How to Incorporate in Delaware
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If you’re looking to incorporate in Delaware, you’re in the right place. This guide will help you file formation documents, get tax identification numbers, and set up your company records.
Choose a Corporate Structure
Incorporating means starting a corporation. If you want to form an LLC, please see "How to Form an LLC in Delaware".
Is your corporation for-profit or not-for-profit? If you are starting a nonprofit, please see "How to Start a Non-Profit Organization in Delaware".
C-Corp and S-Corp refer to taxation with the IRS, not to legal structures. Your corporation is taxed as a C-Corp unless you file an election to be taxed as an S-Corp (explained below).
Check Name Availability
The legal name of your corporation may not conflict with any other registered name. Check availability of your desired name by conducting a name search.
Name Search: Delaware Department of State - Division of Corporations Name Reservation: Optional Suffix Requirements:
Shall contain 1 of the words "association," "company," "corporation," "club," "foundation," "fund," "incorporated," "institute," "society," "union," "syndicate," or "limited," (or abbreviations thereof, with or without punctuation), or words (or abbreviations thereof, with or without punctuation) of like import of foreign countries or jurisdictions (provided they are written in roman characters or letters).
Appoint a Registered Agent
Before you officially file to create your Delaware LLC, you will need to decide who your Delaware registered agent will be. A registered agent is a business's legal appointee to receive notice of lawsuit and other legal or government notices.
State law requires every LLC to have a registered agent. The registered agent is designated when you file Delaware articles of organization with the Delaware Department of State - Division of Corporations.
Our reliable registered agent service fulfills this requirement. You get:
- Same-day documents from our local office in Dover
- Immediate online access to state forms with our address and, where required, our signature
- Annual fees from $89 to $99 per state with no additional charges
File Delaware Articles of Incorporation
File the articles of incorporation to create your corporation.
Establish Bylaws & Corporate Records
Your corporation must keep correct and complete books and records.
Draft bylaws (potentially using a template) which is the governing document for the corporation. The bylaws of a corporation may contain any provision for managing the business and regulating the affairs of the corporation that is not inconsistent with law or with the articles of incorporation (C.R.S. 7-102-106). You will review and ratify the bylaws at your first board of directors meeting.
A corporation shall keep as permanent records minutes of all meetings of its shareholders and board of directors, a record of all actions taken by the shareholders or board of directors without a meeting, a record of all actions taken by a committee of the board of directors in place of the board of directors on behalf of the corporation, and a record of all waivers of notices of meetings of shareholders and of the board of directors or any committee of the board of directors (C.R.S. 7-116-101).
Your filed articles of incorporation and bylaws are the first documents for your corporate records. Your corporation will generate many other official records such as:
- Meeting minutes
- Shareholder resolutions
- EIN verification letter
- Amendments and other filings made to the corporation over its lifetime
Organizations need a secure, centralized tool for managing and accessing sensitive records. Our Records Manager software offers a simple, efficient way for corporations to store records, track officers, directors, and shareholders, and customize meeting notifications.
Appoint Initial Directors
The initial directors serve on the board until the annual meeting of shareholders (when directors are elected to the board). If the initial directors are not named in the articles of incorporation, they are appointed by the incorporator. The incorporator documents and signs this action for the corporate records.
Hold Organizational Meeting
Hold the first meeting of the board of directors.
... an organization meeting... shall be held, either within or without this State, at the call of a majority of the incorporators or directors, as the case may be, for the purposes of adopting bylaws, electing directors (if the meeting is of the incorporators) to serve or hold office until the first annual meeting of stockholders or until their successors are elected and qualify, electing officers if the meeting is of the directors, doing any other or further acts to perfect the organization of the corporation, and transacting such other business as may come before the meeting.
DC 8-1-I §108
The following state laws apply unless overridden by the organizational documents, where permissible.
- Number: One or more required.
- Qualifications: Natural person.
- Quorum: Majority of directors, unless bylaws fix a different number. No less than one third.
