TOP TEN U.S. TRADE QUESTIONS – #2 Establishing a Business Presence in the USA

Continuing in this series of the top 10 FAQs that UKTI receives, we’ll explore the next hot topic of UK/US trade:

Establishing a Business Presence in the USA

You may be an experienced exporter but are now considering the advantages of having a US office. Or you could be a service provider who needs a US presence as a first step. Whatever your business requirements, there are several issues to be aware of, as well as some excellent resources you should consult.

First and foremost, we always advise companies to seek counsel from an attorney who can provide qualified legal advice regarding establishing a business entity in the United States.  Deciding on a US corporate structure can be straightforward or complex, depending on your company’s requirements. You will need to select a state in which to incorporate, consider registering in other states, ensure compliance with US regulations and tax, review banking and insurance options, protect your IP –just for starters. UK companies should explore these, and many other important decisions, fully with a legal professional.

The US Embassy website has a list of US attorneys based in the UK who specialise in a variety of areas, and the American Bar Association (ABA) also provides an extensive list of law firms across the US.  You can search by geography, area of practice or just browse the list for ABA certified lawyers by state and by specialty.

In terms of taxation, the income tax implications of setting up a business in the US are very complex and again, companies should consult a lawyer or tax specialist to ensure compliance.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the appropriate agency to direct any questions:
Internal Revenue Service
Phone Service: 9 am – 12:00 noon, Monday to Friday
Tel: 0207-894-0476
Email: [email protected]
Please note that the IRS will not answer any personal or business taxation questions through the email address but the helpdesk has a local London telephone number.

In the US, each state has an Economic Development Agency (EDA) that can offer a variety of specialised assistance including: introductions to local legal and tax specialists, details on business climate, economy information, development news, tax and financing assistance, enterprise zone information, available buildings and city and industry links. There are also agencies that specifically support the larger cities and regions, and are an excellent source of guidance and advice.  They should be a first port of call, but if you don’t yet know where you want to set up your US presence, you may want to contact Select USA. This is a nationwide programme under the US Department of Commerce that seeks to highlight the many advantages the United States offers as a location for business and investment. Select USA can also direct you to relevant EDA contacts to assist you further.  Information provided can include:

  • A searchable guide of federal programs and services available to businesses operating in the United States—including grants, loans, loan guarantees, and tax incentives,
  • Industry snapshots that describe the competitive landscape,
  • A catalogue on “Why to Select the USA?” that explains the advantages of operating a business in the United States.

You can browse the details and incentives of each state by clicking on the state of interest through the above link. The website also has a useful “Resources” area with links to information on Federal and State laws and regulations, private sector business guides, intellectual property protection, and other US government departments. Please email [email protected] for more information.

I hope you have found the above information useful as a basic guideline.  UKTI has collaborated with a local New York law firm to produce an Establishing a Business Presence in the USA publication.  This PDF brochure offers a solid overview of topics to consider in the US market and is a great guide to ensure you are all ready to open up shop.  We hope you find the above links to the US Government websites useful, as they provide the most accurate information to date.

Please see the UKTI USA Publications page with additional relevant information regarding the US business environment.

Related Articles:
Starting a Business in the U.S. as a Foreign National
Obtaining a Business License or Permit

Countries: United States
Topics: Business Development, Export Concept, Export Planning, Getting Started, Operations, and Taxation
Export Action Plan