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.
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 Idaho. 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 Idaho yields consequences that are far costlier than registering in the first place. If you fail to foreign qualify, your business:
In short, if caught doing business in Idaho without foreign qualifying, you could be cut off from your income stream and legal support there. However, failing to foreign qualify will not negate any existing contracts your LLC has in Idaho, nor will it keep you from defending an action or proceeding in Idaho courts.
To read the laws behind these penalties, check out Idaho Statutes, Sec. 30-21-502.
We’ve established why you shouldn’t do business without a foreign qualification. But what exactly does it mean to “do business” in Idaho? State law gives little guidance on what specifically constitutes “doing business,” but we know from other state and tax laws that an LLC is typically considered to be “doing business” and required to foreign qualify if:
And we can’t forget about taxes either. Depending on how you’ve structured your LLC, you may be liable for specific business taxes in Idaho. Foreign qualifying informs the state that you’ll potentially be eligible for taxation. Otherwise, you may be charged additional penalties down the road. There’s plenty more tax information on the Idaho State Tax Commission website. 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 Idaho, 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 Idaho. Certain actions do not qualify as “doing business” and therefore don’t require a foreign qualification. Some examples are:
Find a more detailed list in the Idaho Statutes, Sec. 30-21-505. Examine the exemptions, and if you find your sole Idaho business activities present, you’re probably off the hook and won’t need to foreign qualify. Still, if you’re even a little unsure, it’s best to seek legal counsel.
Foreign qualification in Idaho 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 in Idaho, you’ll need to file a Foreign Registration Statement. Additionally, you will be required to supply a Certificate of Existence (or Certificate of Good Standing), not more than 90 days old, from the state in which your LLC was formed. To get one of these forms, contact the Secretary of State’s office in the state where you formed your domestic LLC.
If speed is what you’re after, you’ll want to file online through the Idaho SOSBiz website. First, create an account. Then click “Forms” on the left side of the page. In the “Foreign Entity Registration” section, choose the form for a Limited Liability Company. Follow the instructions to complete and submit your form.
But if you like doing business by postal mail, go for it. A paper form is available for download and completion here. The second page contains step-by-step instructions on how to fill it out. When finished, mail or hand-deliver your form, along with your Certificate of Existence (or Good Standing) to:
Office of the Secretary of State
450 N 4th St.
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0080
Foreign qualification requires a standard $100 fee both online and on paper. If you’ve handwritten your paper form, the fee is $120 instead. The online form will prompt you to pay via credit card. For mailed or in-person filings, include a check made out to the “Idaho Secretary of State.” The typical processing time for this form is 7-10 days. For expedited processing of your paper form, you can pay an additional $40 fee for eight-hour service, while same-day service is available for an extra $100.
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 its way to foreign qualification, and you’re embarking on another chapter in the life of your business.
Expanding your LLC to a new state is exciting stuff. But in that excitement, don’t forget to confirm your business name’s compliance with Idaho naming requirements. You don’t want your registration held up because of a name discrepancy! As a reminder, your LLC name must:
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 jurisdiction where you don’t have permission to do so.
You’ll typically need to wait roughly 7-10 days for Idaho to process your foreign LLC filing. If you expedite your order, that turnaround time is cut all the way to just eight hours (for an extra $40), while an additional $100 secures one-hour processing.
Chances are, you’ll require at least one license or permit to operate your LLC in compliance with Idaho state law. For more information about business licenses in this state, check out the state’s “Licenses, Permits and Regulations” webpage.
The overall costs of operating an Idaho 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 Idaho registered agent.
The service then registers your Foreign Registration Statement with the state to qualify your LLC to do business in Idaho.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational 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.
Idaho Business Resources
Foreign Qualification by State
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