You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Indiana 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 Indiana. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Indiana 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 Secretary of State deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.
In the process of finding your perfect LLC name, be aware of the state’s business name requirements, which say it must contain a term that designates its business type, like “limited liability company,” “L.L.C.,” or “LLC.” Additionally, it can’t already be in use. Find out if your name is available and distinguishable from all other Indiana business names by searching for it on the Secretary of State’s Business Search tool.
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 Indiana Registered Agent
A registered 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. Without valid registered agent information, your Articles of Organization will not be complete, so reach out to make arrangements with your agent before submitting the application.
Your agent can either be an individual – who is an Indiana resident with a physical address in the state – or a business entity authorized to do business in Indiana. After you’ve chosen your agent and they’ve agreed to the appointment, you can list their name, mailing address, and email address (optional) on the Articles of Organization.
Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your registered agent in the future.
Preparing to File Your Indiana 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 Indiana.
This form has immense importance in the LLC formation process. It’s what makes your business official, allowing it to start its business activities. But despite its profound influence over the life of an LLC, the form itself is surprisingly short and sweet, and if you’ve collected all the requisite information beforehand, you’ll breeze right through it. Here’s what you need:
- The LLC name
- Principal office address
- Registered agent name, address, email address, and consent
- Date of dissolution (if applicable)
- Whether the LLC will be managed by members or managers
- Contact information (phone number and email address) and return address
Unfortunately, the Articles of Organization isn’t free. Online submissions cost is $95 and mailed or hand-delivered ones cost $100, so have your credit card or checkbook ready when you file.
The state provides three different options for filing the Articles of Organization: online, by mail, and in person. So, choose the method that’s most congruent with your business and financial circumstances.
The fastest and cheapest way to file is electronically through the INBiz website. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to create an account. From the homepage, select “Start a New Business,” sign in, and follow the instructions to complete the form. Your filing will be processed right away.
Download and complete the paper application. After you’re finished, include your $100 payment and mail it off to:
Secretary of State
Business Services Division
302 W. Washington St. Room E-018
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Live in Indianapolis? Next time you’re out and about, you can also hand-deliver your form and payment to the same address, if you’d like.
Mailed and hand-delivered forms will be processed in 3-5 business days.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Indiana), but what if your business is expanding to Indiana from another state? In this case, you can disregard the Articles of Organization. Your LLC will take a different route.
All out-of-state LLCs must instead foreign qualify in Indiana by filing a Foreign Registration Statement online ($105 fee) or using a paper application ($125 fee). You might be excited to start doing business in Indiana, but hold off until after your filing has been accepted. Otherwise, your LLC could face severe fines and penalties.
After you’ve foreign qualified, however, you’re free to kick off your business activities in the state.
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 Indiana Secretary of State. 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 registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents (like Business Entity Reports), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.