Step 1) Select a Name for Your Delaware Corporation

Choose a Business NameAs a mandatory requisite to naming your Corporation when starting a business in Delaware, any of the following words should be part of the name of your business:

‘Corporation’, ‘Company’, ‘Association’, ‘Incorporated’, ‘Foundation’, ‘Club’, ‘Union’, ‘Society’, ‘Limited’, or ‘Syndicate’. Alternatively, abbreviations on any of the words listed herein are also applicable.

Also, the name you choose for your Corporation should not be similar or closely resembling that of an existing business registered in the Secretary of State records. To ensure that this is the case, use the Delaware business name search tool.

A reservation of the business name can be done by using this form. The name is then reserved to your Corporation for a period of 120 days with a fee of $75.


Step 2) File the Certificate of Incorporation

Register an LLCFor your business to become a legal corporate entity in the state, you need to file a Certificate of Incorporation to the Secretary of State of Delaware. Important information such as the Corporation’s name and address, corporate purpose, complete name and street address of the Registered Agent, and other pertinent information is required when filing a Corporation in Delaware.

You can file this form through online application or through mail. When incorporating in Delaware, the standard filing fee is $89. However, you need to pay $9 for every subsequent page.


Step 3) Find a Delaware Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentAs part of compliance requirements, a Delaware Registered Agent should be chosen. This individual/business entity serves as your representative to receive service of process for your business.

The individual Registered Agent in Delaware should be a permanent resident of the state. If a business entity like a Registered Agent service, it must be certified to operate in the state.

That said, you can hire a Registered Agent service and pay up to $160/year, or get a Delaware Registered Agent free of charge when you form your Corporation with IncFile – which is $100 less than other online incorporation services.


Step 4) Start a Corporate Records Book

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsA Corporate Records Book is a repository of your Corporation documents, right from your Delaware Corporation registration documents to the minutes of your meetings, everything is stored in here.

This helps you maintain order in all your corporate documents, and one of the supporting documents to prove your Corporation’s legitimacy. A Corporate Records Book is available in the local office supply store or you can order it directly at Amazon.


Step 5) Choose the Initial Directors for Your Corporation

Choose the Initial DirectorsAs the incorporator to your Delaware Corporation, you are to choose the initial set of directors, who will serve until the first annual shareholder’s meeting.

When forming a Corporation in Delaware, be aware that you have to fill out an Incorporator’s Statement with the names and addresses of your directors. This then should be stored in your Corporate Records Book.


Step 6) Conduct the First Meeting with Your Corporation’s Board of Directors

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsAs soon as a board of directors is elected for your Corporation, an initial meeting should be scheduled. At this initial meeting, you are to discuss on the following matters:

Note: When starting a Delaware Corporation, should you decide on an S Corp status, this should also be discussed during this meeting. When the meeting ends, have the directors sign the minutes of the meeting.


Step 7) Comply With Delaware Business Tax and Licensing Requirements

Business LicensesYour Delaware business taxes and licenses are a part of the requirements for Delaware Corporation maintenance. As there is paperwork involved when complying with these requirements, you can start by following the steps outlined below.

  1. Process for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) easily for free using the form on the IRS website.
  2. Know your requirements and adhere to each of these requirements with the aid of our Delaware Tax Guide.
  3. For election of S Corporation status, you should file for Form 2553. Make sure that before you file this, all shareholders will have already signed the form.

For your Delaware business licenses and permits, you can start taking care of the requirements through our Delaware Business Licenses and Regulations guide. Note that for you to operate your Corporation legally, adherence to all business licenses and permits is always a must.


Step 8) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountThe next step to starting a Delaware business is to start a separate bank account. This is important because you will be able to keep your personal and business finances separate in the eyes of the law.

Plus, when tax time rolls around, you will be able to organize your obligations and handle everything with minimal stress. For the best business bank accounts, check out this roundup.


To-Do After Starting a Delaware Corporation

Now that you have followed the steps above, you are officially a Delaware Corporation. Other than those 8 steps that are based on state guidelines, here are a few additional steps based on best practices for starting a successful Corporation. Not required, but highly recommended.

1) Create a Funding Ready Business Plan

Write a Business PlanTo give your business the clear path it needs to move forward and set a straight direction to business growth, a business plan is a must. It is not a state requirement, but most thriving businesses have a solid business plan to begin with.

You can write your own business plan, especially if you need funding, through the resources provided below.

Quick Links to Write a Business Plan


2) Build a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteNowadays, it is important to build trust through a business website. Since I don’t have crazy technical experience and you probably don’t either, I recommend building a website on WordPress.

WordPress is free, easy to use, and customizable. No need to hire a custom web developer. See how to get started through this step-by-step guide.


3) File for an Annual Report for Your Delaware Corporation

Create an Operating AgreementWhen starting a Delaware Corporation, part of the requirement for maintaining legal operations in the state is the filing of an Annual Report.

Also, a franchise tax should be paid along with the annual report. For domestic Corporations, filing should be done before March 1 of each year, while for foreign Corporations, filing should be done before June 30 of each year. This Delaware Corporation annual report is filed online to the Division of Corporations.

Filing fee: $50 with additional fee for franchise tax for domestic Corporations; $125 with additional fee for franchise tax for foreign Corporations.

Please note that this is an informational guide only and not a legal guide or advice. You have to talk to your lawyer if you want the specific details on how to form a Corporation in Delaware or you’re interested in starting a business in Delaware.

Need Help Forming Your Corporation?

Have a reliable incorporation service like IncFile or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your business and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Although both offer virtually the same service, IncFile is $100 less and our top pick. Enjoy!

Visit IncFile Or Visit LegalZoom