Here's what you need to do to form a limited liability company.
Forming an LLC (limited liability company) is not as hard as most people think. Here are the steps you need to take to make your LLC a legal reality.
- Choose an available business name that complies with your state's LLC rules.
- File formal paperwork, usually called articles of organization, and pay the filing fee (ranging from about $100 to $800, depending on your state's rules).
- Create an LLC operating agreement, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of the LLC members.
- Publish a notice of your intent to form an LLC (required in only a few states).
- Obtain licenses and permits that may be required for your business.
All of the paperwork and procedural steps to start a limited liability company in your state can be done online using Nolo's Online LLC Formation application.
For information on how to form an LLC in each state, see Nolo’s article, 50-State Guide to Forming an LLC . See the LLC section of the Nolo website for other articles on LLCs.
Choosing a Name for Your LLC
The name of your LLC must comply with the rules of your state's LLC division. (Typically, this office is combined with the corporations division within the secretary of state's office.) While requirements differ from state to state, generally:
- the name cannot be the same as the name of another LLC on file with the LLC office
- the name must end with an LLC designator, such as "Limited Liability Company" or "Limited Company," or an abbreviation of one of these phrases (such as "LLC," "L.L.C.," or "Ltd. Liability Co."), and
- the name cannot include certain words prohibited by the state, such as Bank, Insurance, Corporation or City (state rules differ on which words are prohibited).
Your state's LLC office can tell you how to find out whether your proposed name is available for your use. Often, for a small fee, you can reserve your LLC name for a short period of time until you file your articles of organization.
Besides following your state's LLC naming rules, you must make sure your name won't violate another company's trademark. For information on trademark law and general advice on picking a successful business name, see the Your Business Name area of Nolo's website.
Once you've found a legal and available name, you don't usually need to register it with your state. When you file your articles of organization, your business name will be automatically registered.
Filing Articles of Organization
After settling on a name, you must prepare and file "articles of organization" with your state's LLC filing office. While most states use the term "articles of organization" to refer to the basic document required to create an LLC, some states call it a "certificate of formation" or "certificate of organization." To learn about the specific requirements of forming an LLC in your state, choose your state from the list below: