Starting out my first LLC, I wanted to know if I could file my articles of organization online. I mean, why not? It would have been easy and convenient for me. So I did some research to see if it was possible.
So, can you file articles of organization online? Yes, you absolutely can file articles of organization online. The appropriate forms for filing your articles of organization online can be found on the Secretary of State website in whichever state you choose to establish your company.
Also, depending on your state of choice, the requirements may vary. Below we go over the individual requirements, instructions, and other methods of filing articles of organization.
About Articles of Organization
Articles of organization are legal documents required from the state to confirm the official establishment of a limited liability company. The purpose of articles of organization is to get a hold of some important information regarding your company's structure and organization.
Furthermore, as with most legal requirements in the United States, the required information tends to vary from state to state, although there are a few unwavering entries that we will take a look at below.
Also when it comes to the actual filing of the articles of organization, there are a couple of options available in that regard. The first is to go with personal filing, where you take care of all the requirements yourself, while the other option involves going with an LLC filling company, whose job is to take over the tedious tasks from your hand and handle everything from name research to filing, and even registered agent services.
Should you choose to do it yourself, though, there are three general options – filing online, mail-in filing, and in-person filing. We take a look at all three below.
Filing Articles of Organization Online
Filing your articles of organization online is a quite easy and straightforward process. All you need is a working internet connection and a detailed knowledge of the process and requirements.
It is also worth noting that while online filing is available and even encouraged by a lot of states, there are a few exceptions who don't offer this option, and in this case it will be best to go with the other options highlighted below.
Without a doubt, though, the first step in your LLC journey is to check whether or not your preferred state offers online filing options or not. It is only after this that you can consider which option to go with, or whether to go with a filing company altogether.
Other Methods of Filing Articles of Organization
For the few states where there is no option of online filing, and even for those who have this option, there are usually two more options, which are in-person and mail-in filing.
These two are also quite straightforward, although maybe not as much as online filing. In the case of mail-in filing, all you have to do is get a hold of the appropriate forms, and have it mailed in to the appropriate state office – which is usually the Secretary of State's office for most states (although it may, in fact, be different one for others.)
For the in-person option, the steps involve going to the appropriate office in person and getting the filing done on site. Both the instructions to follow, and the information required, stay constant in all options.
Instructions for Filing Articles of Organization
Should you choose to file your articles of organization on your own, it certainly does not hurt to get as familiar with the instructions and requirements as much as possible.
Concerning the instructions, the objective is quite simple – provide honest information about your business.
While this sounds quite easy in writing, it is usually advisable that you get everything as clear in your mind as possible.
This involves being able to describe the purpose of your LLC, the management structure, and even the name and addresses of your founding members.
Of course, depending on the state, some of these may not even be required, but it never hurts to have them in mind.
Important Information Provided in Articles of Organization
Below are some of the most common required information when filing your articles of organization.
- Company Name – The company name is the first obvious requirement. It must also be unique, and as such you will have to perform a name availability search to confirm that your desired name has not been taken already. This is quite easy to carry out, and is usually available on the official website and a host of other places online.
- Primary Place of Business – Your primary location of business will also be stated on your articles on organization. Usually for most states, one address should do. Some states, however, also require the address of each manager. Furthermore, for those whose LLCs are run from their homes, the home address can indeed serve as the primary place of business.
- Duration – The duration indicates how long your LLC is intended to last. This can either be perpetual or short term. Perpetual LLCs last forever, while short term LLCs can last for a specific amount of time, depending on the duration of choice. It is also worth noting that many states do not even require a specific duration, and automatically assume perpetual status.
- Registered Agent: Another required entry is the registered agent information, where you specify the name and address of your designated registered agent, whose job it is to receive important legal documents on behalf of your LLC. Your registered agent can be a third-party individual, or an LLC member. Some filing companies also offer registered agent services.
- Statement of Purpose: The statement of purpose of your LLC is sometimes required in your articles of organization. This is usually a single, specific sentence that gives a general overview of what you set to achieve. For instance a law firm may describe their statement of purpose as being “the practice of law,” and so on.
- Management: Finally, most states also require that you specify your management structure. This can either be a member-managed option, which indicates management by founding member, or manager-managed, which indicates management by a group of managers.
Once the articles of organization have been successfully filed, the next things to worry about are the operating agreement, EIN, business account, licenses, and permits.
- Operating Agreement: The operating agreement is a document that highlights in detail the organizational structure and blueprint of the company. Sometimes mistaken with the articles of organization, the operating agreement is quite different in two important aspects: one, it is not mandated by the state, and secondly it is usually far more detailed than the articles of organization. It drills down to the specifics, including information about rights, responsibilities, and assets, among others.
- EIN: For federal tax purposes, you will have to acquire an Employer Identification Number. Applying for this is free and not so tedious. Single member LLCs without employees may be okay without an EIN.
- Business Account: Getting a business account for your business should be a priority after filing your articles of organization. Not only does a business account give you the much-needed separation of your finances, but also helps you qualify for certain benefits such as business credits, tax benefits, and of course reducing liability.
- Licenses and Permits: Most businesses require certain licenses and permits to operate, even after articles of organization are successfully filed. This should be one of your next steps after obtaining your certificate. Business licences vary on local and state levels based on particular states laws.
- Branding: Now this is the point where you literally get down to business. Branding involves carving out a cogent identity for your business. Having a identifiable brand ensures you get more trust, and more reach for your business. It also helps a lot when you get to the point of serious promotions and advertisement.
Articles of Organization FAQ
Are Articles of Organization Meant to Last Forever?
Yes, articles of organization are meant to last forever. Your LLC, however, may end up being dissolved for any of these reasons:
- Your specified date of expiration is reached
- Failure to comply with annual requirements
- Bankruptcy or other financial challenges
Are Articles of Organization the Same as Certificate of Organization?
Yes, articles of organization are the same as certificates of organization. The only difference is the name by which each state prefers to refer to these documents. For all intents and purposes, though, they are the same.
Both of them, however, are different from Articles of Incorporation, which applies to C corporations or S corporations, and not limited liability companies.
Articles of organization are filed online, in-person, or mailed in to the appropriate state office. The general instructions and information required remain the same in all instances. These include filling in the business name, primary place of operation, duration, management structure, registered agent, and statement of purpose.