How to Start a Business in Nevada

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

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

1. Choose a Business Idea

Take time to explore and research ideas for your business. At this stage, consider your own interests, skills, resources, availability, and the reasons you want to form a business. You should also consider the likelihood of success based on the interests and needs of your community. Read our article for more tips on how to evaluate business ideas.

After you select an idea, consider drafting a business plan to evaluate your chances of making a profit. When you create a plan, you will have a better idea of the startup costs, your competition, and strategies for making money. Typically, investors and lenders will ask to review your business plan before providing financial assistance. To learn more about the benefits of business plans and how to create one for your enterprise see Why You Need to Write a Business Plan.

2. 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. Read our article for information on how to choose the best ownership structure for your business.

3. 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 Nevada Secretary of State (SOS). You can check for available names using the Nevada Business Search on the SOS website. You can reserve an available name for twelve months by filing a Name Reservation Request with the Nevada SOS. You can reserve a name for up to 90 days. There are also certain name requirements for LLCs and corporations (like including a word such as "LLC" for LLCs or "Company" for corporations).

Will your Nevada sole proprietorship or partnership use a business name that is different from the names of the business owner (for a sole proprietorship) or individual partners (for a partnership)? If so, you must file a Fictitious Name Certificate with the county clerk's office in the county where you will do business. Check with your local county clerk for more details.

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.

4. Create Your Business Entity

  • Sole proprietorship: To establish a sole proprietorship in Nevada, you don't need to file any organizational documents with the state. For more information, see How to Establish a Sole Proprietorship in Nevada.
  • Partnership: To create a general partnership in Nevada, 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. To form a limited liability partnership (often used by professionals), you must file a Certificate of Registration with the Nevada SOS. For more information, see Why Choose a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)?.
  • LLCs: To create an LLC in Nevada, you must file articles of organization with the Nevada SOS. You can file on paper or online. You will also need to appoint a registered agent in Nevada 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 Nevada and How to Form a Professional LLC in Nevada (for professionals).
  • Corporations: To create a corporation in Nevada, you must file articles of incorporation with the Nevada SOS. You can file on paper or online. You will also need to appoint a registered agent in Nevada 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 Nevada.

5. Apply for Licenses and Permits

Tax Registration. If you will be selling goods in Nevada, you must register with the Nevada Department of Taxation (DOT) for a sales tax permit. You can register online.

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. 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 Nevada businesses need a license. At a minimum, that means a State Business License (SBL) issued by the Nevada Secretary of State SOS. Apart from getting an SBL when you start your small business, you generally will need to renew the license each year. For many businesses, the renewal is connected with filing Nevada's version of an annual report with the state.

You can find additional online information about the SBL in the following places:

In addition, some required licenses are issued at the city or county level. The Business Licensing Agencies section of Nevada's Department of Business and Industry (DBI) website has a list of local governments that issue business licenses. You can click on the name of a city or county on the list for more information.

Professional and occupational licenses. These cover people who work in various fields. The Business Licensing Agencies section of the DBI website has a list of state regulatory agencies for many professions and occupations.

6. Pick a Business Location and Check Zoning

You'll need to pick a location for your business and check local zoning regulations. Before you commit to a location, take time to calculate the costs of running your business in the desired spot, including rent and utilities. You can refer back to your business plan to evaluate whether you can afford your desired location during your company's early months.

It is important to verify that the spot is zoned for your type of business. You might find zoning regulations for your town or city by reviewing your local ordinances and contacting your town's zoning or planning department. Read our article for more tips on picking a location.

One alternative to opening your business at a new location is running your company out of your home. If you decide to run a home-based business, again check your local zoning laws. In addition, review your lease (if you rent your home) and homeowners association rules (if applicable), either of which might ban some or all home businesses.

7. Taxes and Reporting

Nevada is one of four states that have neither a corporate income tax nor a personal income tax. However, any businesses that have employees and report gross wages to the Nevada Employment Security Division (ESD) are subject to the state's modified business tax (MBT). See Nevada State Business Income Tax for more information on state business taxes in Nevada.

Sole proprietorships. Apart from the MBT, sole proprietorships only pay federal taxes on business income.

Partnerships. Apart from the MBT, partnerships only pay federal taxes on business income.

LLCs. Apart from the MBT, LLC members only pay federal taxes on business income. In addition, the LLC itself must file an annual report (also known in Nevada as an annual list) with the Nevada SOS. See Nevada LLC Annual Report and Tax Requirements for more information.

Corporations. Apart from the MBT, corporation shareholders only pay federal taxes on their dividends and any salary. The corporation itself also is subject to the federal corporate income tax. Furthermore, corporations must file an annual report (also known in Nevada as an annual list) with the Nevada SOS.

Apart from the limited Nevada taxes, there are always federal income and employer taxes. Check IRS Publications 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, and 583, Taxpayers Starting a Business.

8. Obtain Insurance

Business insurance can protect your company and your personal assets from the fallout of unexpected disasters, such as personal injury lawsuits or natural catastrophes. An insurance agent can help you explore the different coverage options, which might include general liability insurance to protect your business against claims relating to bodily injury or property damage. To learn more, see Nolo's article, What Types of Insurances Does Your Small Business Need?

9. Open a Business Bank Account

No matter the type of business you form, you should consider opening a separate business account to make it easier to track your income and expenses. For some business types, like LLCs and corporations, a separate bank account is necessary to maintain your liability protection. To learn more, see Opening a Business Bank Account.

Find the business structure that fits your business. Take our business formation quiz for help deciding the best structure for your business.

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