents are filed, and finally, the incorporation fees are paid. Alternatively, you may want to use an incorporation service provider or retain an attorney to complete these tasks for you.

Name Availability

If you want to incorporate, it is essential to make sure that your corporate name is available and that the same name is not already in use in the state where you want to incorporate. Also, you should be sure that your corporate name is not similar to a name already in use to avoid any confusion. A name check needs to be performed within the state of incorporation. This is usually an easy process and can be done on the website of the state incorporation agency; it is a simple matter of typing in your company name into the search bar and letting them do your work for you.


The second step in incorporating is to prepare and file all of the documentation that is necessary, in that state, for incorporation. These “Articles of Incorporation” must be filed with the state agency in charge of the process. Finally, you need to pay all the required filing fees, along with the franchise taxes and any other fees that may be required. Each state decides what charges or filing fees are to be paid to form a corporation in that particular state. Fees vary and can range anywhere from under $100 to as much as over $400.

State Laws

If you decide to do this on your own, you must research the relevant laws of the state. You will have to prepare and file all the documentation and engage in all necessary communication with relevant state agencies yourself. If you decide to use an incorporation service company, you simply submit the information to the company which checks for your name, prepares and files documents and pays the filing fees for you. They usually charge a small fee in addition to the filing fees – the entire process can be completed online. An attorney can also perform these steps for you; however you should be prepared to add their hourly fee to the filing fees.

The time that each state takes to approve and return completed Articles of Incorporation varies. In general, the process takes about 4-6 weeks. Most states also allow you to speed up the process for an additional fee, cutting the time down to about 1 week. Expediting charges vary by state.

Incorporating your business may seem like a lengthy procedure; but the protection that it gives to your business and personal assets are well worth the time!

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