Start Your Own Business in Alaska: Seven Steps You Need to Take

From licenses and permits to taxes and insurance, learn what you need to do to start a business in Alaska.



Here’s an overview of the key steps you’ll need to take to start your own business in Alaska.

Step 1. Decide on a Legal Structure

The most common legal structures for a small business are:

  • sole proprietorship
  • partnership
  • limited liability company (LLC), and
  • corporation.

There also are special versions of some of these structures, such as limited partnerships and S corporations. You’ll want to consider which business entity structure offers the type of liability protection you want and the best tax, financing, and financial benefits for you and your business. Check  Choose Your Business Structure  on Nolo’s website for more information on how to choose the best ownership structure for your business.

Step 2. Choose a Name

For LLCs and corporations, you will need to check that your name is distinguishable from the names of other business entities already on file with the Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing (CBPL). You can check for available names doing a  business entity search  on the CBPL website. You can reserve an available name for up to 120 days by filing a  Business or Corporation Name Reservation Application  with the CBPL. There are also certain name requirements for LLCs and corporations (like including a word such as “L.L.C.” for LLCs or “Company” for corporations). See  How to Form an LLC in Alaska  and  How to Form a Corporation in Alaska  for more information.

If you plan on doing business online, you may want to register your business name as a domain name. See  Choose and Register a Domain Name  for more information. In addition, to avoid trademark infringement issues, you should do a federal and state trademark check to make sure the name you want to use is not the same as or too similar to a name already in use. See  How to Do a Trademark Search  for more information.

Step 3. Create Your Business Entity

  • Sole proprietorship:  To establish a sole proprietorship in Alaska, you don’t need to file any organizational documents with the state. For more information, see  How to Establish a Sole Proprietorship in Alaska.
  • Partnership:  To create a general partnership in Alaska, you don’t need to file any organizational documents with the state. Although not legally required, all partnerships should have a written partnership agreement . The partnership agreement can be very helpful if there is ever a dispute among the partners. For more information, see  How to Form a Partnership in Alaska.  To form a  limited liability partnership  (often used by professionals), you must file a Statement of Qualification with the Alaska CBPL. For more information, seeHow to Form a Limited Liability Partnership in Alaska.
  • LLCs:  To create an LLC in Alaska, you must file  Articles of Organization  with the CBPL. You will also need to appoint a  registered agent  in Alaska for service of process. In addition, while not required by law, you also should prepare an  operating agreement  to establish the basic rules about how your LLC will operate. The operating agreement is not filed with the state. For more information, see  How to Form an LLC in Alaska  andHow to Form a Professional LLC in Alaska  (for professionals).
  • Corporations:  To create a corporation in Alaska, you must file  Articles of Incorporation  with the CBPL. You will also need to appoint a  registered agent  in Alaska for service of process. Although not legally required, you also should prepare  bylaws  to establish your corporation’s internal operating rules. Bylaws are not filed with the state.  S Corporations  must also file IRS Form 2553,  Election by a Small Business Corporation,  with the IRS. For more information, see  How to Form a Corporation in Alaska.

Step 4. Licenses and Permits

Tax Registration.  Alaska does not have a state sales tax or a personal income tax on wages so there is no issue of registering for those types of taxes. Be aware, however, that individual Alaska municipalities may charge sales tax.

EIN.  If your business has employees or is taxed separately from you, you must obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Even if you are not required to obtain an EIN, there are often business reasons for doing so. Banks often require an EIN to open an account in the business’s name and other companies you do business with may require an EIN to process payments. You can get an EIN by completing an online application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.

Regulatory licenses and permits.  These cover areas such as:

  • health and safety
  • the environment
  • building and construction; and
  • specific industries or services.

Most Alaska businesses are required to have a state business license. The license is issued by the CBPL. You have the option to pay for either a one-year or two-year business license. For more information, check the  New BL Online  section of the CBPL website. Other state agencies issue permits for matters relating to, for example, the environment or health and safety. If you think one of these kinds of permits might apply to your business, check the websites  for Division of Environmental Health,  Department of Environmental Conservation, and other state agencies. For information about local licenses and permits, check the websites for any cities or counties where you will do business.

Professional and occupational licenses.  These cover people who work in various fields. The  Professional Licensing  section of the CBPL website lists most of the professions requiring state licensing.

Step 5. Business Location and Zoning

You’ll need to pick a location for your business and check local zoning regulations. That includes if you work from home. You may be able to find zoning regulations for your town or city by checking  municode.com.

Step 6. Taxes and Reporting

Alaska is like most states in that it has a corporate income tax, but unlike many states in that it does not have any franchise or privilege tax generally applicable to businesses. Moreover, unlike most states, Alaska does not have a personal income tax. See  Alaska State Business Income Tax  for more information on state business taxes in Alaska.

Sole proprietorships.  Sole proprietorships only pay federal taxes on business income.

Partnerships.  Typical partnerships only pay federal taxes on business income.

LLCs.  For typical LLCs, LLC members only pay federal taxes on business income. In addition, the LLC itself must file a  biennial report  with the CBPL. See  Alaska LLC Annual Report and Tax Requirements  for more information.

Corporations.  Alaska corporations must pay the state’s  corporation income tax. Individual shareholders must pay federal taxes on their dividends from the corporation. A shareholder-employee with a salary also must pay federal income tax on his or her individual federal tax return. In addition, corporations must file a  biennial report  with the CBPL.

Apart from Alaska taxes, there are always federal income and employer taxes. Check IRS Publications 334,  Tax Guide for Small Business, and 583,  Taxpayers Starting a Business, available at irs.gov.

Step 7. Insurance

Insurance is a good idea for most kinds of business. While insurance often is regulated at the state level, the types of business insurance available are usually similar across the fifty states. Check  Obtaining Business Insurance  for more information.

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