LLC articles of organization

Articles of organization are part of a form that makes your business official. Read more for tips and tricks on how to file LLC articles of organization in your state.

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Five coworkers are meeting around a table in their new office after forming an LLC.

by Siege Media, contributor to LegalZoom
updated January 09, 2023 ·  12min read

In order to file an LLC, you'll need to create articles of organization or a similar document of a different title. This simple document lays out basic information about your LLC. Filing it with the appropriate state office makes your LLC an official entity. Different states vary in how they refer to the document and the office where it will be filed. Reference the How to Start an LLC article for your state that appears later in this article for more state specific information.

woman in brown shirt working at a desk

What are articles of organization?

Requirements for LLC articles of organization

If you are planning on starting an LLC, all states will require you to file an article of organization with the secretary of state and pay a filing fee.

The articles of organization outline basic details about your company. Once filed with the state, the LLC becomes official. The articles of organization essentially act as a birth certificate for the LLC.

Each state has different requirements for what's needed, but the most common information includes:

  • Company name
  • Description of the company
  • Mailing address
  • Name and address of the registered (or statutory) agent
  • Information about company owners, managers, and officers

The secretary of state will review the articles and may reject them. Articles that get rejected are usually not approved due to issues with the LLC's suggested name.

Depending on the secretary of state office, it may take several weeks to get a response, but most states offer an expedited option. Once these articles are approved and filed, the LLC becomes a legal business entity.

How to file articles of organization

Steps to file articles of organization

To begin filing LLC articles of organization, you'll need to have information about your company on hand. Here is a basic breakdown of the steps to file articles of organization for your LLC.

Step 1: Visit the secretary of state's website

Your secretary of state's website should outline the requirements for filing articles of organization. Information to look out for includes:

  • LLC articles of organization form
  • Whether or not you can file the form online
  • The filing cost—depending on the state, the prices are typically between $50 and $150, but could be much higher depending on your state.

Step 2: Gather your information

Before filing, gather the information you'll need. Here is a list of some of the information that most states will require you to have before you're able to file:

  • LLC name: You'll have to already have a name for your LLC. If you haven't chosen a name for your LLC yet, now is the time. You'll need one to register your LLC.
  • LLC address: You'll need to provide a physical address of your LLC. In some states, an actual street address may be required over a P.O. box. The secretary of state website will help you understand address requirements for your state.
  • Registered agent: registered agent is someone you designate to receive the legal paperwork for your business, such as service of process notices, government correspondence, and compliance-related documents

    A registered agent is someone you designate to receive your business's legal paperwork.

    Step 3: Prepare to answer questions

    Before you can complete your LLC articles of organization application, your state will require you to submit additional information, such as operational and organizational details. Here are some examples of what your state may ask you:

    • LLC purpose: Some states may want you to state the purpose of your LLC. For example, some LLCs must enter a single professional purpose when filing, such as accounting services or law practice.
    • LLC manager: Will a manager or group of members manage the LLC? This is something you need to be prepared to answer. Member-managed LLCs usually have fewer members and are involved in the day-to-day operations. Manager-managed LLCs sometimes have a larger number of members who aren't involved in day-to-day management.
    • Members: In some states, you need to provide information about the initial members of the LLC, such as addresses and names. Additionally, there is no max amount of members to include in your list.

      Step 4: Submit the form

      Once you've provided the necessary information, you'll need to submit your LLC articles of organization for approval. Depending on how your state lets you file, you can either send your paperwork in the mail with a check payment or file it electronically.

      Tip: Double-check and make sure your articles of organization are signed—it must be done by the authorized representative of the LLC.

      What to do after filing

      Tips for after filing LLC articles of organization

      After you've filed your LLC, there are some other documents and actions you should consider taking:

      Step 1: Get an EIN

      An EIN, or an employer identification number, is a nine-digit number given to a company from the IRS for purposes of identification. This can also be called a federal employer identification number or a federal tax identification number.

      An EIN is required to open a business banking account, obtain a business license, or file a business tax return.

