You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, and dreams of a thriving Missouri 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 Missouri. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Missouri 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.
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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 you start using a particular name, make sure that it complies with Missouri’s business name requirements. This means it must use a business type identifier like “limited company,” “limited liability company,” “LC,” “LLC,” “L.C.,” or “L.L.C.,” and avoid terms associated with other business types, like “incorporated,” “limited partnership,” “Inc.,” “LP,” etc. Plus, your name cannot imply affiliation with any government agency, and it must be completely distinguishable from all other names on record with the Secretary of State.
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 60-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.
Choosing a Missouri 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 Articles of Organization won’t be complete without a registered agent name and address, so make sure you have one lined up by the time you sit down to complete the filing.
Your registered agent options fall into two broad categories: individual and business entity. If you want to appoint an individual – like an attorney, accountant, friend, business partner, or yourself – they must be a Missouri resident with a physical address in the state. And if you choose 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 Missouri Articles of Organization
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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 Missouri.
Considering its vast importance to the LLC formation process, you might think that the Articles of Organization is a long, complicated document. But in reality, it’s pretty short and sweet. You’ll fly right through it in one sitting if you have the following information ready:
- LLC name
- Business purpose
- Registered agent name and address
- Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers
- Duration (if applicable)
- Names and addresses of each organizer
- Series LLC information (optional)
- Name and address to return filed document
- LLC effective date (can be up to 90 days after filing)
That’s not so bad! The hardest part of the form is the payment, which is $105 if you’re filing a paper application and $50 if filing online.
Now that you’ve got your information ready and your payment arranged, you’re ready to put the machine in motion and file your Articles of Organization. You have three filing options: online, by mail, and in person.
If you’re itching to get your business started ASAP, file online, as it’s the quickest route. Use the Corporations Online Portal to complete the process. You will need to create an account. Then, once you’re logged in, select “Business Entity Online Filing,” then “LLC Filings,” then “Create LLC.” Your filing will be processed immediately.
Hard Copy Filing
Download and fill out the paper application. When you’re finished, mail the form and your payment to:
State of Missouri
P.O. Box 778
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Live in Jefferson City and need some fresh air? You can also hand-deliver your materials to 600 W. Main St., Rm. 322 Jefferson City, MO 65102.
Hard copy filings are a little bit slower than online ones, typically taking 3-5 business days.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Missouri), but what if your business is expanding to Missouri from another state? If this is your LLC, disregard the Articles of Organization and the instructions above.
Instead, you will need to foreign qualify your LLC by filing an Application for Registration of a Foreign LLC either online or by using a paper form. This will give your LLC authority to conduct business activities in the state. There is a $105 filing fee associated with the Application for Registration. Don’t do any business in Missouri without first foreign qualifying! If you’re caught, there could be some serious fines and penalties in store for your LLC.
But after you’ve successfully filed your form, you’re free to get your business running.
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 Missouri Secretary of State. 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 registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future document deadlines, 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 Missouri. 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 Missouri 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, Missouri makes it very easy to figure out your business’ licensing needs. All you need to do is visit the state’s Division of Professional Registration 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.
Normally, we would include a section about completing your Missouri LLC annual reports. However, unlike nearly every other state, Missouri does not require LLCs to file regular reports, whether annually or biannually. So, just sit back and relax, with no reporting requirements on your horizon.
Frequently Asked Questions
About Filing the Missouri LLC Articles of Organization
How long does it take Missouri to form an LLC?
Articles of Organization filed online are filed quickly, as the state can often get them processed within one business day. If you instead file on a paper form, you can expect a turnaround time of 3-5 business days.
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 Missouri require for LLC formations other than the Articles of Organization?
Unlike some states, Missouri 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 Missouri?
Today, Missouri has more than 530,000 small businesses. Clearly, entrepreneurs in many different fields find Missouri to be a great place to own and operate a business entity.
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