Do you have a business idea that has the potential to make it big in The Last Frontier? After looking at the many business models out there, has the limited liability company (LLC) structure stood out? If you’re wondering how to start an LLC in Alaska, there are a few steps to follow to ensure that your business runs smoothly from the get-go.
A limited liability company is a type of business that allows its owners (called “members”) to have the personal limited liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and flexibility of a partnership or sole proprietorship.
LLCs bypass many of the structural and reporting requirements of a corporation while protecting the personal assets of the owners in the event the business is sued or goes into debt. LLCs also avoid the “double taxation” of a typical corporation, in which profits are taxed both at the business level and again on the personal level.
Starting an LLC in Alaska without knowing what to expect, though, can be like climbing Denali without any gear. We’ve put together a detailed guide on how to set up an LLC in Alaska below. It’s important to take your time with each step to avoid errors that could put your dream of owning a business on hold.
To establish your LLC as a legal business in Alaska, you’ll file Alaska LLC Articles of Organization with the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development’s Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing. Since that’s a mouthful, we’ll refer to the agency simply as the Division of Corporations in this guide.
Before that, you’ll need to pick a name for your LLC and name a registered agent. After filing your Articles of Organization, you’ll draft an operating agreement and apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).Before setting up an LLC in Alaska, take note that this guide only applies to a domestic, for-profit Alaska LLC filing. If you need to form a foreign LLC (formed outside of the state), then you’ll need to file different paperwork. Alaska doesn’t allow nonprofit and professional limited liability company (PLLC) formations, and we don’t assist with foreign LLC, nonprofit LLC, or PLLC filings. If you’re a licensed professional wanting to start a business in Alaska, then check out our guide on starting a professional corporation in Alaska.
Choose a name for your LLC in Alaska. This is a major step since naming your LLC gives it its identity. Your name can be anything you’d like as long as it falls in line with the rules the state has established. Come up with a list and make sure each has marketability value while being catchy. If you need some help, we have an article on coming up with a business name.
Here are a few of the naming rules that Alaska has established for businesses, specifically LLCs:
For a much more detailed description, look up the state’s Statutes and Regulations – Corporations rulebook.
You have the option of reserving your LLC’s name when you’ve chosen one that meets the Alaska LLC requirements. Consider this so your name isn’t taken by another business as you’re getting your LLC set up. You can submit a Business Name Reservation application with the Division of Corporations for a small filing fee.
The reservation is good for 120 days. You can renew it twice, but when doing this, you must include a letter of intent to start the business.
If you plan to set up an online business, then you’ll definitely need a domain name. Even if your business will have a physical location, a domain name (and, by extension, a business website) can help you in a number of ways that we’ll discuss in the next section. Make sure that your domain name matches your business’s name or is at least as close as possible to it. That way, people will find it easier to look you up online.
Check to see if your business’s name has a matching domain name. In the digital age, when people are looking up information about a business, they’ll take to the internet. Here, they can find your business address, phone number, hours of operation, social media profiles, and more.
On top of all this, you can conduct business online through an eCommerce website. And a business website allows you to digitally market your brand. As we said, having matching business and domain names is crucial for having people easily find you online.
When you create a list of business names, search to see if any have matching domain names. If your first choice doesn’t have a good domain name match, you may want to move on to the next name on your list until you find that both are available. When you’re ready to register a domain name, we can help. We can also add privacy to it, create your business website, and get you a business email address.
After coming up with a business name, make sure it doesn’t have a trademark before registering the business. Getting a trademark infringement can result in legal issues. If it happens after you’ve started the business, it can harm your brand and be very costly.
You’ll need to check to see if your business name has a trademark because the state won’t. You have a few options:
Some businesses adopt an “assumed name” if they wish to operate under a name that differs from their legal name. This name is also known as a “doing business as” (DBA) name. You’ll need to request one with the Division of Corporations. In order to do this, you’ll need to first obtain a corresponding Alaska Business License. Once you’ve done that, you’ll fill out and submit a New Business Name Registration form for a filing fee of $25.Check out our article about Alaska DBA names.
