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SquareFoot Guide to Opening Your First NYC Office

June 4, 2018 | by Alexandra Schaffer

Whether you’re a domestic company looking to open a satellite office on the East Coast or an international corporation looking to grow in the U.S., the chances are high that New York City made your short-list for consideration.

Not only is New York a major international business center and substantial economic power, the city that never sleeps is also a global hub for culture, art, tourism, retail, and entertainment. Considered by many to be one of the most important cities in the world, it’s almost necessary to at least entertain the notion of opening office space in NYC, even if you end up opening your new office elsewhere.

In this guide, we’ll go over the most important steps required to open your first office in NYC and give you some expert insights from our team.

Major Industries in NYC

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have offices in New York, but there are some industries that have a significant impact on the economy and make the city an attractive hub for businesses within those sectors. Here are some of the leading local industries:

Financial ServicesMediaCommunications
ManufacturingTourismBusiness Services

That said, the city thrives on creativity and innovation, and there is always room for companies willing to break the mold and bring something new to the table. No matter your industry, there’s office space in NYC to fit your needs.

Take Care of Legal Matters

Enlisting legal assistance will go a long way in ensuring you have the smoothest transition possible. Since you’ll have so many other logistics to work out — remodeling, hiring, shaping office culture, and more — letting professionals handle the legal details will make your life easier.

If your company’s headquarters are outside of New York State, you’ll have to go through a foreign qualification process. This process can take close to a month to complete and includes:

  1. Filing an Application for Authority form with the New York State Department of State
  2. Submitting a current certificate of good standing from your company’s home state from within the last year
  3. Appointing a registered agent (in the state of New York, the NY Secretary of State is the default registered agent)

It’s important to note that for both domestic and foreign LLCs, a legal notice of formation must be published weekly in two local newspapers for a total of six weeks. While this can cost you anywhere from $600-1200 and might seem an unnecessary task, not following through with these publications can put your business at risk down the line.

For companies with headquarters outside of the United States, before you register your business, you’ll first want to decide whether your NYC office space will be considered a branch of your company or a U.S. subsidiary. This determination will impact how you file your taxes as well as how liable the parent company is.

There may be different permits or licenses to complete depending on how you decide to register your business, so you’ll need to take the time to make sure you’re filing all the appropriate documents. Some permits and licenses will require information about workers’ compensation, liability, and disability insurance.

Intellectual property rights of a company outside of the U.S. do not usually carry over to U.S. offices, so foreign companies will also want to look into obtaining any needed trademarks and patents.

Set Up Your Taxes

After registering your business, you’ll need to determine how you’ll file taxes (as a state tax return or as business-specific taxes) and apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number). The EIN is also called a Federal Tax Identification Number. You can sign up for an EIN over the phone, via e-mail, or even by fax, but the easiest way is to apply online.

After you receive your EIN, you must also register your business with the NYS Department of Labor. Companies that plan on selling services or products from their NYC offices will also need to register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance as a Sales Tax Vendor.

Get Your Bank Accounts in Order

If this is your first office space in the U.S., it may take longer than average to set up your business’ bank accounts, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Different types of banks — national or international banks, small local banks, and credit unions — all have unique strengths, and it’s wise to spend some time shopping around for the bank that fits your needs. Capital One, Chase Bank, and HSBC are regularly listed among the best banks in the city.

With more and more online bank options, depending on your needs you might find an online account to be a better fit for your company. If your primary needs are to pay the employees in your NYC office and collect payments from clients, it’s possible that online financial services like PayPal, Stripe, and 2Checkout may be more convenient than a physical bank account.

Handle Immigration Processes and Paperwork

According to Tech Crunch, immigrants constitute 36% of all top tech founders in the U.S., so it’s no surprise that international companies, startups, and entrepreneurs are major players in shaping NYC’s ecosystem and invigorating the city’s tech scene. Any non-U.S. citizens who will be working in your NYC office space will need legal permission to work in NYC. Common work visa options include the H-1B Visa, the B-1 Visa for temporary business visitors, the L-1 Visa for employers who need to transfer managers, the E-2 Investor Visa, the TN Visa (citizens of Mexico and Canada only), and Green Card Visas.

Find Your Perfect Office Space in NYC

When you start looking for office space in NYC, you’ll want to choose which neighborhood you want to work in and then figure out how much space you’ll need. Our Space Calculator will take your company’s space considerations and give you an estimate for your ideal office size.

The most popular boroughs for office space in NYC are Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. We’ve done all the research about what makes each of these boroughs and their vibrant neighborhoods unique, including what types of businesses thrive there, the best ways to commute to each neighborhood, and where to grab a bite to eat on your lunch break. You can filter available office spaces by your size estimate to view potential matches.

An insider tip: work with a commercial real estate broker to make your search for your new NYC office space faster and easier. Because the landlord pays the tenant broker’s commission instead of the tenant, you can have a tenant broker help you through the process of finding office space without any out-of-pocket fees.

If you’re ready to start planning your move to NYC, talk with one of our trusted commercial real estate experts today!

Notable Companies with Additional Office Space in NYC:

Roche Holding AG – HQ in Basel, SwitzerlandNetflix – HQ in Silicon Valley, CA
Alibaba – HQ in Hangzhou, ChinaAlphabet – HQ in Silicon Valley, CA
Sony – HQ in Tokyo, JapanFacebook – HQ in Silicon Valley, CA
HSBC – HQ in London, UKTwitter – HQ in San Francisco, CA
Spotify – HQ in Stockholm, SwedenAmazon – HQ in Seattle, WA



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