Filing for a Limited Liability Company (LLC) may sound like a daunting task. Where should you start? How expensive is it to start an LLC? How long does LLC filing take? It’s worthwhile forming an LLC because it protects you from liability, gives you more flexibility in how you manage your business, and offers some tax advantages for your company. But it’s a big process! We’ve laid out the basics so you can start with a solid understanding of how to file for an LLC.

How do you file for an LLC?

  1. File for an EIN: An employer identification number (EIN) is a unique tax identification number for your business. You need an EIN which you will have to file for before filing your LLC in most states if you have more than 1 member. You can apply for an employer identification number with the IRS online or by mail, fax or phone.
  2. Name your business: Choose the best name that fits your brand and marketing strategies. You also need to check the Secretary of State’s website to make sure your chosen name is not already being used by another company, and to ensure that your chosen name meets basic requirements. If your state doesn’t have a Secretary of State website, check the appropriate state agency site for your area.
  3. Determine and name a Registered Agent: If you’re registering your LLC in the state you live in, you can be the registered agent in all states. Or you can also hire a registered agent service. This person will be responsible for handling official legal documents and making sure you have them in your possession as the LLC owner. You can choose anyone over 18 who lives in the state where you’re registering your LLC, and who is available during normal business hours. Of course, choose someone you trust to handle those important documents.
  4. File your Articles of Organization: Your state agency website will have this available for you. You’ll need to pay a filing fee when you submit these Articles.
  5. Create an Operating Agreement: While not every state may require this, it’s still a handy document to outline the duties of each member of the LLC. If you have formed your LLC with business partners, you all must understand what you’re responsible for as you run your company together.

How much does it cost to start an LLC?

The following cost estimations depend on the state where you file and the fees each state and state professional charges for the different processes:

  • The filing fee for your LLC could range from $35-$800.
  • To choose and officially name a Registered Agent, you may have to pay up to $300.
  • Your Operating Agreement may cost up to $1,000.
  • The cost of your business license fees for your specific business type could cost anywhere from $50 to more than $1,000. It depends on what your business sells.
  • Recurring fees may cost from $10 up to $800. Again, it depends on the state.

Long story short, starting an LLC requires careful planning and money management so you can get the best results for your business.

What is an LLC filing fee?

When you submit your Articles of Organization, you’ll pay a one-time filing fee to the state where you’re forming your LLC. However, for every year that you keep your LLC running, you’ll need to pay a recurring fee to that state to avoid getting your LLC shut down. While it may seem tempting to file your LLC in a state with a lower filing fee, it makes more sense to file in the state where your business will be operating. You would also have to pay two separate filing fees if you were to file in a separate state.

LLC filing fees by state

Filing fees vary drastically depending on the state where you plan to form your LLC. Do careful research to discover how much the initial filing fee will be. You also want to check your state’s recurring fee amount, as well as when and how often you will be required to submit an information report.

How long does LLC filing take?

This depends on the processing time of your state agency and your method of filing. If you file online, you may have a shorter processing time. However, if you file by mail, expect a longer waiting time for transit, processing and response.

You can also choose between standard and expedited LLC processing times. A standard processing time is almost always two to three weeks, no matter which state you have chosen to file. However, the expedited processing times can vary based on your state of choice. Some may be as short as three days, while others can take longer.

LLC filing tips

While you must follow all the legal and required steps to file your LLC application, there are still some best practices you can use to help the process along:

  • Remember to double-check the availability of your intended business name. It also must include “LLC,” but variations are allowed such as “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited,” “Limited Liability Co.,” etc.
  • The IRS suggests that the intended name matches your business’s purpose, product or service. If your business name includes a word like “medical,” “licensed,” “attorney,” etc., you must be able to prove that legally licensed people do work at your business. Be careful when using industry-specific words like the ones we just mentioned, so you don’t mislead your customers.
  • If you have a logo, make sure it is not similar to other trademarked business logos. Carefully create your own or hire graphic designers to make you a stylish and unique logo.
  • You can file a name reservation request form with your state’s Office of the Secretary. This gives you time to file your Articles of Organization using that name.

Filing business taxes for LLC for the first time

How many members your LLC has will determine the tax structure that the IRS will assign to you. You can usually change your tax classification once you have been assigned this structure, so don’t worry if you initially receive a tax structure that doesn’t work best for your LLC and its members.

How can a LegalShield Small Business Legal Plan Membership help?

It may seem confusing to try filing for your LLC without legal advice. Having the advice of an experienced law firm can greatly ease the process. When you become a LegalShield Small Business Legal Plan Member, you gain access to a dedicated law firm for consultation on business legal matters.

They can also make phone calls or write letters on your behalf, review business legal documents of 15 pages or more (depending on the small business plan) and help in many areas of law.

Filing for your brand-new LLC doesn’t have to stress you out with LegalShield’s affordable business plans!


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