How to Register Your Online Business as a Limited Liability Company

by Tom Streissguth
Many online businesses operate as limited liability companies.

Many online businesses operate as limited liability companies.

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

A limited liability company is an entity that allows you to operate a business while protecting yourself from personal liability for financial obligations of the company, as well as for legal judgments against the operation. Your liability is "limited" to the amount of money you have invested personally in the business. The registration procedure for LLCs is similar in all 50 states, regardless if it's an online or a bricks-and-mortar business, varying only in the fees required and the paperwork needed.

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Step 1

Choose a name for your business. The name cannot be the same or an imitation of the name of another business registered in the state, and usually has to have some indication that it is a limited liability company, such as "Limited," "LLC" or similar word or abbreviation. Conduct a name search through your state's secretary of state or division of corporations, and also reserve a name, for a fee, while your registration paperwork is in progress.

Step 2

Select a registered agent. This is the individual or company that is authorized by you to accept legal process as well as official state documents such as tax notices on the LLC's behalf. The registered agent must have a physical address and be available to accept documents during normal business hours.

Step 3

Draw up articles of organization for your online business. This is a short statement of your name, address and contact information of all of the members, partners and/or managers of the business. Add the name and contact information of your registered agent, and provide a statement on the nature of the business -- though this is usually optional. The articles must be signed by the members of the LLC.

Step 4

File the articles with the secretary of state or division of corporations in the state where you intend to do business. Each state sets down the required filing fees, as well as the fees charged for expedited service, certified copies and walk-in service.