How to Start an LLC in Wisconsin

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

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, use a professional service:

four point seven out of five stars Northwest Registered Agent $29 (plus 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

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

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.

 

Find a Domain Now

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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.

Using a Wisconsin Trade Name (DBA)

A Wisconsin DBA (doing business as), also known as a trade name, is any registered name that a business operates under that isn't its legal business name. A trade name can be used by any type of business, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC).

Learn how to get a DBA in our Wisconsin DBA guide.

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. To learn more about Wisconsin Registered Agents, read our guide.

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 ($29 plus state fees).

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.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

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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

  • Wisconsin Foreign LLCs: Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. Download the Wisconsin foreign LLC form to get started.
  • Wisconsin Certificate of Good Standing: A certificate of good standing verifies that your LLC was legally formed. To order, follow our Wisconsin certificate of good standing guide.
  • Dissolving a Wisconsin LLC: If you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Wisconsin 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.