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 Colorado and you are looking to open a second location in Utah, you may need to complete a foreign qualification in Utah 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 Utah. 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 Utah yields consequences that are far costlier than registering in the first place.
If your LLC conducts business in Utah without foreign qualifying, it will be disallowed from maintaining or commencing any lawsuits in a Utah court. Not only that, but the Attorney General may also cut you off from doing business in the state.
Although conducting business without authorization won’t completely halt all of your LLC’s activities in Utah. For example, it won’t impair the validity of your existing in-state contracts, nor will it prevent you from defending a lawsuit.
Interested in the legal context for these penalties? Check out the Utah Code, Section 48-3a-902.
We’ve established why you shouldn’t do business without a foreign qualification. But what exactly does it mean to “do business” in Utah? In summary, you are considered to be “doing business” in Utah and required to foreign qualify if:
Generally, if your business is consistently profiting off of Utah’s economy, you’re doing business in the state.
And how could we forget to mention taxes? Depending on how you’ve structured your LLC, you may have to pay certain business-related taxes in Utah. Without a foreign qualification on file, the state won’t know how to tax you. Initially, this might seem like a good thing, but in the long run, it’ll likely end up in greater fines and penalties. 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 Utah, 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 Utah. Certain actions do not qualify as “doing business” and therefore don’t require a foreign qualification. Some examples are:
Take a look at Utah Code, Section 48-3a-905 for a more detailed list. If your only Utah business activities appear here, congrats! You can likely skip foreign qualification. But, again, if you’re at all unsure, it’s best to seek legal advice.
Foreign qualification in Utah 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 Utah, the quickest and easiest way to do so is through the OneStop Business Registration portal. This is also the method that the Division of Corporations and Commercial Code prefers.
The first thing you need to do is create an account. After you’re logged in, click “Begin Registration,” then “I am registering a new business in Utah.” The site will guide you through a series of pages where you can input your business information. At the end, you’ll be prompted to pay the $70 application fee with a credit or debit card.
Even though the state recommends that you complete all filings online, they still accept paper forms. If you prefer to work with a hard copy, download the “Foreign Registration Statement” and fill it out with the required information. Make sure to type everything, as the state will not accept handwritten forms.
When finished, mail your application to the Utah Division of Corporations \u0026 Commercial Code at P.O. Box 146705, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-6705.
You may also fax it to (801) 530-6438, but you must include a “Fax Cover Letter.”
You must also include a Certificate of Good Standing from your home state with both paper and online filings. This certificate cannot be more than 90 days old.
By mail, you can pay your $70 fee with a check or money order made out to the “State of Utah.” For in-person deliveries, pay with a check, card, or cash. Faxed forms must include credit card information on the Fax Cover Letter.
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.
You wouldn’t want your foreign qualification process held up by a non-compliant business name, so take a moment to confirm that your LLC name follows all of Utah’s naming rules. It must:
You can also reserve your Utah business name if you’re not quite ready to foreign qualify your LLC.
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 1-2 business days for Utah to process an application submitted online. If you choose to mail your forms, expect it to take a couple of weeks.
Chances are, you’ll require at least one license or permit to operate your LLC in compliance with Utah state law. For more information about business licenses and more in this state, check out Utah’s convenient Online Business Registration portal that registers your business with five state agencies and provides any license applications you may need.
Yes. Whether you operate a domestic or foreign LLC in this state, you are required to file a Utah LLC Annual Renewal.
The overall costs of operating a Utah 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 Utah registered agent.
The service then files your Foreign Registration Statement with the state to qualify your LLC to do business in Utah.
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.
Utah Business Resources
Foreign Qualification by State
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