When first starting, many business owners wonder HOW and WHAT the process is to legally form their businesses. With so many dreams and visions for their business swirling in their head, it can be difficult to come back down to earth and think about things like…registering a Limited Liability Companies, aka “LLC”. While registration for your LLC will vary from state to state, there are some overarching principles that stay the same. This is a process you can absolutely do yourself, so not to worry. But, if its something you’re nervous or hesitant to do…then never be afraid to reach out to an attorney in your state for some one-on-one help.
Think About WHERE You Want to Form Your Business
After you’ve decided that you want to form your business as a Limited Liability Company, you’ll next want to choose which state you’d like to register your company in. Generally you will want to file your LLC in a U.S. state in which you are planning on working in and staying in permanently or, if you travel a lot, then the place you call your “home state” and receive mail at for the foreseeable future. Note that while you can change the state where your business is registered, it will often involve either dissolving an LLC in one state to move to another, or filing as a foreign corporation in a new state. To avoid having to deal with additional work and costs, I HIGHLY suggest you take some time to think about where you’ll be registering your new LLC.
DIY LLC Registration Process
After you’ve chosen the state in which you’re going to be registering, you will want to head to the website of the proper authority in your state in which to register your business. Often this is your state’s Secretary of State website (make sure to look for a “.gov” website!). While not all states have business formation information on the Secretary of State’s website, the majority will have that information located there. On the website, find the “File Your Business” or “File an LLC” or “File Your Articles of Organization Form”, fill it out and then submit that form through the proper channels listed on the website. Most states will have an online portal that will walk you through the process of filing the form online and submitting it. However, some states do still require you to mail in a form and you’ll want to make sure you get specific information about what your state requires.
After filing the application you will have to pay a one-time registration filing fee. This fee ranges from state to state and can be anywhere from $50-$300. Once you’ve finished the process of filing your Articles of Organization, some states will require additional steps. For example, in New York after your Articles of Organization has been registered you MUST, within 120 days, publish the Articles of Organization or notice in two newspapers of the county in which the office of the limited liability company is located once a week for six consecutive weeks. Make sure you are completing ALL requirements for your state when registering your LLC!
If this process seems like more than you are willing to take on, don’t worry! At TLP we have created some state specific guides to help you register your LLC in your homestate. We will walk you through each step of the process for your state and give you additional information related to certain criteria to fill out in the Articles of Organization (such as whether you should be a member-managed LLC or manager-managed LLC, in perpetuity or for a term, and more). Visit our DIY LLC Registration Page to purchase the guide for your state!
Key Terms to Pay Attention To When Registering
When you’re registering your LLC, here are some key terms you will want to know in order to ensure you fully understand the process:
Articles of Organization - This is a document that outlines the basic details of your business in order for it to be formed in your state. It includes the name of the business, description of the business, address, registered agent, intended duration of business, and information about the owners, managers, and/or members.
Operating Agreement - This is a document that outlines the business’ structure, including rules, regulations, and provisions that govern the internal operation of the business. You can file this document as an attachment with your Articles of Organization.
Employer Identification Number (EIN) - An EIN is a unique identification number assigned to a business entity by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so that it can be identified for tax reporting purposes.
Registered Agent - This is an individual or business entity that accepts tax and legal documents on behalf of your business and is usually required to be physically located in the LLC home state.
Don’t forget about other State and County Registration Requirements!
After you’ve finished registering your LLC in your state make sure to look into other state and county licensing requirements for your business! Oftentimes states will require additional county or state business licenses (depending on your type of business) or some other form of permitting. If you can’t find this information on your Secretary of State’s website, look at county or other local websites or call your county clerk for more information.
After you have all your licenses and registrations complete, take a breath because you are well on your way to having a legally legit business!
THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. EVERY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT & IS FACT-SPECIFIC. A proper legal analysis is necessary based on your location and contract. Consult an attorney in your home state for advice regarding your contract or specific legal situation.