Get details on requirements and elements to consider when establishing a business in New York City.
In the United States, businesses are established according to state law, not city or federal law. As a first step toward establishing a business in New York City, your company will need to establish a legal business entity (corporation, partnership, etc.) with the New York State Department of State or set up such an entity in another state and obtain authorization to do business in New York State. Your company’s legal status will affect its tax position, legal liability, and visa needs. For more information, please consult the New York State Department of State.
The type of business you are running will directly affect the number of permits and licenses you will need to receive to operate in New York City. For additional information on approvals, please refer to New York City Business Solutions' Permits and Licenses Guide.
An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a company’s primary identification to the Internal Revenue Service, New York State, and New York City. Corporations, partnerships, and certain sole proprietorships must have an EIN.
In addition to applying for an EIN, you should consult the Internal Revenue Service’s guidelines for international businesses. Please visit the IRS international business page for more information.
NYCEDC, the NYC Department of Small Business Services, and New York State offer several incentive programs where qualifying companies can receive tax credits based on a company's office location, industry focus, and job creation record. For more information on incentives that your company may be eligible for, please refer to the following sources:
NYCEDC Financing and Incentives – This resource will refer you to descriptions of many of the incentives that are available to companies locating in New York City, all of which are offered either by New York State or New York City. The site also features a direct link to NYCEDC’s Incentive Finder, an interactive tool that will guide you to the incentives that best match your company’s profile.
NYC Business Solutions Incentives Guide – The New York City Department of Small Business Services has created a guide that allows you to find incentives based on the type of project your company has decided to pursue. Whether it is relocation, renovation, an equipment investment, or workforce development, this guide will direct you to the relevant incentives your business may be eligible for.
New York City has a wealth of world-renowned business service firms that provide accounting, legal, real estate, and management consultant services for companies of all sizes and industries.
The Division for International Business (DIB), of the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps, and Protocol (UNCCP) is a part of the Mayor’s Office. UNCCP serves as the primary liaison between City government and the largest diplomatic community in the world, including the United Nations, the 192 Permanent Missions to the United Nations, the 111 Consulates, and their trade commissions. DIB can help you with issues you encounter in setting up your business. DIB’s “One Stop Shop” can provide information and referrals to assist you with legal issues, taxation, office space, and banking.
DIB can help you and your business work with government agencies at the city level and can also introduce you to your home country’s bilateral chamber of commerce, chambers of commerce in New York City’s five boroughs, and your home country’s consular officials and trade commissioners.
For more information on DIB, visit NYC Gov International Business.
311 is New York City's phone number for government information and non-emergency services. As an international business seeking information on government services, 311 provides quick and easy access to all New York City government services and information while maintaining the highest possible level of customer service. All calls to 311 are answered by a live operator, 24 hours a day, seven days a week with immediate access to translation services in over 170 languages. To access 311 services from any borough of New York City, call 311. If you are calling from outside of New York City, call 212.639.9675.
Determining where in New York City your company should locate is one of the most important first decisions you and your business will make. The City offers a wide variety of real estate options, and it is best to consult a real estate professional when it comes time to find office space.
The City is composed of five boroughs, each with one or more central business districts (CBDs). CBDs have different incentive programs designed to attract potential businesses. Brief descriptions of some CBDs in which international firms commonly locate are provided below, along with links to more details, as well as calculations for how much incentives could save your business over time. Additional incentives could apply to subsidize rents in these CBDs.
View our Customized Business Solutions to learn more about these CBDs.
NYCEDC, in partnership with academic institutions, commercial landlords, and space operators, established a network of high-quality incubator spaces that come with basic business services and administrative support. In partnership with organizations, NYCEDC makes available not only its properties but also independently owned and operated spaces.
View our Incubators & Workspaces section for an interactive map of available spaces and further information on affordable office space solutions.
View the Interactive Map to find incubators, affordable workspaces, and wet lab spaces in NYC.
The Office Business Center Association of New York (OBCANY), an award winning association of independently owned and operated full-service office suites with over 30 years of experience supporting entrepreneurs in the New York City market, has made available to NYCEDC-referred entrepreneurs discounts of 10-50 percent off its members’ standard rates. In addition to offering well-appointed, fully serviced private offices, each center has set aside special low cost desk alternatives, including support services, starting at $500 per month. OBCANY has initially committed over 250 desks for use by NYCEDC-referred entrepreneurs at its upscale locations throughout the New York metropolitan area. More information is available at OBCANY site.
New York City is home to one of the most diverse and talented workforces in the world. As of 2004, New York City had the fifth-highest percentage of foreign-born persons as a share of the total population, and in 2007, one-third of the City’s population over age 25 had a bachelor’s degree, compared with 28 percent of the population nationally. The NYC Department of Small Business Services provides recruiting and hiring assistance to small businesses throughout the five boroughs, in all industries and at all skill levels. In addition, all of the City’s colleges and universities have career placement offices that can help you find top-tier talent for your business. There are numerous recruitment agencies with different sector and level focuses throughout the City, nearly all of which have online presences.
