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Michigan Articles of Organization

You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, and dreams of a thriving Michigan 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 Michigan. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Michigan 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.

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 Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.

When choosing a name, you must consider Michigan’s specific business name requirements. Follow them by including in your name the words “limited liability company,” or the abbreviations “L.L.C.,” “L.C.,” “LLC,” or “LC,” while avoiding the words “corporation” or “incorporated,” or the abbreviations “corp.” or “inc.” On top of that, your name should not suggest a business purpose other than the one you indicate on your Articles of Organization.

Even if you carefully follow these requirements, your name will be invalid if it’s already in use, so perform a name search to find out if your name is distinguishable from all existing ones.

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 180-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.


IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to get your business domain name so nobody else can use it. This will protect your brand and make things much easier for you down the road. Secure it easily through GoDaddy.


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Choosing a Michigan 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. If you submit an Articles of Organization without resident agent information included, the state will reject it, so line up your agent beforehand.

There are two types of valid resident agent: individual and business entity. If you go with an individual, that person must be a Michigan resident with a physical, in-state address. And if you use 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 Michigan 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 Michigan.

When it comes to LLC formation, the Articles of Organization is king. It’s the form that officially establishes your business, and yet it’s a fairly short and simple document. Gather all the necessary information before you sit down to complete it and you’ll fly right through. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • The LLC name
  • A business purpose
  • The LLC’s duration, if not perpetual
  • Resident agent name and address
  • Organizer names and signatures

That wasn’t so hard! In fact, the hardest part about the Articles of Organization might be forking over the $50 filing fee. Have a check or card ready to pay when you file.

Filing Options

You’ve collected your information and prepared your payment. Now it’s time to get down to business and file. You can take one of three routes: online, by mail, or in person.

Online

Get started by navigating to LARA’s online filling system. At the top of the page, select “click here” next to “If you are forming a new entity.” Then select the Articles of Organization and enter your information on the next page.

Mail

Download, complete, and print the paper application. Then, include your payment and mail your finished form to:

 Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau 

Corporations Division 

P.O. Box 30054

 Lansing, MI 48909

In-Person

If you live in the area and want to get out for some fresh air, you may also hand-deliver your form to 2501 Woodlake Circle, Okemos, MI.

The standard processing time for all filing methods is 3-5 business days. But if you need to start your LLC immediately, consider one of four available expedited options:

  • 24-hour processing – $50
  • Same-day processing – $100
  • Two-hour processing – $500
  • One-hour processing – $1,000

When filing online, you can simply check a box next to the option you’d like, but if you’re filing a paper form, you’ll need to include an Expedited Service Request.

What About Foreign LLCs?

The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Michigan), but what if your business is expanding to Michigan from another state? Disregard the Articles of Organization, as it’s not the form for you.

Your LLC will need to foreign qualify instead by mailing or hand-delivering an Application for Certificate of Authority. Like the Articles of Organization, this document carries a $50 filing fee. Even if you’re itching to start your business in Michigan, don’t conduct any business activities without foreign qualifying first, or you might face some severe penalties and fines.

After you’ve successfully received your Certificate of Authority, you’re free to kick off your business activities in Michigan.

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 feature packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization have 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 statements), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.

Important Post-Formation Compliance Issues

Once you’ve successfully filed your Articles of Organization, your LLC is an official business entity in the state of Michigan. However, this doesn’t mean that your responsibilities have come to an end. There are several other steps you’ll need to take if you want to operate a compliant LLC for years to come.

Acquire a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

While an EIN isn’t a requirement for Michigan LLCs, we strongly recommend that every entrepreneur obtains one. An EIN enables your LLC to hire employees, open business bank accounts, file taxes, and take care of several other important aspects of LLC maintenance. Even if you operate a single-member LLC with no employees, you should still have an EIN for your business.

Set Up a Financial Infrastructure

One other crucial step is to solidify the financial aspects of your LLC, first by opening a business bank account. You must have separate bank accounts for your personal use and for business purposes, as this will help you keep your personal and business assets separate, a vitally important consideration for any entrepreneur. If you commingle these assets, you leave yourself wide open for lawsuits, as it would be easy for someone to claim that your business is simply an extension of your own personality and not a separate entity from you as a person.

