October 19, 2023

How to register a US business from Nigeria

With Firstbase since:

Do you have a Nigerian startup or small business? Incorporating in the US may seem ambitious, but it's actually a more practical goal than ever before.

At Firstbase, we've helped 850+ Nigerian founders register their companies in the US. We wanted to share the steps they took and help make it possible for even more business owners.

Why register a US business from Nigeria?

First, let's take a look at some of the key advantages of registering your Nigerian business in the US:

  1. Opening an American bank account
  2. Opening a US office or other facility
  3. Hiring American employees
  4. Getting funding from US-based investors

Of course, there are many other reasons to consider incorporating a US company. Click here to learn more.

Seven steps to incorporating in the US

Now, let's get right into it — the seven steps you need to follow to successfully register your company in the United States:

1. Choose a business structure

Selecting the appropriate business structure is a critical decision that affects various aspects of your US business, including liability, taxation, and operational flexibility.

The two main options for startups and small businesses are limited liability companies (LLCs) and C Corps. Consult with a legal professional or business advisor to determine the most suitable structure for your needs. Not sure which one is right for you? Take our LLC vs. C Corp quiz for a personalized recommendation.

2. Choose a business name and check availability

Select a personalized name for your US business that reflects your brand identity. Conduct a thorough search to ensure that another entity does not already use the chosen name. You can check the availability of your chosen business name through the Firstbase name check tool.

In addition, you can use the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website to search for existing trademarks. Registering a trademark is not mandatory but can provide additional protection for your brand.

3. Register your business with the state

To operate legally in the US, you must register your business with the state where you will establish your presence. The registration process typically involves filing the necessary forms, paying the required fees, and providing relevant information about your business.

We recommend you get assistance from Firstbase for this and use Firstbase Agent. Each state has its own procedures, so it is advisable to consult the Secretary of State’s office or engage a professional service to guide you through the registration process. Check out Firstbase Payroll Registration during this step.

4. Obtain the necessary permits and Licenses

Depending on your business activities and services, you may be required to get specific permits and licenses at the federal, state, or local levels. If you need to obtain insurance, check out how Firstbase can help with this. Research and identify the permits and licenses relevant to your industry and comply with the regulations. Examples of commonly required licenses include professional licenses, health permits, and sales tax permits.

5. Register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Acquiring an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS is a fundamental step in the registration process. While this may be complicated, our team at Firstbase can help. An EIN is necessary for tax purposes and allows you to hire employees, open a bank account, and conduct business activities in the US. You can also apply for an EIN via the IRS website or mail.

6. Open a US business bank account

Establishing a US business bank account is crucial for managing financial transactions and separating personal and business finances. Contact reputable US banks and compare their services, fees, and requirements. Then contact Firstbase Bank, the only company out there to help foreign founders to get a bank account before incorporation with pre-EIN bank services. 

Due to enhanced anti-money laundering measures, some banks may require you to have a US-based representative or physical presence to open an account. Consider partnering with a trusted financial institution that offers international banking services to assist you in this process.

7. Comply with tax obligations

As a new US business owner, you are subject to federal, state, and local taxes—This can be expensive. However, Firstbase can do this more cost-effectively for those seeking a cheaper alternative. Familiarize yourself with the US tax system and its requirements to ensure compliance. Consider consulting a tax professional specializing in international taxation to help you navigate the complexities of US tax laws and maximize your tax benefits.

Need help registering your US business from Nigeria?

Incorporating your Nigerian business into the US can be rewarding. Still, it requires careful planning, research, and adherence to legal and regulatory obligations. When you follow the steps outlined above, you will be well-prepared to navigate registering a US business from Nigeria. However, remember to consult with legal and financial professionals to ensure compliance and make informed decisions that align with your business goals.

Also, speak to our team at Firstbase. Firstbase, a self-service business model, makes incorporation easy. We help founders create LLCs and C-Corps in 43 states and help businesses in Africa, specifically Nigeria, register and incorporate in the US. We walk with startups, specifically Tech startups, on the professional road to the US from Nigeria. If you reside in Nigeria and want to register a US business, click below to take your first step from Nigeria to the US with Firstbase.

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