One of New York City’s strongest assets is its concentration of businesses that complement each other’s missions and practices. The diversity of the business community combined with the sheer density of the City’s physical infrastructure make it a perfect place for networking.
The best first step to identify networking opportunities is to contact your country’s chamber of commerce and your sector’s industry associations. These organizations typically host several events a year that offer networking and relationship-building opportunities.
The Division for International Businesses (DIB) of the NYC Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corp, and Protocol, part of the Mayor's Office, maintains an International Business Calendar, which lists trade shows, seminars, networking receptions, and other events relevant to the international business community in New York City. These events offer opportunities for you to meet potential business partners and clients. Access the International Business Calendar.
UNCCP also hosts an International Business Directory on its website, which provides contact information for 2,800 foreign businesses with operations in New York City, chambers of commerce, and the diplomatic and consular corps. Access the International Business Directory.
In order to establish a business in New York City, you will most likely need to obtain US visas. The US Department of State processes visa applications. Please visit the U.S. Department of State for more information on the different types of available visas.
If you are planning to visit the U.S. for 90 days or less, you may be eligible for a visa waiver. Nationals from 35 countries are eligible for the Department of Homeland Security’s Visa Waiver Program. Those countries include:
|Countries eligible for the Visa Waiver Program|
|Austria||Italy||Republic of Korea|
|Germany||the Netherlands||United Kingdom|
Applications for the Visa Waiver Program are now conducted electronically at the Electronic System for Travel Authorization page. The U.S. Department of State has published a visa guide for international business visitors. Download the Business Visa PDF.
Employment-based visas are issued to individuals with unique skills or abilities who wish to work in the US for a limited period of time. There are five categories of E visas that are assigned to applicants based on their professional qualifications. For example, successful E-1 and E-2 applicants are persons with extraordinary ability in fields such as the arts, sciences, business, or athletics. The remaining three visa types include skilled workers (E-3), foreign nationals granted special immigrant status (E-4), and immigrant investors “whose enterprises will directly create 10 or more new jobs in the U.S.” and who can invest between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in that enterprise (E-5).
If you do not qualify for a visa waiver and you would like to stay in the U.S. for a period longer than 90 days, you can apply for a nonimmigrant visa, also known as a B visa. B visas are applicable to foreign nationals who wish to visit the U.S. for a specific, limited time period for business or pleasure.
This visa is intended for highly skilled workers with advanced knowledge in a competitive field and generally requires the applicant to hold an advanced degree. This visa would be of particular interest if you plan to bring skilled workers to the City to work at your company once it has been established.
For more information on the requirements and instructions associated with obtaining these visas, please refer to the Green Card through Investment and the Visa Information for Employers resources provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The State Department’s visa website is also a valuable resource.
As a leading destination for international business and tourism, New York is one of the most concentrated travel hubs in the world, with 82 domestic and foreign carriers serving the New York – New Jersey region and more than 130 non-stop services to over 200 cities worldwide. The metropolitan area’s three major airports, John F. Kennedy International (JFK), Newark Liberty International (EWR), and LaGuardia (LGA), all offer Wi-Fi Internet service and host several retailers that are fully equipped to support business travelers’ needs.
The City also offers three public-use heliports providing both charter and scheduled helicopter service conveniently located in midtown and lower Manhattan.
New York City and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have been working steadily to improve New York’s airports to make the passenger experience more efficient and enjoyable. Some recent improvements include the following:
To expedite the international travel experience, frequent travelers can enroll in the US Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry Program. Global Entry allows pre-screened travelers to bypass the traditional passport control process and, by use of an electronic kiosk, process through border control, reducing the amount of time participants need to spend at the airport. Global Entry reduces average wait times by 70 percent, with more than 75 percent of the users processed under five minutes. The program is available to US citizens, Permanent Residents, and citizens of the Netherlands. Electronic kiosks are available at 16 US airports including JFK and Newark Airports. The program will also be expanded to cover additional international travelers and airports. For more information on this program, please visit Global Entry.
The AirTrain is a light rail system that provides convenient travel to and from JFK and Newark. From JFK, it links the airport terminals, car rental agencies, and long-term parking to mass transit connections in Queens: the A subway line’s Howard Beach station and the E subway line’s Sutphin Blvd/Archer Ave-JFK station. The fare is five dollars for the AirTrain portion of the trip. From Newark, AirTrain links terminals to the train station for connections to New Jersey Transit and Amtrak into New York’s Penn Station. AirTrain fare is included in NJ Transit or Amtrak fare to the the Airport train station.
While you should contact your airline for your individual flight’s status, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey offers free airport alerts that can be sent to you via email or text message, detailing everything from airport weather delays, to parking lot capacity, to AirTrain service changes. To learn more, go to Airport Info Alerts site.
When arriving at one of New York’s airports, be sure to follow signs to the ground transportation or taxi stands for cab service. Ignore offers of transportation from solicitors in the terminal. Go to ground transportation information counters, bus stops, and taxi dispatchers for safe and legitimate transportation. Ignore non-uniformed people offering to assist with baggage. Seek out uniformed porters or airline employees for baggage assistance.