How to Register a Business in Louisiana

by Jennifer Kiesewetter in August 18th, 2021
white van on road near green trees during daytime

TLDR

  • Louisiana is home to jazz music, Cajun and Creole food, and Mardi Gras. But it is also home to over 450,000 small businesses employing over 900,000 million people or 53.6 percent of all private-sector employees.
  • When you register a business in Louisiana, you'll need to satisfy several requirements to register your startup successfully and compliantly. Before registering, though, it’s a good idea to create a business plan, creating a roadmap for moving forward. 
  • Before you register your startup in Louisiana, you must first determine your organization's legal entity structure. Your chosen business entity determines the next steps in registering your startup.
  • To learn more about Louisiana’s permissible entity types, you can visit Louisiana’s Secretary of State or the Department of Revenue, both of which give you additional information on each of the above entity types as well as the registration rules applying to each.
  • In addition to choosing your entity's structure, you'll also have to choose your business's name. When picking a name for an LLC, corporation, or limited partnership, you’ll need to distinguish it from any other business names already registered with the state. You can check for available names by visiting Louisiana’s business entity name database.  
  • In Louisiana, founders can also file for trade names, often referred as “doing business as” or DBA names. To do so, you would file an Application to Register Trade Name, Trademark or Service Mark, along with a $75 filing fee. Additionally, you’ll need to file the application with your local parish clerk of court.
  • Next, you need to identify and obtain a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or entity that can accept public service of any court documents on behalf of your startup. Typically, in Louisiana, you will name your registered agent on your startup’s formation documents.
  • Finally, after completing the above steps, it's time to submit your formation forms to Louisiana’s Secretary of State. For new entities, the State of Louisiana provides sample forms for your use or review.
  • Depending upon your chosen entity for your startup, you need to understand your initial costs, the annual filing requirements, and any owed state tax.
  • Louisiana offers several programs and certifications, allowing you to showcase the minority ownership of your startup.

Louisiana is home to jazz music, Cajun and Creole food, and Mardi Gras. But it is also home to over 450,000 small businesses employing over 900,000 million people or 53.6 percent of all private-sector employees.

From New Orleans to Baton Rouge to Shreveport, Louisiana is ripe for startup founders to call the state home. For example, in 2021, nine startups in the VILLAGEx accelerator program raised almost $10 million in growth capital. Additionally, since 2012, New Orleans has led the nation in technology job growth, in key industries such as aerospace, agribusiness, advanced manufacturing, energy, process industries, and software development.

As you determine where to locate your new business, this article will explore the in’s and out’s of registering your startup in Louisiana.

When Do You Need to Register a Business in Louisiana?

When you register a business in Louisiana, you'll need to satisfy several requirements to register your startup successfully and compliantly. Before registering, though, it’s a good idea to create a business plan, creating a roadmap for moving forward. 

In drafting your business plan, you’ll want to consider your target buyer, go-to-market strategy, marketing and sales approaches, location, and ownership, to name a few topics. To help guide you, you can check in with the U.S. Small Business Administration, showing you how to create a business plan in addition to providing market research and competitive analysis for your startup.

Once you’ve identified some of the basics about your business’s operation, it is then time to register your startup. Below, we've broken these requirements into an easy step-by-step process.

Determine Your Startup’s Entity Structure

Before you register your startup in Louisiana, you must first determine your organization's legal entity structure. Your chosen business entity determines the next steps in registering your startup.

In Louisiana, you may choose from the following:

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

To learn more about Louisiana’s permissible entity types, you can visit Louisiana’s Secretary of State or the Department of Revenue, both of which give you additional information on each of the above entity types as well as the registration rules applying to each. Additionally, you may want to visit your accountant before choosing a business structure so you are familiar with the tax advantages and disadvantages of each.

For example, a sole proprietorship is often the simplest and most common business structure for new businesses. When you have a sole proprietorship, it means that your business is unincorporated, with no legal distinction between you as the founder and the startup itself. Although a sole proprietorship does not need to register in Louisiana as a new business, you must still register a trade name (often referred to as “doing business as” or DBA) with the Secretary of State.   

You may also have to file a trade name application with your local parish clerk of court. We address trade names in more detail below.

If you choose a corporation, limited liability company, or partnership structure for your startup, you must follow specific steps to register your business. For example, if you choose an LLC structure, you must file an Articles of Organization online or by U.S. Mail, along with a $100 filing fee. For corporations, you must file an Articles of Incorporation online or by U.S. Mail, along with a $75 filing fee.

