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 Kansas and you are looking to open a second location in Nebraska, you may need to complete a foreign qualification in Nebraska 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 Nebraska. 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 Nebraska yields consequences that are far costlier than registering in the first place.
If you fail to foreign qualify, your business is prohibited from bringing or maintaining a lawsuit in Nebraska courts. Plus, the Attorney General can halt your LLC’s business activity in the state.
Transacting business without properly qualifying, however, will not cancel or invalidate your current contracts. Nor will it stop your LLC from defending a lawsuit in Nebraska courts.
That said, the loss of your in-state revenue stream and legal rights is a frightening thought, so it’s best to foreign qualify right away.
You can read more about possible penalties in Nebraska Revised Statute 21-162.
We’ve established why you shouldn’t do business without a foreign qualification. But what exactly does it mean to “do business” in Nebraska? Like many other states, Nebraska law is fairly vague on the topic. But other state and tax laws indicate that you are considered to be “doing business” in most cases and required to foreign qualify if:
Depending on how you’ve set up your LLC, you might need to pay certain business taxes. By foreign qualifying, you’re informing the state about your tax status, so they know what you’ll be paying. It might seem economical to avoid these LLC taxes by not qualifying, but resist the temptation! It could lead to heftier penalties in the long run. Check out the Nebraska Department of Revenue website to learn more. 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 Nebraska, 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 Nebraska. Certain actions do not qualify as “doing business” and therefore don’t require a foreign qualification. Some examples are:
Take a look at a more detailed list in Nebraska Revised Statute 21-157. After reviewing them carefully, if you’ve determined that your business activities in Nebraska all appear there, you’re likely in the clear! But if you’re not sure, check with an attorney.
Foreign qualification in Nebraska 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 Nebraska, you’ll need to get your hands on a Certificate of Authority. You can apply for one using this form, submitted either online or by mail.
Even if you’re submitting it online, you’ll need to fill it out, so first, download the application and enter the appropriate information. Then, follow these directions:
Or, take two copies of that completed form and pop it in the mail with a check for $120 (made out to “Secretary of State”). Here’s the address:
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 94608
Lincoln, NE 68509
Along with your form, the Secretary of State requires a Certificate of Good Standing (or Certificate of Existence) – dated within 60 days – from the state where you formed your LLC.
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.
Since you’re taking off in a new state, there will be new rules to remember about your business name. As you submit your documents, check to confirm that your name (or fictitious name) follows them. In Nebraska, your LLC name must:
Find more information about these requirements in Nebraska Revised Statute 21-108.
When you register an LLC in Nebraska, whether domestic or foreign, the state requires that you publish proof of your business formation in a newspaper in general circulation. The requirements for your advertisement include the name of your LLC, the name and street address of your registered agent, the physical address of your primary business location, and which (if any) professional service your business provides.
The paper must be located near your LLC’s main office in Nebraska, and you need to run the ad for at least three weeks. Once the three weeks are up, the newspaper will provide you with a proof of publication form, which you can then submit to the Nebraska Secretary of State.
Filing the form with the state is quite inexpensive, especially compared to New York and Arizona, the other two states that require publication. In Nebraska, there is a $10 fee by mail and a $12 fee for online filing, and both options also add on a $5 per page fee.
For more information, consult our full guide to the Nebraska LLC publication requirement.
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 only 1-2 business days for the Nebraska Secretary of State to process a foreign qualification submission.
Chances are, you’ll require at least one license or permit to operate your LLC in compliance with Nebraska state law. For more information about business licenses and more in this state, check out the state’s convenient Business Licensing webpage.
Yes. Whether you operate a domestic or foreign LLC in this state, you are required to file a Nebraska LLC Biennial Report.
The overall costs of operating a Nebraska 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 Nebraska registered agent.
The service then registers your Certificate of Authority with the state to qualify your LLC to do business in Nebraska.
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.
Nebraska Business Resources
Foreign Qualification by State
Ready to Start Your Nebraska LLC?