Home to New York City, the state of New York is a popular place to start a limited liability company (LLC). With roughly 20 million residents—over 8 million in NYC alone—there are plenty of customers to serve. Filing the proper paperwork to become an LLC in New York can feel daunting, but we’re here to help make it as easy as possible.
Why Starting an LLC in New York is Worth It
If you live in New York or plan to move to the state, it makes sense to start a company there. When it comes to business structure, LLCs come with perks. An LLC gives you some personal asset protection and tax benefits. Plus, an LLC lets you operate with more flexibility and independence than you’d have if with a corporation.
Many types of LLCs can succeed in New York State. For example, New York City is full of busy parents who need childcare. Forming an LLC and running a high-quality, licensed facility can fill a significant need in the city if you’re a childcare professional.
Thanks to its proximity to Niagara Falls, the city of Buffalo is an ideal place to open shops that cater to tourists. Think gift shops, bakeries, and specialty restaurants.
Home to over 200,000 people and a buzz of industrial, university, and healthcare careers, Rochester could be a perfect location for LLCs that provide spa, massage therapy, and wellness services to exhausted workers and students. And if you’re a health professional opening a private practice, your LLC can serve people throughout the state.
Wherever you find yourself in New York State, the process of forming a state-approved LLC is the same. Following each step and filing the paperwork correctly gives you a sturdy foundation for whatever business you decide to run.
The Investment Needed to Start an LLC in New York
In addition to the overhead and direct costs you must prepare for when you start your business, it’s important to consider how much time and money you’ll need to invest when forming an LLC in New York.
Filing all the necessary paperwork can take a considerable amount of time because you’ll need to read the fine print and make sure you avoid errors—which can cost you more time and money later on.
In addition to the cost of filing paperwork, you’ll also need to consider fees for expedited paperwork, fees for the New York Publication Requirement—more on that in a moment—attorney fees if you choose to have one help you file, registered agent fees, and software fees.
We’ll get into the details below, but just know that you’ll need to have at least $500 ready to go, or more if you’re starting a business in New York City, where newspaper ad fees to meet the New York Publication Requirement can be considerably higher than in the rest of the state.
If you need extra help in departments like taxes and finance, or you want a professional to go over all of your paperwork with you, you’ll need to take attorney, financial advisor, and certified public accountant fees into consideration, too.
You can also use an LLC formation tool to help make sure everything is done correctly. Our top recommended LLC service, ZenBusiness, helps make the process of forming an LLC in New York State a lot smoother. If you utilize ZenBusiness to form your LLC in New York, plans start at $0 plus state fees. ZenBusiness will walk you through the paperwork and file it for you. The service can stay with you for the entire life of your business, acting as a place to electronically store your important documents and offering additional support along the way.
6 Steps to Start an LLC in New York
Ready to start your New York State LLC? Here are the six steps you need to take to get it done.
#1 – Choose Your Business Name
Before you start ordering your business’s signage or even create a website for it, make sure the business name follows New York State laws for LLCs.
New York law states that your business name must:
- Be distinguishable from any other LLCs, as well as limited partnerships and corporations, currently on file with the state of New York. Search the Department of State’s database of names to help find out if your name is available.
- Include either LLC, L.L.C., or Limited Liability Company in the name—for example, New Yorkie Dog Shop, LLC.
- Avoid using any of the prohibited words defined by New York State law. Restricted words for LLCs include arboretum, fidelity, museum, school, and United Nations, to name a few.
- Make sure a domain name that matches your business name is available for use. If you’re going to use the name New Yorkie Dog Shop, LLC, make sure newyorkiedogshop.com—or something similar—hasn’t already been taken.
Once you’ve narrowed down an appropriate name, you can reserve it for 60 days by filing an Application for Reservation of Name, which costs $20 to file. This allows you to decide on a name, file a reservation application, and then keep working on forming your LLC without worrying that someone else will choose the name for their filing documents.
If you need more time, ZenBusiness can reserve your name for 120 days for a $50 fee.
#2 – Designate a Registered Agent
A registered agent is a business or individual who collects legal documents on behalf of your LLC. This can help prevent embarrassing situations in your physical location if, for example, someone comes to serve you an eviction notice because you haven’t paid your rent.
Your registered agent will receive the eviction notice and pass it on to you in private, allowing you to absorb the news and plan your next steps without disrupting day-to-day business.