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Name an Alaska LLC registered agent in your Articles of Organization. Early in our guide, we mentioned having to get a registered agent for your business. In Alaska, all LLCs must have this agent (Alaska Statute 10.50.055). In other states, this person or entity is sometimes referred to as a resident agent, statutory agent, or agent for service of process.
A registered agent, as we mentioned above, can be either a person or an entity. Their responsibilities include receiving government notices, service of process, tax documentation, and other important documents on behalf of the business. In order to remain in good standing with the state, you must have a registered agent for the business.
The state has some rules for who can serve as a registered agent for an Alaska LLC. They include the following:
Additionally, this agent must be at their registered address during regular business hours to receive any documents on behalf of the business.
Yes, you can be your LLC’s registered agent as long as you fit the bill when it comes to the state’s rules. You may be thinking that being your own agent is great since you won’t have to worry about ever losing them. However, consider the possible downsides that come with being your own registered agent:
If you want to avoid dealing with these issues, consider hiring a registered agent service.
You can name your own registered agent in your Articles of Organization (yourself included), but due to the rules the state has set for these agents, you may want to reconsider and use a registered agent service instead. These services can be easy to find with a simple Google search. But figuring out which is best for you will take some time and research.
Look into what they specifically offer, what rates they charge, and any other important details. You can make it easier on yourself by having us appoint one for you.
If your business is ever sued, then a process server will deliver the notice in person. However, if this server can’t find your registered agent, it can result in some problems for the business. The LLC can lose its good standing status, you may pay fines, you can lose your personal liability protection and/or ability to do business in the state, or the state could dissolve your business. A lawsuit could also move forward without your knowledge since the process server was unable to deliver the notice.
If you lose your registered agent, the state gives you 30 days to appoint a new one.
We offer an Alaska registered agent service that appoints an agent to your LLC. This way, you won’t ever have to worry about losing this agent and falling out of compliance, losing your personal liability protection, having the business dissolved, etc. When this agent receives notices addressed to your LLC, you’ll find them on your online customer dashboard. Here, you can view, download, and print them whenever you want without worrying about misplacing them.
Fill out and file your Articles of Organization with the Alaska Division of Corporations. When this formation document is approved, your LLC becomes official. This is a crucial document, so make sure that all of the information on it is truthful and correct. If filing legal forms like this makes you angsty, then look into our business formation plans to make sure that everything on your formation documents is correct.
Although we can file the Articles for you, if you prefer to do it yourself, then continue on.
The Articles of Organization requires specific information in order to be approved. Here are a few details you’ll need to include in your State of Alaska LLC application:
When you’re ready to file your Alaska Articles of Organization, you can do so in two ways. To file online, you’ll go to the Division of Corporations “Filing by Entity Type” webpage and choose the LLC structure. Choose the Articles of Organization online option and follow the instructions. The good news is that you won’t need to create an account to do so.
For a mail filing, you’ll go to that same webpage and choose the Articles of Organization (PDF) option. You can print the document, fill it out, and mail it to the Division of Corporations. Both methods have a filing fee of $250. The processing time is around 10-15 business days.
After filing the Articles, you must submit an Initial Report within six months. You don’t need to pay a fee with the Initial Report. For more information on this, see our Alaska Initial Report guide.
In your Articles of Organization, you’ll be asked if you want a member-managed LLC or a manager-managed LLC. The former sees the business managed by the members and the latter sees it managed by managers.
If you decide to have a manager-managed LLC, then you and any other members must name a person (either one of the members or an outside party) to be a manager. An LLC can also have multiple managers.
Whichever management structure you choose, you’ll make this designation in the Articles of Organization and can also list it in your operating agreement.
If you have us handle filing your Articles of Organization, once the state approves your LLC, your paperwork will be available from your ZenBusiness dashboard, where you can keep it and other important paperwork digitally organized.
Once you get your physical paperwork back from the state approving your new LLC, you’ll want to keep it in a safe location along with your other important documents, such as your operating agreement, member certificates, contracts, compliance checklists, transfer ledger, etc. We offer a customized business kit to help you keep these important documents organized and looking professional.
