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Types of business entity


A business entity is an entity that is formed and administered as per commercial law in order to engage in business activities, charitable work, or other activities allowable. Most often, business entities are formed to sell a product or a service. There are many types of business entities defined in the legal systems of various countries. These include corporations, cooperatives, partnerships, sole traders, limited liability company and other specifically permitted and labelled types of entities. The specific rules vary by country and by state or province. Some of these types are listed below, by country. For guidance, approximate equivalents in the company law of English-speaking countries are given in most cases, for e.g.:

However, the regulations governing particular types of entity, even those described as roughly equivalent, differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

When creating or restructuring a business, the legal responsibilities will depend on the type of business entity chosen.

See also help.gv.at (Austrian government site, in German)

Dutch, French or German names may be used.

There are three main types of business entity in Brunei, namely sole proprietorship, partnership and company.

A private company contains the term "Sendirian Berhad" or "Sdn. Bhd." as part of its name where as for a public company "Berhad" or "Bhd." is used.

In Canada entities can be incorporated under either federal or provincial (or territorial) law. Unlimited liability corporations can be formed in Alberta "AULC" and Nova Scotia "NSULC".

The word or expression "Limited", Limitée, "Incorporated", Incorporée, "Corporation" or Société par actions de régime fédéral or the corresponding abbreviation "Ltd.", Ltée, "Inc.", "Corp." or S.A.R.F. forms part of the name of every entity incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act (R.S., 1985, c. C-44). ≈ Ltd. or Plc (UK)


