Louisiana is full of Southern hospitality and charm and home to Cajun cuisine! If you want to start your own company and begin your entrepreneurial journey, registering a business in the state is a relatively straightforward process due to the state’s consistent support for new and small businesses.
There are many business incentive programs in place in Louisiana to help entrepreneurs with the creation of new jobs, taxation credits, business loans, and grants. In addition to these programs, there are also many economic and business development centers in Louisiana, with the focus of helping entrepreneurs and those with existing businesses grow and flourish.
Louisiana’s continued support for its small businesses is evident in its approach to encouraging new businesses to register in the state. With access to a number of resources, from business and financial assistance programs to small business development centers, affordable licensing fees, tax incentives, comparatively cheaper Louisiana Secretary of State registration fees, and speedy filling times, it comes as no surprise why so many people choose Louisiana to register a business in.
The state is business-friendly and you can get your new business started and registered in Louisiana quickly, easily, and cost-efficiently. Not only is Louisiana always very pro-business, but it also boasts a low cost of living, affordable housing, and the iconic city of New Orleans where you can enjoy the annual Mardi Gras festival amongst many other things!
How to Register a Business Name in Louisiana – 7 Easy Steps
The Louisiana Secretary of State makes it reasonably easy to register your business name. There are three ways you can do this:
- 1. Do it yourself directly on their website.
- 2. Pay a document filing company that can register everything online for you – there is a modest fee for this but it saves a lot of time and ensures it is done correctly.
- 3. Hire an attorney or accountant to file and register your new company – there are higher fees associated with this.
Step 1 – Determine your registered name
Firstly, you must determine that your business name is unique and not being used by someone else. A business registration company can do this research on your behalf or alternatively, you can search directly on the Louisiana Secretary of State website.
Once you have established your name is available you can register a business name in Louisiana directly on their website if you are comfortable with the process. Or, if you want a company to do this for you that specializes in this, you can use an online registration service to do it.
These companies usually offer a free registered agent service for one year with most of their packages which is often a necessity for new businesses and those being registered by foreigners with no U.S. address.
Before doing any of this, you must decide on the right structure.
Step 2 – Choose the right entity
You need to choose the right type of business to register and the most common options are a limited liability company (LLC) or an incorporated company (Inc). If you are keeping things really small and simple (one or two people), then you may consider a sole proprietorship or a general partnership.
Even if you plan to be a solopreneur, it is usually more beneficial for you to register a Louisiana LLC to make sure, as the owner, you have limited liability under this structure, and so you can benefit from the pass-through tax advantages.
Here is a quick rundown of the various options and what they might mean to you:
- Limited Liability Company: A Louisiana LLC is often the best route for most entrepreneurs because the structure comes with personal asset protection, no double taxation, is fairly easy to maintain, and does not have high registration or annual renewal costs. Through LLC formation you have better tax flexibility and income can be taxed as a pass-through entity like a sole proprietor or partnership, or as a corporation.
- Incorporated Company: A Louisiana Corporation offers personal asset protection and your company can own property, vehicles, incur liabilities, and is responsible for its own debts and can conduct business without the owners risking their personal assets such as their homes, cars, personal savings, retirement, etc. On the flip side, owners of sole proprietorships or partnerships face unlimited liability for both business and personal assets.
Step 3 – Make sure your name is not being used by another company
This may seem obvious, but if you check the Louisiana Secretary of State website and see that your chosen business name is available, that is all well and good, but that doesn’t mean someone else is not using that same or similar name, particularly in another state.
Many people register an “official business entity name” and trade under a different name. This is called a Louisiana dba, or “doing business as” name or assumed trading name, and needs a separate DBA certificate.
You will want to do a Google search for your official name and your desired trading name (if different) to make sure no one else is using this name. Most importantly, you will want to make sure you can get an easy-to-remember website domain name that is not being used by someone else.
