How to File Articles of Organization for an LLC
Some states require a business owner to file a certificate of organization (sometimes called a certificate of formation), which has a format similar to the articles of organization.
The process for filing this document differs by state, but the requirements are typically much the same and relatively straightforward. Here's how to file articles of organization.
Step 1. Visit Your State's Secretary of State Website
Find the information on the website that describes the requirements for the articles of organization. Some states include a sample while others provide an itemized list of the items you will need to include. For example, you will need to find the payment information for filing initial articles of organization.
Step 2. Gather the Information You Need for Filing
Before you fill out the form, collect the information that you will need. For example, information concerning the LLC and its owners (called "members"). Other information will include:
- The name of the LLC. Most states require that you use the term "LLC" in the name.
- The address of the LLC. A street address may be required rather than a PO Box.
- The members of the LLC.
- The registered agent. A registered agent must be designated for the company. The Registered Agent is the person responsible for sending and receiving official paperwork. This person should be responsible, able to make decisions about business matters and possess check writing authority.
- The effective start date of the LLC. If a start date is not designated, the date of filing and acceptance will apply. Check with your state for any effective date requirements if you prefer a date before or after the filing date.
Step 3. Prepare to Answer Questions Concerning Your LLC's Organization and Purpose
There will be additional information that your state will require before you can complete your application. This information can include organizational and operational details. For example:
- Will the members be managing the LLC or will the company hire a professional to manage the business? Learn more about member-management vs. manager-management.
- You may need to describe the activities of your business. That is, what is the purpose of the business? A brief description is sufficient, such as a day care center or consulting.
- Some states will require you to list the names and addresses of the company's members.
Step 4. Complete the Form
Fill in the form and, once it is complete, either mail it along with a check for the specified amount to the secretary of state or submit the form electronically, depending on the state requirements explained on the website.
- Make sure you have included the terms "LLC" or "Limited Liability Company" in the name of the company, and place a comma before the term. For example, Betty's Bakery, LLC. Most states require this designation. Avoid the terms "corporation" or "Inc." as these do not apply to an LLC. An LLC is not a corporation.
- The registered agent should be someone who is familiar with legal matters and who is available during regular business hours.
- You do not need to register your business name if you are filing articles of organization. The registration of the LLC also serves to register your business name.
- If possible, use a business checking account for the check. Your business will seem more legitimate. Some banks may not give you an account until you file the articles of organization, but most will.
- Most states will give you a fillable PDF form to use for the application. Be sure you save the form or at least take a screenshot so you do not have to re-create it.
- A few states require you to publish the articles of incorporation (Arizona and New York are two states that require this step).
- Create an LLC operating agreement. Although you are not required to submit your operating agreement to your state, it is important to have such an agreement, even for a single-member LLC.