Incorporating in Pennsylvania is beneficial because business owners can reduce their tax exposure, limit their personal liability, increase their credibility in the eyes of the public and exist perpetually despite changes in ownership or management. Keep in mind that you may incorporate your business in Pennsylvania even if your business operations are not located in the state. Before you begin, consider consulting with an attorney to make sure that a corporation is the best possible business entity for your needs. In some instances, a LLC or general partnership may be a better fit.
Select a name for your corporation. It is important to pick a unique name as you will not be permitted to use a name that is already in use in the state of Pennsylvania. Depending on the type of activities your business carries on, you may wish to select a name that is not in use anywhere in the United States. For example, if your corporation will be doing a large volume of business over the Internet, you will not want to use a name that is already in use in another state due to potential trademark infringement lawsuits.
Perform a search for your proposed business name at the Pennsylvania Department of State's website. If another business is using your proposed name or a very similar name, you should select another name. Perform a search for your proposed business name using the United States Patent and Trademark Office's TESS search system. Make sure another business is not using your proposed name for a similar type of business activity.
Find an individual willing to act as the director of your corporation. Under Pennsylvania law, you need at least one individual over the age of 18 to serve as a director. You may appoint yourself as the director.
Obtain an articles of incorporation form from the Pennsylvania Department of State's website. Complete the form by providing your contact information, business name, number of shares to be issued and corporation's effective date. Mail the form to the Pennsylvania Department of State and pay the filing fee listed on the form.
File a docketing statement with the Pennsylvania Department of State. A docketing statement form can be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State's website. You will need to provide the name of your corporation and its effective date, a description of your business, your employee identification number and the date your corporation's fiscal year will end.
Fulfill the Pennsylvania advertising requirement by publishing a notice of intent to create a corporation in two newspapers of general circulation including one legal journal.
Set a date for the corporation to hold it's annual meeting every year. At the first annual meeting you may wish to establish bylaws. Bylaws are general rules of governance that give a corporation structure. Although bylaws are not required, most corporations create them so they can set guidelines as to when meetings will be held, who may call meetings, responsibilities of corporate officers, size and consistency of the corporation's board of directors and how the corporation will function.
Issue stock certificates to the creators of the corporation who provided initial assets to the corporation. The stock certificates should reflect the value of what the creators have provided to the corporation.
Obtain any necessary business licenses for your locality. Depending on where you operate in Pennsylvania, your county or city may require a business license. You may also wish to apply for an employee identification number through the IRS if you do not already have one.