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How register a business or DBA in the US?

     
4:48 pm on Aug 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi, what options are there of registering a business or a DBA in the US? We are currently running our website from Germany and many online services are available to US residents or people with a US Social Security number only. For example, we want to open a PayPal Pro account but this is possible only if you are a US citizen. The same holds true for Google Checkout.
So what are our options here?
Thanks in advance.
10:13 pm on Aug 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There is no national registry or licensing for businesses or business names in the US.

DBA is a local issue. It is a power delegated to the states, and, in most cases, further delegated to county or city governments. In most places, it involves submitting an application to a local government, and then publishing a notice in a "newspaper of record". But laws vary widely.

I think your best bet is to contact an attorney who specializes in U.S. business formation for foreign nationals. He can discuss the advantages/disadvantages of incorporation, LLC, etc. and/or options for representation.

We do have something called a Federal Employer ID Number (EIN) number, which can, in most cases, be substituted for a SSN. Not sure what the rules are, but pretty sure any U.S. corporation can get one. It was originally intended for employers to use in making filings related to their employees (such as submission of withholding taxes), but has taken-on a number of additional uses. It is used in many cases as a substitute for an SSN for any entity other than a natural person. For example, I obtained an EIN because I have a retirement trust. The trust isn't a person, and so can't have an SSN. The EIN is used instead.

10:37 pm on Aug 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Erm, Paypal business accounts are open to non us citizens for sure
2:39 am on Aug 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Also note that the laws very widely depending on which state. For instance, here in Wisconsin it is a matter of filling out a half-page form, taking it to the courthouse, and leaving five minutes later with it approved. Other states have a much more involved process. You will almost certainly need a registered agent in the US (basically someone that collects your mail and serves other legal purposes). I suspect that there will be some notable costs involved. As someone mentioned above, your best bet will be to contact a lawyer who would know which state to register in (if it is even possible).