Name Type Notes
e.v. (egyéni vállalkozó) sole trader must be a natural person
e.c. (egyéni cég) sole venture a company registered by and consisting of one sole trader
bt. (betéti társaság) limited partnership requires one general partner with unlimited liability and one or more members with limited liability
kkt. (közkereseti társaság) general partnership all members have unlimited liability
kft. (korlátolt felelősségű társaság) limited liability company company without stocks, the most common company type in Hungary
kht. (közhasznú társaság) community interest company abolished in 2009, must operate as nonprofit company instead
kv. (közös vállalat) joint venture abolished in 2006
rt. (részvénytársaság) replaced by Zrt. and Nyrt. in 2006
Nyrt. (nyilvánosan működő részvénytársaság) public limited company must be listed on a stock exchange
Zrt. (zártközűen működő részvénytársaság) privately held company
Name Type Notes
ehf. (einkahlutafélag) Ltd. (UK)
  • Minimum capital: ISK 500,000 (£2,750; €3,260; $4,250).
  • Minimum shareholders: 1.
einstaklingsfyrirtæki sole proprietorship
hf. (hlutafélag) plc (UK)
  • Minimum capital: ISK 4,000,000 (£22,000; €26,100; $34,000).
  • Minimum shareholders: 2.
ohf. (opinbert hlutafélag) government-owned corporation
samlagsfélag limited partnership
samvinnufélag cooperative
sf. (sameignarfélag) general partnership
(sjálfseignarstofnun) non-profit organization
  • Minimum capital: ISK 1,000,000 (£5,500; €6,520; $8,500).
AG (Aktiengesellschaft) SA (Société anonyme) SA (Società anonima) plc (UK) or Inc. (US). Min. share capital CHF 100,000. Bearer or registered shares, of a par value of min. CHF 0.01 each. Details of shareholders generally not publicly available (except for main shareholders and management shares of publicly listed companies).
GmbH (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung) Sàrl (Société à responsabilité limitée) Sagl (Società a garanzia limitata) Ltd. (UK), LLC (US). Min. capital CHF 20,000. Registered shares only, of a par value of min. CHF 100 each. Name, address and share of each owner (and any changes) publicly recorded in the Official Register of Commerce.<http://zefix.admin.ch/>
State, Territory or Commonwealth Required in Corporation name Authority
Alabama "corporation," or "incorporated," or an abbreviation of one of such words, or if a banking corporation the words "bank," "banking," or "bankers" § 10-2B-4.01(a)(1) Code of Alabama 1975
Alaska "corporation", "company", "incorporated", or "limited", or an abbreviation of one of these words; may not contain the word "city", "borough", or "village" or otherwise imply that the corporation is a municipality. §10.06.105 (a) and (b), Alaska Corporations Code
Arizona "association", "bank", "company", "corporation", "limited" or "incorporated" or an abbreviation of one of these words or the equivalent in a foreign language. Corporation may not use "bank", "deposit", "credit union", "trust" or "trust company" unless it also has a license to operate one. May not use "limited liability company" or "limited company" or the abbreviations "L.L.C.", "L.C.", "LLC" or "LC" §10-401 Arizona Revised Statutes
Arkansas "Corporation", "Company", or "Incorporated", or shall contain an abbreviation of one of those words; but the name may not end with the word "Company" nor the abbreviation "Co." if the final word or abbreviation is immediately preceded by "and" or any symbol for "and" §4-26-401 (1), Arkansas Code
California "corporation", "incorporated" or "limited" or an abbreviation of one of such words is required and for a statutory close corporations for corporate provisions to apply. May not contain "bank," " trust," "trustee" or "credit union" unless approved by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions. §202(a), California Corporations Code
Colorado "corporation", "incorporated", "company", "limited", "corp.", inc.", "co." or "ltd"; If the corporation is a professional corporation, it must contain the term or abbreviation "professional corporation", "p.c.", or "pc". §7-90-601, Colorado Revised Statutes
Connecticut "corporation", "incorporated", "company", "Societa per Azioni" or "limited", or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co.", "S.p.A." or "ltd." §33-655 General Statutes of Connecticut
Delaware "association," "company," "corporation," "club," "foundation," "fund," "incorporated," "institute," "society," "union," "syndicate," or "limited," (or abbreviations thereof, with or without punctuation), or words (or abbreviations thereof, with or without punctuation) of like import of foreign countries or jurisdictions (provided they are written in Roman characters or letters) Title 8, §102, Delaware Code
District of Columbia "corporation," "company," "incorporated," or "limited," or shall contain an abbreviation of 1 of such words § 29-101.08 District of Columbia Official Code
Florida "corporation," "company," or "incorporated" or the abbreviation "Corp.," "Inc.," or "Co.," or the designation "Corp," "Inc," or "Co," §607.0401 Florida Statutes
Georgia 'corporation,' 'incorporated,' 'company,' or 'limited,' or the abbreviation 'corp.,' 'inc.,' 'co.,' or 'ltd.,' or words or abbreviations of like import in another language; must not be longer than 80 characters O.C.G.A. § 14-2-401