We hope this never happens to you, though! A registered agent also keeps track of New York State’s biennial report requirements and other crucial dates you can’t miss if you want to keep your LLC in good standing.
You must name the New York Secretary of State as your registered agent on your Articles of Organization, which we’ll talk about in the next step. You can also add another registered agent if you’d like. ZenBusiness offers registered agent services that:
- Receive important legal documents on behalf of your LLC
- Keep your business compliant with New York State law
- Make it easy for you to view, print, and save important documents
Find out more about ZenBusiness’s registered agent services here.
#3 – File the New York State Articles of Organization
Filing your New York State Articles of Organization is an exciting step, because it means that your LLC is considered officially formed. Barring any mistakes on your paperwork or issues with your business name, you’ll receive paperwork approving your LLC once the state has processed your paperwork.
It costs $200 to file the Articles of Organization if you live in New York and plan to do business in the state. If you’re an out-of-state entity doing business in New York, you’ll file an Application of Authority instead, along with a $250 filing fee.
You can request certified copies of your documents on file for fees ranging from $5 to $25, depending on what you’re requesting.
Expediting the paperwork is an option if you want quicker approval. It costs $25 per document for 24-hour turnaround, $75 per document for same-day turnaround, or $150 per document for two-hour turnaround.
Anyone forming a professional services limited liability company (PLLC) in New York State will also file the Articles of Organization. Make sure that you meet all New York State Licensing requirements and obtain the appropriate license if you provide any services deemed professional, such as:
- Interior design
- Land surveying
- Physical therapy
- Speech-language pathology
- Public accountancy
- Social work
If you want to streamline the filing process, ZenBusiness can quickly and accurately file your paperwork for you.
#4 – Put Together an Operating Agreement
New York State Law requires all LLCs to adopt a written Operating Agreement within 90 days of filing the Articles of Organization or Application of Authority. This document should establish the duties, rights, powers, obligations, and liabilities of the LLC members—or member, if it’s just you.
While the Operating Agreement is an internal document that you won’t need to file with the state, it’s illegal to operate an LLC in New York State without one.
We love that ZenBusiness includes an interactive Operating Agreement template in its Pro and Premium plans. If you get the ZenBusiness Starter plan, you can add the Operating Agreement template for $125.
#5 – Run Two Consecutive Newspaper Announcements
Within 120 days of filing your Articles of Organization or Application of Authority, you must run a copy of your Articles of Organization/Application of Authority, or a formal notice about your LLC’s formation, in two newspapers, at the same time, for six weeks. The county clerk in the county you’re operating the business in will tell you which newspapers are approved for this purpose.
If you provide your own formal notice, it must exactly match your Articles of Organization, providing information regarding your LLCs:
- Filing date
- County containing the business office
- Street address for any offices
- Statement that the New York Secretary of State is your registered agent
- Information about additional registered agents
- Date of dissolution, if there is one
Newspaper fees to help you meet the New York Publication Requirement range from $50 to $2,000, depending on the county. Counties that encompass land in New York City are the most expensive by far.
Once these notices have been published, the newspapers will both give you an affidavit of publication to prove your LLC has met the requirement. You’ll then need to file a Certificate of Publication along with both affidavits and a $50 filing fee to the State of New York.
Whatever you do, don’t skip this requirement. If you don’t publish the required ads, obtain the affidavits, and file your Certificate of Publication within 120 days, the State will suspend or revoke your ability to do business in New York.
#6 – Get an Employer Identification Number
If you’re an LLC in New York with employees or more than one member, you’ll need to request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file taxes. Applying can easily be done online via the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Getting an EIN is free and takes just minutes.
If your company sells items that are subject to sales tax, such as personal goods, telephone services, food, beverages, credit reporting services, or massage services, you’ll need to register your LLC with the New York Department of Taxation and Finance.
If you aren’t sure whether you need to register, see this document for assistance or contact a tax lawyer who can help you navigate the requirements.
Forming an LLC in New York State takes time and money, but following the steps above will get you there. Once you’ve completed the steps, you’ll just need to file a biennial report every other year for $9—and focus on building your actual business, of course. If you use ZenBusiness’s registered agent service, your agent will remind you when it’s time to file that report. For more LLC forming services, see our top list of tools that help you create your LLC.