To register a business name in AZ, you need to choose a name, decide whether to put a trade name on file, make sure the name is not taken, and file documents with the Arizona Corporation Commission. The process is not difficult. If you're creating a sole proprietorship, you don't have to file anything at all with the Secretary of State.

Steps to Register a Business Name in Arizona

1. Decide what name you want to use for your business. You can use your own name, or you can choose something else for your business identity.

To avoid issues with copyright or trademark protections, do your research and make sure that whatever you choose is not too much like a name that belongs to another entity. You can search the Secretary of State's online database for organizations in Arizona. Also, search using the tools on the website of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Finally, you will want to check with your county's recorder's office to make sure there's no local duplication. The Secretary of State's office has a database to help you find contact information for your county.

2. You may want to put a trade name on file with the Secretary of State. This step is optional, but it's definitely best practice. The filing fee is $10, and you can do it online. If you're registering a corporation, you can skip this step because the Secretary of State and the Arizona Corporation Commission cross-reference their lists.

3. Research any licensure requirements, permits needed, and zoning compliance for your location. Take whatever steps are needed to comply.

State agencies issue and monitor various types of licenses. You can find all this information at the Arizona Commerce Authority website and the Arizona state website. If your field requires a state license, and most do not, you can apply through the Arizona licensing board. Their website has all the links and contact information you need.

Local rules related to permits and zoning and usually enforced through your county clerk's office. Some governments require a general business license, or you may need a trade license. You may also need to get permission from a zoning board to place a business in your chosen location.

4. Go to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website and get a nine-digit Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes. You need this if you plan to have employees. You'll use it to report their wages to the IRS and to pay employment taxes periodically. It's also necessary to report new hires to the state within 20 days of when they start to work. You can learn more about this process at the website of the Arizona Department of Revenue.

If you are a sole proprietor with no employees, you don't have to get an EIN. You can use your personal social security number instead. Check with your bank, though, because some require you to get an EIN anyway since it reduces the risk of fraud and identity theft.

Where To Find Information on Starting a Business in Arizona

Start with a visit to the Arizona Commerce Authority's website. You'll find a handy checklist of steps to take, along with links to other agencies you'll need to contact. If you're starting an LLC, you can find a guide to setting up that corporate identity. The site will walk you through establishing your Articles of Incorporation and direct you to other forms you might need.

If you need to contact the Arizona Secretary of State, you can reach them at:

  • Arizona Secretary of State
    1700 W. Washington Street, 7th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85007
  • You can find customer service centers at:
    • 1700 W. Washington Street, #103, Phoenix, AZ, 85007
    • 400 W. Congress, North Building, Room 252, Tucson, AZ, 85701
  • To reach them by phone, call 602-542-6187 in Phoenix, 520-628-6583 in Tucson, or toll-free at 800-458-5842 from anywhere.

How to Start a Business in Arizona

  1. File your Articles of Incorporation with the Arizona Corporations Commission, if you are setting up a corporation or an LLC.
  2. Publish a notice in a local newspaper.
  3. Get your EIN through the Internal Revenue Service.
  4. Set up a business bank account using your business name and EIN. Keeping your personal and business finances separate is important to the success of your endeavors.

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