      Step 2: Form an operating agreement

      To ensure your LLC operates smoothly, you need to create an operating agreement. This agreement outlines your business's functional and financial decisions including regulations, rules, and provisions.

      An operating agreement defines the structure of your company and sets up a chain of command

      The operating agreement should outline things like member responsibilities and roles, member titles, and contributions.

      Step 3: Open a bank account

      Now that you have LLC designation, you can open an LLC bank account. Utilizing a business account for your LLC is more manageable than using your personal one because all of your business expenses can be found in one place. Deposit any member contributions for proper tracking. Opening a bank account for your LLC is also the first step to establishing business credit.

      A business checking account allows you to separate business and personal expenses.

      Step 4: Get a business license

      Depending on the type of business you are opening and your state's regulations, you may need a business license. This license will ensure you comply with all state, county, and local laws. You'll need to reach out to your city's licensing authority to obtain an application, or it may also be available online.

      Step 5: File for an annual report

      In many states, you must file an annual report for your LLC. Filing this report keeps your company compliant with all state regulations and in good standing to preserve your limited liability protection and other benefits.

      How to file by state

      While most states are similar, every state has its own rules and procedures for creating an LLC and articles of organization. Pick your state below to find out how to start an LLC and file your articles of organization.

      State requirement cheat sheet

      Here's a breakdown of some special circumstances that are required in each state:

      • AlabamaIn Alabama, you must file an Alabama Business Privilege Tax with the Alabama Department of Revenue.
      • AlaskaAlaska requires a NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) code.
      • ArizonaThe processing time for documents is between six to nine working days in Arizona.
      • ArkansasIn Arkansas, you must pay a minimum $150 tax to the Arkansas Secretary of State each year.
      • CaliforniaYou must pay a franchise tax fee in California.
      • ColoradoIn Colorado, you must file a periodic report (also known as an annual report) with the Colorado Secretary of State each year.
      • Connecticut: Connecticut LLCs must pay a biennial Business Entity Tax during years ending in an odd number.
      • DelawareYou must pay an entity tax in Delaware.
      • District of ColumbiaFilers must submit a report biannually with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
      • FloridaThe processing time in Florida is usually between 2 to 14 business days.
      • GeorgiaYou must create your own articles of organization on white 8.5-by-11-inch paper, following a template found in the filing procedures manual in Georgia.
      • HawaiiLLC naming requirements are not as strict in Hawaii. The LLC name must be distinguishable from other LLCs.
      • IdahoIn Idaho, you aren't required to have an operating agreement to officially form an LLC.
      • IllinoisFilers in Illinois must register with the Illinois Department of Revenue.
      • IndianaAn LLC name in Indiana may be reserved for up to 120 days.
      • IowaYou must file a certificate of organization with the secretary of state in Iowa.
      • Kansas: LLCs in Kansas can abbreviate "limited liability company" or "limited company" as "LLC", "L.L.C.", "LC", or "L.C."
      • KentuckyKentucky LLCs must contain the words "limited liability company" or "limited company" at the end of the LLC name.
      • LouisianaIn Louisiana, you're required to appoint a registered agent for your LLC.
      • MaineYour registered agent in Maine can be a person or a corporation, as long as the registered agent is a resident of (person) or is located in (company) Maine.
      • MarylandTo form a Maryland LLC, file the articles of organization with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
      • MassachusettsFile a certificate of organization with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth to begin LLC formation.
      • MichiganIn Michigan, you can create an LLC for any legal or non-prohibited activity.
      • MinnesotaMinnesota requires you to establish a registered office for your LLC. The location must be in the state of Minnesota.
      • MississippiYou must file a certificate of formation with the secretary of state in Mississippi.
      • MissouriRestricted words (like "Attorney" or "Bank") cannot appear in your LLC name unless granted prior approval, likely requiring a licensed individual (such as a lawyer or analyst) to be part of your LLC.
      • MontanaIn Montana, there is an additional filing fee to register an assumed business name (or DBA) with the state.
      • NebraskaIn Nebraska, all owners of newly formed businesses must publish a notice of formation in one newspaper for three consecutive weeks.
      • NevadaYour Nevada LLC's name must be distinguishable from any other established company in the state (excluding sole proprietorships or partnerships in some cases).
      • New HampshireIn New Hampshire, an operating agreement is not required for your LLC, but it's a good idea to have one.
      • New JerseyFile a certificate of formation with the State of New Jersey (not the secretary of state) to begin LLC formation.
      • New MexicoIn New Mexico, you're required to decide if your LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed.
      • New YorkIn New York, you're required to fill out the DOS-1336 Form.
      • North CarolinaYou don't need to file your operating agreement with the state of North Carolina, but you should keep it as an internal document for reference.
      • North DakotaIn North Dakota, your LLC name must not resemble the name of another LLC, corporation, or limited partnership.
      • OhioOhio requires you to appoint a statutory agent (also called a registered agent in other states) for your LLC.
      • OklahomaOklahoma LLCs must include the words "limited liability company" (or an abbreviation) in the name.
      • OregonTo start an LLC in Oregon, you must file articles of organization with the Oregon Secretary of State, either online or by mail.
      • PennsylvaniaBefore forming your LLC, you can reserve an available name for your LLC for up to 120 days in Pennsylvania.
      • Rhode IslandIn Rhode Island, you must decide whether your LLC is member-managed or manager-managed before filing.
      • South CarolinaIn South Carolina, you're required to list your registered agent and your registered office.
      • South Dakota: An operating agreement isn't required to file your LLC in South Dakota, but it's a good idea to have one.
      • TennesseeAn LLC in Tennessee can use a name that isn't distinguishable from an existing company name in certain cases.
      • TexasLLCs in Texas can be treated as corporations, limited liability partnerships, or single-member LLCs and are subject to federal income tax classifications.
      • UtahThe state filing cost is paid to the State of Utah, rather than the secretary of state.
      • VermontYou must file form LLC-1(D), or your articles of organization, with the Vermont Secretary of State to file your LLC.
      • VirginiaThe Virginia State Corporate Commission receives filing documents for all Virginia LLCs.
      • WashingtonAll LLCs must obtain a business license through the Washington State Department of Revenue.
      • West VirginiaWest Virginia businesses must register with the state tax department and pay the requisite fee before commencing business activities in the state.
      • WisconsinTo launch a Wisconsin LLC, you must file your articles of organization with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
      • WyomingWyoming LLC names can resemble names of other LLCs or corporations in the state only in certain cases.

