File Articles of Incorporation

Do you want to know how to file articles of incorporation? Well, the first question may actually be, what are articles of incorporation? The articles of incorporation is a document that establishes a corporation as its own entity, and it is often considered the first step in creating a new business. It is important to ensure that you have filed your company's articles of incorporation properly and in a timely fashion, as the approval time may vary from state to state, and it is required before you can take additional steps in the establishment of your business.

The articles of incorporation are required to be filed with the secretary of state in the state in which the business is being incorporated. (If you are forming a nonprofit organization, then there may be other, special forms which need to be submitted, depending upon the guidelines of the state in which it is being formed.)

While the articles of incorporation become a public document, and therefore includes important information about the company, there is not a formalized format to which the document needs to adhere. Should you choose to do so, you can find any number of pre-written forms online that allow you to simply enter in the specifics regarding your company. Additionally, many states provide forms that you can obtain from the secretary of state, which can easily be filled out.

What Needs to Be Included

While there are not necessarily strict guidelines regarding the format to which articles of incorporation need to adhere, there is some information that you will want to ensure is included. Some of this information includes:

  • Name of company
  • Address or physical location of where the company will be based
  • A statement regarding the general purpose of the business
  • Whether or not the corporation will be issuing shares, and if so, how many
  • The names and addresses of the incorporators
  • The signature(s) of applicable incorporators

As the articles of incorporation are not necessarily terribly formal or complex in terms of what needs to be included and how one goes about filing them, it is often easy enough to print out, complete and send in the proper forms on your own. However, as requirements do vary from state to state, particularly regarding the specificity of the statement regarding the purpose of the company, consulting with a legal expert for some guidance can never hurt. This is especially true if your business is going to have a lot of complexities, such as the number of people involved and with what rights, etc. However, should you not wish to invest the money in an attorney, but want to ensure that your articles of incorporation are well-written, with all the required information, you can hire a document specialist who will oversee the creation and filing of your articles of incorporation.

Additionally, when including the name of your company on your articles of incorporation, you will also want to ensure that you have done your due diligence to ensure that there is not another company already registered with that name. It is also worth noting that even if a company does not share the exact name, if it is similar enough to potentially create confusion, the secretary of state may choose to not approve the articles of incorporation. Having your articles of incorporation denied will only create delays in being able to move forward with the establishment of your company, so you will want to ensure that you do not miss this step! Fortunately, it is easy enough to do a search, online and within your state, of registered business names to ensure that your perfect company name has not already been snagged by someone else.

Additional Information

Some additional things to keep in mind as you prepare to file your articles of incorporation are the filing fees. Many states do require that companies submit a filing fee, upon submitting their articles of incorporation. The fees vary from state to state, so you will want to confirm with the state in which you will be doing business, as to the fees involved.

You may also be questioning the importance of incorporating your business. Some benefits of doing so include:

  • It provides a greater sense of credibility for your business
  • It will ensure that you are meeting any requirements regarding registering your business name
  • It will limit the liability of the company shareholders, owners and board members

If you need help with filing articles of incorporation, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.