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Starting a Business in Dallas-Ft. Worth

How to Start a Business in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

If you’re ready to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex by starting your own business, we’ve created the guide for you.

The DFW region boasts a thriving economy and diverse culture that offers endless opportunities for those seeing to turn their business dreams into reality. Whether you’re starting a downtown Dallas small business or opening up a more rural shop out in Azle, your legal steps will look similar, but vary based on your business structure, county, city, and industry.

Regardless of the exact location or type of business you start in Dallas-Fort Worth, you’ll need to know the following:

Start a Business in Dallas Fort Worth Arlington

Where Do I Register My DFW Metroplex Business?

By Texas law, every business operating in the state must be registered with the Texas Secretary of State, or the business’s local county clerk. In the Metroplex, some counties require all local businesses to register with the county clerk, even if they are already registered with the secretary of state.

  • Incorporated businesses, like LLCs and corporations are registered and incorporated at the state level.
  • Unincorporated businesses, like sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not incorporated and only register at the county level.

Should my Dallas-Fort Worth Business be Incorporated or Unincorporated?

Incorporated businesses have more protection and structure, but also cost more.

  • Incorporated Businesses are registered with the Texas Secretary of State by filing the entity-appropriate articles. Once registered, an incorporated business is a distinct legal entity separate from the business owners which gives the owners or shareholders limited liability and protects their personal assets from the company’s debts and legal responsibilities. However, registering a Texas LLC, corporation, or other business entity typically has a $300 filing fee. Most Texas incorporated businesses also must file the state franchise and annual report, and while there isn’t usually a filing fee if your company makes under a million dollars, it’s still additional paperwork that unincorporated businesses don’t do.
  • Unincorporated Businesses only do a name registration at the county level, called an assumed name or DBA (doing business as) name. The specifics vary by county but the registration generally costs about $25 or less and is valid for 10 years. However, there is no separation between the assets of the owner(s) and business, nor is there any protection of the business name, and certain tax deductions and business incentives aren’t available to unincorporated businesses.

How Do I Register with the SoS or County Clerk?

Registering with the Texas Secretary of State

To form an incorporated business, you’ll need to file a Certificate of Formation (for an LLC) or Certificate of Incorporation (for corporations) with the Texas Secretary of State. Here’s a breakdown of the Texas filing fees based on business entity type:

Business TypeState Fee
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC)
Professional Corporation (PC)
Professional Association Limited Partnership (LP)$750
Nonprofit Corporation Cooperative Association$25
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
Limited Liability Limited Partnership (LLLP)
$200 per member

Online filings can be completed at the state’s SOSDirect website. Or, you can hire us to file your Texas LLC or Texas corporation for you. When you hire us to start you DFW based business, we’ll serve as your registered agent, include a business address for use on public filings, create internal documents like an operating agreement, give you access to an online forms library and much more.

Registering with a County Clerk’s Office

Unincorporated businesses such as sole proprietorships (one owner) and general partnerships (multiple owners) register with their county clerk, typically by filing an Assumed Name (DBA) form.

Whether you call it an assumed name or a DBA, it’s all the same thing—a business name you operate under. Because unincorporated businesses are not separate entities from the business owner(s), the assumed name registration connects the owner(s) to the name they use for their business. If the business owner(s) do business under their own legal name, like “Garrett Williams Lawn Maintenance,” they do not need to register a DBA because they are doing business as their own name already and may move right along to their next legal steps like registering for taxes or permits.

Link to County Website and FormsSpecial NotesCounty Fee
Dallas County
All forms must be notarized$24.00 + $0.50/additional owner
Tarrant County*
Must be acknowledged by attorney in fact. All partners must sign the forms at the clerk’s office, or have the signature notarized in advance.$23.00 + $0.50/additional owner
Collin County**
Application may be filed online or by mail, but mailed applications must be notarized.$19.50 + $1.00/additional owner
Denton County
Must be notarized. Clerk’s office will notarized for an additional $1 fee.$24.00 + $0.50/additional owner
Rockwall County**Application may be filed online or by mail, but mailed applications must be notarized.$24.00 + $0.50/additional owner

* Incorporated businesses must filed assumed name with county clerk
** Incorporated businesses may filed assumed name with county clerk

Texas Secretary of State requires that assumed names be registered in the county where the business premise is maintained. If there is no business premise, then the appropriate assumed name certificate should be filed in all the counties the business is operating under the assumed name.

Is a Dallas or Fort Worth Area DBA Necessary?

In Texas, all businesses must at least be registered with the state, or with their local county clerk, so all unincorporated businesses (not registered with the state) must register a DBA/assumed name with their county.

In most Texas counties you do not need to register your business with your county clerk if you registered with the secretary of state, however Tarrant County is one of the few counties that requires country registration of all businesses, even if it’s already registered with the state of Texas. So, if you’re starting an incorporated business in Fort Worth, Arlington, or anywhere else in Tarrant County, make sure you register with the county after you form the business with the Texas Secretary of State.

If you start a Texas LLC, corporation, or other state incorporated business, you may choose to have a DBA for other reasons like marketing. As an incorporated company, DBA name filings are filed directly with the state.

Do I Need a DFW City Business License?

While there aren’t state or local general business licenses in the state of Texas, depending on your specific type of business, the State of Texas or other governing entities may require additional license or business registration paperwork to be completed.

The Texas Business Licenses & Permits Guide offers a comprehensive listing of state permits and licenses required for operating a business in Texas. Check your local government and the Texas Economic Development & Tourism’s Business Permit Office for additional information.

Yay for Texan Registered Agent, because they make Small Business joy possible for LLCs and corporations.

Andrew B., Yelp Review

How Do I Get a Texas Sales Tax Permit?

Like any Texas business, businesses in The DFW Metroplex must obtain a Texas Sales Tax Permit if they sell tangible goods, lease personal property, or sell a taxable service in Texas, and operate in Texas. To obtain a Texas Sales Tax Permit, file the permit application with the Texas Comptroller.

To file, you’ll need an NAICS code for your business and a tax ID.

  • An NAICS code is just a 6-digit number that corresponds to your company’s primary business activity. You can search through codes on the NAICS website.
  • The tax ID you need will depend on your business type. If your business has a sole owner, you’ll need a social security number. Corporations need social security numbers for each officer or director. Partnerships need either a social security number or EIN from each partner.

Additionally, corporations will need their file number, which can be found with Texas Comptroller Business Search.

There is no cost to sign up for a Texas Sales Tax Permit, but do not over look this step. Operating without a sales tax permit is a crime punishable by a fine of up to $500 for each day a business operates without a permit.

What is a Dallas Fort Worth Area Property Tax Rendition?

The Texas Comptroller requires that every Texas business files a Property Tax Rendition with their local county tax appraisal office annually. The tax rendition is a list of the business’s business personal property assets (including inventory, raw materials, improvements, machinery and equipment, furniture, fixtures, computer equipment, and vehicles used for business purposes), and the filing period is January 1st-April 15th listing assets for the previous calendar year.

Businesses with a total value of property assets of less than $500 are not required to file the rendition. Property assets must be located in the taxing jurisdiction for more than a temporary period.

Contact your local county appraisal district for additional information.

Dallas County | 2949 North Stemmons Freeway | Dallas, TX 75247 | 214-631-7406

Tarrant County | 2500 Handley-Ederville Road | Fort Worth, TX 76118 | 817-284-0024 

Collin County | 250 Eldorado Pkwy | McKinney, TX 75069 | 469-742-9200

Rockwall County | 841 Justin Road | Rockwall, TX 75087 | 972-771-2034

Denton County | 3911 Morse Street | Denton, TX 76208 | 940-349-3800

Do I Need an EIN?

Most likely. Whether you have a Dallas small business only registered in the county, or register a Texas LLC or corporation, your business will need an EIN (sometimes called a Tax ID) from the IRS to complete certain basic business functions like employ staff. Corporations, multi-member LLCs and partnerships will need an EIN for yearly tax filings. Also, many banks require a company EIN to open a business bank account.

After you have registered your Dallas Fort Worth business with the state or your county, you can either apply for an EIN directly from the IRS at no cost, or add it to your order when you hire us to incorporate your Texas business.

Do I Have to File a BOI?

As of January 1, 2024, incorporated businesses, including Texas LLCs and corporations, must submit an additional federal filing to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). This Beneficial Ownership Information Report is due within 30 days of registering your new business with the state. Basically, this filing shows who is really controlling and benefiting financially from your company. No worries—this filing isn’t public.

Unless exempt from filing, you’ll have to provide basic company information, including an EIN or other tax ID. You’ll also need to provide contact information and copies of photo IDs for

  • anyone who owns 25% or more of your business
  • anyone who manages, directs or otherwise has substantial control of your business
  • the person who directed the LLC be formed
  • the person who filed the formation paperwork

If you incorporated your Texas business before 2024, You have all of 2024 to file your report, and don’t need to report who filed the formation paperwork or directed the LLC to be formed.