Thanks to Gina Bongiovi of Bongiovi Law
Starting a Business in Nevada
By popular demand, here is the checklist for starting a business in Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City and Clark County.
1. Choose a name.
Make sure no one else has it. When you’ve chosen a name, move on to step 2.
2. Figure out your business address.
Whether you use your home address, a virtual office, or an actual office, you’ll need a business address for almost all the paperwork you fill out to open your business. It’s much easier to have this address from the start than to change it down the road. The Nevada Secretary of State alone charges $175 for an address change, not to mention the paperwork involved.
You can have a separate mailing address for most applications, which is handy if you want to use a PO box or your home address, but the business address is what will be public record, so choose wisely.
One final word on a business address. Many businesses somehow get away with a box at a mail store as their business address. Be warned that the city licensing bureaus don’t like to license businesses that just hang their licenses in a mail store. You may get away with it; you may not. Have a backup plan just in case.
3. Get an EIN number.
The EIN number is like a social security number for your business. With rampant identity theft concerns, it isn’t wise to use your social security number for your business, which is what you have to do if you don’t have an EIN. I’ve written an article on why you should have an EIN. It’s free to apply and takes only a few minutes on the IRS website.
4. Form your entity and get your state business license.
You may want to consult with an attorney as to the best choice of entity for your business, but here are the basics. You file the documents to form your entity, whether it’s an LLC, a corporation, or a limited partnership, with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.
You certainly can apply for a business license as a sole proprietor, but without a separate entity, you will personally be on the hook for all of the business’ debts and obligations. Maintaining an entity costs a few hundred dollars a year, but the peace of mind is well worth the price.
You’ll first fill out and submit your Articles of Organization (LLC), Articles of Incorporation (corporation) or Certificate of Limited Partnership with a filing fee. Then, once the Secretary of State has processed that filing, they’ll send you a form asking for your Initial List of Managers/Members/Officers/Partners. Fill that out and send it back with another filing fee and your state business license fee of $200. Once those documents are processed, you’ll receive your corporate charter, the official looking document with the foil seal that says you’re incorporated.
Now that the Secretary of State has taken over processing of state business licenses, you will receive your state business license with your corporate charter.
The Secretary of State usually takes a few weeks to turn around an application. For an additional $125 you can opt for a 24-hour expedited application. Because you need this before you can proceed, it’s usually worth the extra money.
5. Register with the Nevada Department of Taxation.
To apply for a business license, you must provide proof that you’re registered with the Nevada Department of Taxation. What license you need will depend on whether you’re a retailer, a service provider, or whether you purchase items for consumption from companies that didn’t charge you sales tax. The Taxpayer Information Packet contains all the information you need to get started.
6. Apply for your city business licenses.
Registering with the taxation department can be tricky, and so can getting city business licenses. First, where is your business located? If you’re in the City of Henderson, you’ll go to their licensing bureau. Same with Boulder City. The City of North Las Vegas doesn’t currently post business license applications online. Instead, you must request an application for your specific business online.
What if you’re in the City of Las Vegas? Are you sure? The lines that separate the City of Las Vegas from Clark County aren’t anything close to straight and make no logical sense. To be sure which license you need, check the Jurisdiction Locater. Look only at the Jurisdiction field, NOT the “Minor Civil Division” field which usually says “Las Vegas Township.” The Jurisdiction field will show you whether you need a license from the City of Las Vegas or Clark County.
What if your business is mobile? If you’re a plumber, carpet cleaner, mobile detailer or other business that services the entire valley, you’ll need a license from every jurisdiction in which you plan to do business. This can be cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive. I sometimes stare out the window, envisioning a world in which you can apply for all your licenses in one location with one application, but until that day, be prepared to do some paperwork.
Have a home based business? Most jurisdictions will require you to fill out a Home Occupation Permit which requires you to acknowledge that you’re either the owner of the home or someone allowed to do business there. Because residential zoning is, well, residential, you’ll have to promise that you won’t create a traffic jam having people park in front of your house and you won’t start hanging neon signs outside your front door advertising your business. Your neighbors would NOT be happy. If you live in a homeowner’s association, be sure to check your CC&Rs to make sure you can list your home address as a business.
The cost of your business license varies with the jurisdiction and the type of business it is. Some businesses even require background checks and those licenses are usually far more expensive.
Don’t forget that it’s your entity that’s applying for the business license, not you as an individual. So, it’s ABC, LLC applying for the license, not Joe Jones. It’s very important that you remain consistent with your business name. Don’t get lazy and leave off the LLC when listing your business name. On ALL official documents, you must list the entire name of your business, INCLUDING the entity. The entity is part of the official name of your business. Be sure you use it, otherwise you will create a snafu across agencies that is a real chore to untangle.
7. Do you need a fictitious firm name?
A fictitious firm name, or a DBA, is required if you’re doing business in a name other than the one registered with the Secretary of State. So if you’re ABC, LLC but the name of your company is Joe’s Lawn and Pool Service, you’ll need to file a fictitious name form with Clark County. Then, whenever you’re asked for the name of your company on an official form, like a contract, you’ll want to list it as “ABC, LLC dba Joe’s Lawn and Pool Service.”
Are you exhausted yet? Great, because now that you’ve jumped through all the hoops, it’s time to actually DO some business! Good luck!