You only need to file your Articles of Organization once. However, if changes to any of the information within the document occur, you’ll need to inform the Division of Corporations. You’ll do this by filing Alaska Articles of Amendment for a fee of $25. According to the document, you’ll need to ensure that all current biennial reports are filed and that the members/managers are up to date on the state’s records before filing the Articles of Amendment.
Check out our amendment filing service to handle this for you. You can also consider our Worry-Free Compliance service, which includes two amendment filings per year.
Draft an Alaska LLC operating agreement. This document sets the internal rules and policies of the business. You can establish these regulations however you’d like as long as you don’t violate any laws. Keep in mind that an Alaska operating agreement isn’t legally required for Alaska LLC registration. However, drafting one can serve your business’s best interests.
There’s no official comprehensive operating agreement guide to follow, so you’ll have some freedom in creating yours.
We mentioned above that LLCs aren’t legally required to have an operating agreement. The benefits of having one may convince you to do so. They include:
You’re free to create the operating agreement however you want and include whatever you feel is important to help your business run smoothly. If you’ve never put one together before and aren’t sure what to add, here are some options:
If you’re feeling unsure about how to draft an operating agreement, then check out our guided customizable template to help get you started. A chatbot is available to walk you through the process, and you can provide an e-signature of the form to finalize it.
A solid operating agreement helps the members of an LLC lay out the business’s rules and policies. If you plan to be the business’s only owner, then you might think that this document isn’t needed. After all, no one else will need to know the LLC’s rules but you, right? Consider drafting one anyway, though, since this agreement can benefit you in other ways.
One includes creating a plan of succession, as we mentioned above. As the only owner, if something happens to you, what will become of the business? Do you want it handed over to someone else, or would you prefer it be dissolved? An operating agreement can clarify your wishes.
Another reason to create an operating agreement is that it can come in handy if you ever need to convince investors or lenders to help your business. The operating agreement can show that you’ve planned your business well and have things covered. It also provides further evidence that you and the business are separate entities if someone ever tries to prove otherwise in court.
Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. An EIN, also known as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number, is like a Social Security number for your company. It identifies your business when the time comes to file taxes. It can also help you open a business bank account. We offer an EIN service to handle the process for you.
Head over to the Alaska Department of Revenue – Tax Division website. Here, you’ll find the “Tax Types” webpage that has a list of taxes that may apply to your business. Depending on your industry, you may need to file certain taxes, like an Alcoholic Beverage Tax.
You should know that Alaska does not impose a statewide sales and use tax, but local jurisdictions may have sales taxes. Learn more by exploring the Tax Division website. You can also head over to the Tax Division’s Revenue Online webpage. Here, you can sign up to pay your business taxes online.
LLCs are known for being flexible in their management, but did you know that they’re also quite flexible with their tax obligations? By default, a single-member LLC is taxed as a sole proprietorship while multi-member LLCs are taxed as partnerships. This avoids “double taxation,” in which profits are taxed at both the business level and the individual owner level. But an LLC can also elect to be taxed as a C corporation or S corporation.
A C corp designation comes with double taxation. Although this can be a drawback, some LLCs may find the benefits of a C corp election worth the double taxation. For example, C corps come with the most tax deductions.
An LLC with an S corp designation retains pass-through taxation, but it also has the potential to save money on self-employment taxes. This happens when the members become “employee-owners,” allowing you to split your income between your salary and the company’s profits. That way, you only pay the taxes earmarked for Social Security and Medicare on your salary, not on your other profits. You may have other tax liabilities regarding your profits, however.
An S corp election does have a couple of drawbacks. The IRS tends to keep a closer eye on LLCs with this election, meaning the likelihood of an audit is higher. An S corp designation is also harder to qualify for. Speak with a tax professional about your LLC’s tax liabilities. If you want to apply for S corp status in Alaska, we may be able to help you with our S corp service.
After you’ve completed the five steps in our guide, consider the following additional steps. Most are more considerations, but the Alaska LLC biennial report submission is required. Read on to learn more.
