Starting a Business

Steps for Setting up Shop

When starting a new business, there are many important decisions to make and rules and procedures to be addressed. First and foremost is whether you are required to register your business in Oregon.

Although there is no single source for all filing requirements, the following steps will assist you in starting your business.

1. Do your research

The Business Xpress​ is a cooperative outreach effort of state agencies designed as a first stop for starting a business in Oregon. An online Business Wizard provides customized referrals containing information regarding gove​rnment or organization contacts for your business. The How to Start a Business in Oregon guide (PDF) provides a general checklist to guide you through the process of registering your business.

2. Create a business plan

It helps to begin with a plan. A business plan is a blueprint of every aspect of your business. Sales, marketing, advertising, promotion and location are just some of the aspects of creating a plan. For a tutorial on how to create a business plan, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Oregon has many programs available to assist businesses. The Oregon Business Guide lists three broad categories of business assistance programs.

Oregon's Economic and Community D​evelopment Department provides reports and services for and about Oregon businesses.

3. ​Select your business name and structure

Choose a business structure​. Select a business entity type from the following list for a brief overview of the principal types of legal business str​uctures available in Oregon. A legal representative and accountant should be consulted before making a determination as to the type of business entity to form. Read about choosing a legal structure.

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Corporation
  • Nonprofit
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Limited partnership (LP)
  • General partnership
  • Limited liability partnership (LLP)

Choose a business name. When you are ready to select a business name or assumed business name for your business, check the Business Registry Database for name availability.

Note: Sole proprietors may conduct business under their own name or they may choose to use an assumed business name.

4. Register your business

The Oregon Secretary of State's Corporation Division is the place to register your corporation, nonprofit corporation, assumed business name, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, Oregon trademark or service mark. Go to the Forms and Fees page to file a business online or download f​orms to print and mail.

5. ​Learn about your tax obligations

Understanding your tax obligations is an important consideration for any business. The Business Information Center provides information about Oregon and federal income taxes.

Learn about requirements to report personal property to your county assessor's office. You will also want to check other taxes that may apply to your business.

Most businesses will need to apply to the Internal Revenue Service for a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)​. You can apply online through the IRS. For more information, please check the following resources:

6. ​Check into what licenses, permits or certifications you need

Many occupations and business activities require special licenses, permits or certifications from state agencies or boards. The state of Oregon offers a searchable online License Directory, a comprehensive directory of over 1,100 licenses, permits and certifications. The Business Information Center also provides information on state license requirements. Construction and landscape contractors need to register with the Construction Contractors Board or Landscape Contractors Board.

Cities and counties may also require businesses to have a license or permit. Please check with your city and county government to determine the license, permit or zoning requirements for your area.

7. Learn about ​other requirements

Protect your idea. Learn about registering patents, copyrights, trademarks and service marks with the state of Oregon and the federal government.

Check with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Some business activities will require you to contact DEQ.

Determine whether you comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many businesses are subject to this federal law which prohibits discrimination against disabled persons.

8. Meet ongoing registration requirements

Keep your reporting and registration obligations current. Businesses registered with the Secretary of State Corporation Division must file annual reports and renew their registration information. We mail payment coupons approximately 45 days prior to your renewal due date. Check Renew Online for more information.

Nonprofit organizations engaging in charitable activities need to file annual reports with the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ), Charitable Activities Section, and with the Internal Revenue Service. Check Information for Nonprofit Organizations.

Many occupational or business licenses require annual renewal. Please check with the specific licensing agency for specific requirements. The Referral List provides contact information for government agencies arranged by subject or topic.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Woman holding "Open" sign

Before You Begin

Starting a successful business requires a great deal of preparation. The How to Start a Business in Oregon (PDF) guide provides basic information about how to start a business in Oregon. It provides a list of recommendations to help you get your business off to a good start.

If you will have employees in Oregon, then the Employer’s Guide for Doing Business in Oregon (PDF) will come in handy. This guide gives information on laws, regulations and taxation requirements affecting businesses with employees.​