Updated November 11, 2020:

Knowing how to fill out LLC form is essential for forming your business. You must file the appropriate LLC formation documents and pay your state's filing fee before anything else can happen, so you need to know which forms are state-specific for officially creating your limited liability company.

Filing LLC Formation Documents

LLC formation documents are often referred to as a company's Articles of Organization, Certificate of Formation, or Certificate of Organization. Your state may require additional documents before allowing your LLC to conduct business.

Before filing your LLC documents, you should make sure you have completed a couple of steps:

  • Choose a name for your business. Your LLC name cannot be used by an existing business, so check your state's database to verify the name is available for use.
  • Choose a registered agent for your business. You can also hire a commercial registered agent, if you prefer.

The Filing Process

When filing your documents, include your LLC's name, address, registered agent information, and your business's effective date. Your state office will specify whether additional documents are required.

In general, there are two ways you can file formation documents: electronically (online) or via snail mail. Each state charges a fee for forming a new LLC, but there are no monthly fees. You may also need to pay your fee with a check or money order if filing by mail. Electronic filing fees can be paid with a debit or credit card.

It's not a good idea to attempt to form an LLC in another state. Some entrepreneurs attempt this thinking it will save them money, but it almost always costs more.

After submitting your LLC formation documents and filing fee, your Secretary of State will review and process the paperwork. If there are any oversights or issues with your filing arise, you will be notified and given the chance to make corrections.

On average, mailed filings are approved in one to two weeks. Electronic filings can be approved in under one week. Depending on your state's process, you may receive an approved copy of your formation documents to confirm the business is legally formed.

Ongoing LLC Requirements

After your LLC is officially established, there are still ongoing state requirements to meet. Most states require you to pay a recurring annual fee and file an annual report. You will also need to pay state taxes each year.

How to Create an LLC

Forming a limited liability company (LLC) is not as difficult as it may seem. Simply choose an available LLC name that adheres to your state's rules, file the required paperwork, and pay the fee. Most state fees range from $100 to $800, which makes establishing an LLC one of the most affordable ways to start a business.

The steps required to form your LLC are as follows:

  • Create an operating agreement to outline the responsibilities and rights of the LLC members
  • Publish a notice of intent if required in your state
  • Obtain the appropriate licenses and permits for the business

Choosing a Name

Your LLC name must comply with all state requirements. Although these requirements vary by state, they generally mean:

  • The name you choose cannot be the same as another LLC on file
  • The name must end with either “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” “Ltd. Liability Co.,” or “Limited Liability Company”
  • The name must avoid restricted words such as “City,” “Corporation,” “Insurance,” “Bank,” etc.

Your state's office will ultimately decide whether the name you choose is available for use. In most locations, you can reserve your LLC for a short time by paying a small fee. This reserves your preferred business name until you can file your Articles of Organization.

Filing Your Articles of Organization

Once you've chosen a business name, it's time to file your Articles of Organization. Most states refer to this document as “Articles of Organization,” but some have another term for the document, such as “Certificate of Organization” or “Certificate of Formation.”

Your Articles of Organization is a simple document which you can create in a few minutes simply by filling in the blanks. You will also need to check the appropriate boxes on your state's filing form.

Paying Your Filing Fees

Unlike forming a sole proprietorship or partnership, starting an LLC means you need to pay filing fees when submitting your Articles of Organization. Most states charge just $100, but big states like California charge as much as an $800 annual tax in addition to the one-time filing fee.

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