You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Maryland 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 Maryland. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Maryland 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 like to have an online service file the Articles of Organization 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 Articles of Organization, and if the Department of Assessment and Taxation deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.
To be considered valid, your LLC name must comply with the state’s requirements, which means it must contain “limited liability company,” “limited company,” “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” “L.C.,” or “LC,” and be completely distinguishable from all other names reserved or registered with the Department of Assessment and Taxation. Unsure if your name is available? Search for it to find out.
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 renewable 30-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.
Choosing a Maryland Resident Agent
A resident 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 Articles of Organization won’t be complete if you don’t include your resident agent’s information and signature, so be sure that you’ve reached out beforehand.
You can appoint either an individual or a business entity as your resident agent. If you go with an individual, that person must be a Maryland resident with a physical in-state address, and if you choose a business entity, like a resident 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 resident agent in the future.
Preparing to File Your Maryland 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 Maryland.
Considering how important the Articles of Organization to the LLC formation process, the form itself is surprisingly short and simple. You’ll breeze right through it as long as you have the following information ready beforehand:
- The LLC name
- A business purpose
- The LLC address
- Resident agent name, address, and signature
- A return address
The last item you’ll need is a payment. The Articles of Organization costs $100, so have a check or credit card ready when you file.
Finally, processing time varies depending on which option you choose. If you’re in a hurry, consider the online option which will process within seven days. For even quicker service, expedited processing in person can be done while you wait. Standard processing, through the mail or in person, is four to six weeks.
You’ve gathered your information and arranged your payment. Now it’s time to file. The state allows you to file online, by mail, or in person, so whether you prefer to do business digitally or want to leave a paper trail, there’s an option for you.
Take care of the entire process through the Maryland Business Express website. You’ll need to create an account if you don’t already have one. Simply click “Register Your Business,” log in, and you’re on your way. Online submissions are processed within seven business days.
Filing by Mail
Download, complete, and print the paper form, then mail it to:
State Department of Assessments and Taxation, Charter Division
301 W. Preston Street; 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201-2395
Standard processing time is 4-6 weeks, but you can request expedited (seven business day) service for an additional $50.
In Person Filing
If you live in Baltimore and need a break from the office, you can also hand-deliver it to the same address. Your filing will be processed that day.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Maryland), but what if your business is expanding to Maryland from another state? In this case, you can ignore the Articles of Organization and the instructions above. Your LLC will go a different route.
All out-of-state LLCs entering Maryland must instead foreign qualify by filing an LLC Registration Form either online or with a hard copy. Even though it might be tempting, don’t conduct any business in the state without first having foreign qualified, or you could find yourself facing serious penalties.
But after you’ve successfully foreign qualified, you’re free to kick off your business activities in Maryland.
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 Department of Assessment and Taxation. 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 resident 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 resident agent service.