How to Register a Business in Idaho

by Jennifer Kiesewetter in August 14th, 2021
city skyline under blue sky during daytime

TLDR

  • Recently making Inc.’s list of Surge Cities, the magazine claims that Boise “set out to become the next Austin or Seattle. Instead, it’s on track to become the next Silicon Valley.” Additionally, Boise finds itself challenging Seattle and Portland “as a hotspot for entrepreneurs.”
  • Idaho supports almost 170,000 small businesses, making up 99.2% of all companies in the state, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Furthermore, these small businesses make up more than 56% of all Idaho employees.
  • When you’re ready to register your startup, Idaho, like other states, requires you to choose a unique business name, meaning no other Idaho registered businesses have a name similar to your chosen one. To confirm if your startup’s name is distinguishable from any other registered Idaho businesses, you can use the business search database.
  • Before you register your startup in Idaho, in addition to creating a business plan and choosing your business name, you must also determine your organization's legal ownership structure, such as a corporation or limited liability company.
  • Next, you need to identify and obtain a registered agent designated to receive court and other legal documents on behalf of your startup. According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, a registered agent must have someone available to receive service of documents, during normal business hours, at a physical Idaho address.
  • After you complete the above steps, it's time to submit your forms to Idaho’s Secretary of State’s office. When you register your startup in Idaho, you must first determine if your startup is domestic or foreign. A domestic entity is a business that has registered under Idaho’s laws. A foreign entity is a business that was created outside of Idaho.
  • For example, suppose you choose a domestic for-profit corporation structure for your startup, meaning the initial registration of your business is in Idaho. In that case, you can use the state's official forms to complete your articles of incorporation with Idaho’s Secretary of State to create your startup. The filing fee is $100.
  • If you are a foreign entity registering in Idaho, you must file a Foreign Registration Statement specific to your entity type. The filing fee for this statement is $100. You may not conduct business in Idaho until this statement is filed.
  • Idaho offers numerous benefits and resources for all entrepreneurs. Idaho offers several incentives and grants, including tax reimbursement incentives, data center sales tax exemptions, and a 3% investment tax credit, among others. Grants include rural community block grants, the Idaho Opportunity Fund, and the Idaho Broadband Grant Program.

In a state known for the Boise Mountains, Sun Valley, and –- of course –- potatoes, Idaho is getting noticed for its innovation and startups. Recently making Inc.’s list of Surge Cities, the magazine claims that Boise “set out to become the next Austin or Seattle. Instead, it’s on track to become the next Silicon Valley.” Additionally, Boise finds itself challenging Seattle and Portland “as a hotspot for entrepreneurs.”

Idaho supports almost 170,000 small businesses, making up 99.2% of all companies in the state, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Furthermore, these small businesses make up over 56% of all Idaho employers.

If you consider registering your startup in Idaho, this article will walk you through what you need to know.

How to Register a Business Name in Idaho

When you’re ready to register your startup, Idaho, like other states, requires you to choose a unique business name, meaning no other Idaho registered businesses have a name similar to your chosen one. To confirm if your startup’s name is distinguishable from any other registered Idaho businesses, you can use the business search database.

For some entities, such as an LLC or corporation, once you register your startup, your business name is also registered with the state.

For sole proprietorships and partnerships, founders can file for an assumed business name, otherwise known as a DBA (“doing business as”). This allows you to choose a name presentable to the public, instead of using your personal name. All assumed business name filings are perpetual, remaining in effect unless you cancel them.

Additionally, if you are a corporation, limited liability, or limited partnership, and you’d like to use a different name than your business’s legal name, you may do so by registering your trade name with the state. This is often called your “doing business as” (DBA) name. You may choose to use a DBA name if you offer different product lines that you would like to differentiate in marketing and sales.

How to Register a Business in Idaho

When you register your startup in Idaho, you'll need to satisfy several compliance requirements. However, before registering your startup, it’s a good idea to research the market and potential competitors, plan for operations and personnel, map out your financing, and create a business plan. 

In drafting your business plan, you’ll want to consider marketing, advertising, sales, location, and ownership, to name a few categories. To help you, you can check in with the U.S. Small Business Administration, which can provide additional guidance for creating a business plan.

