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Freelance photographer living abroad (US citizen)

Asked by: Elena  — 5 May, 2012

I’m a USA photographer living in Italy. I travel for work between the US and Europe and would like to establish a US address for my business (most of my income comes from royalties from stock photos in NY and LA but I do have some photo assignments in the US and in Europe). I have a bank account in the US and a virtual address in Los Angeles that can offer as Registered Agent. Would a corporation be a good option for me? What kind and where?

Answered by: admin  — 5 May, 2012

Dear Elena,

As far as I understand you are looking to form a legal entity that would act as your proxy in the US in order to collect your royalty payments.

In my opinion LLC would work the best, however you need to choose carefully what state to form it in. If your business has no physical presence in the US consider forming a Wyoming or Delaware LLC, as those two states are very popular incorporation destinations for variety of reasons (you can read more about that in our Learning Center).

Keep in mind the following:

1. You can use your California address as the business and mailing address. Alternatively, you could use your Italian address, which might be a good idea after all, since California is known to be quite predatory on companies established in other states, but listing California addresses as business/mailing addresses.

2. You can have a bank account established in any state and even abroad, however you would need a new account for this new business entity, and your bank might require a letter from the company CPA or an attorney specifying that the company does not conduct business in that state (that is the state where you want to open the account). To open a bank account for this entity in Italy you would need to supply the bank with the certified copy of the Articles with Apostille.

3. If you have no specific need to form your company in California or New York (which according to the information in your question you don’t), then don’t. Maintaining a company in California is costly – the franchise tax alone in California is $800 per year, while in Delaware its $250 and in Wyoming there is none at all (only $50 annual report fee). Also, your virtual office probably wouldn’t work as Registered Agent, as you need to specify a real person or a company that would act as the Agent (including receiving their consent to serve in that capacity).

4. And, finally, if you were thinking about forming it in New York the initial cost would border $1000, compared to about $300 in DE or WY.

I hope this gives you enough food for thought to make the best decision for your business needs.

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