Guam "corporation," "incorporated," "company," or "limited," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," "co.," or "ltd.," or words or abbreviations of like import in another language; if the word "company" or its abbreviation is used, it shall not be immediately preceded by the word "and" or an abbreviation or symbol representing the word "and." Title 18, § 2110, Guam Code Annotated
Hawaii "corporation", "incorporated", or "limited", or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", or "ltd." §414-51 Hawaii Revised Statutes
Idaho "corporation," "incorporated," "company," "limited," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," "co.," or "ltd.," or words or abbreviations of like import in another language; provided however, that if the word "company" or its abbreviation is used it shall not be immediately preceded by the word "and" or by an abbreviation of or symbol representing the word "and" §30-1-401 Idaho Statutes
Illinois "corporation", "company", "incorporated", or "limited", or an abbreviation of one of such words 805 ILCS 5/4.05 Illinois Compiled Statutes
Indiana "corporation", "incorporated", "company", or "limited", or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co.", or "ltd.", or words or abbreviations of like import in another language § 23-1-23-1 Indiana Code
Iowa "corporation", "incorporated", "company", or "limited", or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co.", or "ltd.", or words or abbreviations of like import in another language. §490.401 Iowa Acts
Kansas (except for banks) "association," "church," "college," "company," "corporation," "club," "foundation," "fund," "incorporated," "institute," "society," "union," "university," "syndicate" or "limited," or one of the abbreviations "co.," "corp.," "inc.," "ltd.," or words or abbreviations of like import in other languages if they are written in Roman characters or letters §17-6002 Kansas Statutes
Kentucky "corporation", "incorporated" or the abbreviation "Inc.," or the word "company" or the abbreviation "Co."; but if the word "company" or the abbreviation "Co." is used, it may not be immediately preceded by the word "and" or the abbreviation "&." §273.177 Kentucky Revised Statutes
Louisiana (except for railroad, telegraph and telephone corporations) "Corporation", "Incorporated" or "Limited", or the abbreviation of any of those words, or may contain instead the word "Company" or the abbreviation "Co." if the latter word or abbreviation is not immediately preceded by the word "and" or the symbol "&". No corporate name shall contain the phrase "doing business as" or the abbreviation "d/b/a". Only a bank or bank holding company is allowed to use any of "bank", "banker", "banking", "savings", "safe deposit", "trust", "trustee", "building and loan", "homestead", "credit union", "insurance", "casualty", "redevelopment corporation", or "electric cooperative". §12:23 Louisiana Revised Statutes
Maine words or abbreviations of words that describe the nature of the entity, including "professional association," "corporation," "company," "incorporated," "chartered," "limited," "limited partnership," "limited liability company," "professional limited liability company," "limited liability partnership," "registered limited liability partnership," "service corporation" or "professional corporation"; beginning July 1, 2007, may also include "limited liability limited partnership" for business corporations: Title 13-C § 401 Maine Revised Statutes; for non-profit corporations: Title 13-B § 301-A Maine Revised Statutes;
Maryland For Corporations: "Company", if it is not preceded by the word "and" or a symbol for the word "and"; "Corporation", "Incorporated" or "Limited" or abbreviations; for Limited liability companies: "limited liability company", "L.L.C.", "LLC", "L.C.", or "LC"; for Limited liability partnerships: "limited liability partnership", "L.L.P." or "LLP"; for Limited partnerships: "limited partnership", "L.P.", or "LP"; for Limited liability limited partnerships: "limited liability limited partnership", "L.L.L.P.", or "LLLP"; for Professional corporations: "chartered", "chtd.", "professional association", "P.A.", "professional corporation", or "P.C." Maryland Code CORPORATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS § 1-502
Massachusetts "any name which, in the judgment of the secretary, indicates that it is a corporation" GENERAL LAWS OF MASSACHUSETTS Chapter 155: Section 9
Michigan "corporation", "company", "incorporated", or "limited" or shall contain 1 of the following abbreviations, corp., co., inc., or ltd. Act 284 of 1972 Section 450.1211 MICHIGAN BUSINESS CORPORATION ACT
Minnesota nonprofit corporations are not required to use any of these words; for business corporations, they must use "corporation," "incorporated," or "limited," or shall contain an abbreviation of one or more of these words, or the word "company" or the abbreviation "Co." if that word or abbreviation is not immediately preceded by the word "and" or the character "&" Chapter 302A, Section 302A.115 Minnesota Statutes (for Business Corporations); Chapter 317A, Section 317A.115 Minnesota Statutes (for non-profit corporations)
Mississippi "corporation," "incorporated," "company" or "limited," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," "co." or "ltd." or words or abbreviations of like import in another language § 79-4-4.01 Mississippi code
Missouri "corporation", "company", "incorporated", or "limited", or shall end with an abbreviation of one of said words

