You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Louisiana 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 Articles of Organization.
With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Articles of Organization is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in Louisiana. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Louisiana LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.
But before you dive into the Articles of Organization, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.
Quick Note: If you’d rather have a service file the Articles of Organization with the state of Louisiana on your behalf or simply need to save time, an LLC formation service can take care of the paperwork for you.
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.
Before settling on a name, ensure that it complies with the state’s LLC name requirements. This means that it must contain the words “limited liability company,” the abbreviation “L.L.C.,” or the abbreviation “L.C.” and avoid using words/phrases that “comprise immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter,” imply government affiliation, or misrepresent the business purpose. Plus, your name cannot include the words “insurance” or the words “bank”, “banker”, “banking”, “savings”, “safe deposit”, “trust”, “trustee”, “building and loan”, “homestead”, or “credit union” without written approval from the commissioner of the office of financial institutions.
On top of all this, your name must also be distinguishable from every other name reserved or registered with the Secretary of State. Perform a business name search to find out if your name is available.
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 Louisiana 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. When you go to file your Articles of Organization, you’ll notice that you must include registered agent information to complete it.
Your agent must fall into one of two broad categories: individual or business entity. If you appoint an individual, that person must be a Louisiana resident with a physical in-state address. And if you go with a business entity, like a registered agent service, it must be authorized to do business in the state.
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 Louisiana 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 Louisiana.
The Articles of Organization is the driving force behind your LLC’s formation, the document that makes your business official. But considering its importance, the form itself is surprisingly simple. In fact, if you collect all the necessary information beforehand, you’ll have no problem breezing through it. Here’s what it requires:
- State and parish/county
- The LLC Name
- A business purpose
- The LLC’s duration (may be perpetual)
- Other necessary provisions (optional)
That’s not bad at all. As part of your Articles of Organization, you must also submit an Initial Report, which requires:
- The LLC Name and address (not a P.O. box)
- The registered agent’s name, address, and signature
- Names and addresses for every member or manager
Keep in mind that both the Articles of Organization and the initial report must be notarized before you submit them.
Got all that? Great. Like most other government forms, the Articles of Organization comes with a cost – $100 to be exact. So, have your credit card or checkbook ready when you file.
You’ve collected your information and prepared your payment. Now it’s time to file. When you’re ready, you have four options, so choose the one that works best for your business.
You can complete the whole process through the geauxBIZ filing portal. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll need to create one. As your business progresses, this page will be your go-to spot for filings.
Some parishes are now required to file documents online. According to the Secretary of State: “Effective January 1, 2018, business owners in the following parishes will be required to file all available business documents online through geauxBIZ: Ascension, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Livingston, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Terrebonne.”
If your parish/county doesn’t require online filing, you can use a hard copy instead. Download and complete the paper application, then include your payment and sent it all to:
Louisiana Secretary of State
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125
If you’re local to Baton Rouge and you’re out running errands, you can also hand-deliver your documents and payment to 8585 Archives Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70809.
If faxing is your thing, you can send your materials to (225)932-5314.
Processing time varies depending on which option you choose. Online filing is the quickest option – documents are processed in 24-48 hours. Hard copies, on the other hand, typically take 3-5 business days. Not fast enough? The Secretary of State offers two expedited processing options: 24-hour service for an extra $30 and immediate service for $50.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Louisiana), but what if your business is expanding to Louisiana from another state? In this case, don’t worry about the Articles of Organization. Your LLC will take a different route.
Out of state businesses are instead required to foreign qualify by filing an Application for Authority either online or as a hard copy. Resist the temptation to skip this filing and start doing business right away. If you’re caught, the state will have some serious penalties and fines for you.
But if you’ve successfully foreign qualified and received authority from the state, you’re free to kick off your business activities in Louisiana!
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 Louisiana 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.