How to Register a Business in the US from Canada: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a business in the United States as a Canadian entrepreneur is exciting, as it opens up opportunities in a vast and diverse market. However, the process can be complex due to differences in regulations, legal structures, and administrative requirements between Canada and the US

To help you succeed in this endeavor, we’ve created a step-by-step guide that breaks down the essential tasks to register your business in the US from Canada. Whether you’re expanding your Canadian business into the US market or starting a completely new venture, following these steps will ensure a smooth and legally compliant registration process.

Stay ahead in registering your business in the US from Canada with SAL Accounting’s assistance, we unravel complex financial concepts into simple, actionable plans for your business.

Choosing Right Business Structure

Before you jump into the US market from Canada, one of your first big choices is deciding how your business will be set up. This decision is super important because it affects how you’ll work, how you’ll pay taxes, and how responsible you are for what your business does. Let’s break down three common business setups

Sole Proprietorship

  • Simplicity: This is the easiest way to set up your business, with no fuss.
  • Liability: But there’s a downside – you’re on the hook for everything, so if your business gets into trouble, your own money and stuff could be at risk.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

  • Liability Protection: An LLC is great because it keeps your money and business money separate. So, if your business has issues, your stuff is generally safe.
  • Flexibility: Plus, it’s flexible, meaning you can manage it how you want and save on taxes. That’s why many folks like it.


  • Legal Entity: A corporation is like its own person in the eyes of the law.
  • Liability Protection: It’s tops for shielding your stuff from business problems.

In a nutshell, the business setup you choose is a big deal, not just some boring paperwork. It decides how much trouble you could get into for your business’s actions and how the taxman treats you. So, take your time and think about what suits your goals and business type best. 

It’s a smart move to chat with experts who can make sure you get it right. This decision lays the foundation for your exciting journey to register a business in the US from Canada.

Naming Your Business to Register a Business in the US from Canada

When you’re getting ready to register your business in the US from Canada, one of the first things you need to do is pick a name for your business. But it’s not just any name, it has to be special and follow US rules. Here’s how you do it

Check if Your Name is Unique

  • Why It Matters: Your business name is like your business’s special badge. Having a unique name is important because it sets you apart from other businesses, and it helps people remember you.
  • Look for Similar Names: First, you need to make sure there aren’t any other US businesses with a name like yours. This is super important to avoid legal problems or confusing customers.
  • Use the USPTO: You can start your search on the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. It’s a big database of names and trademarks. Here’s how

Search with the USPTO

  • USPTO Website: Go to the USPTO website, where they keep all the info about registered business names and trademarks. It’s like a name detective for your business.
  • Start Your Search: Use the search tool on the website and type in the name you want for your business. The results will show you if there are any other businesses with the same or similar name. If you don’t find any matches, your chosen name is likely good to go.

Follow US Rules

  • Rules to Watch Out For: Keep in mind that the US has specific rules about business names. You’ve got to make sure your name follows these rules. That might mean not using certain words or phrases that aren’t allowed.
  • Think About Your Business Type: The way you set up your business (like an LLC or corporation) can also affect the name rules. So, make sure your name fits with the rules for your chosen business structure.

Protect Your Name

Have Some Backup Names

  • Plan B: It’s smart to have a few other names in mind in case your first choice is already taken. This helps you be flexible and keeps your registration process running smoothly.

In a nutshell, picking a name for your business when you’re planning to register a business in the US from Canada is more than just choosing words. It’s about finding a name that’s unique and follows US rules. Your business name is a big part of your identity, so getting it right is crucial. 

Start your search on the USPTO website and make sure your name matches the rules of the business type you’re going for. Don’t forget about trademarking for added protection. Having backup names in your pocket is a clever move to keep things moving along smoothly during the registration process.

Getting Your EIN (Employer ID) for Your US Business as a Canadian

When you’re all set to register a business in the US from Canada, one thing you can’t miss is getting your EIN, also known as the Employer Identification Number. It’s like your business’s official ID for taxes and doing business in the US. Here’s how you do it

Visit the IRS Website

  • Why It’s Important: Think of your EIN as a social security number for your business. It helps the US government know who you are, and you’ll use it for all things related to taxes and running your business.
  • Online Application: The great news is that you can apply for your EIN online, which is a quick and easy process. Here’s how you do it

Apply Online

  • Go to the IRS Website: Hop over to the IRS website and look for their EIN application page. You can do this from your computer, and it’s super handy.
  • Fill in the Form: Complete the online application form. They’ll ask you for details about your business, like its name, where it’s located, and what kind of business it is.

