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Filing articles of organization isn’t a glamorous job – but it is a big step in launching a business and forming an LLC. Once you’ve filled out the forms, you’ll have all the legal information you need to organize other aspects of your business, like setting up bank accounts or getting the right tax numbers. And even though it seems a little daunting, with business formation services you can get your papers filed and approved with almost zero effort.
Why Filing Articles of Organization is Worth It
Filing articles of organization might not be the most exciting task in the world, but it’s completely necessary for anyone hoping to legally run a business.
And once you’ve collected the information and gotten it approved, it will streamline the rest of your admin, making it easier come launch day. You’ll have all the information you need to show investors, add to your operating agreement, and apply for taxes or bank accounts.
Another reason that filing articles of organization is worth the paperwork is having legal protection for your business from day one. You’ll take care of your business’s liability, and have a registered agent to help you navigate the legal ins and outs of business.
Like any admin task of launching a business, getting it right and being organized from the start can help you grow faster, avoid bankruptcy and stay legal – and the same is true for articles of organization.
The Investment Needed to File Articles of Organization
Filing articles of organization isn’t free – but it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Most states will charge a fee for filing articles of organization, and the cost varies per state, but usually falls somewhere between $100 and $250.
You’ll also have to hire a registered agent, even if you’re filing the forms yourself. Legally, you’re required to hire and list a registered agent on your paperwork, and this usually costs between $100-$300 per year.
You also have the option to use a legal formation service – which will include a registered agent along with advice on forming your LLC and help with the paperwork. This is usually the more cost-effective option because you can get help with all the different aspects of forming an LLC – not just filing your articles of organization – for a package deal.
The most popular legal formation service is LegalZoom, which offers full LLC formation services that include filling all the paperwork, a registered agent assigned to your account, and help navigating the different laws in your state. Their prices for LLC formation services start at just $79.
6 Steps to File Articles of Organization
Filing articles of organization isn’t as fun as other aspects of launching a business – but it’s also not as hard as you might think. As long as you collect the correct details, it’s easy to fill in the forms and get your business registered.
Here are the steps you’ll need to follow when filing your articles of organization:
#1 – Choose a Business Name
You already know that you need a business name – but you might not know that most states have specific requirements about what you need to include in your name and what you can’t say. An incorrect name is actually the most common reason LLC applications get rejected.
For instance, many states require you to include the fact that you’re an LLC in your name and use the term or abbreviation. And some states have lists of words that can’t be used, such as ‘insurance’, as they could be misleading.
When you choose your name, you’ll need to go through your state’s requirements and make sure that your name is legal, and not already in use within your state.
You should be able to find this information on your secretary of state’s website. If you use a formation service, like LegalZoom, they can help you check whether your name is available and make sure you’re not breaking any rules.
#2 – Collect the Right Details for Your LLC
Before you can actually file your articles of organization, you need to collect the information needed to both form your LLC and file your articles of organization.
You’ll already have chosen your business name, and you should have a rough idea of what your business will do and how you’ll do it.
But you’ll also need to make sure that all the members agree on the information you’ll fill in, the name, and that you have some of your financial and legal information ready before you start filling in your paperwork.
Here are a few of the things you’ll need to set up BEFORE you can file your articles:
- Your business name
- Your registered address
- The dates for your business launch
- Names and addresses of each member
- Secure any loans
- Make a business plan
- Put together a budget
These are all things that you’ll need for your launch anyway – but you may be asked for the information when filing your papers, so make sure that you have everything ready in advance.
If you’re worried about this getting a little confusing, you may want to consider working with a formation service, like LegalZoom.
Not only will LegalZoom help you collect all of the details listed above, but they can help you add said information into your articles of organization forms, find the correct paperwork for your state, and make sure you haven’t made any mistakes.
They’ll even tell you whether your business name is available in your state, and give you a step-by-step guide on every step you need to take before filing your articles of organization.
#3 – Get a Registered Agent
Once you’ve started the process of forming your LLC and you have some information ready to file, you first need to find a registered agent.
If you use a formation service, like LegalZoom, a registered agent will be assigned to your business and included in your package.
