How to start an LLC in Oklahoma
Starting a new business is an involved process, but the payoff of running your dream business is well worth it. For many companies, the LLC ownership structure makes a lot of sense, as LLCs protect owners from business-related liability – and they’re a bit easier to set up than corporations. In this guide, we will go over how to start an LLC in Oklahoma
For entrepreneurs in Oklahoma, the LLC formation process is handled by the Oklahoma Secretary of State. The primary document that needs to be submitted is the Articles of Organization and the state filing fee is $100 – but there’s more to it than just that! Below, find out how to form an Oklahoma LLC step-by-step.
Consider utilizing an LLC formation service
Before you begin the process on your own, it’s worthwhile to consider using the help of a professional LLC formation service. Doing so can save you a lot of time, and also help ensure that everything is done correctly. You will need to pay a bit extra to cover the costs of the service, but this is well worth the cost for many entrepreneurs.
There are two LLC formation firms that come highly recommended. One is Northwest Registered Agent, a service that combines excellent service with fair prices. The other is ZenBusiness, a budget-friendly option with plans from just $49. Both will be a fantastic choice for your next business venture.
If you do use one of these services, they will walk you through each step of the process using their online onboarding systems. And if any issues arise, you will be able to contact support for one-on-one help.
The alternative, of course, is to do the work on your own. The rest of the steps below detail how this is done.
Name your new company
Selecting a name for your business is an important first step. You must find a name that is available (not already taken by another Oklahoma company – you can use the business entity name search to confirm availability), and one that is appropriate for your business. Plus, the name will need to meet certain requirements:
It must use “Limited Liability Company”, “LLC”, or “L.L.C.” in the name
It must be distinguishable from any other business name in OK that is already registered
It must not contain any restricted words, such as government or banking related terms
Choosing the name for your business is important, as you want a name that’s memorable and appropriate for your company. Once you have found a name, you can move on to the next step.
Using a Trade Name in Oklahoma
While you’re thinking about business names, it is good to know that your business can use what is called a “trade name”, otherwise known as a “doing business as” or DBA. These secondary names can be added to existing businesses after they are formed, and allow the company to then do business under both names – without registering a new legal entity. This is helpful for branding purposes, and for businesses looking to expand into new markets or industries.
In Oklahoma, you can simply file a new trade name online. Do this after your LLC is formed, and be sure to select “Business Entity registered with the Oklahoma Secretary of State”.
Appoint a Registered Agent
Every LLC in Oklahoma must have a registered agent appointed. This agent is responsible for receiving important communications, legal documents, etc. on behalf of the company. The agent’s address will be publicly listed on the business’ registration, and this address is where most tax forms, legal notices, and communications from the state will be sent.
Any Oklahoma resident can be a registered agent. This includes the business owner (yourself), or any employee of the company. However, keep in mind that because the agent’s address is listed publicly, using an individual for this role does compromise privacy.
The alternative is to use a professional registered agent service provider. These companies specialize in providing registered agent services for hundreds or thousands of clients in OK. Fees are very reasonable, usually starting at around $150 per year. Two great options are Northwest Registered Agent and ZenBusiness.
The benefits of using a service are twofold: One, it protects your privacy as the business owner, and two, it ensures that no important documents are missed – even if you’re on vacation or otherwise unavailable.
Create an operating agreement
Note: This step is optional, but recommended.
An operating agreement is not required, because it’s not a form that is actually submitted anywhere. Instead, it is simply kept on file by the business. Although it’s optional, most businesses should still have an operating agreement.
This is particularly true for multi-member LLCs and companies with several owners. One of the things that the agreement establishes is ownership rights. By clearly establishing who owns what, you can avoid future disputes. The operating agreement also establishes various operating procedures for the business, so it’s useful even for single-owner LLCs.
File LLC Articles of Organization
The Articles of Organization must be filed with the Oklahoma Secretary of State. There is a $100 filing fee, payable to the Secretary of State. This is the formal document that establishes your LLC as a legal entity, so it’s a very important step. The Articles of Organization can be filed online or by mail.
To file online
File online with the OK Secretary of State website. Pay the $100 filing fee via credit card or bank transfer.
To file by mail
Fill out the form and mail it in. Include a check or money order for $100 made payable to the Oklahoma Secretary of State. Mail the documents to:
Oklahoma Secretary of State
421 N.W. 13th Suite 210
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Once submitted, you will simply need to wait for Oklahoma to process the documents. This typically takes 3-6 business days.
Apply for an EIN
An employer identification number, or EIN, is a federal tax ID issued by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). It is used for federal tax filings and is also a federal requirement in order to hire employees. As such, almost all LLCs should get an EIN.
It’s quite easy to apply for an EIN, and there is no filing fee or cost. Simply fill out this application on the IRS website to get started.
Apply for business licenses & permits
The Articles of Organization will establish your LLC as a legal entity in Oklahoma. However, that’s not the only requirement necessary to do business in the state. There are various other requirements on the state level, as well as the federal and even local level.
Of course, the actual requirements that your business will face greatly depend on the type of business, its location, and how regulated of the industry it is in. You will need to do some research on your own to determine which requirements you will need to satisfy.
With that said, there are certain requirements that apply to many different types of businesses. This includes:
State licenses for certain industries (OK doesn’t have a general state business license, but many business types will require a specific license)
Federal permits for certain regulated industries
Local permits for certain industries
Local business licenses (city/county)
Professional licenses for certain professions (legal, medical, etc.)
At this time, you will also want to investigate the tax reporting requirements that your business will face. This includes registering for a Seller’s Permit if you plan to sell taxable goods in Oklahoma. And employers in the state will need to register for unemployment insurance tax, as well as employee withholding tax.
Keep your business in good standing
There are also various ongoing requirements that you will need to stay on top of as you run your business. This includes normal tax filings, permit renewals, annual reports, and more.
There will be different requirements on every level of government – state, federal, and local (city/county). The requirements vary by jurisdiction, and by business type – so again, this will require some research on your own to figure out the exact reporting requirements for your business. With that said, here are some of the most common requirements that you may need to complete:
Oklahoma LLC Annual Certificate (similar to an annual report) – due every year for all LLCs
Oklahoma business tax reports
Oklahoma sales tax returns
Oklahoma employer tax/payroll tax returns
Federal employer tax returns
Federal business tax and income tax returns
Local tax returns
Business license renewals
This is not a complete list, so be sure to do the research on your own. It’s a good idea to create calendar reminders for all important due dates so that you don’t miss anything. Alternatively, you can use a service like ZenBusiness, which will help keep you on track with various fillings by sending you reminders.
Open a business checking account
It is very important for businesses to keep separate financial accounts from the accounts of their owners or shareholders. This is key both for accounting/bookkeeping purposes, but also for liability purposes. If your personal funds are mixed with your business funds, the “limited liability” part of “limited liability company” does not really apply, as your funds can still be taken as part of a business-related lawsuit.
Most financial institutions offer business checking and savings accounts. The requirements vary, so you’ll want to call ahead, but at a minimum, you will need a small opening deposit, a business license, and an EIN.
Be sure to start this account ASAP, and begin using it for all your business-related transactions.