by Bryce Warnes
To register a company in the US from India, you do not need a US mailing address. You don’t have to be a US resident or visa holder, either.
In fact, for citizens of India, the process of registering a Delaware corporation is the same as it is for a US resident.
Depending on your situation, and what kind of tools you use, you can start a US company from India in as little as ten minutes. (Hint: that’s the time it takes to file for incorporation using Capbase.)
In this article, we cover:
- The benefits of registering your company in the US
- How to incorporate as a foreign founder
- How to get a US registered agent
- How to move your company’s registration to the US if it is already registered in India
- Everything you need to know about taxes, work visas, and hiring
The benefits of registering a US company from India
The biggest benefit of registering your Delaware corporation from India is access to venture capital firms and startup investors.
Over the past three years, the US has averaged $130 billion in venture capital invested in startups annually. That includes funds from traditional VC firms, angel investors, and startup syndicates (ie. crowdfunding).
In contrast, India is on track to see a $30 billion per year capital market — by 2025, that is.
The growth of the Indian capital market is exciting, and certainly worth celebrating. But, bottom line, registering a US business from India gives you access to more funds right away.
How to incorporate a US company as a founder in India
You have six steps to follow in order to register a US company from India:
- Choose the right entity type for your business. Investors highly prefer C corporations, so most Indian companies choose this type.
- Decide which state to register your company in. The vast majority of US tech companies are registered in Delaware. So are 70% of Fortune 1000 companies.
- File to incorporate. Capbase makes this easy — you can file your articles of incorporation in ten minutes. The cost of filing is included in Capbase’s annual flat fee.
- Get an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You need an EIN to open a US bank account. Registering with the IRS also sets up your corporation to pay taxes. (Capbase gets an EIN for you.)
- Open a US bank account. Once you have an EIN, you can open a US bank account, which is essential for doing business in the US.
- Keep your company in good standing by filing reports. In Delaware, you are required to file annual reports every year. The deadline for filing is March 1st. Capbase gives you built-in tools to make sure you’re always compliant with filing requirements.
How to get a US registered agent
You don’t need to live inside the US to start a company there, but you do need a registered agent. A registered agent receives mail on your behalf. They have a physical address in the state where you register, so they can receive official mail.
- Compliance notices about reporting or other requirements
- Tax documents from the state’s revenue or tax department
- Services of process (notices of lawsuits against your company)
You cannot use your registered agent’s address as your company’s legal address. Your legal address must be your own address in India.
When you incorporate your company in Delaware using Capbase, Capbase serves as your registered agent for you.
How to move your company’s registration to the US if it’s already registered in India
If your business is already registered in India, you can effectively move it to the US by doing a “Delaware flip.”
This is easiest to do when your company is still young, with only a few shareholders and no outside investors.
To do a Delaware flip:
Register a Delaware C corporation. You’ll need to name directors and officers and allocate shares. (Capbase makes it easy to register a Delaware corporation from India.)
Hire lawyers and accountants in India to get any necessary regulatory approvals for converting your company. You’ll also have to pay off any outstanding debt or warrants for equity
The shareholders in your Indian corporation agree to give up their equity in exchange for equity in your new Delaware corporation.
After these steps, you make your Indian equity a fully owned subsidiary of your new Delaware C corp.
US taxes and visas for Indian business owners
Registering your business in the US does not change your personal tax residency. Your corporation, as a separate legal entity, will pay its taxes in the US. As an Indian citizen, you will continue paying personal taxes in India.
You aren’t required to get a visa to register your company in the US. But if you decide to move to the US to run your business, you will need one. There are a number of work visas for Indian citizens, including E-1, E-2, EB-5, L-1 and O-1 visas. You can learn more from our complete guide to US immigration visas for startup founders.
Hiring in India with your Delaware corporation
Once you’ve registered a US company from India, you aren’t limited to hiring Americans — you can hire team members locally. However, in order to hire someone in India, you’ll have to take extra steps.
You have one of two options:
- Create an Indian business entity to hire workers locally, and make it a subsidiary of your Delaware C corporation. This is the simplest and cheapest option if you plan to hire a workforce that is mostly Indian.
- Sign up for Deel. Deel allows you to hire workers anywhere in the world, acting either as your employer of record (EOR), or allowing you to contract non-US talent. You can also send payments in any currency. (Capbase users get 30% off their first year using Deel. ) RemoteTeam is another popular choice for handling international payroll and HR. Choosing either of these services is the simplest and cheapest option if you plan to hire only a few Indian employees, or want to hire employees in multiple countries besides India and the USA.
- Forming a US corporation gives you access to the largest startup capital market in the world, letting you raise money from American VCs, angel investors, and syndicates
- You don’t need a US address to register a Delaware corporation, but you do need to hire a registered agent in Delaware
- If you plan to work from India, your personal tax status remains the same (your corporation pays taxes in the US), and you don’t need a work visa.
- To hire Indian employees at your US corporation, you’ll either need to form an Indian subsidiary, or use a service like Deel to act as your EOR.