Legal: How to Register LLC and Get EIN
This will take you less than an hour. Afterwards, your business will be an official, bona fide company. Cool!
Reserve Your Trade Name
- Before you reserve your name, make sure you’ve finalized the name of your company. You can always change it later, but you’ll have to go through this process again and pay for a new name.
- In finalizing the name of your company, put “LLC” at the end (e.g. JuniorBiz, LLC). LLC stands for “Limited Liability Company”.
- Search for your state’s Secretary of State. Google “(Your State) Secretary of State Reserve a Name” and it will probably be the first link.
- Perform a name availability search for your business name exactly how you want it to appear on your official documents (e.g. JuniorBiz, LLC). Some states let you do it online (e.g. Colorado). Others will require you to print something out and mail it in, or make a phone call (e.g. California).
- If that name is available, you can continue with reserving it. If it’s not, you’ll have to choose a different name for your business.
- Fill out the “Statement of Reservation of Name” form on your state’s Secretary of State website. Again, some states let you do this online and others require you to print out a form.
- Pay the small fee to file this document with the Secretary of State. This fee ranges from $10 – $50.
- If you did it online, you’ll be taken to a confirmation page. Print it out for your records.
Just because your official business name ends in an LLC, this doesn’t mean you have to put “LLC” at the end of your name every time you use it. In fact, only use “LLC” on checks and other official documents. Put it in the footer of your marketing materials, but don’t put it in your logo. It will build credibility, but from a branding perspective, it’s annoying and ugly. “LLC” isn’t in my logo but it is in the footer of my website.
Register Your Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- Search for your state’s Secretary of State. Google “(Your State) Secretary of State Articles of Organization LLC” and it should be the first link.
- Once you find the right site, click on either “Form a new limited liability company” or “File articles of organization LLC” (or maybe a similar link).
- Then you will (likely) have to perform another “Name Availability Search”. Type in your business name exactly how you reserved it and click submit.
- Next you will be taken to the “Articles of Organization (LLC)” form. Finish filling out the entire form and click submit.
- Now you will have to pay a fee to file this document with the Secretary of State. This fee can range from free all the way up to $1000 in some states. Typically, it is on the lower end of the spectrum though ($25 to $100). If this is your case, be thankful. Again, fill out the credit card information and click submit.
- After taken to the confirmation page, make sure to print out this document for your records and you are officially an LLC.
Some states require your to use your EIN to register your LLC. If this is your case, skip ahead to the next section, “Acquire Your Free EIN”, and come back to registering your LLC.
Acquire Your Free Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Start your EIN application here. (It will open in another window so you can refer back to this guide.)
- Click “Begin Application >>“.
- Check “Limited Liability Company (LLC)” and click “Continue”.
- This page is meant to confirm that you are an LLC (or intend to be if you haven’t filed your Articles of Organization yet). Click “Continue >>”.
- Enter the number of “members” in your LLC. If you are maintaining full ownership of your company, put “1”. If you intend to split up ownership to two or more people, put that number in the box.
- Select your state and click “Continue”.
- Read “Please confirm your selection.” and continue.
- Select “Starting a New Business” unless one of the other options is more applicable to your situation and continue.
- Mark “Individual” unless you already have an EIN and you’re getting a new one, then continue.
- Fill out your legal name and SSN, then select “I am one of the owners, members, or the managing member of this LLC.” Continue again.
- Fill out the address of your business and your phone number. It’s perfectly fine to use your home address if you don’t have an office yet ;). Continue.
- Tell them about your LLC. Enter the legal name of your LLC (exactly as you filed it) and your Trade Name. Assuming your already reserved your name and filed your LLC (as per above), these should be the same thing. Continue.
- Fill out everything else and you’ll end up on a confirmation page. Print this out for your records.
- Make yourself a smoothie because you rocked it today!
Super secret tip… Sshhh: Once you get your EIN, save that number in your phone as “EIN”stein. You’ll need to use it a few times a year, which is not often enough to memorize it. Plus, if your friends happen to see that you have Einstein’s number, they’ll be impressed.