You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Arizona LLC, and you’re mentally prepared to make it happen.
But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Certificate of Formation.
With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Certificate of Formation is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in Arizona. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Arizona LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.
But before you dive into the Certificate of Formation, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.
Recommended ✔If you want to make sure your LLC is formed correctly, hire an LLC service. Below are the top two that will take care of all the legal paperwork:
If getting the most value out of an LLC service is your priority, choose ZenBusiness. They charge one of the lowest rates online and include all the most important features when starting a business. Read Review. If you're on a strict budget and prefer using the cheapest LLC service, choose IncFile. They will form an LLC for free (plus state filing fee) and give you great features along the way. Read Review.
If getting the most value out of an LLC service is your priority, choose ZenBusiness. They charge one of the lowest rates online and include all the most important features when starting a business. Read Review.
If you're on a strict budget and prefer using the cheapest LLC service, choose IncFile. They will form an LLC for free (plus state filing fee) and give you great features along the way. Read Review.
Choosing an LLC Name
Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Articles of Organization, and if the Arizona Corporation Commission deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.
Ensure that your name complies with the state’s requirements by including the words “limited liability company” or “limited company” or the abbreviations “L.L.C.”, “L.C.”, “LLC”, or “LC,” and avoiding the terms “association,” “corporation,” “incorporated,” or any abbreviation thereof. On top of that, your LLC name shouldn’t imply a banking, credit union, or trust-related purpose and therefore must not use the words “bank”, “deposit”, “credit union”, “trust” or “trust company.” Once your name is compliant, you just need to confirm that it’s not already taken. Perform a business name search to find out.
Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Articles of Organization to automatically register it. In the event that you’re not quite ready to file an LLC, you can place a 120-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.
IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to get your business domain name so nobody else can use it. This will protect your brand and make things much easier for you down the road. Secure it easily through GoDaddy.
Choosing an Arizona Statutory Agent
A statutory agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. To successfully complete and file your Articles of Organization, you must include your statutory agent’s name and address. Otherwise, your document will be rejected.
You can make the appointment official by having your agent sign and submit a Statutory Agent Acceptance form with your Articles of Organization, so reach out to your agent before sitting down to file.
Your statutory agent can be either an individual or a business entity like a statutory agent service.
Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your statutory agent in the future.
Preparing to File Your Arizona Articles of Organization
Now for the main event: the Articles of Organization. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in Arizona.
The Articles of Organization is pretty short and sweet, which is surprising considering its weight in the LLC formation process. Gather the requisite information beforehand and you’ll have no problem breezing right through it. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Entity type (limited liability company or professional limited liability company)
- LLC name
- Services provided (if a professional LLC)
- Statutory agent name and address
- Principal office address
- Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers (you must also include a Manager Structure Attachment form or a Member Structure Attachment form).
The Articles of Organization costs $50, or $85 if you want expedited processing, so have your payment ready when you file.
Processing time varies for both standard and expedited filings, but the Arizona Corporation Commission keeps a running table of their processing times, updated weekly. Check it here to keep track of your submission.
When you’ve gathered your information and prepared your payment, you’re ready to file. There are three ways to do it: online, by mail, and in person.
First things first: you can’t start the process without an eCorp account, so set one up right away. Once you’re signed in, you can proceed to the Articles of Organization. Electronic submissions are automatically given expedited service and charged the $85 expedited filing fee.
Download the paper application here and fill it out. Remember that this is not the only document you will submit. You must also include a Cover Sheet, a Statutory Agent Acceptance form, and either a Manager Structure Attachment or a Member Structure Attachment.
Got all of that? Great. Mail it off (with your $50 or $85 payment) to:
Arizona Corporation Commission
Corporate Filings Section
1300 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
If you live near Phoenix, you also have the option of hand delivering your materials to the same address.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Arizona), but what if your business is expanding to Arizona from another state? If so, forget about the Articles of Organization. It’s not the correct form for your business.
Rather, your LLC will need to file an Application for Registration of Foreign LLC by mail or in-person with the Arizona Corporation Commission (there is no online option). This is called “foreign qualifying” your business, applying for authorization to conduct business in the state.
You might be excited to start doing business in Arizona, but hold off until you’ve successfully foreign qualified. If you’re caught doing business without authorization, the state will have some serious penalties in store.
Want Help Filing Your Articles of Organization?
Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.
The good news is that you don’t need to file the Articles of Organization yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.
There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.
While each service has optional upgrades and perks packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the Arizona Corporation Commission. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization has been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.
There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free statutory agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents, assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.