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What Documents Do I Need to Incorporate My Business?

Incorporating your business only requires a handful of documents:


1. Request for Reservation of Corporate Name. This form verifies and reserves the proposed corporate name. It's a good idea to verify the name is available with the state filing office or your Articles of Incorporation may be rejected.


Most state’s Secretary of State office will be able to provide this form.


2. Articles of Incorporation. Depending upon your state, this may also be known as a Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization or Charter. Whatever name it goes by, this is the legal document that brings the business to life. Once accepted, the corporation becomes its own legal entity.


3. Corporate Bylaws. The Bylaws specify the rights and responsibilities of the shareholders, officers and directors as well as many other items related to how the corporation will conduct business. For example, the fiscal year of the corporation, how contracts will be approved and other related issues.


Note: many states do not require bylaws, however, you should strongly consider them. You can see a list of which states require bylaws here.


4. Minutes of First Meeting. This is the first important business the newly formed corporation will conduct. It generally consists of electing officers, adopting bylaws, authorizing the issuance of initial stock shares and other routine but all important duties.

5. Stock Certificate(s). Stock issuance, recording and actual stock certificates.