If not, you’ll have to find a local registered agent for hire, preferably one with experience in your specific industry. Registered agents are a requirement in every state, and your business has to list one on your articles of organization to get approved and be recognized as a valid business.
Technically, your registered agent can be anyone who has an open office during working hours – but you should hire a licensed attorney with a good reputation. Legal aspects of your business aren’t somewhere you want to cut corners, and you want a registered agent who can notify you of any upcoming legal trouble ahead of time.
That’s why you should either work with a formation service like LegalZoom, which deals with LLC formations on a daily basis, or someone with experience in your specific niche or industry. They’ll be much better able to keep you out of legal trouble and help you file your articles of organization than less experienced attorneys.
#4 – Check Your Government Requirements
The next thing you’ll need to do before filing your articles of organization is check the specific requirements in your state.
This will include downloading the correct form from your state’s website and then adding all the different details and steps requested. For instance, some states require a signature from your registered agent, while others don’t.
If you use a formation service, they’ll be able to help you with the specific requirements in your state. If not, you can go to your state’s Secretary of State website and download the correct forms and requirements as a document.
Just be aware that some states have different names for articles of organization. Here are the two other names you might find the document listed under:
Certification of Formation:
(Washington, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi, Texas, and Maine)
Certification of Organization:
(Idaho, Iowa, Connecticut, Utah, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania)
The secretary of state website should tell you how you can file, either online or through the mail.
If you can fill in the form online, you should be able to do it directly through the state website or a link. If you have to send it in by mail, it’s a good idea to print multiple copies for your own reference, or in case something gets lost in the mail.
#5 – Fill in the Correct Information
Now you’re ready to actually fill in the forms.
Of course, if you’re using a formation service for this, you can ask your registered agent for help, or get the service to fill in the forms on your behalf.
The required details will vary a little from state to state, but in general, here’s what you’ll need to include if you’re filling out the articles yourself:
If you don’t have an official business premise, there are two options available to you when adding your address.
You can put your home address, or you can put a registered mailbox address. It’s easier and probably safer to go for a mailbox unless you want people to know where you live.
List Registered Agent and Registered Office
You need to list your registered agent, the address they’re contactable at during office hours, and you may also need your agent to sign a statement of acceptance on your behalf.
You’ll need to state the amount of time you intend to run your LLC for. Most LLCs are enlisted as ‘perpetual’ which means you plan for the LLC to function indefinitely, or until it’s dissolved.
You’ll need to list whether your LLC will be member-managed, or manager-managed. This will have to be decided between the members and signed off on first.
Purpose of LLC
Some states will require you to give a detailed description of what your LLC does, which services you provide, and how you intend to carry out those services.
Liability and Debts
You may also have to complete a statement that limits the reliability and debt responsibility of the members in your LLC.
You’ll also need to list an official organizer or organizers. If you’re starting an LLC alone, this will be you, but if you have multiple members, you may ALL want to be listed as organizers.
This isn’t a requirement in every state, but some will ask you to list the names and addresses of each member of the LLC.
#6 – Submit the Form
Once you’ve completed the forms, and you’re sure they’re correct, you can go ahead and file the articles of organization.
As mentioned, some states will allow you to file your articles of organization electronically – but some still require you to send them in by mail. If you’re sending in a physical form, make sure that you have multiple copies and that you send it in through registered, trackable mail in case it gets lost.
You’ll then need to wait for your LLC to be approved. This usually happens within 3-5 weeks.
Once you get approved, you’ll get a certification allowing you to get started with other aspects of launching a business, like opening a business bank account, getting the correct tax numbers, or getting loans from investors.
Once you’ve filed your articles of organization, you’re one step closer to actually launching your business.
However, before you do, it’s a good idea to create an operating agreement. This is an internal document that takes a lot of the same information you use to file your articles – but instead is used to help you run your business and secure investors or new members.
This is useful to help keep all the members on the same page and to help you avoid any legal disputes or internal issues amongst managers or members. Because it requires a lot of the same information, you’ll find it really easy to complete your operating agreement after filling in your article of organization.
You can also use your certification to apply for business tax accounts and bank accounts, which helps you keep your personal finances separate from your personal ones.
Here are a few more articles by Crazy Egg you may want to check out while forming your LLC: