You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Kentucky 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 Kentucky. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Kentucky 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.
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.
Any name you choose must adhere to Kentucky’s LLC naming rules. This means that it needs to include the words “limited liability company” or “limited company” or the abbreviation “LLC” or “LC” and it must not use any form of the word “cooperative.” Plus, it cannot be the same as any other business name reserved or registered with the Secretary of State. To check if your desired name is distinguishable, perform a name search.
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.
Choosing a Kentucky Registered Agent
A registered agent is your LLC’s liaison to the commonwealth, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. Glance over the Articles of Organization and you’ll notice that it would be incomplete without a registered agent’s information and signature, so reach out to your agent before you file.
To make the appointment official, you must also complete a “Statement of Consent of Registered Agent” form, also signed by the agent. Submit this form before you begin doing business in Kentucky.
Your registered agent can be either an individual Kentucky resident or a company authorized to do business in Kentucky, like a registered agent service.
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 Kentucky 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 Kentucky.
Saying that the Articles of Organization is important to your LLC formation process is an understatement. It’s absolutely essential to the process – you can’t form an LLC without it. So it’s a nice surprise that the document itself isn’t overly long or complicated. In fact, it’s only one page, and if you gather the necessary information beforehand, it shouldn’t take long at all. Here’s what you will need:
- LLC name
- Registered office address
- Initial registered agent name
- Principal office address
- Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers
- A delayed effective date (optional)
- The LLC’s county of residence
- Business size (More or fewer than 50 employees)
- Whether the LLC is women-, veteran-, or minority-owned.
- A business purpose
Unfortunately, the Articles of Organization isn’t free. The good news is that the filing fee is only $40, significantly less expensive than the formation cost in other states.
Now it’s time to file. You have three options: online, by mail, or in person. Keep in mind that when filing a hard copy (by mail or in-person), you must include an additional copy of the completed application.
You can take care of the entire process through the Kentucky One Stop Business Portal. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll need to create one. Once you’re logged in, click “Register a New Business” to get started. Your filing will be processed within 24 hours.
Download a paper application here and fill it out. Then, mail it (along with your payment) to:
Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Business Filings
P.O. Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602 – 0718
Live in Frankfort? If you prefer, you can instead hand-deliver your form to the Capitol Building, Room 154 at 700 Capital Ave. between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Typically, hard copy filings are processed the day they are received, but it can take up to three business days.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Kentucky), but what if your business is expanding to Kentucky from another state? In this case, you can disregard the Articles of Organization, as it’s not the right form for you.
Any LLC expanding to Kentucky from out of state must foreign qualify by mailing or hand-delivering a Certificate of Authority and a $90 payment to one of the addresses above. You must complete this filing before you can begin conducting business in the commonwealth, and you could face some serious penalties and fines for trying to skip it.
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 Kentucky 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 Annual Reports), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.
Which is the Best LLC Service?
All you need to do now is research every service extensively and make side-by-side comparisons for each option. Easy, right? Just kidding – we did all of that for you.
And from our meticulous research of reviewing and ranking the top LLC services, we’ve drawn the conclusion that IncFile and Northwest are your best overall options.
They might not have the brand recognition of LegalZoom, the industry giant, but both have amazing customer support, affordable prices, and include a year of registered agent service.