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The Complete 12-step guide to Opening a US-Based LLC as a Foreigner from Anywhere in the World

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If you live in a country where accessing modern payment gateways and banking systems is challenging, setting up a US-based LLC can be the best approach to starting your online business. I am going to share a full guide on how to incorporate your US- Based LLC as a foreigner. The process, while somewhat intricate, can yield substantial benefits, including access to a robust market, enhanced credibility, and a shield against personal liability. If you follow these steps, you can create a reliable, credible, and legally protected business that can accept payments from customers worldwide and manage finances effectively. Now, let me walk through you the 12 steps to get your US-based LLC up and running:

1.Why a US-Based LLC?

Let is first begin by defining what an LLC is, it means Limited Liability Company and is unique hybrid entity that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership. This structure would particularly be appealing to you due to its simplicity and the legal protection it offers. So why incorporate the US? Having a business registered in the US can significantly boost your credibility. Customers and partners often trust US-based companies more due to the country’s strong legal protections and business regulations. This trust can lead to more sales and better business opportunities; hence bypassing a lot of local challenges that you might be facing in your own country and tap into the robust infrastructure of one of the world’s largest economies.

There are other forms of incorporations, I discuss that in details in my business launch success kit video training, if you rather go register your company differently. An LLC is ideal for beginners with small teams or solopreneurs. The workbook will also take you step by step as you plan on launching your startup in the online space. It is both printable and editable and its step-by-step workbook is exactly what your business needs to thrive online.

2. Selecting the Right State

You need to pick a state for your LLC. States like Delaware and Wyoming are popular because they have business-friendly laws and lower taxes. Delaware, in particular, is known for its strong legal system for businesses. Wyoming is the cheapest and the preferred state for startups wanted to have a US presence for their online businesses. Ultimately the choice is yours, you will get to choose the most advantageous for your business.

3. Naming your LLC

Your LLC’s name is more than a mere identifier; it’s a strategic asset. It must be unique, resonate with your target audience, and comply with the naming conventions of the state you choose. Generally, this means avoiding names that could confuse your LLC with a government agency or imply activities not within the LLC’s scope.

4.Incorporating with the right company

Starting a business in the United States can feel a bit overwhelming if you don’t know your way about a lot of the legal stipulations, bureaucratic procedures, and intricate regulations. This is why you should incorporate with a company that has experience with setting up company from abroad. I have personally experience with a couple of companies and I would highly recommend  Firstbase, they are highly professional and since you want to make sure that your information is safe make sure you incorporate with a reputable company. If you decide to choose to go with Firstbase use my affiliate links and discount codes get a 10 % discount on all their offers and stick out around till then so that I can give you an overview of their services and how you can use them to expedite the process and get started on your business the soonest. This allows you to:

5. Appointing a Registered Agent

A registered agent acts as your LLC’s official point of contact for legal documents and correspondence. This individual or entity must have a physical address in the state where your LLC is formed. Many foreign entrepreneurs opt for professional registered agent services, which ensure compliance and timely handling of critical documents.

6. Filing Articles of Organization

The Articles of Organization is a foundational document that officially establishes your LLC. This document typically includes the LLC’s name, address, registered agent information, and management structure. Filing fees vary by state, but this step is non-negotiable in the formation process.

7. Creating an Operating Agreement

An Operating Agreement delineates the ownership structure, member roles, and operational guidelines for your LLC. While not always legally required, it’s a crucial document that helps prevent internal disputes and clarifies the business’s governance framework. For foreign LLC owners, a well-crafted Operating Agreement is indispensable for navigating cross-border management complexities.

8.Obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is akin to a Social Security Number for your LLC, necessary for tax purposes, opening a business bank account, and hiring employees. The Internal revenue Service or IRS provides a straightforward online application process, and international applicants can complete this via phone or mail if needed.

9. Opening a US Bank Account

Once you receive your EIN you will then get to open A US bank account is essential for managing your LLC’s finances. Having a US-based account simplifies transactions, reduces currency exchange complications, and facilitates smoother financial operations.