Having an awesome name or trading name for your business can be crucial to your success, so making sure the domain name is available too, and registering it right away, is equally as important.
Finally, if you go to the Louisiana Secretary of State website and discover that someone else has registered the name you would like, you can search for variations of that name by adding a word before it or after it, or using some other variations until you find a name that is available and acceptable for you.
Step 4 – Request an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Once you have registered your new business in Louisiana you will need to get an EIN for a number of reasons. These include paying taxes for your business, opening a bank account, obtaining credit cards or lines of credit, establishing terms with vendors and suppliers, hiring employees, and more.
There are only a few instances where you likely won’t need an EIN. More often than not, many business activities are just not possible without having an EIN.
An EIN is the business equivalent of a social security number and is used to track your business dealings. Even if you do not intend to hire employees, you will almost certainly still need an EIN for your Louisiana company and it protects you from having to use your social security number.
For more information on how to get an EIN number in Louisiana use our guide where you will find downloadable forms and links to the online process.
An EIN (also known as a federal tax id) is free to obtain from the IRS and you can apply online but if you are not comfortable filling in forms you can use a third-party document filing service to do this for you for a small fee. This ensures you are 100% compliant with the law and they handle everything with the IRS.
Step 5 – Obtain the Required Business Licenses and Permits
To operate your business in Louisiana you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. Louisiana law does not require all small business owners to have a “general” license to operate.
You will, however, need specific permits for specific businesses. For example, if you open a restaurant or similar food-related business you will most likely need a health permit, sales tax permit, facilities permit, and others. If you plan to sell alcohol, you will need a liquor license, essentially it all depends on the type of products and services your business is going to offer.
The business licenses you will need to acquire in order to register a business in Louisiana will also differ depending on the location of the business too.
You must find out how to obtain the necessary Louisiana business licenses and permits for your business and fill out the appropriate forms. Alternatively, you could hire a professional document filing company to do this for you. It eliminates a lot of time and hassle and ensures you are correctly complying with Louisiana law.
Step 6 – Determine Your Business Employer Requirements
There are several things you need to check regarding your responsibilities as an employer in Louisiana because there are requirements you must meet at the federal and state level. These could include various workforce commissions, safety, and state tax obligations, as well as labor law requirements including the minimum wage in Louisiana and employee rights and remedies under the Louisiana minimum wage act.
To learn more about Louisiana employer resources take a look at the Louisiana Department of Labor website.
Step 7 – Open a Business Bank Account for your Louisiana Company
As a new business owner, you should seriously consider separating your personal and business bank accounts to make it easier to track and account for your income and expenses. For certain business types, such as an LLC or a Corporation, it is essential that you open a separate business bank account to maintain your liability protection.
Once you have your EIN and your company registration documents, coupled with your driver’s license, you are ready to go to the bank and open your checking account.
Don’t worry, this won’t be expensive or leave you burdened with hefty monthly fees to pay – there are many free business bank accounts out there for you to choose from. Each has its different features and benefits, so you can decide what bank and checking account best suits your needs.
Summarizing Registering a Business in Louisiana
Louisiana offers a great business ecosystem for businesses both large and small with access to a healthy consumer base (over 4.6 million population). The top industries in the state are agriculture, aerospace, and automotive. Not only this, but there are available business grants and loans as well as consulting and business counseling services to help entrepreneurs start, grow, and flourish with their business.
Small businesses dominate Louisiana due to its pro-business climate, an abundance of business opportunities, comparatively low business taxes (4%-8% corporate income tax rate), low-income-tax, a highly productive and motivated workforce, and the nation’s best workforce recruitment and training program.
The state fee for registering a business in Louisiana is an affordable $100 for an LLC and $75 for a corporation. The annual filing fee to maintain your company in Louisiana is only $30 for a corporation and $30 for an LLC.
The Pelican State is committed to your success and has many resources at your disposal that you can take advantage of making it an attractive area for both families and businesses that are looking to keep expenses low.