Chapter 351 Section 351.110 Missouri Revised Statutes

Montana "corporation", "incorporated", "company", or "limited"; the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co.", or "ltd."; or words or abbreviations of similar meaning in another language 35-1-308 Montana Code Annotated
Nebraska corporation, incorporated, company, or limited, or the abbreviation corp., inc., co., or ltd., or words or abbreviations of like import in another language, except that a corporation organized to conduct a banking business under the Nebraska Banking Act may use a name which includes the word bank without using any such words or abbreviations Section 21-2028 State of Nebraska Statutes
Nevada No specific requirements stated except that a name appearing to be that of a natural person and containing a given name or initials must not be used as a corporate name except with an additional word or words such as "Incorporated," "Limited," "Inc.," "Ltd.," "Company," "Co.," "Corporation," "Corp.," or other word which identifies it as not being a natural person 78.035 Nevada Revised Statutes
New Hampshire Contain the word "corporation," "incorporated," or "limited" or the abbreviation "corp." ""inc.", or "ltd." New Hampshire Revised Statutes TITLE XXVII; Section 293-A:4.01 for business corporations
New Jersey Shall contain the word "corporation," "company," "incorporated," or shall contain an abbreviation of one of those words, or shall include the abbreviation Ltd. New Jersey Statutes 14A:2-2
New Mexico contain the separate word "corporation," "company," "incorporated" or "limited" or shall contain a separate abbreviation of one of these words New Mexico Statutes Unannotated 53-11-7
New York Shall contain the word "corporation", "incorporated" or "limited", or an abbreviation of one of such words; there is also a long list of words a business corporation is not allowed to use without additional approval from other agencies including "board of trade", "state police", "urban development", "chamber of commerce", "state trooper", "urban relocation", "community renewal", "tenant relocation", "acceptance", "endowment", "loan", "annuity", "fidelity", "mortgage", "assurance", "finance", "savings" and many others New York State Consolidated Laws, Business Corporations Law §301; Not-For-Profit Corporations Law, §301
North Carolina a corporation must contain the word "corporation", "incorporated", "company", or "limited", or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co.", or "ltd."; a limited liability company must contain the words "limited liability company" or the abbreviation "L.L.C." or "LLC", or the combination "ltd. liability co.", "limited liability co.", or "ltd. liability company"; a limited partnership that is not a limited liability limited partnership must contain the words "limited partnership", the abbreviation "L.P." or "LP", or the combination "ltd. partnership"; a limited liability limited partnership must contain the words "registered limited liability limited partnership" or "limited liability limited partnership" or the abbreviation "L.L.L.P.", "R.L.L.L.P.", "LLLP", or "RLLLP"; a registered limited liability partnership's name must contain the words "registered limited liability partnership" or "limited liability partnership" or the abbreviation "L.L.P.", "R.L.L.P.", "LLP" or "RLLP". North Carolina General Statutes § 55D‑20
North Dakota must contain the word "company", "corporation", "incorporated", "limited", or an abbreviation of one or more of these words; may not contain the words "limited liability company", "limited partnership", "limited liability partnership", "limited liability limited partnership", or any abbreviation of these words. North Dakota century Code 10-19.1-13
Ohio It shall end with or include the word or abbreviation "company," "co.," "corporation," "corp.," "incorporated," or "inc." Ohio Revised Code §1701.05
Oklahoma The name of the corporation which shall contain one of the words "association", "company", "corporation", "club", "foundation", "fund", "incorporated", "institute", "society", "union", "syndicate", or "limited" or abbreviations thereof, with or without punctuation Oklahoma Statutes §18-1006
Oregon For private corporations it shall contain one or more of the words "corporation," "incorporated," "company" or "limited" or an abbreviation of one or more of those words; shall not contain the word "cooperative." For non-profit corporations there is no specific requirement except the name cannot imply a purpose not dictated in its articles of incorporation and cannot contain the word "cooperative" or the phrase "limited partnership." Oregon Revised Statutes 60.094 for Private Corporations; ORS 65.094 for Non-Profit corporations
Pennsylvania Corporation, Corp., Company, Co., Incorporated, Inc., Limited, Ltd., Association., Fund., Syndicate or words or abbreviations of like import in languages other than English. Pennsylvania Code, Chapter 19, §23.3
Puerto Rico Corporation, Corp. or Inc., or words or abbreviations of like import in other languages, provided they are written in roman letters or characters. Title 14, Subtitle 4, §2602, Laws of Puerto Rico.
Rhode Island "corporation," "company," "incorporated," or "limited," or an abbreviation of one of these words Rhode Island General Laws § 7-1.2-401
South Carolina "corporation", "incorporated", "company", or "limited", the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co.", or "ltd.", or words or abbreviations of like import in another language South Carolina Code of Laws Section 33-4-101
South Dakota corporation, incorporated, company, or limited, or the abbreviation, corp., inc., co., or ltd., or terms or abbreviations of like import in another language South Dakota Codified Laws 47-1A-401
Tennessee "corporation," "incorporated," "company," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," "co.," or words or abbreviations of like import in another language (provided they are written in Roman characters or letters); existing corporations which were formed using only "limited" or "ltd" are not required to change their name § 48-14-101 Tennessee Code
Texas "company," "corporation," "incorporated," or "limited," or an abbreviation of one of those words. Texas Business Organizations Code § 5.054
U.S. Virgin Islands name shall be such as to indicate that it is a corporation as distinguished from a natural person or partnership. Title Thirteen, § 2, Virgin Islands Code
Utah "corporation", "incorporated", "company"; the abbreviation: "corp.", "inc." or "co." or words or abbreviations of like import to the words or abbreviations listed in another language; without the written consent of the United States Olympic Committee, may not contain the words "Olympic", "Olympiad", or "Citius Altius Fortius"; without the written consent of the Division of Consumer Protection may not contain the words "university", "college" or "institute" § 16-10a-401 Utah Code
Vermont "corporation," "incorporated," "company," or "limited," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," "co.," or "ltd.," or words or abbreviations of like import in another language; shall not have the word "cooperative" or any abbreviation thereof as part of its name unless the corporation is a worker cooperative corporation; Title 11A, § 4.01 Vermont Statutes
Virginia "corporation," "incorporated," "company," or "limited," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," "co.," or "ltd." § 13.1-630. Code of Virginia
Washington "corporation," "incorporated," "company," or "limited," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," "co.," or "ltd."; must not include "Bank," "banking," "banker," "trust," "cooperative," or any combination of the words "industrial" and "loan," or any combination of any two or more of the words "building," "savings," "loan," "home," "association," and "society," § 23B.04.010 Revised Code of Washington
West Virginia "corporation", "incorporated", "company" or "limited", or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co." or "ltd.", or words or abbreviations of like import in another language §31D-4-401 West Virginia Code
Wisconsin "corporation", "incorporated", "company" or "limited" or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co." or "ltd." or words or abbreviations of like import in another language §180.0401 Wisconsin Statutes (for ) and §181.0401 Wisconsin Statutes (for )
Wyoming Unclear; apparently any of "corporation," "company," "incorporated," and probably the usual abbreviations of "Corp." "Co." and "Inc." § 17-16-401. Wyoming Statutes

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