You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Maine 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 Maine. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Maine 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.
Quick Note: If you’d like to have an online service file the Certificate of Formation for you or simply need to save time, hire an LLC formation service. Two popular options are LegalZoom and ZenBusiness.
Choosing an LLC Name
Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Certificate of Formation, 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.
As you narrow down your name option, remember that Maine has certain rules for its business names. Your LLC name must contain the words “limited liability company” or “limited company,” or one of the following abbreviations: “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” “L.C.,” or “LC,” and it must avoid language that is obscene, promotes unlawful activity, or suggests affiliation with public institutions.
On top of all that, it needs to be distinguishable from every other business name on file with the Secretary of State. Unsure if your name is available? Perform a name search to find out.
Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Certificate of Formation 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 Maine 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. Your Certificate of Formation won’t be complete without registered agent information, so make sure you’ve reached out to a potential agent beforehand.
The good news is that you have an array of registered agent options. You can choose an individual, as long as that person is a Maine resident with a physical in-state address. Or, you can use a business entity, like a registered agent service, provided that entity is authorized to do business in Maine.
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 Maine Certificate of Formation
Now for the main event: the Certificate of Formation. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in Maine.
The Certificate of Formation has monumental weight in the LLC formation process, granting your LLC authority to conduct business in Maine. Considering this importance, you might think that the application is long and complicated, but it’s actually the opposite. In fact, if you gather the necessary information beforehand, you can complete it in one sitting. Here’s what you’ll need:
- The LLC name
- The filing date or a later effective date (if applicable)
- Designation as a low-profit LLC (if applicable)
- Type of professional services (if a professional LLC)
- Registered agent name and address
- Contact person name, phone number, and email address
The Certificate of Formation comes with a $175 filing fee, payable by check (made out to “Maine Secretary of State”) or card. If you want to pay via credit card, make sure to include a Credit Card Payment Voucher.
You might prefer doing business online, but unfortunately, Maine doesn’t have an option for electronic filing, so you will need to submit your form by mail or in person.
Download and complete the paper application, including the Filer Contact Cover Letter. Then, mail the documents and payment to:
Secretary of State
Division of Corporations, UCC and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
Typical processing time is 5-10 business days, but if you need to form your LLC as soon as possible, the Secretary of State also offers expedited processing. For an extra $50, you’ll receive 24-hour service, and for $100, your form will be processed immediately.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Maine, but what if your business is expanding to Maine from another state? Disregard the Certificate of Formation, because your business will need to take a different route.
Out-of-state LLCs must instead foreign qualify by submitting a Statement of Foreign Qualification to Conduct Activities and a Certificate of Existence from its home state. The filing fee is a bit higher than the Certificate of Formation: $250. You might be tempted to start doing business without foreign qualifying, but resist the urge because this can lead to severe fines and penalties.
But after you’ve successfully foreign qualified your LLC, go right ahead and kick off your business activities.
Want Help Filing Your Certificate of Formation?
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 Certificate of Formation 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 Maine Secretary of State. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Certificate of Formation 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.