The move had been widely predicted by analysts, who expect it to be the biggest share offering by a tech firm since Facebook's flotation in 2012.
They predict that the listing will raise up to $15bn (£9bn).
However, Alibaba did not reveal when the initial public offering (IPO) would take place or on which exchange.
"Alibaba Group has decided to commence the process of an initial public offering in the United States," the firm's statement said.
"This will make us a more global company and enhance the company's transparency, as well as allow the company to continue to pursue our long-term vision and ideals."
The move is expected to benefit Yahoo, which owns a significant stake in Alibaba and could see the value of its investment rise considerably.