The other portion of this step is to set up an accounting system. This can either mean that you hire an accountant to take care of your LLC’s bookkeeping, or you could acquire high-quality accounting software like QuickBooks. Either way, you need a reliable means of keeping detailed records for each financial transaction your LLC executes. This is another vital part of keeping your personal and business assets separated, and it will also be enormously helpful come tax time.

Acquire Licenses and Permits

The next step involves obtaining any industry-specific licenses and permits your LLC may need to operate in compliance with state laws. Depending on the nature of your LLC’s business, you may require several permits or you may be able to operate your LLC without any state-level licenses.

Thankfully, Michigan makes it very easy to figure out your business’ licensing needs. All you need to do is visit the state’s License Search page and you’ll find the license and permit applications you require. Make sure to check with your county and locality as well, as there may also be licensing requirements for your business on these levels.

Obtain Business Insurance

This step isn’t a requirement, but it is a strong recommendation. The exact insurance policies your business needs will vary based on the type of products and services you offer, but most LLCs should at least have a general liability insurance policy to protect against common perils like slip-and-fall accidents. In some industries, you might need several different insurance policies to cover all of your financial bases, so do your research ahead of time to determine which types of insurance you should purchase.

File Your Annual Statements

Each year, every LLC in Michigan must file an annual statement. This report includes some basic information about your business and keeps the state updated regarding any important changes to your LLC’s structure. The information you’ll need to file this report typically includes your LLC’s name, principal office address, registered agent name and address, and the name and address of each LLC member or manager.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Filing the Michigan LLC Articles of Organization

How long does it take Michigan to form an LLC?

The standard processing time for all filing methods is 3-5 business days. But if you need to start your LLC immediately, consider one of four available expedited options:

  • 24-hour processing – $50
  • Same-day processing – $100
  • Two-hour processing – $500
  • One-hour processing – $1,000

Should I file my own Articles of Organization, hire an attorney, or use an online service?

This question largely comes down to personal preferences, but we do have some general insights. The DIY route can be quite a bit of work, as you’ll need to complete each step of the formation process on your own with no assistance. As for hiring an attorney, this can be prohibitively expensive for new businesses, as a lawyer can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to form your LLC.

You can think of business services companies as a middle ground between these options. While most of these companies charge a fee to form your LLC, that fee will be significantly less expensive than an attorney’s fee. At the same time, you still aren’t going it alone. Instead, you have an experienced professional guiding you through the entire process.

What does Michigan require for LLC formations other than the Articles of Organization?

Unlike some states, Michigan doesn’t require any related filings other than your formation articles. However, we still strongly recommend obtaining a federal tax ID number (EIN). An EIN allows your LLC to file taxes, hire employees, open business bank accounts, and more. Every LLC should have one, whether your state requires it or not.

How many small businesses are there in Michigan?

Today, Michigan has more than 870,000 small businesses. Clearly, entrepreneurs in many different fields find Michigan to be a great place to own and operate a business entity.

The Best Michigan LLC Formation Services

If you want to use a reputable online service to form your Michigan LLC, there are dozens of options. We invite you to check out our full list of the best available LLC formation services, but we’ll also share a few of our favorites with you here. Let’s take a quick look at the three best LLC formation services for entrepreneurs in the state of Michigan.

ZenBusiness ($49 + State Fee)

ZenBusiness isn’t the cheapest LLC formation service available, but they are the most well-rounded service in our opinion. That said, ZenBusiness receives outstanding customer feedback, with more than 9,800 reviews available online and very few negative reviews among them. Finally, the fact that they give back to the community by boosting underprivileged entrepreneurs is an admirable trait.

Note: While it is not currently available, sometimes there are discounts to ZenBusiness online.

Northwest Registered Agent ($39 + State Fee)

Northwest has some major advantages of their own that make them well worth considering. First and foremost, Northwest Registered Agent has the best customer support in this industry, with highly knowledgeable representatives answering every phone call. In addition, they also include 12 months of registered agent service.

IncFile ($0 + State Fee)

Yes, IncFile will actually form your new LLC for free. This package isn’t a barebones offering either, as IncFile includes a year of registered agent service just like Northwest does. IncFile has a fantastic reputation when it comes to customer feedback, as the vast majority of its 27,000+ online reviews are positive. The only downside of their services is that IncFile’s customer support team isn’t exactly the most responsive in the industry. Sometimes it can take them quite a while to respond to messages, and they sometimes don’t reply at all, in our experience. Still, that’s a pretty small issue for a company that offers free LLC formations.