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Key Takeaways:

  • When you’re lobbying, timing of registration matters — in 18 states, you have to register as a lobbyist prior to lobbying.
  • In the remaining states and the District of Columbia, you can register after but only have a short time period in which to do so (and that varies by state).

Knowing lobbying rules before you start outreach to lawmakers can save you time and prevent costly mistakes. You shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming you can address compliance rules after you’ve started lobbying.  In 18 states, you must register before your activity begins. In 32 others (and the District of Columbia), you can register after contact, but requirements vary by state — in many, you’ll have a certain number of days to register (and in some, after a certain amount of money is earned). The map below shows some general guidelines, but it’s important to work with a lobbying compliance professional to ensure you’re meeting all state and local requirements specific to your unique situation.