Commingling your personal and business activities into one bank account can be problematic when tax season arrives. Another problem can come up if you’re taken to court and someone claims that you and the business are the same entity since you share the same bank account.
Our discounted business bank account can help you avoid these problems. You’ll get unlimited transactions, a debit card, online banking features, and more. If you plan to allow others to access this account, then check out our banking resolution template.
Looking for a way to establish a line of credit for your business? You might want to consider getting a business credit card.
You may need some help handling your business’s finances. You can take charge of this responsibility with our help by using ZenBusiness Money. This service allows you to create invoices, track your LLC’s expenses, transfer payments, manage clients, and much more.
LLCs come with limited personal liability for their owners, but getting extra coverage may be worthwhile depending on your needs and industry. Workplace accidents and professional mishaps can happen, and when they do, you may find yourself paying heavy costs.
Discuss with the other LLC members (if any) whether additional protections are needed. Look into the many insurance companies out there that offer business coverage and see which policies have the most attractive benefits and affordability.
If you’d like more information about business insurance, visit our business insurance guide.
In Alaska, LLCs are required to file an Alaska biennial report with the Division of Corporations for a fee of $100. According to the Division of Corporations, if your LLC was formed in an even-numbered year, then your biennial report is due January 2 of every even-numbered year after. The same goes for odd-numbered years. In other words, the biennial report is due on January 2 every two years. You can file online on the Division of Corporations “Biennial Report” webpage.
We can handle this filing for you every time it’s due with our annual report service.
The following items may also apply to your business.
Only you can run your LLC, so we can’t tell you who to hire. However, we can offer some information that can help you find employees. First, if there are other members in the LLC, discuss who you want to join the team. Which skills, education, experience, and qualifications will this person need to help the business run smoothly and grow?
If you aren’t sure where to start, head over to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development website. In the “Employers” tab on the homepage, you’ll find plenty of resources and informative articles that can help you find the employees you need. You can even post a job there.
A Certificate of Compliance, also known as a Certificate of Good Standing in many states, is a form that verifies your LLC is in good standing with the state. This means that it’s been legally formed and is following the state’s rules for operation. You aren’t required to have this form to conduct business, but it can make it easier to:
If your business is out of compliance, perhaps due to being late in filing your biennial report, for example, then the state will reject your request. To get your Certificate, go to the Division of Corporations “Certificate of Compliance” webpage. Check out our article on how to get an Alaska Certificate of Compliance. If you’re ready to request one, then we can help you.
We can help
Filing business and legal documents can be nerve-racking. With our Alaska LLC formation service, you can rest assured knowing that your business formation process will be done right the first time. We offer plenty of other professional services, to help you start, run, and grow your business.
We’ll be with you all the way, whether you’re starting a king crab restaurant in Anchorage or an auto shop in Fairbanks. Reach out to us to learn more about what we can do for you.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
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You’re required to have an Alaska business license before conducting business in the state, so you’ll need to complete an Alaska Division of Corporations: Online Business License Application. You can do this online or by postal mail. In either case, the fee is $50. The Alaska LLC business license must be renewed either once a year for $50 or every two years for $100, depending on your initial application. Regardless of the date you purchased the license, it expires on December 31.
You can find more information on what types of industries require special Alaska licenses and permits on the state website. Permit and licensing fees will vary depending on your line of business and other factors.
It’s important to note that the federal government as well as your city and county could require special permits or licenses based on your industry, location, and/or other factors. You’ll want to reach out to your local government offices to find out your LLC’s requirements and research what federal and industry-specific licensing you may need.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to do all this research, or if you just want the peace of mind of knowing that you have all the licensing your LLC is legally required to have, our business license report service can do the work for you.
At a minimum, the initial cost to start an LLC in Alaska is $250 for filing your Articles of Organization, plus the Alaska business license cost of $50. There’s no filing fee for the Initial Report. You may have additional Alaska fees to pay if you reserve a business name, get a DBA, need additional licenses and permits, etc., all of which can raise the Alaska LLC cost.
