You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, 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.
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 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 abbreviation “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.
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.
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.
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.
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
P.O. Box 30054
Lansing, MI 48909
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.
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. 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 perks 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 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 Statements), 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.