If you are operating a business using a name that is not your own or if you are forming any type of corporation, LLC or other business entity, you must register your business with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Registering a new business in Pennsylvania is a process of having your business officially recognized and authorized to operate in the Commonwealth. Currently, this process is taking longer than business owners expect or can afford if they are engaged in an activity that requires the entity be formed or the business name registered. For this reason, it is important to understand the process and the expedited service options to ensure you are able to operate your newly-formed entity promptly.
The Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations of the Pennsylvania Department of State manages the records of more than 2.6 million companies authorized to do business in the Commonwealth. Individuals desiring to do business in Pennsylvania may have to apply to the Secretary of the Commonwealth for authority to conduct business, incorporate, organize, or file an assumed or fictitious name. Through the Bureau, the Secretary of the Commonwealth files documents evidencing various kinds of business transactions.
Once you decide to establish a business, your first consideration will be the type of business organization to use. Legal, tax and financing considerations will help to determine which type best serves your personal needs and the needs of the business. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of the legal forms of business. The Bureau may assist in registration of businesses or in obtaining information on existing businesses, but the Bureau cannot offer legal advice. As an entrepreneur it is important to examine all of the options and consult a knowledgeable legal professional when considering the formation of your business.
It is also important to understand the filing process and how long it will take to receive your Articles of Incorporation, Certificate of Organization or other documentation evidencing your business formation. In recent months, the Pennsylvania Department of State has been taking anywhere from three to eight weeks to process corporate and other business filings, with no way to predict whether the process will be at the higher or lower end of that range at any given time. Those individuals needing to form an entity more quickly or needing to be sure that the entity is formed by a certain date must rely on the agency’s expedited service. This service requires the documents be hand-delivered to the Pennsylvania Department of State with payment of an additional service fee, from $100 to $1,000 depending on the service requested. These fees apply to each document filed and are in addition to document filing fees. The state will return expedited filings by email as opposed to standard mail service.
It is also important to note that in addition to registering with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, some businesses must also obtain business licenses and/or permits from state or local agencies having jurisdiction due to the type of business and the requirements of local government where the business is located. If you need help registering your business in Pennsylvania, expediting a business filing or understanding what licenses or permits may be required, contact us for assistance.