Start a Small Business in Kentucky Today


 If you are looking to form a domestic entity, or you are seeking authorization as a foreign business to operate within Kentucky, your acceptance within the state will be dictated by the office of the Kentucky Secretary of State. It is with them that you will file your applications to transact business, either online or through the mail. The Kentucky Business One Stop Portal is an online filing service provided by the Secretary of State to expedite and simplify the process of business registration. We recommend that you take the time to create an account to enjoy the many benefits of online filing. However, we’ve also included the PDF files necessary in all of your tutorials for those wishing to file in the mail. Take your time in perusing the tutorials found linked below to gain a full understanding of the filing requirements for this state.

Start an Entity

  • Kentucky Corporation
  • Kentucky LLC
  • Kentucky Nonprofit Corporation
  • Kentucky Professional Limited Liability Company

Search for a Business Name

The Business Entity Search function on the Secretary of State website allows for filers to investigate the detailed filing history of a particular business, purchase a Certificate of Existence for their own company or file their annual report. This inquiry is a particularly useful tool for the organizers of a business who have opted not to use the online filing method thus eliminating the mandatory name availability search provided in the online forms. For these paper filers, the business entity search will allow for them to research the availability of their desired name before submitting the formation papers to the Secretary of State.

How to Register in Kentucky

Step 1 – The first step in filing with the Secretary of State is in choosing a name that accurately represents your business and ensuring that that name is available for use in the state of Kentucky. As all names must be completely unique and discernible from all other entities, a Business Entity Search should be conducted. This step will not be necessary for online filers as there is a name availability search incorporated into your online application. A Name Reservation is another viable option prior to filing, allowing businesses to secure the rights to their name for a period of 120 days.

Step 2 – Once you’ve decided upon a unique name, you can continue by logging into your online account or downloading the filing forms here on our website. If you have trouble registering for an online account. Below we’ve detailed the filing process for each entity type, both foreign and domestic. Decide on the entity you’d like to register as and click on the tutorial below for a more comprehensive guide.

Step 3 – Following the completion of the necessary forms, filers will need to settle the fee associated with their registration. This feat can be accomplished online by credit card or by a pre-paid account. This online payment will finalize the filing process. Paper applicants will need to make a check payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer and attach it to their applications. It should be noted that all domestic entities will be charged $40 to a foreign entity’s $90. This fee is applicable across the board.

Step 4- This final step is necessary only for paper filers as you will need to consolidate all items, place them in an envelope and address that envelope to the below location.

Name Reservation

The Name Reservation tool is used primarily by foreign businesses looking to avoid the necessity of a fictitious name while operating in Kentucky. The use of an alternative title would be deemed mandatory if a name were to be registered by another business. Reserving your name will do exactly what it sounds like, prevent other businesses from filing under it for a period of 120 days. The reservation will cost a total of $15 and allow business owners ample time to file the necessary paperwork.

Certificate of Existence

Certificate of Existence is a document that serves as proof that your business is up to date with all necessary filings and fees and that they are a legitimate business that operates under the Kentucky State Code. The acquisition of such a certificate can be achieved online or through the request for corporate documents form and will cost businesses $10 per copy. Domestic entities looking to expand their business out of state will most likely be required to provide proof of their legitimacy through the presentation of a Certificate of Existence.

Kentucky Agreements

The drafting of corporate bylaws, LLC operating agreement, or partnership agreement will allow the organizers of an entity to detail the manner in which it shall conduct its internal affairs. These agreements detail every aspect of the management of the company including the initial managing members or incorporators, the power of said managing members, the asset distribution upon dissolution, and the initial capital contribution of each valid organizer. Clicking on each of the links below will present you with a short summary of why you may want to incorporate this into your business structure as well as a template designed by our attorney to expedite the process.

  • Kentucky Corporate Bylaw
  • Kentucky Operating Agreement
  • Kentucky Partnership Agreement

Employer Identification Number

The Employer Identification Number is one that allows Internal Revenue Services to recognize you as a legitimate, tax-paying entity. It will allow you to open bank accounts, apply for corporate credit cards, hire employees, apply for loans and otherwise conduct any kind of financial transaction. The application for the EIN can be executed for free using the IRS website or by downloading the application form SS-4 in PDF. This is a step that we recommend business owners take immediately following their filing for formation with the Secretary of State.

Popular States to Start a Small Business

Start an LLC in Your State

When it comes to compliance, costs, and other factors, these are popular states for forming an LLC.

Business Owners

Start Your Business Today

Get the fastest information, worry free services, and expert support you need.

Start Now