Iowa Foreign Qualification

Businesses looking to start operations of any kind in Iowa that are based in another state will need to register for a foreign qualification in order to stay compliant when doing so. The process is straightforward but involves several steps and forms that must be completed.

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Foreign Qualification at 888-366-9552

What is Foreign Qualification?

Foreign in this case doesn’t refer to out of the country – instead, any business that isn’t based in Iowa is considered foreign. Foreign qualification is the process of registering an out of state business so it can legally operate within Iowa. This includes any kind of physical presence within the state.

Why Does A Company Need Foreign Qualification?

Why You Need To Do It – It’s important to foreign qualify in order to stay compliant when starting operations in another state. Otherwise your company can face fines and penalties.

When Should You Do It? – As soon as a business finalizes its decision to branch out into Iowa it should start the process of filing for Iowa foreign qualification in order to avoid any potential delays. Generally, you will need to foreign qualify if your company falls under any of the following criteria:

  • Has a physical presence in Iowa
  • Buying a property there
  • Have remote employees
  • Accepts orders in Iowa
  • Owns a bank account in Iowa

What Happens If Your Entity Does Not Foreign Qualify?

Failure to foreign qualify can bring significant consequences. You’ll be unable to bring any lawsuit forth in the state, and you may face back taxes and other tax related penalties. Additionally, you may be charged with a civil penalty of as much as $1000 and be forced to stop operating in the state.

Steps To Obtain Foreign Qualification

There are several steps that you’ll have to take in order to obtain Iowa foreign qualification. These steps include the following.

1. Obtain Certificates – To register for foreign qualification, you must file a Limited Liability Company Application for a Certificate of Authority or a Corporation Application for a Certificate of Authority. The forms are available on the Secretary of State website. The state also requires you to present a Certificate of Existence, which you can obtain from your company’s home state.

2. Collect And Submit Information – The application requests several pieces of information. Collect this info and include it on the form.


  • LLC name
  • An assumed or fictitious name, if you cannot use the original name
  • Name of the home state
  • The original date of formation
  • Duration of the LLC
  • The principal office street and mailing addresses
  • The street address of the registered office in Iowa
  • The management structure
  • A member’s or manager’s name and mailing address
  • Signature of an authorized person


  • Corporation name
  • An assumed or fictitious name, if necessary
  • Name of the home state
  • The date of original incorporation
  • Duration of the corporation in the home state
  • The principal office street address
  • The street address of the registered office in Iowa
  • A list of all names and business addresses of the directors and officers
  • Signature of an authorized person

3. Appoint Registered Agent – You’ll have to appoint a registered agent as well. This is the person responsible for handling the basics of the business’ registration for foreign qualification. Usually, businesses turn to third party organizations like DoMyLLC to serve as registered agent for them.

4. File The Application – Once the form is completed, submit it to the Secretary of State along with a $100 filing fee.

5. Ongoing Maintenance – Iowa requires that businesses file biennial reports every two years. Corporations must file the report on even-numbered years between January 1and April 1 while LLCs file on odd-numbered years between January 1 and April 1. The fee is $30 if filed online or $45 if filed by mail.

What Is the Difference Between Foreign Qualification And Incorporating?

When incorporating, the process creates a brand new business entity. Foreign qualification doesn’t form a new business but merely allows an existing LLC or corporation to operate in a different state – Iowa in this case.

How DoMyLLC Can Assist With Streamlining The Process

We understand that operating a business can be a major challenge with many different variables involved. We handle the process of foreign qualification so that business leaders can focus on other aspects of running their company. We offer:

  •     Dedicated account managers
  •     Ongoing and unlimited customer support
  •     Name availability checks
  •     Full filing and registration for your business

Instead of trying to manage the process of Iowa foreign qualification on your own, let our team handle it for you so you can focus on other aspects of running your company. It simplifies your life and ensures full compliance with no stress on your shoulders.

Iowa Foreign Qualification FAQs

You must submit a Limited Liability Company Application for a Certificate of Authority or a Corporation Application for a Certificate of Authority, along with a Certificate of existence from the business’ home state.

The filing fee for foreign qualification is $100 in the state of Iowa.

Any business that wishes to start operations in Iowa but that is based in a different state can – and must – file for foreign qualification.

An attorney is not needed. However, businesses may want to discuss with their legal team to remain fully compliant and protected.

The forms request basic information regarding a business including:

  • Business names
  • Names of members or managers
  • State of formation
  • Business address – physical and mailing
  • Registered agent information

If your name isn’t available you will have to register a fictitious name in Iowa. This will have no bearing on your name in any other state.

Iowa Business Resources

Iowa Office of Secretary of State
Phone Number:
(515) 281-5204

Office of the Secretary of State
First Floor, Lucas Building 321 E. 12th St.
Des Moines, IA 50319