By default, if your LLC consists of one person, it’s taxed as a “Disregarded Entity” at the federal level, meaning it’s taxed as a sole proprietorship. This means that profits aren’t taxed at the business level, but only when they “pass through” to become your income.
If your LLC has more than one member, it’s taxed as a partnership by default, which also means the business income is taxed at the individual owner level and not the business’s. This avoids the “double taxation” that corporations pay, in which profits are taxed at the corporate level and again when they’re paid out to the owners (“shareholders”).
Single-member LLCs don’t have to file a separate federal return for their LLC; they report the LLC income on their personal income tax return (Tax Form 1040). But LLCs with multiple members must file a separate informational federal return for the LLC, Form 1065. Then each LLC member reports their share of the profits on Schedule K-1 and attaches it to their own personal federal tax return.
Members of LLCs can also elect to be taxed as corporations. Some LLC members choose to classify their businesses as an S corporation or a C corporation, which can be advantageous in some cases. In particular, many LLCs elect to be taxed as S corporations because it can lower the amount of taxes they pay for Social Security and Medicare.
At the state level, Alaska is one of the few states without personal state income tax. So, owners of LLCs won’t pay state income tax on their earnings from the company if they’re taxed as pass-through entities. However, if they choose to be taxed as a C corporation, they’ll have to pay Alaska’s corporate income tax.
Also unlike most states, Alaska has no statewide sales tax. Certain local governments, though, may impose their own sales taxes.
Transferring ownership of an LLC can be a complicated process because, unlike corporations, you can’t simply sell shares. First, consult any established rules for transferring ownership in your operating agreement. From there, you may want to consult an attorney. See our How to Transfer LLC Ownership in Alaska guide for more information.
Writing a business plan may not be a legal requirement, but it’s an excellent idea. Business plans help entrepreneurs develop strategies to set up new companies for success. Also, without a business plan, it might be hard for you to persuade others to invest in or join your business.
Here’s an overview of Alaska LLC advantages:
LLCs have another advantage in Alaska because there’s no personal state income tax. So, the LLC’s profits won’t be subject to state income taxes at the business level or the individual level unless it chooses to be taxed as a C corporation.
Learn more about the LLC business structure and its advantages.
Online filings are often processed immediately. Filing by postal mail, though, is usually 10-15 business days, though it may take longer during busier times of the year.
No. The operating agreement is an internal document, so it doesn’t have to be filed with any government agency. Just keep it with your other important legal documents.
Alaska LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities by default. This means that the LLC itself doesn’t pay federal income taxes, but each member must pay their own income taxes on profits received from the company on their personal tax returns. This is unlike most corporations, in which profits are taxed twice, first at the business level and again at the individual shareholder level.
In some instances, it might be preferable to have an LLC taxed as a C corporation to take advantage of more tax deductions. Some LLCs elect to be taxed as an S corporation if it will save them money on self-employment taxes. These are both more complicated tax filings and should be discussed with a tax expert beforehand.
You can learn more about how these methods of taxation compare on our LLC vs. S corporation and LLC vs. C corporation pages.
In a series LLC organization, multiple LLCs operate under one larger LLC. Each company has its own rights, obligations, and assets under the umbrella company. Alaska doesn’t currently allow for a Series LLC structure.
Dissolving an LLC requires multiple steps. First, consult your operating agreement so that you can follow the rules established there for dissolving the LLC. You’ll also need to submit the Articles of Dissolution along with the requisite filing fee to the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, Corporations Section.
For more on how to dissolve an LLC in Alaska, visit our Alaska business dissolution guide.
Yes, a trade name, also known as an assumed name or DBA, can be assigned to an Alaska LLC. First, you’ll need to obtain a corresponding Alaska Business License. Then, you’ll fill out and submit a New Business Name Registration form for a small fee.
Follow the rules for removing a member established in your operating agreement. If you don’t have an operating agreement or you still have questions, consult an attorney.
Most states require LLCs to file an annual report to update the government on important information about the business. Alaska only requires a report like this once every two years. LLCs are required to file an Alaska biennial report with the Division of Corporations for a fee of $100.
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