Get Your EIN Right Away

  • Approval: Once you’ve finished the form, and the IRS gives it the thumbs up, you’ll instantly get your EIN. That means you can keep moving ahead with your business plans without any hold-ups.

In a nutshell, snagging your EIN for your US business is a big deal when you register a business in the US from Canada. It’s your special number for taxes and other business tasks, and it’s key to a smooth business journey. 

Doing the online application through the IRS website is a fast and handy way to get your EIN. With your EIN ready, you’re good to go with your business activities in the US.

Securing the Right Business Licenses and Permits for Your US Expansion from Canada

When you’re planning to register a business in the US from Canada, you’ve got to know about business licenses and permits. The thing is, what you need can be quite different depending on where you’re starting your business and what kind of business it is. Let’s see how you can figure out which ones you require

Industry and Location Rules

The licenses and permits you need depend on your business’s industry and where it’s located. It’s not the same for everyone.

Use the SBA’s Tool

  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) has an awesome tool called the Business Licenses and Permits tool. It’s like your personal guide for this.
  • You just need to provide some information, like where your business is, what kind of industry it’s in, and what your business does. Then, this tool gives you a list of the exact licenses and permits you should get based on your unique situation.
  • It’s cool because it’s all about you – where you are, what you do, and the kind of business you’re in.

To sum it up, when you’re looking to register a business in the US from Canada, you need to know about the licenses and permits. These rules can be different for every business. To figure out what you need, check out the SBA’s Business Licenses and Permits tool. 

Give it your info, and it will tell you exactly what you need based on where you are, what your business does, and the type of industry you’re in. It’s like having a personal helper to guide you through this part of the process.

Setting Up a US Business Bank Account

When you’re getting ready to register a business in the US from Canada, it’s a good idea to open a US business bank account. This way, you keep your business money separate from your money, which makes things a lot easier. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started

Research Local Banks

  • Start by Checking Out Banks: Look into the banks in the place where you plan to do business in the US. Not all banks are the same, and they offer different services, charge different fees, and have different types of accounts.
  • Important Things to Consider: When comparing banks, think about things like:
  • What They Offer: See if they have business checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit lines.
  • Fees: Understand the fees they charge for their services and different types of accounts. Some banks may have monthly fees or fees for transactions.
  • Online Banking: Check if they have good online banking services because that’s useful these days.
  • Accessibility: Think about whether they have branches you can visit in person if you need to.

Contact the Bank You Like

Once you find a bank that seems right for your business, reach out to them. You can do this online, over the phone, or by visiting a branch if you’re in the US.

Get the Papers Ready

Documents You’ll Need: The bank will ask for specific documents when you open your business bank account. These usually include:

  • Your EIN: Have your Employer Identification Number (EIN) ready.
  • Business Documents: Things like your Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization to prove your business is legit.
  • Ownership Info: Info about who owns the business and who can sign for it.
  • Personal ID: Your ID, like your passport or driver’s license.

Open the Account

Depending on the bank’s rules, you might need to visit a branch in person, or you could do it online or over the phone.

Handle Your Account

  • Once your account is opened, make sure you use the bank’s online services to manage your business money easily. This lets you handle payments and watch your account.

In short, when you’re preparing to register a business in the US from Canada, it’s smart to open a US business bank account. This keeps your business money separate and organized. By checking out different banks, reaching out to the one you like, and getting the right documents ready, you can make this process smooth. This is an important step as you get your business ready for success in the US market.

Take Away

To register a business in the US from Canada is a challenging yet promising venture, offering access to one of the world’s largest markets. This step-by-step guide has equipped you with the necessary information for a successful business registration, laying a strong foundation for your operations.

Keep in mind that the journey to business success extends beyond mere registration and legal compliance. Your business plan, marketing tactics, and a thorough grasp of the US market are equally vital. Don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance when necessary, and remain diligent in adhering to US regulations and tax laws. This holistic approach will help you navigate the path to a prosperous US-based business.


Why Choose LLC or Corporation Over Sole Proprietorship?

The primary benefit of opting for an LLC or Corporation over a sole proprietorship is the limited liability protection they offer. With an LLC or Corporation, your assets are shielded from the debts and liabilities of your business. This level of protection is not available to sole proprietorships.

Can we operate a US Business from Canada?

Yes, you can manage your US-based business from Canada. Many business tasks can be handled remotely. However, it’s important to be aware of potential tax considerations. It’s advisable to seek guidance from a tax professional to navigate these complexities effectively.

How Long Does It Take to Get an EIN?

Typically, you’ll receive your Employer Identification Number (EIN) immediately after completing the online application. However, if you choose to apply by mail or fax, the process may take up to four weeks.