      LLC articles of organization FAQ

      Ready to start filing? Here are some important questions and answers to keep in mind when completing your LLC articles of organization:

      Do I need an attorney to file articles of organization?

      An attorney is not required and you can file articles of organization by yourself. However, each state has different rules and regulations for filing. Thus, a business attorney may be able to help you navigate the process and help you better understand and prepare.

      Do articles of organization serve as a business license?

      LLC articles of organization are not the same as a business license—this must be obtained separately and requires a different process.

      Do I need to register my business name?

      If you are filing articles of organization, you don't need to register your business name. Registering your LLC in the articles of organization also serves as registering your business name.

      Do I need other forms to file articles of organization?

      This depends on the state you're filing in. Some states will require other forms, such as a docketing statement or an initial list of managers or managing members. Check with your specific state to see if there are additional forms that are required.

      Are Articles of Organization on public record?

      Articles of organization are public records if they're filed with the state. If you're starting a company, ensure you're aware of this so that you don't unknowingly reveal confidential information.

      LLC articles of organization checklist

      Ready to complete your articles of organization form for your new LLC? Follow this checklist below to ensure you have everything you need to file:

      If you're ready to get your company running, articles of organization are a required step to reach that goal. With this guide and breakdown by state, filing your LLC articles of organization will become easier to navigate. Be sure to choose LegalZoom as your registered agent for your business.

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      About the Author

      Siege Media, contributor to LegalZoom

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      This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.