How to start an LLC in Louisiana
Starting a new business can feel intimidating. Even just the process of forming the business itself can be complex – but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming! This guide will show you how to form an LLC in Louisiana, using a simple step-by-step breakdown.
Entrepreneurs in Louisiana can choose from LLCs, corporations, sole proprietorships, or partnerships. LLCs are a great option for most businesses, as they strike a good balance between benefits and simplicity. LLCs provide the liability protection of a corporation, without the complicated setup and maintenance requirements.
If you’ve settled on an LLC, know that the LLC formation process is handled by the Louisiana Secretary of State. To start a limited liability company in Louisiana, follow the steps detailed below.
Consider utilizing an LLC formation service
Before you get started, it’s worth considering hiring the services of a professional LLC formation company. These companies make the process much easier, and faster, for entrepreneurs. They charge reasonable fees ($50 to $150) to help you with the formation process and provide personalized help each step of the way.
These services are optional, as you can certainly do the required steps on your own. But if you’re looking to save some time, it’s well worth the small cost to use a service.
We recommend two companies: Northwest Registered Agent, which offers excellent personalized service, and ZenBusiness, which is very cost-effective and efficient. Either of these companies would be an excellent choice – and both also offer ongoing services that may be of use to your company, including Registered Agent services (more on that later in step #3).
Name your new company
Now, you must select a name for your new business. This must be a name that is unique from other companies in Louisiana. It must be easily distinguishable from any other business name that has already been registered in the state. To confirm availability, you can conduct a Louisiana business name search at the Secretary of State website.
The name must also follow all the naming laws set out by the Louisiana State Legislature. This includes the use of “limited liability company”, “LLC”, or “L.L.C.” in the business name. It also restricts certain words, such as “bank” and “credit union” – to use these terms, special permission is required.
Using a Trade Name in Louisiana
While choosing your business name, keep in mind that you can also use “trade names”, also known as “doing business as” names. This allows you to register secondary names to do business under, in addition to your primary LLC name. The application to file a trade name can be found here.
Appoint a Registered Agent
A Louisiana Registered Agent is required for all LLCs in the state. You must select your Registered Agent before you file any paperwork, as the name and address of the agent is required for the formation documents.
What is a registered agent? Basically, this role is filled by an individual or company who is tasked with receiving important documents for your business. If your business is sued, it is the Registered Agent who will receive the notice of the lawsuit. Likewise, important tax documents and other communications will also go to the Registered Agent.
The requirements for who can be a Registered Agent are simple. It can either be a company registered in the state of Louisiana, or an individual residing in Louisiana. This means that you yourself can be a Registered Agent for your company – however, that also means that your mailing address will become a public record.
If you’d prefer to protect your private information, using a Registered Agent service is recommended. The services discussed above – Northwest Registered Agent and ZenBusiness – both offer this service at affordable rates. Using a professional service is recommended, although you can be your own Agent or appoint an employee of your company.
Create an operating agreement (optional)
Note: This step is optional, but recommended.
An operating agreement is an important legal document that establishes operating procedures and ownership rights for your company. It is very important for any business with multiple owners because it clearly defines ownership structure to prevent future disputes.
Operating agreements are not required, but most businesses should still have one. To draft one, use a service like ZenBusiness, or work with a local attorney to draft a custom agreement. You may also be able to find operating agreement templates online.
File LLC Articles of Organization
The Articles of Organization are the main piece of paperwork that will need to be submitted in order to form an LLC in Louisiana. This can be done online, or through the mail, and is filed with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
The fee for this application is $100 and is nonrefundable. You can also expedite processing (24 hours) for an additional $30, or Priority Expedite (2-4 hour processing) for an additional $50.
To file online
Register for the geauxBIZ system and follow the instructions for forming a new LLC. Pay the $100 application fee by credit card.
To file by mail
Fill out, print, and mail the Articles of Organization, following the included instructions. Pay the $100 application fee by check or money order, made payable to the Secretary of State. Mail the application to:
State of Louisiana Secretary of State
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
This process also includes the filing of an initial report, which is attached to the end of the Articles of Organization, but is technically a separate document. Be sure to fill this out, following the instructions, to ensure that your application is processed.
Louisiana LLC Processing Time
Louisiana is generally quite efficient with processing LLC applications, so you won’t need to wait long. The Articles of Organization will generally be processed in 2-4 business days. Expedited processing is also available for extra fees of $30-$50.
Apply for an EIN
An EIN, or employer identification number, is a federal tax identification number used by the IRS. It’s a lot like a social security number for your business. An EIN is required to hire employees, so it’s very important for most companies to apply for one ASAP.
You can apply for an EIN as soon as your business entity is formed. It’s quick and easy, and there is no cost. Simply fill out this application on the IRS website to apply. After you obtain the EIN, you can hire employees, open business bank accounts, and more.
Apply for business licenses & permits
Your business will likely need to obtain a business license, and potential permits, as well. This is separate from the actual formation of your LLC. In other words, once you have filed your Articles of Organization, your LLC will be formally registered and formed – but you will still need business licenses and/or permits in order to actually operate legally.
In Louisiana, the geauxBIZ online portal makes this easy. Once you sign up for an account, you will be guided through a business license checklist, which helps you learn what steps you will need to take – and what you’ll need to apply for. The requirements vary for different business types and locations.
Some business permits and licenses are handled on the state level, while others are on a local level (city/county). The geauxBIZ portal will walk you through the process. You will also need to register with the Louisiana Department of Revenue (for taxes) and with the Louisiana Workforce Commission (if you plan to hire employees).
Certain companies in some industries will require specialized permits, as well. For instance, restaurants will likely need a liquor license, while medical professionals will need professional permits in order to operate.
Keep your business in good standing
Long after your business has been formed, there will still be ongoing requirements and tasks that you will need to complete in order to keep things on track. You need to keep your business in good standing with local, state, and federal agencies – which means filing tax returns, annual reports, quarterly taxes, renewing business licenses, and more.
The specific requirements and steps will vary somewhat depending on the type of business you run, and where it’s located. Here are some of the most important things to keep an eye on:
Louisiana Annual Reports – due yearly for all LLCs in the state
Louisiana employer tax returns (payroll taxes)
Federal employer tax returns (payroll taxes)
Louisiana business tax returns
Louisiana sales tax returns
Federal tax returns
Federal quarterly taxes
Local tax returns
Business license renewals
Registered Agent (ongoing requirement)
This is not a complete list, but simply some of the most important items to keep in mind. It’s a good idea to thoroughly research all your requirements now so that you can stay ahead of them and keep your company in good standing. You may also wish to seek professional help in managing ongoing requirements – companies like Northwest Registered Agent and ZenBusiness can provide some help in maintaining your business.
Open a business bank account
It is very important to keep personal and business finances separate. To do this, it’s a good idea to open a business checking account as soon as possible after your business is formed. Then, use this new account for everything business-related, and continue using your personal accounts for any personal expenses.
Almost all financial institutions now offer business banking services, so simply look around to find a bank or credit union in your area that suits the needs of your business.
You may also wish to open a line of credit and/or business credit card at the same time, should you wish to use credit.