Once you’ve identified some of the basics about your startup’s operation, it is then time to register it. Read on to learn the ins and outs of registering your business in Idaho.

Determine Your Startup's Entity Structure

Before you register your startup in Idaho, in addition to creating a business plan and choosing your business name, you must also determine its legal ownership structure. For example, in the State of Idaho, you may choose to register as a(n):

  • Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • General Partnership (GP)
  • Limited Partnership (LP)
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

According to Idaho’s Secretary of State’s office, “These are the only business entities authorized by statute in Idaho. (An individual may always begin a business under their own name as a sole proprietor, but doing so essentially subjects the individual to unlimited personal liability for any debts of the business.”

In Idaho, like in other states, a general partnership “is the oldest and simplest form of business organization.” In this type of business, individuals who “engage in a common effort to make and share profits are legally considered partners whether the individuals have intended to enter into a partnership or not.”

In Idaho, general partnerships can be formally recognized by the state when filing a statement of partnership authority, with a filing fee of $100.

On the other hand, a limited liability company (LLC) “has some of the characteristics of a sole proprietorship, some of a partnership, and some of a corporation.” To be legally recognized, an LLC must file a Certificate of Organization with Idaho’s Secretary of State, along with a $100 filing fee.

Your chosen business entity determines the next steps in registering your startup, as well as your tax liabilities, business operations, and personal liability.

Identify Your Registered Agent

Next, you need to identify and obtain a registered agent designated to receive court and other legal documents on behalf of your startup. According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, a registered agent must have someone available to receive service of documents, during normal business hours, at a physical Idaho address.

A P.O. Box may not be used. If one is, then the Secretary of State may administratively dissolve your business or revoke your registration filing. The Secretary of State’s office no longer provides a list of approved registered agents.

Submit Your Formation Forms

After you complete the above steps, it's time to submit your formation forms to Idaho’s Secretary of State’s office. When you register your startup in Idaho, you must first determine if your startup is domestic or foreign. A domestic entity is a business that has registered under Idaho’s laws. A foreign entity is a business that was created outside of Idaho.

For example, suppose you choose a domestic for-profit corporation structure for your startup, meaning the initial registration of your business was in Idaho. In that case, you can use the state's official forms to complete your articles of incorporation with Idaho’s Secretary of State to create your startup. The filing fee is $100.

If you are a foreign entity registering in Idaho, you must file a Foreign Registration Statement specific to your entity type. The filing fee for this statement is $100. You may not conduct business in Idaho until this statement is filed.

How Do You Register as a Minority- or Woman-Owned Startup?

Idaho provides numerous resources for economic opportunities, business network initiatives, and certifications for not only minority- and woman-owned startups, but also immigrant- and refugee-, Native American-, and veteran-owned businesses.

Idaho provides founders with information from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, which is “the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises.” The Idaho Secretary of State also provides founders with information from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), “a leading non-profit organization dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive.”

Other Benefits for Idaho Entrepreneurs

Idaho offers numerous benefits and resources for all entrepreneurs. For example, to help build a robust startup industry, the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) “funds commercialization research where business experts partner with university researchers to bring viable technologies to market. The IGEM grant program is a powerful tool in advancing Idaho's economy. Through its support, IGEM invests in the development of new businesses and supports Idaho's research facilities.”

Additionally, Idaho offers several incentives and grants, including tax reimbursement incentives, data center sales tax exemptions, and a 3% investment tax credit, among others. Grants include rural community block grants, the Idaho Opportunity Fund, and the Idaho Broadband Grant Program.

Idaho also offers workforce development and opportunity zones boosting business growth in the state.

Finally, to continue boosting startup growth in the state, especially tech startups, the Idaho Tech Council is launching a program called "Fifty to the A," with the goal of helping 50 Idaho startups to the Series A investing stage. It’s a big goal, considering the population size of Idaho. However, the group is considering a $5 million threshold for funding, helping them grow the startup community by leaps and bounds.

We can help!

At AbstractOps, we help early-stage founders streamline and automate regulatory and legal ops, HR, and finance so you can focus on what matters most — your business. If you're looking for help registering your Idaho startup, we can get your documentation ready, overall shepherding this process to ensure it's done right. Drop us a note at hello@abstractops.com.

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