How to Start an LLC in Wisconsin

L L C members happy after starting an L L C in Wisconsin

LLCs are the most popular structure for small businesses in Wisconsin. That's because starting and running a limited liability company (LLC) is very simple and offers important benefits.

LLCs can protect your personal assets (car, house, savings) if something happens to your business. LLCs also offer credibility and options to save on taxes.

It’s easy to form an LLC in Wisconsin online yourself. Just follow these steps:

  1. Name Your LLC
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. File the WI Articles of Organization
  4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN


Or, you can use an online LLC service to form an LLC:


four point seven out of five stars ZenBusiness ($39 + State Fees)

Three out of Five Stars LegalZoom ($149 + State Fees)

Starting an LLC in Wisconsin is Easy

You can form a Wisconsin LLC online by registering the Articles of Organization with the Department of Financial Institutions. The cost to set up an LLC in Wisconsin is $130 online or $170 by mail.

Follow our How to Start an LLC in Wisconsin guide below to get started.

Steps to form an L L C in Wisconsin

Step 1: Create A Name For Your Wisconsin LLC

Before you register your LLC, you'll need to come up with a name. Your business name needs to be catchy for branding purposes and legitimate for legal purposes.

We go into depth on this topic in our LLC naming guide. We’ll go over the basics below.

Naming Your LLC

First, brainstorm some possibilities. Use our LLC name generator to get the ideas flowing.

Next, make sure your name meets Wisconsin guidelines:

  • it contains the words limited liability company, limited company, LLC or L.L.C.
  • it doesn't contain restricted words or phrases (these often include words like bank, attorney, and university) without approval
  • it must be distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in Wisconsin
  • full list of Wisconsin naming guidelines

Next, do a Wisconsin LLC name search with the Department of Financial Institutions to find out if your name is available in Wisconsin.

If your business name is available and meets guidelines, you’ll be able to register it when you file your Wisconsin Articles of Organization with the Department of Financial Institutions.

Is the URL available? Before you commit 100% to a name, check to see if there’s a good web domain available.

We recommend buying your domain right away because even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it will be soon.

 

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Step 2: Appoint A Wisconsin Registered Agent

When you file your Articles of Organization, you'll need to list a registered agent.

A registered agent's job is to accept legal documents like service of process and tax notices for your LLC.

Your registered agent can be a person or a registered agent service. You can act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to use a registered agent service.

Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own registered agent:

  • You’ll need to be available during normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide
  • If you run your business from home, you’ll have to make your personal address public
  • You could be served with a lawsuit in front of your family or coworkers

Recommended: Most registered agent services offer a year of registered agent service free when you form an LLC with them. 

Step 3: File the Wisconsin Articles of Organization

It’s time to officially form your LLC by filing your Articles of Organization with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

You can file online with the Department of Financial Institutions or fill out a hard copy of Wisconsin Form 502 and mail it in. The filing fee is $130. 

Recommended: Now is a good time to decide if your LLC will be member-managed vs manager-managed.

You'll need to know the following information to complete each Article:

  1. Entity Name
  2. Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
  3. Governing Authority Type
  4. Organizer Information

For more detailed help with completing the form, visit our Wisconsin Articles of Organization guide.

Mail Your Articles of Organization:

Send the form and payment (payable to the Department of Financial Institutions) to:

State of WI - Dept. of Financial Institutions
P.O. Box 93348
Milwaukee, WI 53293

How long does it take to get an LLC approved? Processing time is immediate if filing online and within 5 days if filing by mail.

Step 4: Create A Wisconsin LLC Operating Agreement

Creating a Wisconsin LLC operating agreement is the only way to legally lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having this document in place will give you something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises. 

Even single-member LLCs benefit from having an operating agreement.

Your operating agreement should outline the following:

  • Each member’s responsibilities
  • How new members will be admitted
  • How existing members may transfer or terminate their membership
  • How profits and dividends will be distributed

You can add as many provisions as you want, as long as they don't conflict with Wisconsin business law. Take a look at our What is an Operating Agreement guide to learn more.

Download a template or create a custom Free Operating Agreement using our tool.

Step 5: Get an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a Social Security number (SSN) for your company. The IRS and the state of Wisconsin will use this number to track your business activity.

Your EIN will come in handy when it’s time to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File Federal and State taxes
  • Hire employees

The best way to get an EIN for your LLC in Wisconsin is by using the free online application on the IRS website.

Read our Get an EIN guide for instructions.

Steps After Forming an LLC

After forming your LLC, it's important to:

Need Help Forming an LLC?

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