Starting an LLC is Easy
Whether you choose to learn how to form an LLC yourself or hire an online LLC service to do the footwork for you, it's really easy to start an LLC.
It’s easy to form a limited liability company (LLC) online yourself. Just follow these steps:
- Select Your State
- Name Your LLC
- Choose a Registered Agent
- File LLC Formation Documents
- Create an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN
Step 1: Select Your State
Online filing is available in all states except Maine. We'll walk you through the process for your state.
Select your state to begin:
- Alabama LLC
- Alaska LLC
- Arizona LLC
- Arkansas LLC
- California LLC
- Colorado LLC
- Connecticut LLC
- Delaware LLC
- Florida LLC
- Georgia LLC
- Hawaii LLC
- Idaho LLC
- Illinois LLC
- Indiana LLC
- Iowa LLC
- Kansas LLC
- Kentucky LLC
- Louisiana LLC
- Maine LLC
- Maryland LLC
- Massachusetts LLC
- Michigan LLC
- Minnesota LLC
- Mississippi LLC
- Missouri LLC
- Montana LLC
- Nebraska LLC
- Nevada LLC
- New Hampshire LLC
- New Jersey LLC
- New Mexico LLC
- New York LLC
- North Carolina LLC
- North Dakota LLC
- Ohio LLC
- Oklahoma LLC
- Oregon LLC
- Pennsylvania LLC
- Rhode Island LLC
- South Carolina LLC
- South Dakota LLC
- Tennessee LLC
- Texas LLC
- Utah LLC
- Vermont LLC
- Virginia LLC
- Washington LLC
- Washington D.C. LLC
- West Virginia LLC
- Wisconsin LLC
- Wyoming LLC
If your LLC will have a physical presence in other states, you'll need to file as a foreign LLC in those states.
The best state for form an LLC is almost always the state you live in.
Step 2: Name Your LLC
You need the right business name in order to register your LLC with the state. Naming your new business goes beyond creative branding—you could have the catchiest name in Connecticut but if it isn’t unique and legal, you can’t use it.
In order to form an LLC successfully, you have to be sure no one else in your state is using your name and that it meets state guidelines.
Learn how to search if an LLC name is available and if it meets naming guidelines in our LLC name search guide.
If you need help coming up with a catchy name, try our business name generator. You can use this tool to generate both business names and domain names.
You can also search Godaddy for available domain names:
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Once you register a domain name for your LLC, consider setting up a business phone system to establish credibility and enhance your customer service. Nextiva provides a plethora of useful features and a quick, easy setup. Try Nextiva.
Step 3: Choose A Registered Agent
When you fill out your LLC registration forms, you'll need to list your registered agent in most states.
A registered agent is responsible for receiving important legal documents on behalf of an LLC. A registered agent’s most important job is to accept service of process (legal summons).
Many entrepreneurs choose to hire a registered agent service to help with this part of their business. You can also appoint a friend, colleague, or yourself. In most states, your registered agent must meet these requirements:
- is 18 years or older
- has a physical address in the state where business is conducted
- is available (in person) during normal business hours
Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers a free year of registered agent service when you form your LLC ($39 plus state fees).
Step 4: File Your Articles of Organization
To form an LLC, you'll have to file your LLC formation documents with the state. These formation documents are called the Articles of Organization; in some states, they are known as the Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization.
Most states offer online filing. Each state charges a fee to process LLC applications.
To learn exactly how to complete this step for your LLC, just select your state.
Now is also the time to decide whether your LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. Read our full guide on Member-Managed vs. Manager-Managed LLCs.
Step 5: Create an LLC Operating Agreement
Creating an LLC operating agreement is the only way for you and your members to legally define your roles and lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having this document in place will also give you something to return to if there’s a dispute.
An LLC operating agreement isn’t filed with the state — it’s stored in your company records. The operating agreement should outline:
- 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
Step 6: Get an EIN
The Employer Identification Number (EIN) is basically a Social Security number (SSN) for your company. Your EIN allows the IRS to keep track of your business’s tax reporting.
Steps After Forming an LLC
Open a Business Bank Account
A business bank account helps separate personal expenses and company expenses, which is required to maintain your LLC's corporate veil.
Learn more by reading our guide to small business banking. For a multi-member LLC, you'll also want to set up capital accounts for members. We also recommend checking out our review of the best business bank accounts.
The next step is to protect your startup by getting business insurance. Depending on the type of business you’re operating, your insurance requirements and needs may vary. So, what is business insurance exactly? Business Insurance protects your business’s assets from losses that can happen naturally while doing business, such as property damage or lawsuits.
To learn more about the exact type of business insurance your startup will need, visit this guide on small business insurance or chat with our friends at Commercial Insurance.
Research Business Licenses and Permits
You'll need to research whether or not your LLC requires licenses and permits. Business licenses and permit requirements vary by state, so be sure to conduct the proper research and plan accordingly.
Not sure where to start? Use our business license guide.
There are professional services that can take care of the paperwork and process for you. Check out our review of the Best Business License Services.
File Your LLC Annual Report
Many states require LLCs to file an annual report, which includes updating your registered agent address and paying your annual fee or franchise tax.
Visit our LLC annual report guide to learn more.
Is forming an LLC worth it?
Most small businesses will benefit from forming an LLC. LLC's offer:
- Limited liability protection
- Tax options
Learn more in our LLC Benefits guide.
Should I get an LLC for my small business?
An LLC is easy to set up, flexible, and straightforward. Additionally, an LLC gives you liability protection and pass-through taxation.
Read our full guide on how to choose a business structure to learn about other options.
Can I file for an LLC on my own?
How much does it cost to start an LLC?
The cost of forming an LLC varies by state and depends on if you complete the process yourself or hire a professional service. LLCs can cost anywhere from $50 to $500. Hiring a formation company could add another fee between $40 and $350.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of an LLC?
LLCs protect their owners’ personal financial assets. They are also fairly simple to form and maintain.
If you are planning to raise capital, investors typically prefer the stock structure of a corporation.
Learn more in our LLC benefits guide.
Is an LLC easy to form?
Yes, LLCs are very easy to form. Every state, except for Maine, allows you to form your LLC online by completing a series of questions.