How Long Does It Take to Create an LLC?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

How Long Does It Take to Create an LLC?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

Creating a limited liability company (LLC) is a fairly quick process that can usually be completed in a few weeks to a month. The following are the key steps for creating an LLC and the estimated amount of time for each step. These are estimates only and vary depending on the unique aspects of each business, such as the state it is in, whether there are name conflicts, and whether it is using a service or preparing the filings on its own.

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1. Choose your LLC name.

Expect this process to take up to three business days. The first step in forming an LLC is to name your LLC. You can name your LLC anything you want as long as it meets the legal rules for the state where you are forming the LLC. The legal requirements and restrictions are usually minimal and similar across states.

The following are a few of the most common rules for naming an LLC:

  • No other LLC in the state can have the same name.
  • The LLC's name must indicate that it is an LLC by placing "LLC," "limited liability company," or a similar designation at the end of the name.
  • The LLC's name cannot falsely imply association with a government or state agency. For example, "Federal Bureau of Investigations, LLC" will not be approved because it falsely implies an association with the FBI.

Your legal LLC name does not have to be the same as the name your business uses to conduct its operations, called its doing business as (DBA) or trade name. However, if possible, it is usually easiest for the LLC's name to be the same as its trade name.

Similarly, your LLC does not always have to be different from business names used by other businesses in other states, but it is usually best to avoid names that are already in use, especially if they are in use by the same type of business. If you choose an LLC name that is already in use in another state and operate under it, you may be infringing on another business' trademark and risk a lawsuit and having to change your business name in the future.

You can, of course, choose an LLC name in a few minutes, rather than a few days, but it is recommended that you take a few days to come up with different options and research each to avoid future issues.

2. Prepare and file Articles of Organization.

This process will take less than one day. Once you have chosen an LLC name, you must prepare and file Articles of Organization, or a similarly named document, with the state agency that regulates businesses, usually the Secretary of State. The Articles of Organization is a short, easy form that provides the state with basic information about your LLC, including its name, address, members' names, and whether it is managed by its members or managers.

Once completed, you can submit the articles electronically or by mail, depending on what is available in the state of formation. A required filing fee is paid to the Secretary of State or equivalent office at the same time the articles are submitted. The amount of the filing fee can be found on the website of the state agency that regulates businesses and varies between states.

3. Receive approval from your state.

Once the articles of organization are submitted, the next step is simply waiting for the Secretary of State or equivalent office to approve or reject your articles. If the articles are rejected, the state agency that has jurisdiction over business usually provides an explanation of why so that you can fix it. Most mistakes are easy to fix. For example, you may simply have forgotten to sign the document, which is not uncommon.

The turnaround time for approval or rejection varies quite a bit across states, usually taking between three and 15 days. States that offer online filing services usually run on the shorter end of this range, while those that only accept articles by mail are usually on the longer end of the range.

Legally creating an LLC is a fairly straightforward, simple process. Remember to follow these steps in combination with any specific requirements of your state.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.