(8 Simple Steps)
Choosing a stellar business name is the very first step toward forming — and branding — your Alaska corporation. Alaska requires your brand name to:
Keep in mind that this isn’t just a legal issue — choosing a name that’s memorable and easy to differentiate from other businesses is extremely important for branding, too.
Do a business name search on Alaska’s corporation database and see if your ideal name is up for grabs.
If it’s already taken, you’ll need to the necessary steps to make your name distinguishable from the existing business, or consider rethinking your name altogether. If it’s available, you have the option to reserve your business name for $25.00, but this is by no means required in Alaska.
It’s also worth searching GoDaddy at this time to see if there’s a good domain name available for purchase. Again, remember this is a branding effort — it needs to be easy for people to find your company. If there’s an intuitive name available, we recommend locking it down now, even if you’re not going to build a website right away.
Before you can officially form your corporation, you need to choose someone to act as your registered agent.
An Alaska registered agent can be an individual who’s a resident of the state, or a corporation that’s authorized to represent businesses in the state. They’ll be responsible for accepting tax forms, service of process notices and other legal documents on behalf of your corporation.
Legally, Alaska does not prevent a member of the corporation from acting as the registered agent, but we encourage you to consider appointing a third-party professional. Why? Because if you act as your own, you’ll have to:
Again, it’s totally legal, but odds are you already have enough on your plate to make it work.
Read our registered agent guide if you’re thinking about taking on the task yourself, or delegating it to a coworker. If you decide that it’s doable, go ahead and sign yourself up on your Articles of Incorporation.
Otherwise, our top recommendation for professional registered agent services is IncFile. They’re an online incorporation service that offers a free year of registered agent services when you form your corporation with them — it’s honestly a very good deal.
Filing your Articles of Incorporation is a significant step for your business. After this, you’ll be a proper Alaska corporation. This document will ask for:
Alaska enables you to file online or on paper, and either way you’ll also be required to pay the $250.00 filing fee. If you choose to take care of this step in hard copy, you’ll mail in the document and payment to the following address:
State of Alaska, Corporations Section
PO Box 110806
Juneau, AK 99811-0806
Alternatively, if you file online, you’ll do everything — including submitting your payment — through the Alaska Department of Commerce website.
However, our belief is that it’s best to delegate this task to a professional. Using an online incorporation service (like IncFile) is an hassle-free way to incorporate in Alaska, and as we mentioned, to get free registered agent services!
Every corporation in Alaska is required to get an EIN, or Employer Identification Number. Your EIN is the the way the federal government tracks your business’ financial activity, and it’ll be necessary for pretty much every move you make from here on out.
You’re definitely going to need an EIN before you can open a business bank account. Unlike a personal bank account, for which you’d provide your social security number, a business bank account requires your Employer Identification Number. This is the only way to keep your personal and business finances totally separate.
The cheapest, most efficient way to obtain your EIN is through the IRS free online application. This approach will allow you to get your identification number as soon as you’re done filling it out. There are other ways to get an EIN for free, though — read through our EIN guide to find out how to apply via fax, phone or mail.
If you simply don’t have the time/capacity to apply on your own, you can add this service to a basic incorporation package — but this usually costs an extra $70. It’s often included in higher-priced, more comprehensive formation packages, though, so keep an eye out for that.
While most states require corporations to have at least 3 directors on their boards, Alaska’s minimum is just 1, as outlined in Alaska’s corporation statutes. However, these also state that unless a corporation’s bylaws lay out a specific number of directors it will have on its board at all times, the default is three.
However many directors you’ve chosen to have, this is the time when you’ll get together with them and conduct your organizational meeting. During this meeting, you’ll:
… and take care of whatever other logistical business needs to be addressed. This is a pivotal moment for your business, so it’s important to walk through the door with lots of valuable input and a solid understanding of what needs to get done.
One of the best ways to prepare for your organizational meeting is to take advantage of meeting minute and bylaw templates. Some companies offer free versions of their templates to allow you to familiarize yourself with the content involved, which is great if you’re totally new to this side of the business world.
Additionally, if you have any specific concerns about the requirements your corporation needs to fulfill during your first board meeting, you can always browse through Alaska’s hefty list of corporation statutes.
Since by now you’ve accumulated a decent handful of important documents, it’s a good time to start a corporate records book. This is exactly what it sounds like — a place to keep all of your business records. This includes, but is not limited to, your:
However, a corporate records book can take a variety of forms — some folks opt for a simple binder, while others choose to invest in a corporate kit. Corporate kits typically include customized pieces like an embossing seal, stock certificates, meeting minutes and corporate bylaws, in addition to a lovely leather binder with your company’s name engraved in it.
Having a corporate kit, especially one with a corporate seal, is a great way to demonstrate your company’s legitimacy, both internally and externally. It’s worth checking out your incorporation provider’s rates for these, or scrolling through Bindertek’s products.
However, if you’re not concerned about having any customized pieces and you’re just looking for a simple binder, you could certainly find one at your local office supply store. The most important thing here is to keep everything organized!
Opening up a business bank account is a crucial step, and one that must be done before making any big financial moves. There’s no time to mix your personal and professional expenses here.
The great thing about having a business bank account is that you’ll use your EIN instead of your social security number, so it’ll be totally separate from your personal finances.
Ideally, you’ll have settled on a bank during your organizational meeting, and hopefully you’ll have considered:
Each of these banking options has its own features and perks, so it’s worth doing some research before committing to one. That said, it’s very important to get this done promptly so you can start managing your business finances like a pro.
Do your research, starting with this comprehensive list of Alaska banks and credit unions. Make some calls and find out where your top options fall when it comes to customer service, ATM accessibility, minimum balances, and so on. You might also benefit from reading our Wells Fargo review — this is the only national bank that operates in Alaska.
Once you’ve opened up your business bank account, sync it with accounting software so you can start monitoring your financials pronto. This is especially important if you haven’t hired an accountant yet. We’ve ranked our favorite accounting software tools to help you choose the most reliable, user-friendly program.
The final step toward making sure your corporation is totally compliant is to acquire any necessary permits or licenses. This will entail doing quite a bit of research on federal, state and local requirements. Here are the best resources for each:
If all you need is a general business license, this step won’t be too much of a hassle. It all just depends on whether or not your industry is highly monitored by the state and federal government.
If you know you’re going to require an array of different permits and licenses to legally conduct business in Alaska, you might consider hiring a business license service. These companies will take care of all the research for you so that all you’ll need to do is sign the applications and fill in a few details.
Starting a corporation in Alaska is no walk in the park, but as they say, anything worth doing takes time and dedicated effort.
That said, if you’d like help incorporating in Alaska, there are a handful of ways to lighten your load during this hectic time. We’ve discussed quite a few services throughout the course of this guide, but here are the three we recommend looking into:
– IncFile ($49 + state fees) = Best Price & Overall Value
– LegalZoom ($149 + state fees) = Most Popular Service
– Harbor Compliance ($499 + state fees) = Better Customer Service