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.

Paperwork Cost Time
  • Form INCSTK09: Certificate of Incorporation of a Stock Corporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form 2553: S-Corp Election, if desired
  • Form CRA: Combined Registration Application for State of Delaware Business License and/or Withholding Agent
  • Form REG-1: Business Tax Registration Application
  • Incorporation: $89 + $9 for extra pages + optional $50-$1000 expedite fee
  • Form CRA: $75 for first business license. Fees vary based on applicable licenses, locations, and accounts.
  • Incorporation: ~3 weeks. ~24 hours for $50 state expedite fee. Same-day for $100 state expedite fee. ~2 hours for $500 state expedite fee. 1 hour for $1000 state expedite fee.
  1. 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).

  2. 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). 
    DC §8-102-a-1

  3. Appoint a Registered Agent

    Identify the corporation’s Delaware registered agent. This individual or company receives notice of lawsuit and other legal service for the corporation.

  4. File Delaware Articles of Incorporation

    File the articles of incorporation to create your corporation.

    Agency:Delaware Department of State - Division of Corporations
    Form:

    Certificate of Incorporation

    Filing Method:

    Mail or fax

    Agency Fee:

    $89 + $9 for extra pages + optional $50-$1000 expedite fee

    Turnaround:

    ~3 weeks. ~24 hours for $50 state expedite fee. Same-day for $100 state expedite fee. ~2 hours for $500 state expedite fee. 1 hour for $1000 state expedite fee.

    Law:

    Delaware Code, Title 8: General Corporation Law

    Notes:

    Include a cover letter.

    Fact Checked:6/16/17
  5. Establish Bylaws & Corporate Records

    Your corporation must keep correct and complete books and records. Your filed articles of incorporation are the first document for your corporate records. Your corporation will generate many other official records such as bylaws, meeting minutes, and your EIN.

    Office supplies intended for a corporation will help you stay organized and save time. Optionally, get a corporate record book, seal, and document templates.

    Draft bylaws (potentially using a template) which is the governing document for the corporation. The bylaws may contain any provision, not inconsistent with law or with the certificate of incorporation, relating to the business of the corporation, the conduct of its affairs, and its rights or powers or the rights or powers of its stockholders, directors, officers or employees (DC 8-1-I §109). You will review and ratify the bylaws at your first board of directors meeting.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    Directors Officers
    • 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
    http://www.irs.gov/
    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.
  10. 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.
    Notes:

    If you will hire employees, register with the Delaware Department of Labor by filing Form UC-1 ($0 state fee).

    Fact Checked:5/12/20
  11. 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.
  12. 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

    Agency:Delaware Department of Finance - Division of Revenue
    Notes:

    Businesses that are registered in Delaware but do not operate within the state are typically not required to register.

    Initial Registration

    Form:

    Combined Registration Application

    Agency Fee:

    $75

    Fact Checked:8/4/17

    Registration Renewal

    Form:

    Online

    Agency Fee:

    $75

    Due:

    Annually by December 31.

    Fact Checked:8/4/17
  13. Ongoing Filings to Maintain Your Corporation

    You must file federal and state tax returns. You must also file:

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