Your business is growing, and you’re planning an expansion to other states. It’s a good problem to have!
But it’s not quite as simple as choosing another location. Because each state has different rules and requirements for business operations, you may need a “foreign qualification” in each state where you plan to do business.
It’s a common misconception that foreign qualification is only for businesses operating outside the U.S. But in this case, “foreign” refers to any business operating in a state that isn’t the state where the LLC was originally formed.
For example, if your LLC is registered in Washington and you are looking to open a second location in Connecticut, you may need to complete a foreign qualification in Connecticut before you can expand there.
Important Note: If you’d like to save time and have the foreign qualification paperwork taken care of for you, many of the best LLC services can handle this task for you.
Foreign qualifying is essentially asking permission to do business in the state of Connecticut. And the notion that “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission” doesn’t apply here. Failing to foreign qualify before starting a business in Connecticut yields consequences that are far costlier than registering in the first place. If you fail to foreign qualify, your business:
Let’s add up those penalties. If, for example, you’ve been doing business in Connecticut for two years, that’s 24 months of transacting business without foreign qualifying. At $300 a pop, that comes out to $7,200, and we haven’t even added the retroactive fees and taxes yet. Plus, the Secretary of State could cut off your business operations, leaving you without any income in the state. Compared to those penalties, the $120 foreign qualifying fee doesn’t seem that bad.
Take a deeper dive into the possible penalties in the Connecticut Uniform LLC Act Sec. 34-275.
We’ve established why you shouldn’t do business without a foreign qualification. But what exactly does it mean to “do business” in Connecticut? The state’s LLC Act doesn’t give specific examples, but you are considered to be “doing business” in most states and required to foreign qualify if:
Depending on how your LLC is structured, you may also need to pay specific business taxes in Connecticut. Foreign qualifying notifies the state that you’ll be paying these taxes. If not, you will be liable to pay them, plus any late fees, later. It’s important to always stay on top of your LLC’s taxation requirements to avoid any unwelcome surprises.
If you’re unsure whether or not you need to file for a foreign qualification in Connecticut, we suggest seeking legal counsel.
The foreign qualification, however, isn’t a hard and fast rule for all LLCs performing any kind of action in Connecticut. Certain actions do not qualify as “doing business” and therefore don’t require a foreign qualification. Some examples are:
We strongly advise checking out the more detailed list of exemptions located in Connecticut’s LLC Act, Sec. 34-275. If upon reviewing the list, you find your only Connecticut business operations included, you likely do not need to foreign qualify your LLC. But if you’re at all unsure, it’s best to seek legal advice.
Foreign qualification in Connecticut is simple if you know where to find and send your forms. If you or your legal counsel has decided to foreign qualify your LLC, your ticket to doing business in Connecticut is the “Foreign Registration Statement.” The most efficient way to file for registration is through the Secretary of State’s Online Filing System.
But mail is a viable option too. Download the form from Connecticut’s LLC forms database, then mail it, along with your payment, to:
Business Services Division
Connecticut Secretary of State
P.O. Box 150470
Hartford, Connecticut 06115-0470
Live near Hartford? You can also hand deliver it as part of your daily errands. Drop it off at:
165 Capitol Ave.
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
The fee for foreign registering your LLC is $120, which you pay by check (by mail or in person) or by credit/debit card (online). Make checks payable to the “Secretary of the State.” Typical processing time is 3-5 business days after receipt for online filings, while filings submitted on paper forms can take several weeks, but if you need it quicker, you can file an “Expedited Service Request,” which costs an additional $50 and guarantees a 24-hour turnaround.
After your form is in and your fee is paid, sit back, take a deep breath, and pat yourself on the back. Your LLC is on the way to being foreign qualified and you’re embarking on another chapter in the life of your business.
You likely checked to make sure your LLC name was available in Connecticut, but you should also confirm that your name follows the state’s business naming requirements. Make sure that your name:
Refer to the Connecticut LLC Act, Sec. 34-243k for additional details regarding business name restrictions.
We think you should foreign qualify your LLC before you begin conducting business in a new state. If you don’t, your business could be subject to a broad range of fines and penalties for operating an LLC in a state where you don’t have permission to do so.
You’ll typically need to wait roughly 3-5 business days after receipt for online filings, while filings submitted on paper forms can take several weeks. That said, if you need it quicker, you can file an “Expedited Service Request,” which costs an additional $50 and guarantees a 24-hour turnaround.
Chances are, you’ll require at least one license or permit to operate your LLC in compliance with Connecticut state law. For more information about business licenses and more in this state, check out Connecticut’s Licenses, Registrations, and Permits page.
The overall costs of operating a Connecticut LLC can vary considerably based on the specifics of your business. However, we created a helpful guide to help you identify and plan for every expense your LLC will face in this state.
The answer to this question lies in your personal preferences, but we can give some general pointers. An attorney will cost the most by a mile, but also provides expertise you won’t find with the other options. The DIY route is free of charge but can require quite a bit of legwork and provides no peace of mind that the process is being completed correctly.
Using an LLC service means your business will be foreign qualified by professionals who know what they’re doing, while also costing significantly less than a lawyer. This “best of both worlds” attribute is what makes LLC services our preferred option.
Using an online LLC service removes much of the hassle from the foreign qualification process. With these services, all you need to do is provide them with the name, location, and industry your business operates in, along with some info about yourself and your Connecticut registered agent.
The service then registers your Foreign Registration Statement with the state to qualify your LLC to do business in Connecticut.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
Connecticut Business Resources
Foreign Qualification by State
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