You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving New Jersey 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 New Jersey. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your New Jersey 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 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 Certificate of Formation, and if the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services 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 choices, make sure that your final selection adheres to the state’s requirements. It must contain the words “limited liability company” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or “LLC,” and not use any of New Jersey’s restricted or prohibited words, or any profanity. Most importantly, your name cannot already be in use. Perform a name search to confirm that it’s distinguishable from all other names on record with the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services.
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 New Jersey 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 will not be complete without registered agent information, so have a valid agent lined up before you start.
Your registered agent can fall into one of two broad categories: individual or business entity. Every individual agent must be a New Jersey resident with a physical address in the state, and business entity agents – like registered agent services – must be authorized to do business in New Jersey.
Once you submit your Certificate of Formation, your registered agent’s information will be part of your public record.
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 New Jersey 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 New Jersey.
The Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services website often refers to the Certificate of Formation as a “Public Records Filing” because this is the same registration document for all business types. Even so, it’s pretty quick and painless, especially if you’ve gathered all the necessary information beforehand. Here’s everything that you’ll need:
- LLC name
- Business entity type
- Business purpose
- Duration (if applicable)
- State and date of formation (foreign entities only)
- Registered agent name
- Registered office address
- Principal business address
Not bad at all. The last thing you need to arrange is payment. The Certificate of Formation comes with a $125 filing fee, so have a check or credit card ready when you file.
New Jersey offers four different filing methods, so whether you do all your business online or keep paper records of everything, there’s an option for you.
If you’re itching to start your LLC right away, file online, as it’s the fastest route. Head over to the business filing portal and click “Get Started.” Follow the instructions and you’ll be finished in no time.
Download and complete the paper application. Then mail it, with your $125 payment, to:
New Jersey Department of the Treasury
Division of Revenue & Enterprise Services/Corporate Filing Unit
PO Box 308
Trenton, NJ 08646-0308
Live near Trenton? You can file the document as part of your weekly errands. Just drop it off at 33 W. State St, 5th Floor, Trenton, NJ 08611.
You also have the option of faxing your application to (609) 292-4291. All faxed submissions must include a cover sheet, titled: New Jersey Department of the Treasury Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services Facsimile Filing Service Request. This cover sheet should include your name, the date, a bank account or credit card number with an expiration date, a description of service requested, your LLC name, the total number of pages, and a return fax number. Faxed documents incur an additional $1 fee per page.
While online submissions are processed immediately, hard copy filings take a bit longer, up to 15 days. If you need to file a paper form but don’t have that kind of time, the state offers two expedited processing options: 8.5-hour service for an extra $25, and same-day service for $50. You must walk in or fax your documents to request either one.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in New Jersey), but what if your business is expanding to New Jersey from another state? In this case, don’t worry about the Certificate of Formation or the previous instructions.
Instead, you will need to foreign qualify your LLC before doing business in the state. Do this online or by downloading, completing, and mailing/hand-delivering/faxing a Form NJ-REG to the addresses above. Don’t conduct any business activities before foreign qualifying, or your LLC will face some serious fines and penalties.
But after you’ve successfully submitted your form and received authority from the state, you’re free to kick off your business activities in New Jersey.
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 Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services. 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.