How Long Does It Take To Get An LLC?

Structuring your business as an LLC (limited liability company) has many benefits, especially for small business owners and startups. It provides liability protection and some tax advantages. It offers more flexibility than a corporation but is superior to a sole proprietorship. It also allows you to separate yourself legally from your business.

Many future entrepreneurs ask, "How long does it take to get an LLC?"

The specific timeline for getting your LLC set up can vary depending on your state and the complexity of your business structure. However, with our streamlined process and commitment to filing within 24 hours, you can have your LLC up and running in less than a day rather than weeks or months.

Having a clear understanding of the timeline is important because it can affect your launch, your planning, and even how you get funding. That's why we've outlined the steps to get an LLC below and an approximate timeline you can expect.

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Understanding the Steps to Start an LLC

There are many business entity types that you can pick from when you set up your business (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, and corporation).

If the business structure you decide on is an LLC, understand that setting your business up is a little like climbing a ladder — the safest way to get to the top is to climb one rung at a time. If you miss a step, you could delay your business launch, face operational confusion, and lose your limited liability protection.

That’s why we’ve first provided a high-level overview for future LLC owners like you below — then we’ll dive into the turnaround times you can expect.

1. Choosing a Business Name

The first step to starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is choosing a name. This means understanding your state's rules about names and making sure the name you pick is:

  • Not in use by another business
  • Compliant with your state's rules

Your name has to be unique to avoid causing confusion or misleading people. Before you move forward, searching for the name to see if it's already being used is essential. You can check your state's business database to determine if the name is taken.

Each state has its own rules for LLC names. Your state might not allow certain words and require you to use "LLC" or a similar term in the name. Most states also don't allow words that could confuse people or make them think your business is a different type, like "corporation" or "incorporated."

Searching for a name is quick and easy if you go online. You can look for exact matches, similar-sounding names, or keywords. If your name is already in use or sounds too much like another business, you must choose a different name.

If you have a name in mind, have other ideas in case your favorite name is already taken.

You can reserve it if you're not ready to apply for your LLC but want to keep your chosen name. Many states let you reserve a business name for a certain amount of time, usually between 30 and 120 days. You can do this by applying and paying a small fee. This can be helpful if you still need to finish your business plan or wait for more funding before starting your LLC.

2. Filing Articles of Organization

Articles of Organization are like the building blocks for your LLC. They include essential details about your business and how it's set up. You send these papers to your Secretary of State to make your business official.

Knowing what to put in these papers and how to send them to your state will help you do everything right the first time and with less stress.

When you create your LLC's Articles of Organization, you need to gather your LLC's information. This includes:

  • Your LLC's business name and address
  • Whether the LLC is managed by members or managers
  • Who your LLC's registered agent is
  • The LLC's purpose
  • How long you expect your LLC will last

Once you have all the details, you can send the Articles of Organization to your state agency. Most states let you do this online, which is easier, faster, and more convenient. You can also mail it, though it takes longer.

You must pay a filing fee when you send your Articles of Organization. This non-refundable fee differs in every state, usually between $50 and a few hundred dollars.

Whether you send your papers online or by mail, follow your state's instructions carefully and pay the fee they ask for.

After you send your Articles of Organization and pay the fee, the state will review your papers to ensure your LLC follows regulations. When they approve it, your LLC will be officially established. You'll get a Certificate of Organization from the state to show your LLC is on the record.

3. Assigning a Registered Agent

A registered agent is essential when starting an LLC, as it is required in all states. Their central role is to be the main point of contact for the LLC, receiving official mail (state reminders), and legal documents (taxes or lawsuits).

A registered agent needs to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have an address in the state where your business is during the day

You have choices: elect yourself or another LLC member -- or hire a professional registered agent service.

If you choose the former, you can reduce your costs. The downside is that a registered agent's address is public, which can be problematic if you prefer privacy or move often. A registered agent must also understand legal documents or be willing to learn. Finally, a registered agent must diligently follow through on notices received.

If you hire a professional service, there is a cost, and your LLC's members might lose some control. Still, you get:

  • A physical address (and privacy)
  • Mail forwarding
  • Access to their expertise
  • Important business documents handled by experts (you won't miss deadlines)

When deciding, consider what's right for your business. A professional might be best if you want privacy and are okay with spending more. If saving money and having more control is more critical, picking yourself or an LLC member could be better.

Whatever you choose, make sure your agent is reliable. They're essential for keeping your business running smoothly and compliantly.

4. Creating an Operating Agreement

An LLC operating agreement is a crucial step toward LLC formation. It’s like a rulebook for how your business runs. While some states don't require an operating agreement, there are many good reasons to create one.

