Step-by-Step Guide to Legally Setting Up a Business in Utah

Updated: Mar 6



For Education Monday this week, we interviewed Kim Scoville, Business Law Attorney and Professor of Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship at BYU, about how to legally set up a business. So many of us want to do things the right way in our business, but just don’t know how! The nice thing about Utah is that it is a very business friendly state and the process for legally forming a business can mostly be done online. Read below to learn how to set up your business as a Corporation/LLC or a Sole Proprietorship!


Setting Up a Corporation (C-Corp or S-Corp), LLC, or Non-Profit Corporation:


  1. Choose a Business Name and Check that it is Available in Your State and Isn’t Trademarked: The state has to approve your business name when you file a FEIN (step #5). The state may tell you your name is "available" for use in the state, but this does not mean that your name is available as a trademark and will not infringe others. The state of Utah is only telling you that your name can be distinguished from other Utah companies for the purpose of taxing the right company. The legal standard for whether a trademark is available is much higher, and you may want to run a trademark search nationally or even internationally before selecting a name to use on your business registration. NOTE: If you already picked a company name and find out it does not make a good trademark, you can always change your company name with the state by filing something called a DBA (doing business as) for less than $20.

  2. Set Up Your Corporation: Corporations.utah.gov has an online portal called "One Stop" (link on the landing page) that allows you to set up a corporation, LLC or non-profit corporation through the portal. This website has a lot of great resources. They will ask you many questions that may seem irrelevant, but they are important, so persevere through them! How you answer will lead you to the correct form for you.

  3. Get a State Sales Tax ID Number: One Stop connects you to the Utah Department of Labor, and the Utah State Tax Commission for getting a state sales tax ID number. (Click here to get directly to the link). Most service and nonprofit businesses do not need to pay sales tax, but there are some exceptions. Most retail businesses do. Search if your business requires sales tax.

  4. Get a City Business License: Some city business licenses are available through One Stop (Salt Lake and West Valley). You can register for a Provo City Business License HERE. If you need a city business license in a different city, search online to see the requirements and register for one in your city.

  5. Get Your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN): Your FEIN is basically the social security number for your business. You must have an FEIN number to complete the process of creating and registering your business online. The whole process can be done in an hour or so, and costs less than $80. The exception is that the state has to approve your business name. So you need to return to the website within 24 hours to confirm that your preferred business name is accepted by the state.


Setting Up a Sole Proprietorship:


  1. File a DBA as your Business Name: File a DBA. If/when you later become a LLC or Corporation, you’ll need to file for a FEIN. When you do this, the state has to approve your business name when you file a FEIN (if/when you later become a LLC or Corporation, you don’t need a FEIN for a Sole Proprietorship). When you do this, the state may tell you your name is available for use in your state, but this does not mean that your name is available as a trademark and will not infringe others. The state of Utah is only telling you that your name can be distinguished from other Utah companies for the purpose of taxing the right company. The legal standard for whether a trademark is available is much higher, and you may want to run a trademark search nationally or even internationally before selecting a name to use on your business registration.

  2. Get a State Sales Tax ID Number: One Stop connects you to the Utah Department of Labor, and the Utah State Tax Commission for getting a state sales tax ID number. (Click here to get directly to the link). Most service and nonprofit businesses do not need to pay sales tax, but there are some exceptions. Most retail businesses do. Search if your business requires sales tax.

  3. Get a City Business License: Some city business licenses are available through One Stop (Salt Lake and West Valley). You can register for a Provo City Business License HERE. If you need a city business license in a different city, search online to see the requirements and register for one in your city.


Once you’ve completed all of these steps (and they’ve been approved), congratulations! You have legally set up a business in Utah!


If you need additional legal mentoring, the BYU Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship (WE is a program within the Rollins Center!) offers free legal and Intellectual Property mentoring to BYU students starting/running a business.


Legal mentoring: rollinscenterlegal.youcanbook.me

Intellectual Property Mentoring: rollinscenterip.youcanbook.me


We also offer WE Business mentoring! We have various business mentors with various areas of expertise! We require that you first meet with a student mentor, who will then match you to a business mentor that best fits your needs. ​Set up a student mentor session HERE.


Check back next week on WE’s Education Monday to learn more from Kim Scoville, “5 Tips from an Attorney on How to Run Your Business!”

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