Compared to other types of business entities, limited liability companies, or LLCs, are relatively new structures. LLCs are regulated by state limited liability acts. As of 2010, some state acts are less than 20 years old. Many states such as Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and others have a streamlined registration process for LLCs including the ability to form an LLC online without ever having to fax, mail or hand-deliver any paperwork.
Registering an LLC Online
Navigate to the website of your state’s secretary of state or equivalent office using the drop down menu at the National Association of Secretaries of State contact roster page (see Resources). Secretary of state websites generally have prominent links to a business services section with LLC filing information. Navigate to that section.
Call the secretary of state’s office using the contact information in the LLC section or the phone number found on the state’s NASS contact roster page to find out if you can register your LLC online. This saves you time that you might spend searching around the website to find the answers to your questions about online LLC formation.
Ask if you can do the following things online: register a name, conduct a business entity search and file articles of organization or the equivalent document to register your company. You should also ask if the state has a list authorized registered agents on their site. This is not crucial but can help you save time in finding a registered agent if you do not someone in mind already.
Search for the name of your LLC in the state’s business online business entity database. If the name is available, use the online name reservation to put a temporary hold on the name of your LLC so no one else can use it while your prepare to register your company. Reservations are usually good for at least two months. States charge a fee for name reservations.
Search the state’s online directory of registered agents to find one for your company if you do not have one already. This person receives correspondence from the state and service of process documents for your company. Ask business colleagues and your bank for suggestions if the state does not have an online directory of registered agents.
Download the document used for mailing or faxing the articles of organization for your LLC. The document may also be called the articles of formation or certificate of formation. Even though you will be filing online, having a printout of the form can serve as an outline for all of the information you need to gather to fill out the online form.
Submit the articles of organization online. You will need to include information such as the contact information of your company, the purpose of the LLC and name and physical address of your registered agent and other information, depending on your state’s LLC rules. Make sure to have a valid credit card in order to pay the online fees.