The main reason is that it sets clear rules for managing and running your LLC.

Without this document, your LLC is subject to the default laws in your state, which might not benefit you. Your operating agreement lets you choose how the business fits your needs.

Having a good operating agreement prevents disputes and protects personal assets.

An operating agreement protects the LLC and its members by spelling out who does what and how decisions are made. It also prevents arguments and misunderstandings that could put the LLC at risk.

A well-written operating agreement helps show the business is run transparently and fairly. When you make your operating agreement, here are a few points to include:

  • What each member does in the LLC, like who makes decisions and who votes.
  • If the LLC is member- or manager-run, how do managers get picked and meetings get held?
  • Rules for big decisions, like signing contracts or changing the agreement.
  • How money gets shared between members.
  • How to end the LLC, and how to add or remove members.

By including the above, you will ensure that your business runs smoothly, remains compliant with state laws, and protects its members.

5. Obtaining an EIN and Handling Tax Registrations

When you set up an LLC, you'll likely need an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). This 9-digit number is like a Social Security Number for your business, and it's needed as a form of tax ID.

Getting an EIN is necessary if your LLC has more than one member or plans to hire employees. Even if you're the only owner, you might still need one to open a business bank account.

Pro Tip: Keep your business money separate from your money to protect your LLC's liability.

You have a few options to get your Employer ID Number: apply online on the IRS website or send in an SS-4 form by mail or fax. They'll request information about your LLC: business name, business address, and member names and addresses. LLC Attorney can help you with this process.

Once the IRS gives you your EIN, you can use it for:

  • Taxes
  • Hiring employees
  • Opening a business bank account
  • Applying for business credit
  • Getting business licenses and permits

If your LLC operates in multiple states, you may need to sign up for a sales tax number with each state's tax office depending on your company’s activities. You will use this number for:

  • Collecting sales tax and filing tax returns
  • Issuing and accepting exemption certificates
  • Setting up vendor relationships (such as wholesale accounts)
  • Compliance, annual reports, and audits

The exact process is different in each state, but typically, the steps to get a sales tax number are:

  • Find out the requirements in each state in which your LLC operates. Reviewing the state’s tax office website is an excellent place to start.
  • Apply for a sales tax number. You can usually apply online or by mail/fax. Include any payment and supporting documentation needed.
  • Wait for approval. This process takes ten to fifteen days but varies by state.

What Factors Influence How Long It Takes To Form An LLC?

The state where you start your LLC and how you file (online or by mail) can affect the time it takes to get approved.

LLC filing is faster online than sending documents by mail. However, each state has its own rules and processing times for paperwork.

Another factor that can affect how long it takes to get your LLC approved is permits and licenses. The permits and licenses you need for your business depend on your industry and needs. Applying can take anywhere from a few days to several months.

You can't control processing times, but you can speed up the formation process by filing online and getting the necessary licenses.

Average Time Frame for Forming an LLC

When you aim to start a limited liability company, knowing how long it takes for approval will help you create a realistic launch plan for your small business.

Remember, follow the process we've outlined above.

Generally, the process may take longer if you apply for an LLC by mail or have a more complex business. To speed up your approval, you can apply online and take advantage of expedited service when offered.

The bottom line about the time frame: depending on your state, your LLC could be approved instantly when you file with your secretary of state’s online, or it could take several weeks.

Start Your New Business Today

You don't have to follow the steps to set up your business. Reach out to an LLC formation service professional to kickstart your new journey with your business exactly as you dreamed it would be.

It takes three to four weeks for Florida LLCs to get approval if you apply by mail. If you file online, expect five business days to get approval.

A New Jersey LLC application by mail takes five to seven business days, plus the time it takes for mail delivery. If you file online, you can get approved in just one business day.

When South Carolina LLCs apply by mail, it typically gets approved within three to four business days, plus the time it takes for mail delivery. However, your LLC approval usually comes within one to two business days if you file online.

A California LLC can expect around eight business days, plus the time it takes for mail delivery (if you apply by mail). Choosing the online option also takes about eight business days (but no mail time).

It takes about seven to fourteen business days (plus mail delivery time) for Illinois LLCs if you apply by mail. Online, it’s around five to ten business days or 24 hours. In both cases, you can expedite the process with an additional fee of $100.

LLC approval in Missouri usually takes four to six weeks. This includes processing time (fifteen to twenty business days) and time in the mail. Online filings for Missouri LLCs receive instant approval.

It takes approximately five to eight weeks in Maryland, plus the time for mail delivery. Expedited same-day service is available for an extra $50. Online filings are typically processed within two weeks.

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