- As stated in the bylaws. One person may hold multiple offices. One officer is required to be responsible for maintaining corporate records.
Issue Stock Certificates
The owners may be issued stock certificates to serve as proof of ownership in the corporation. Remember to hold the first annual meeting of the shareholders (the owners of the corporation) according to bylaws and keep minutes of this meeting.
The following state laws apply unless overridden by the organizational documents, where permissible.
Shareholders Annual Shareholder Meeting
- Qualifications: N/A
- Stock Certificate: Not required.
- Voting Trusts Allowed: Yes.
- Required: Yes, unless directors are elected by written consent.
- Action by written consent: Allowed if enough shareholders consent to equal the number required to take action by vote.
Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Your corporation must obtain an EIN regardless of whether it will hire employees.
Submit to: Internal Revenue Service
Form: IRS Form SS-4 Guidance: IRS Pub 1635: Understanding Your EIN Filing Method: Mail, phone, fax, or apply online with the IRS Fee: $0 Turnaround: Immediately online Notes: The IRS website is only available during certain hours. Print your EIN before closing your session.
Get Delaware State Tax Identification Numbers/Accounts
Delaware corporations must obtain a Delaware business license and paying the accompanying gross receipts tax. In addition, Delaware corporations are required to register with the Division of Revenue for other tax accounts. Delaware offers a consolidated application to register your organization with the Division of Revenue, the Division of Unemployment Insurance and the Office of Workers Compensation.
Agency: Delaware Department of Finance - Division of Revenue Form: Form CRA: Combined Registration Application for State of Delaware Business License and/or Withholding Agent Filing Method: Mail or online Agency Fee:
$75 for first business license. Fees vary based on applicable licenses, locations, and accounts.
Consider Electing S-Corp Taxation
By default, your corporation is taxed as a C-Corporation. Some corporations, especially smaller ones, benefit from electing S-Corp tax treatment:
- C-Corps suffer from double taxation: the corporation pays taxes on profits then members pay taxes on their distributions. If profits exceed $250,000 per owner, you provide employee benefits, or you will re-invest most of your profit in the business, you may benefit from the low tax rates on retained earnings under C-Corp treatment.
- S-Corp treatment avoids double-taxation. It is generally the best choice for small businesses. To accomplish this, file Form 2553: S-Corp Election with the IRS.
Obtain Business Licenses & Permits
To run your business legally, you must obtain applicable licenses and permits. The easiest way to navigate the wide range of federal, state, and local requirements is to search by your business type and locality using the Small Business Administration Business License & Permit look-up tool.
Delaware Business License - General Services
Agency: Delaware Department of Finance - Division of Revenue Law: Notes:
Any person or entity conducting a trade or business in the State of Delaware is required to obtain a Delaware business license from the Delaware Division of Revenue. This includes entities located in Delaware that conduct their business outside the state. If you are unsure of whether or not you have a substantial presence in Delaware to be subject to licensing and taxation, complete and submit a Nexus Questionnaire and the Delaware Division of Revenue will provide guidance.
Filing Method: Agency Fee:
Form: Agency Fee:
Annually by December 31. Licensees may also choose to renew on a triennial basis.
Ongoing Filings to Maintain Your Corporation
You must file federal and state tax returns.
Many states also require business entities to file an annual report to maintain good standing with the secretary of state.
For more details, see our Delaware annual report information center page.
You will need to demonstrate your company’s good standing to banks, customers, and other state agencies. After all the work involved in forming your Delaware corporation, don’t let a missed annual report filing cause your new business to fall out of compliance.
Tracking and filing annual reports on your own can be time consuming and lead to accidental lapses. Protect your corporation’s good standing with Managed Annual Report Service, which tracks and automatically files reports on time, every time, so you can focus on your business.
LLC, C-Corp, or S-Corp?
Choose which one is right for you.
Limiting Your Liability
Do you need liability insurance, limited liability protection, or both?