10. Complying with State, Federal Regulations & taxes

Operating a US-based LLC entails adherence to various state and federal regulations, from annual reporting requirements to specific industry licenses. Staying abreast of these regulations is paramount to maintaining your LLC’s good standing and avoiding penalties. LLCs benefit from pass-through taxation, meaning profits and losses are reported on the owners’ personal tax returns. However, as a foreign owner, you’ll need to understand any tax treaties between the US and your home country to avoid double taxation and comply with all tax laws.

Maintaining accurate records is essential for any business, and Non-US LLCs are no exception. Good record-keeping practices facilitate compliance with tax laws and make the filing process smoother. Non-US LLCs should keep detailed records of all financial transactions, including income, expenses, and payments to members. These records should include invoices, receipts, bank statements, and contracts. Additionally, the LLC should retain copies of all filed tax returns and correspondence with tax authorities. Tax filing deadline are on April 15 of every year and failure to comply can get you a $25,000 fine so be sure to comply or hire professionals to help you through the process.

11. Formation timeline

Incorporating an LLC in Wyoming or Delaware generally follows a streamlined process, but the time frame can vary depending on several factors, including the state’s processing speed and whether you choose expedited services.

  • Wyoming: 3-5 business days (standard) or 1-2 business days (expedited).
  • Delaware: 2-3 weeks (standard) or 1-24 hours (various expedited options).

The specific time frames can vary slightly based on the current volume of filings and state-specific holidays, so it’s always a good idea to check with the respective state’s Secretary of State or Division of Corporations for the most up-to-date information.

12. Leveraging Professional Assistance

Given the complexity of international tax laws, seeking professional advice is often a prudent step for Non-US LLCs. Tax professionals can provide guidance tailored to the specific circumstances of the LLC, helping to navigate the nuances of cross-border taxation. When selecting a tax advisor, look for professionals with expertise in international taxation and experience with Non-US LLCs. A knowledgeable advisor can help ensure compliance, optimize tax outcomes, and provide peace of mind.

Firstbase takes care of all of your business needs without the hassle and administrative work. As I mentioned before here are some of the benefits of using them to incorporate your US-based business. Here is an overview of their offers should you decide to hire them:

Firstbase Start™ – This service package includes:

  • Formation of company in Delaware or Wyoming
  • All filing fees included
  • Open a business bank account without an EIN**
  • Expedited Tax ID (EIN) setup
  • All essential and important documents
  • Payment processing, payroll, and accounting via Loop™
  • Get discovered by VCs
  • $250K in deals and rewards
  • Lifetime expert support

You can use my code “PARTNER10” for the Start product to get a 10% discount at checkout

Firstbase Agent™- This service package includes:

  • Registered Agent available in all 50 states
  • Automated compliance reminders
  • Compliance dashboard & document access
  • Annual report and franchise tax filings
  • (additional filing fees per state apply)
  • Autopilot & Payroll plans only
  • Beneficial ownership information filings
  • Required for all businesses
  • Autopilot & Payroll plans only
  • Payroll tax registration Payroll plan only

Use code “LIGHT10” for the Agent – Light compliance product to get a 10% discount

Use code “AUTOPILOT10” for the Agent – Autopilot compliance product to get a 10% discount

Use code “PAYROLL10” for the Agent – Payroll compliance product to get a 10% discount

Firstbase Mailroom™ – The service package includes:

  • One physical business address in state of your choice
  • Unlimited incoming mail, scans, recycling
  • Unlimited digital storage
  • Shipping available via all major carriers
  • Digitize files in app & send via paper mail Premium plan only
  • Premium physical address Premium plan only
  • Coming soon
  • Multi-user access Premium plan only

Use code “MAILROOM10” for the Mailroom product to get a US$10 discount

So that is it friend, establishing a US-based LLC as a foreign entrepreneur is a strategic move that can unlock significant opportunities. By navigating the formation process, understanding regulatory requirements, and leveraging professional guidance, you can position your business for success in the vibrant US market. Embrace this journey with diligence and foresight, and your American business venture will flourish. I wish you much success on your journey and feel free to reach or comment if you need more clarification. Take good care of yourself!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this blog are affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you click on them and make a purchase. This comes at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I genuinely believe will add value to our readers. 

Xo,

Ange

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