state registration secretary
Most engineering firms are required to be registered with the Secretary of State in the state in which they do business. Registration usually happens when your business entity is formed. If you provide services in another state, you may need to register as an out-of-state or foreign entity and comply with that state’s unique name, corporate structure and ownership requirements.
Once you are registered with the Secretary of State, your firm can apply for an engineering firm license through the state’s engineering board. However, in some states, firms must obtain board approval before registering with the Secretary of State.
Engineering Firm Licensing (Certificate of Authority)
Many states require engineering firms to obtain an engineering firm license (sometimes referred to as a certificate of authority or certificate of authorization). It is issued by the State Engineering Board.
Some institutions may be required to obtain more than one certificate. For example, in New York, a business entity that is permitted to provide professional engineering and land surveying services in the state must obtain two certificates of authority—one for each type of service.
If your firm has more than one branch, you may need to register each location with the state engineering board.
Business Structure Restrictions for Engineering Firms
Some states legally prohibit certain business structures from providing engineering and other professional services.
For example, engineering limited liability companies are not recognized in California. If you start an engineering company in the state, the only forms of formation available to you are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership or corporation.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, all corporations or limited liability companies—whether in-state or out-of-state—that were incorporated after June 5, 1969, qualify as business corporations or business limited liability companies in the state. Should do
Name requirements and restrictions for engineering firms
When naming your engineering firm, you must consider the state’s business entity naming laws. These requirements vary by state but generally include the following rules:
- The name of your business entity must be distinguishable from any other name already in use by an incorporated business or business registered to do business in that state.
- The name should also include the type of your business. For example, most states require the name of an identifier, such as “incorporated,” “corporation,” or “limited liability company”—or abbreviations thereof.
Some states have unique naming requirements that limit the names under which an engineering firm can operate. A professional engineering license or certificate of authority may be denied if your firm’s name conflicts with state requirements.
For example, in California, if your business name includes the name of an individual, that individual must be licensed as a professional engineer, architect, land surveyor or geologist registered under the Geologist and Geophysicist Act. If you have an out-of-state business but a branch in California, your business name may include the name of a person who is not licensed in the state—if that person is properly registered and in another state. Licensed.
Designated Engineer Firm and Individual Engineer Licensing
In many states, all engineering decisions must be delegated to a responsible person in charge (or an engineer under their supervision) before you can receive a certificate of authorisation. If that responsible person leaves the firm, you should inform the Engineering Board and appoint a replacement.
If you have more than one branch, each office must designate a registrant to oversee professional services at that location.
Some states require that all personnel in the business be licensed in the state as a professional engineer.
Ownership Requirements for Engineering Firms
Some state ownership regulations require that one or more officers or employees of the entity be designated as responsible for engineering activities and licensed as a professional engineer. (Often, they must also be licensed as a professional engineer in that state.)
Ownership requirements for engineering firms vary by state.
For example, in Illinois, professional corporations and professional LLCs that practice professional or structural engineering must be 100% owned by licensed engineers or other designated professionals (e.g., architectural or surveying professionals) if they are allowed to engage in other businesses. is licensed to offer the services of A corporate entity is not allowed to have an ownership interest in a professional corporation or LLC.
Staying on top of licensing laws and regulations requires careful management. To maintain your firm’s good standing, you must ensure that you file renewal applications on time, manage qualifier licenses, track your firm’s continuing education credits and update records with state agencies.
Here is a checklist of business license renewal requirements that one must keep in mind:
- The license usually needs to be renewed every one to two years.
- If your firm has been censured by a state licensing board, you must disclose this in your renewal.
- Keep track of the different engineer licenses, especially the responsible engineers in charge.
- Track any continuing education credits.
- If your business has undertaken certain activities, such as a location change or closing, M&A, or added a new product or service, you may need to obtain additional licenses or cancel others.
Over time, your business license may also need amendments, and it is important that your firm maintain accurate records with each state agency. For example, if a change has occurred to your corporation or LLC — such as a name change — you may need to amend your formation document (Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization). You must notify or file the change with the issuing licensing or registration agencies. Some states require that you obtain prior approval from the board of engineers for a name change.
A change in qualified professional staff or responsible charge may also trigger a compliance action. When that person changes or leaves, you must update your business license to reflect the change. To do so, file an application with the Governing Board notifying them of the removal of that party and the name of a new qualified professional.
Comment: In California, if you leave a business where you were in charge of professional services, you must fill out a Disassociation Record Form.
Engineering businesses must also meet annual report requirements in order to remain in good standing. This includes filing delinquent reports for any businesses that were dissolved during the year.
For engineering firms, licensing and entity management will always be complex. But with the right technology and support, your firm can navigate these complexities with confidence, agility, and efficiency.
Outsourcing business registration and license research, application, management and renewal can help you reduce the pressure on internal resources. By working with a full-service management provider who specializes in the efficient processing of business licenses, permits and registrations, you can free up your time to focus on starting and growing your engineering business while ensuring that compliance requirements change. can be empty.
For more information about CT Corporation services and how we can streamline your commercial licensing needs, please contact us or call us at (844) 701-2064.
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