Here is an outline of the steps you need to follow in order to form a partnership in Pennsylvania. You should also read the general section on forming a partnership for information applicable in any state.
1. Choose a business name for your partnership and check for availability.
- Please see our section on choosing and checking the availability of a name for your small business, as well as our section on the trademark law aspects of choosing a name.
- You can use the Search for a Business Entity page to check the availability of your desired name in Pennsylvania. The Name Availabilities page on the Pennsylvania Department of State's website has additional information.
2. Register the business name with local, state, and/or federal authorities.
- If you will be operating your partnership under a name that is different from your name and that of your partners, then you will need to file a Application for Registration of Fictitious Name with the Pennsylvania Department of State. The filing fee is $70. You can either register your fictitious name online using the Online Business Registration Interview interface or download the appropriate form and mail it into the Department of State.
- Pennsylvania also requires that you publish an advertisement in two newspapers in the county where your business is located, stating that you have filed or intend to file a fictitious business name registration application. The advertisement must contain the following information:
- The fictitious name;
- The address, including street and number, if any, of the principal office or place of business of the business to be carried on under or through the fictitious name;
- The name and address, including street and number, if any, of the person filing the registration; and
- A statement that an application for registration of a fictitious name is to be or was filed "under 54 Pa.C.S. (relating to names)."
One of the newspapers must be a legal periodical or newspaper. If there is no legal periodical or newspaper published in the county, then two newspapers of general circulations are sufficient. If there is only one newspaper of general circulation in a county, advertisement in that newspaper is sufficient. The Department of State has a list of legal newspapers. Proof of satisfaction of the advertising requirement should not be submitted to the Department of State, but the partnership should retain proof in its business records.
- Although you are not required to do so, you should consider registering your business name as a federal and/or state trademark. Please see the Trademark for Business Naming section for details.
3. Draft and sign a partnership agreement.
- Although not legally required, it is strongly suggested that you and your partners sign a partnership agreement laying out the rights and responsibilities of the partners. For details, please see the Partnership Agreements section.
4. Obtain any required local licenses.
- Please see the general section on forming a partnership for details.
5. Determine what tax and other regulatory obligations your partnership has, and take care of any necessary registrations.
- Request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This can be done via its online application. There is no filing fee.
- If you have an employee or employees in Pennsylvania (other than yourself and your partners), you need to register for Pennsylvania employment taxes through the Online PA-100 interface or the Online Business Registration Interview interface.
- Whenever you hire an employee in Pennsylvania, you must inform both the IRS and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. You can find details of all the necessary steps, including verifying work eligibility and withholding allowances, on the Hiring Employees section of the IRS website. You can find state-level information on reporting new hires at the Pennsylvania New Hire Reporting website.
- If you have an employee or employees in Pennsylvania, you are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry administers the program.
- As a small business owner or employer, there may be other informational returns that you have to file annually or semi-annually with the IRS. For more information, take a look at the IRS Guide To Information Returns.
6. Open a bank account for your business.
- It is a good idea to keep your business's finances separate from your personal accounts. A good way to do this early on is by opening a bank account for your business. You will probably need a Tax ID number (EIN) and either a copy of the partnership agreement or a business name filing indicating the partners' names. (Here is one example of the documentation banks ask for.)