How to Register a Business in Oklahoma

by Jennifer Kiesewetter in
eagle eye view time lapse city and streets

Source: Unsplash

TLDR

  • Oklahoma boasts a robust startup ecosystem with numerous tools for founders. For example, entrepreneurs can find valuable information and support from the i2E – Innovation to Enterprise, OK Catalyst, OSU Cowboy Technologies, Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL), and OSU Center for New Product Development (NPDC).
  • When you register a business in Oklahoma, you'll need to satisfy several requirements, allowing you to start your company legally and compliantly. Before registering, though, it’s a good idea to map out your business, including your location, your ideal customer, and your marketing and sales approach, to name a few topics. You can do this by drafting a business plan.  
  • Before registering your startup in Oklahoma, you must first determine your organization's legal entity structure. When deciding upon your start-up’s structure, it’s a good idea to discuss your options with your accountant or attorney, as they can advise you in detail about the ownership, management, and tax benefits and drawbacks of each structure.
  • In choosing your startup’s structure, you'll also have to choose a name. When picking a name for an LLC, corporation, or limited partnership, you’ll need to distinguish it from other business names already registered with the state. Further, your startup’s name must comply with Oklahoma’s naming conventions. You can check for available names by visiting Oklahoma’s business entity search database. If you want to register a business with a “conflicting name,” you’ll need to obtain consent for the other business.
  • Finally, after completing the above steps, it's time to submit your formation forms to Oklahoma’s Secretary of State. The State of Oklahoma provides sample forms for your use or review for new entities.
  • If you founded a startup in a state other than Oklahoma but want to conduct business in Oklahoma, you’ll have to register your business as a foreign entity. Whether a business is a domestic or foreign entity depends upon where the startup was formed and which state governs its management and operation.

Known for bison, the Boomers and Sooners, and the best chicken friend stake in the country, Oklahoma is a state that “fosters innovative ideas and a pioneering spirit.” Oklahoma boasts a robust startup ecosystem with numerous tools for founders. For example, entrepreneurs can find valuable information and support from the i2E – Innovation to Enterprise, OK Catalyst, OSU Cowboy Technologies, Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL), and OSU Center for New Product Development (NPDC).

Small business numbers are equally impressive. In 2021, Oklahoma was home to just over 362,000 small businesses, employing 715,603 people, making up 99.4 percent of all Oklahoma companies. Top small business industries include professional, scientific, and technical services; construction; retail trade; health care and social assistance; and accommodation and food services. 

As you’re launching your startup and exploring where to locate your new business, this article will explore registering your business in Oklahoma.

When Do You Need to Register a Business in Oklahoma?

When you register a business in Oklahoma, you'll need to satisfy several requirements, allowing you to start your company legally and compliantly. Before registering, though, it’s a good idea to map out your business, including your location, your ideal customer, and your marketing and sales approach, to name a few topics. You can do this by drafting a business plan.   

To help guide you in drafting your business plan, you can check in with the U.S. Small Business Administration or SCORE, which focuses specifically on small businesses and startups. Oklahoma also offers numerous resources for founders when starting a new business, in addition to resources specifically for entrepreneurs. Once you’ve identified some of the basics about your startup’s operation, it is time to register your business.

Below, we've broken the Oklahoma requirements into an easy step-by-step process.

Determine Your Business’s Entity Structure

Before registering your startup in Oklahoma, you must first determine your organization's legal entity structure. When deciding upon your start-up’s structure, it’s a good idea to discuss your options with your accountant or attorney, as they can advise you in detail about the ownership, management, and tax benefits and drawbacks of each structure.

In Oklahoma, you can choose from several different types of business structures. One of the more prevalent business types is the sole proprietorship. A sole proprietorship is “one individual or married couple in business alone. Sole proprietorships are the most common form of business structure. This type of business is simple to form and operate, and may enjoy greater flexibility of management and fewer legal controls. However, the business owner is personally liable for all debts incurred by the business.”

If you operate as a sole proprietorship, you do not have to formally file your startup in Oklahoma. Instead, any profits or losses are reported on your personal tax return.

In addition to sole proprietorships, five other popular Oklahoma business entities include:

  • General partnerships
  • Limited partnerships
  • Limited liability partnerships
  • Limited liability companies
  • Corporations

Let’s look at a couple of these entities more specifically:

A limited partnership is “composed of one or more general partners and one or more limited partners. The general partners manage the business and share full in its profits and losses. Limited partners share in the profits of the business, but their losses are limited to the extent of their investment. Limited partners are usually not involved in the day-to-day operations of the business.”

