Opening a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in the United States can be a beneficial step for non-US residents looking to establish a business presence. This guide provides an outline of the key steps involved in opening an LLC as a non-US resident, along with recommendations for three online companies that can assist in the process.
Before we go into the steps of creating an LLC there are some key considerations for Non-Us Residents that must be considered.
Essentially as a Non-US resident there are two paths that you can take.
- Form with a company online (Recommend route) — If you are interesting in a shorter approach, and working with an online service. Please see the list below highlighting reputable companies that can help you open an LLC on your behalf.
- Run the process yourself — This may take longer, and depending on your level of familiarity with business law or tax implications, could also be more expense. If you are looking to learn more about the process, or follow the process yourself, follow the steps below.
Before proceeding with LLC formation, it is crucial to understand the purpose and benefits of establishing an LLC in the US.
Step 1: Apply for a visa from the U.S.
There are two options when considering a visa from the U.S. Depending on your business model, and on your specific circumstances, chose on of the following.
1. E-2 Treaty Investor Visa — As long as you are in one of the treaty countries, you can apply for this visa, and travel / work from and in the U.S.
2. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Visa — This visa is geared toward foreign nationals who are looking to invest in U.S. based businesses. In addition, these businesses must have at least 10 employees.
Every category of business has different requirements and can vary depending on which state you file your LLC.
Step 2: Seek Legal and Professional Advice:
If you are unfamiliar with US business law and processes, it is recommended to gather some guidance and advice from professionals in the states.
1. Consult an attorney: Consulting with an attorney well-versed in US business laws and regulations can certainly be helpful, especially if you have more than one partner in the business, or expect to earn revenue quickly.
2. Find a tax advisor: Tax law in the US can be complex, and is often confusing for non-US residents. Filing taxes incorrectly, or underpayments can result in substantial fines and penalties for LLCs.
Step 3: Choose a Business Name
Research the availability of the desired business name in the chosen state. Ensure the name complies with the state’s naming rules and reserve or register it as required by state regulations.
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Step 4: Appoint a Registered Agent (if required)
Find a registered agent service operating in the desired state and appoint them to receive legal and official documents on behalf of the LLC.
A registered agent is always required for filing an LLC, it can be yourself, a family member, or someone in the same state that you are filing. Typically, using a service works best for non-US residents.
A registered agent will do the following on your behalf:
- Receive and notify you of timely and important documents pertaining to your business. Such as, tax documents, legal disputes, and more.
- Serve as the intermediary between third parties and appropriate business contacts.
- Can act as the mailing address through a virtual mailbox, or a P.O. BOX.
An online LLC formation service like the ones listed below can help with this process, or you can look to work directly with a registered agency service.
Step 5: File the LLC Formation Documents
Obtain the necessary forms from the state’s Secretary of State office or website. Fill out the required information accurately and completely. Pay the filing fees and submit the LLC formation documents to the appropriate authority.
Here are two of the documents you should file along with your LLC.
1. Make sure you have an operating agreement: An operating agreement provides basic structure toward your new company, who the owners are, and the roles, responsibilities or even compensation expectations for members of the LLC.
2. You will need your Article of incorporation: This document establishes the the entity as an LLC and is required with each new business filing.
Step 6: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For US residents this is simple as each US resident has a social security number (SSN). Most foreign nationals do not have a SSN, but can still receive an EIN by applying first for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Once you have your ITIN, complete the required Form SS-4 application and once approved, receive the EIN confirmation. An EIN is absolutely is necessary for tax and banking purposes.
Step 7: Fulfill Additional State Requirements
Research and fulfill any state-specific requirements for non-US residents opening an LLC. Ensure you obtain any necessary licenses or permits for your chosen business activities.
Depending on your business type, state requirements can drastically vary when filing for an LLC and then obtaining a business license.
Each business type is different, but one example is that in Michigan for a pest control company, you must have 2 previous years of experience prior to applying for a business license. This is true even if you have successfully filed your LLC.
Every business is unique so be sure to follow appropriate guidelines and learn the legal requirements before moving too far along in the process.
Step 8: Establish a Business Bank Account
Choose a bank that accommodates non-US residents and gather the required documents, including the EIN, LLC formation documents, and identification. Open a business bank account to separate personal and business finances.
Step 9: Comply with Ongoing Responsibilities
Maintain accurate and up-to-date business records. File annual reports and pay any necessary fees as required by the state. Comply with both state and federal tax obligations to ensure continued compliance.
And that’s it! If this step by step process seems too long, or too complex, take a look at the online services that can handle all parts of the process for you.
Online Companies That can Help with LLC Formation for Non-US Residents
Doola.com is a comprehensive online platform designed to assist non-US residents in filing for Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) in the United States. The platform provides a user-friendly and streamlined process that simplifies the complex steps involved in establishing an LLC. Doola also provides Banking, Tax Compliance and Bookkeeping in one platform. For more information, visit Doola.com.
You Should Be Well Equipped To Open a US Bank Account
Opening an LLC as a non-US resident involves careful research, planning, and compliance with legal requirements. By following the outlined steps and seeking professional advice, non-US residents can successfully establish an LLC in the United States.
Additionally, considering the services of reputable companies like Doola, Incfile, Northwest Registered Agent, or LegalZoom can provide valuable assistance and guidance throughout the LLC formation process. Remember to tailor the process to your specific needs and consult with professionals for personalized advice.