How to Register a Business

How to Register a Business
So you’ve decided to start a new business but haven't registered it yet. Read our step-by-step guide to help you register your business name.
by Square Dec 15, 2021 — 3 min read
How to Register a Business

So you’ve decided to start a business. Now it’s time to register it. The process of registering a business is different depending on the type of operation you’re starting, how big it is, and what state you live in. Below, we explain the basics of how to get your business registered. But remember, Square does not provide legal or tax advice, and this article is not a substitute for advice from an attorney or tax advisor.

1. Choose business structure

The first step is to decide on a business structure. The business structure (also called a business entity) you choose affects the way you file for taxes, your day-to-day operations, and how much your personal assets are at risk if your business fails. Because the business structure you choose affects so much, it’s important to do this first.

Here is a brief overview of some of the most common business structures.


The laws and registration process for sole proprietors, LLCs, corporations, and partnerships vary state by state. If you’re stuck, the IRS is a good place to start.

2. Find a location

Once you select the business structure that works best for you, you need to choose a location. That doesn’t mean your business has to have a brick-and-mortar location. As far as registering your business goes, it means the address you use for tax filings, receiving important documents from government agencies, or your business bank account.

3. Register your business name

Next comes registering your name. Registering a business name is usually part of the process of registering separate entities like LLCs and corporations. But if you’re starting a sole proprietorship or a partnership operating under a name that isn’t your own (e.g., your name is John Smith but you want your business name to be something else), you may need to file a DBA (a “doing business as” name).

A DBA can also be used by existing LLCs and corporations to register other businesses under them. For example, if you own a cafe and want to open another one under a different name, you would file a DBA. It keeps both the first and second cafe as one legal entity but with two different names.

A few states may not require a DBA as part of your business registration. But before you register your name, make sure it’s eligible for use. You may also want to trademark it. A DBA does not automatically protect the name from being reused elsewhere.

4. Register with the IRS

Next, you need to register your business with the IRS to receive your Employer Identification number (EIN). Your EIN is like a Social Security number for your business and is necessary for filing your taxes. You can sign up for one online here. Again, there are certain circumstances where you may not need one. To see if you do, the IRS has a short survey you can fill out.

5. Register with state and local agencies

Once all the federal registrations are done, you likely need to register your business with one or more agencies in your state or local government, such as revenue offices. If you plan to run payroll, you may also need to register with your state agency to file payroll taxes.

6. Apply for licenses and permits

Last, make sure you have all the right licenses and permits you need to begin serving customers. Each industry may have different requirements. Thankfully, the U.S. Small Business Administration has created an easy way to search for the permits and licenses you need by entering your location and type of business.

Once you’ve registered your business and gotten the paperwork out of the way, you can focus on the fun part of your job: spreading the word and providing excellent service.

Ready to get started?

Square offers a suite of tools to help you start, manage, and expand your business with ease. Our software and hardware saves you time and money, allowing you to focus on what matters most for your business. 

Ready to dive deeper? Explore our complete guide to starting a business.

The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.


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