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How to File Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization

Iowa LLC Certificate of OrganizationA lot goes into the conception and planning of a new business. It is the Certificate of Organization that makes the LLC official. Being prepared before sitting down to complete the application will help you finish it efficiently.

First, gather all information needed for the certificate. Unlike many other states, Iowa does not have a ready-made form to be completed online or printed out and completed. The LLC organizer(s) is responsible for creating his or her own. Minimally, the certificate of organization application must include the name and address of the LLC, the name and address of the registered agent, and the name(s) and signature(s) or one or two organizers.

The application may also include a delayed effective date, up to 90 days following the filing date. A statement of purpose may also be included. For more information read Iowa Code 489.201.

Second, the cost of filing the Certificate of Organization is $50, so have a credit card or check ready to go.

Finally, processing time varies depending on which option you choose. If you’re in a hurry, consider delivering the document in person, as it will be processed while you wait. Online processing will be completed within 24 hours. If filing by fax or the mail, processing will usually take 7 to 14 business days. During heavier filing periods, it could take up to 21 business days.


Filing Options

When filing the Certificate of Organization, use one of the four methods below.


In order to file online, you will need to scan your created Certificate of Organization application, and then go to the Business Entities Filing page. The scanned document can be uploaded on this page. Also, payment through credit card can be made on this page.

Mail or In Person Delivery

Your created application, along with a check or money order (payable to Secretary of State), can be mailed or delivered in person to the following address:

Iowa Secretary of State Business Services

Lucas Building 1st floor

321 E. 12th St

Des Moines, IA 50319


If faxing the application, credit card payment can be made using Iowa’s Credit Card Authorization form. The fax number is (515) 242-5953.


Want Help Filing Your Certificate of Organization?

If you decide to use your time building your business rather than completing paperwork, but don’t want to spend the money on an attorney, an LLC formation website is a great compromise.

Lots of online incorporation services are out there but do vary in perks offered, processing times (theirs, not the state’s), and price.

In general, a service will collect and review your information, prepare the documents, and send them to the Iowa Secretary of State Division of Business Services. They will contact you when the Articles of Organization have been filed.

One additional benefit offered by some services is a free year of registered agent service. Others offer order tracking or notifications of future legal requirements needed with the state.

After reviewing all the top LLC services available, we found IncFile and Northwest Registered Agent the best overall options. While neither of them have as high brand power as the industry giant, LegalZoom, both services have great customer support, prices and offer a free registered agent.


(Post Formation Checklist) After LLC Formation

After you have filed the formation documents with the state, it’s important not to overlook a few critical details.


On the federal level, most LLCs do not pay taxes directly to the government. Instead, they report income and losses on the owner’s personal 1040 tax returns. Schedule C is often used for reporting. Unless the LLC chooses to be taxed as a corporation, a single-member LLC is taxed as a Sole Proprietorship and a multi-member LLC is taxed as a Partnership.

Similarly, most LLCs will pay state tax on pass-through income via their personal income tax returns. The exception is if an election is made to tax the LLC as a corporation.

In some cases an LLC is required to apply for a business permit. This includes businesses that have employees, and therefore, need to pay a withholding tax and businesses that sell merchandise, and therefore, need to pay a sales or use tax. The permit can be completed online or by hard copy.

If mailing or delivering the permit application in person, use the following address:

Registration Services Iowa Department of Revenue

PO Box 10470

Des Moines IA 50306-0470

The form can also be submitted by fax, (515) 281-3906.

Finally, an LLC may need to file and pay a local tax to a city, municipality, or county.


A professional license may be needed before a business can begin operations. To determine if you are required to obtain a professional license, visit the licenses and permits page on the state of Iowa website.


After an LLC is formed, a biennial report must be filed with the state of Iowa by March 31 during odd-numbered years. (You are not required the file the year of formation.) Notification will be sent prior to the due date. The biennial report costs $45 to file online or $60 to file a hard copy through the mail or in person.

If the biennial report is filed online or in person, processing will be completed immediately. If mailed the report will process in one to two months.