How to Start an LLC in Iowa

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

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

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

Need help forming an Iowa LLC? Use a professional service like ZenBusiness to start an Iowa LLC. 


Starting an LLC in Iowa is Easy

You can get an Iowa LLC online by registering the Certificate of Organization with the Secretary of State. The cost to set up an LLC in Iowa is $50.

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

To learn how to form an LLC in any state, visit our How to Form an LLC guide.

Steps to form an L L C in Iowa

Step 1: Create A Name For Your Iowa 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 Iowa 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's distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in Iowa
  • full list of Iowa naming guidelines

Next, do an Iowa LLC name search with the Secretary of State to find out if your name is available in Iowa.

If your business name is available and meets guidelines, you’ll be able to register it when you file your Certificate of Organization with the Secretary of State.

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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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 2: Appoint An Iowa LLC Registered Agent

When you file your Certificate 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: Northwest Registered Agent offers a free year of registered agent service when you form your LLC ($39 plus state fees).

Step 3: File the Certificate Of Organization

It’s time to officially form your LLC by filing your Certificate of Organization with the Iowa Secretary of State.

You can file online with the Secretary of State or follow these instructions to create your own Certificate of Organization and deliver by mail or fax. The filing fee is $50. 

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 create the form:

  1. Entity Name and Address
  2. Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
  3. Effective Date and Expiration Date

For more detailed help with completing the form, visit our Iowa Certificate of Organization guide.

Mail Your Articles of Organization:

Send the form and payment (payable to the Secretary of State) to:

Lucas State Office Building
321 E 12th St
Des Moines, IA 50319

Submit by Fax: (515) 242-5953

How long does it take to get an LLC approved? LLC processing time is immediately after payment is received or 2 weeks by mail or fax. 

Step 4: Create An Iowa LLC Operating Agreement

Creating an Iowa 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 Iowa 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 Iowa 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 Iowa 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:

  • 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. A corporate veil protects your personal assets from creditors in potential lawsuits against your LLC or Business.

    Learn more by reading this guide to Banking for Entrepreneurs. 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.
  • Get a business credit card. A business credit card will help separate personal and business expenses while building your company’s credit history. A strong credit history will be useful for raising capital in the form of small business loans.
  • Hire a business accountant. A business accountant will help you save on taxes and avoid penalties and fines. An accountant makes bookkeeping and payroll easier. Find out how much you could be saving with a consultation with a business accountant.
  • Get business insurance. Business insurance helps manage risk. The most common forms of business insurance are general liability, professional liability, and workers’ compensation.

Find out the real cost of getting insurance for your business. Get a free quote or call 855-602-1925.

Keep Your Company Compliant

More LLC Resources

  • Iowa Foreign LLCs: Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. You can file for an Iowa foreign LLC online.
  • Iowa Certificate of Good Standing: A certificate of good standing verifies that your LLC was legally formed. To order, follow our Iowa certificate of good standing guide.
  • Dissolving an Iowa LLC: If you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Iowa LLC Dissolution Guide.
  • LLC Legal Forms: TRUiC offers a number of free LLC legal forms including operating agreements, LLC resolutions, and hiring documents.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

Read our Best LLC Services review to learn more about pricing and packages.