Choose Your Startup’s Name

In addition to choosing your entity's structure, you'll also have to choose your business's name. When picking a name for an LLC, corporation, or limited partnership, you’ll need to distinguish it from any other business names already registered with the state. You can check for available names by visiting Louisiana’s business entity name database.  

Suppose you’re not ready to register your business in Louisiana, but you want to preserve your startup's name. In that case, you may reserve your business name for up to one hundred twenty (120) days by filing an Application of Reservation with the Secretary of State, along with a $25 filing fee. 

Setting Up a Louisiana DBA

In Louisiana, founders can also file for trade names, often referred as “doing business as” or DBA names. To do so, you would file an Application to Register Trade Name, Trademark or Service Mark, along with a $75 filing fee. Additionally, you’ll need to file the application with your local parish clerk of court.

Before filing for a DBA, check your name’s availability on Louisiana’s business entity name database, just like you would do for a formal business name.

Identify Your Registered Agent

Next, you need to identify and obtain a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or entity that can accept public service of any court documents on behalf of your startup. Typically, in Louisiana, you will name your registered agent on your startup’s formation documents.

However, suppose you don’t name a registered agent on your formation documents. In that case, the Secretary of State’s office will serve as registered agents for any foreign companies (registered outside of the State of Louisiana) or businesses not registered with the state. For domestic startups (those registered in the State of Louisiana), the Secretary of State will only serve as the registered agent “after a diligent effort but unsuccessful attempt has been made to serve the corporation.”

Submit Your Formation Forms

Finally, after completing the above steps, it's time to submit your formation forms to Louisiana’s Secretary of State. For new entities, the State of Louisiana provides sample forms for your use or review.

Let's look at a specific example. If you choose to register as an LLC in Louisiana, you will file an Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State to create your startup. 

In addition to your formation forms, you’ll also want to check if any additional forms are required at the city, county, or state level, such as one for a business license.

How Much Does It Cost to Register a Business in Louisiana?

Depending upon your chosen entity for your startup, you need to understand your initial costs, the annual filing requirements, and any owed state tax. For example, for registering a corporation, you must pay a $75 filing fee. On the other hand, if you register as a limited liability company, the filing fee is $100. You can check Louisiana’s Secretary of State’s website for more information on filing fees.

Additionally, in Louisiana, corporation and franchise taxes are imposed on all registered corporations and those entities taxed as corporations. To understand if and when you are subject to Louisiana’s corporation and franchise tax, you should consult with an experienced accountant.

How Do You Register as a Minority-Owned Business in Louisiana?

Louisiana offers several programs and certifications, allowing you to showcase the minority ownership of your startup. For example, the Southern Region Minority Supplier Development Council (formerly the Louisiana Minority Supplier Development Council) focuses on the “regional economy by supporting diverse businesses through technology, regional D2D (Diverse to Diverse) & C2D (Corporate to Diverse) business opportunities.” Further, this council develops “innovative programs that help diverse businesses pivot into new business sectors.”

Further, the Women Business Enterprise Council of the South provides one of the most widely recognized certification program for female entrepreneurs. You can visit the Louisiana Economic Development’s webpage for more information on available resources.

​The Benefits of Registering a Business in Louisiana

Registering a company in Louisiana offers the following benefits:

  • Louisiana businesses enjoy low taxes.
  • Louisiana “ranks among the top 10 lowest in the nation for new facilities, relocations, and facility expansions for a variety of firm types, including: labor-intensive manufacturing, capital-intensive manufacturing, research and development facilities, and corporate headquarters.”
  • Louisiana has modernized its technical training facilities and colleges, while making more than $38 million in the state’s higher education engineering and computer science departments.
  • As cited by the Louisiana Economic Development, “Gallup ranks Louisiana as the No. 1 state for workforce engagement. The poll identified Louisiana workers as the most likely to be involved in and enthusiastic about their work. According to KMPG’s 2016 Competitive Alternatives, average Louisiana salary and wages cost less than the South and U.S. averages.”
  • Louisiana also has a top-notch infrastructure, including six interstate highways, six deep water ports, six Class 1 railroads, and seven primary airports.

The Limitations Associated with Registering a Business in Louisiana

Here are some limitations of registering your startup in Louisiana:

  • One of the top limitations associated with Louisiana is the weather. Not only is it swampy hot during most of the year, you also have to endure hurricane season. (However, you do have very mild winters)
  • Most of Louisiana doesn’t have four, well-defined seasons. You typically have hot. And hotter.
  • Louisiana also ranks #46 nationally in health care and #48 in education.

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 Louisiana 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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