A corporation is “a more complex business structure. As a chartered legal entity, a corporation has certain rights, privileges, and liabilities beyond those of an individual. Doing business as a corporation may yield tax or financial benefits, but these can be offset by other considerations, such as increased licensing fees or decreased personal control. Corporations may be formed for profit or nonprofit purposes.”

A limited liability company (LLC) is a newer form of Oklahoma entity. An LLC is “formed by one or more individuals or entities through a special written agreement. The agreement details the organization of the [LLC], including:  provisions for management, assignability of interests, and distribution of profits or losses. Limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships are permitted to engage in any lawful, for profit business or activity other than banking or insurance.”

Choose Your Business’s Name

In choosing your startup’s structure, you'll also have to choose a name. When picking a name for an LLC, corporation, or limited partnership, you’ll need to distinguish it from other business names already registered with the state. Further, your startup’s name must comply with Oklahoma’s naming conventions.

You can check for available names by visiting Oklahoma’s business entity search database. If you want to register a business with a “conflicting name,” you’ll need to obtain consent for the other business.

Reserved Names

Suppose you’re not ready to register your business in Oklahoma, but you want to preserve your startup's name. In this case, you can reserve a business name, preventing another new business from taking the name. You can reserve your startup’s name for 60 days. After that, you’ll need to pay a $10 fee for new filings.

DBA or Trade Names

Note that reserving a startup name is not the same as registering a “doing business as” or DBA name. DBA names are also called fictitious, assumed names, or trade names. In Oklahoma, for corporations, limited partnerships, and limited liability companies, you’ll need to file a Trade Name Report form indicating the trade name, along with a filing fee of $25.

Suppose the founder chooses a DBA name, or trade name, rather than their personal name for sole proprietorships. In that case, the founder will need to file that assumed name with Oklahoma’s Secretary of State, even though the entity itself does not need to be registered. Further, founders with sole proprietorships must check with local and municipal business license offices before conducting business.

Identify Your Registered Agent

Next, after choosing your startup’s name, you need to identify a registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or a business that can receive legal and financial documents on behalf of the startup. Like most other states, Oklahoma does not permit the registered agent to have a P.O. Box address.

Founders can access a list of approved registered agents on Oklahoma’s Chamber of Commerce website.

Submit Your Formation Forms

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

For example, if you choose to register as a for-profit corporation, you will file a Certificate of Incorporation application along with a non-refundable minimum $50 filing fee. The filing fee increased with the number of shares issued. For Oklahoma startups registering as an LLC, you will file an Articles of Organization form along with a non-refundable $100 filing fee.

You can use Oklahoma’s online portal to file your documents.

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

Depending upon your chosen entity for your startup, you will have your initial filing fee payment, any additional annual filings, and any taxes. For example, as stated above, you must pay a non-refundable $100 filing fee for registering a limited partnership or an LLC.  

You’ll need to file annual reports for your entity, also requiring a filing fee.

Additionally, most Oklahoma startups must apply for specific business licenses or permits through Oklahoma’s Tax Commission and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and local municipalities, which all may have separate filing fees.

How to Register a Business in Oklahoma that Started in Another State

If you founded a startup in a state other than Oklahoma but want to conduct business in Oklahoma, you’ll have to register your business as a foreign entity. Whether a business is a domestic or foreign entity depends upon where the startup was formed and which state governs its management and operation.

For example, a registered startup in Oklahoma is a “domestic” startup. However, if you have a Delaware registered startup but want to conduct business in Oklahoma, your business would be considered a “foreign” startup.

Let’s look at an example. Suppose you have a Delaware corporation, but you’d like to conduct business in Oklahoma. Then, you can complete an application for registration of your out-of-state entity, along with the appropriate filing fee.

The Benefits of Registering a Business in Oklahoma

There are many benefits associated with registering your startup in Oklahoma. Let’s look at some top ones:

  • Economic and tax incentives for new businesses
  • Low housing costs
  • Affordable cost of living
  • A growing and productive economy
  • Access to mid-sized cities
  • Four seasons

The Limitations Associated with Registering a Business in Oklahoma

There aren’t that many limitations associated with registering your startup in Oklahoma. However, here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

  • A good chance of extreme weather
  • Little to no access to large metropolitan areas
  • High state and local taxes
  • Lacking in diversity

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 Utah startup, we can get your documentation ready, overall shepherding this process to ensure it's done right. Get in touch with us.

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Note: Our content is for general information purposes only. AbstractOps does not provide legal, accounting, or certified expert advice. Consult a lawyer, CPA, or other professional for such services.

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Visit our State Registration & Compliance Library to explore how to register a business in a different state.





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