Have you been thinking of starting a new business? Whether you want to open a flower shop or make your online freelancing business official, forming a limited liability company (LLC) can help give your business legitimacy and protect you from legal liability.
We’re going to be straight with you — forming an LLC in Indiana involves jumping through a few legal hoops. However, our team is full of LLC experts who are here to hold your hand through every step.
Here, we’ll cover the five principal phases of getting an LLC up and running in the Hoosier State. By following this guide, you’ll be ready to open up shop in no time — at a surprisingly low cost. Once you’ve formed your new Indiana LLC, you can focus on growing your business. Let’s dive in.
Starting an LLC in Indiana requires filing Articles of Organization with the Indiana Secretary of State. To help make your life easier, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide. Along the way, we’ll also show you how our various services can help.
Step 1: Name Your Indiana LLC
When choosing a name for your LLC, you need to ensure that it is unique from any other business in the state of Indiana. You can do a quick business search by following the instructions on our Business Entity Search for Indiana page. There, you can verify that the LLC name you want is available.
After finding your name, you can choose to reserve a business name before forming your LLC by using our business name reservation service. Once you submit your name reservation, the Indiana government will hold the name for 120 days. If you want to extend your reservation for 120 more days, you can pay an additional fee.
To comply with Indiana state law, your company’s name must end with the words “Limited Liability Company” or one of two abbreviations, “LLC” or “L.L.C.” According to the Secretary of State, nothing in the LLC’s name can state or imply that the business’s purpose is different from the stated purpose in the LLC’s Articles of Organization.
After looking up names on the Secretary of State’s website, you can check whether your desired domain name is available. While many top-level domains exist — “.co,” “.net,” etc. — there’s nothing like getting the “.com” stamp of legitimacy to give some credibility to your business. We have a tool to help you do a preliminary domain name search, and our domain name registration service can help you secure the online name that will best serve your business.
Next, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office search trademark database to see whether anyone has already registered a federal trademark for your desired business name. If the name is taken, you may need to find another name for your LLC to avoid legal problems. There are also trademarks that happen at the state level. To find out whether your desired name is trademarked in Indiana or apply for a state trademark of your own, go to the Indiana Secretary of State website page for trademarks.
While you don’t need a trademark to start doing business, registering your business’s name and logo can help prevent others from copying you.
Please note that you should also do this if you are interested in using a DBA or “Doing Business As” name in Indiana. A DBA is another name to use for your business. This will also need to be registered with the Secretary of State and County Recorder.
Step 2: Appoint a registered agent in Indiana
The state of Indiana requires every LLC to have a registered agent for service of process. Indiana registered agents physically accept correspondence from the Indiana Secretary of State and legal documents on the company’s behalf. Your registered agent can be a resident of the state of Indiana or a business entity authorized to do business in Indiana so long as the agent has a physical street address within the state.
Some new business owners assume they should appoint themselves as their company’s registered agent. However, this approach may have hidden dangers. For example, you could be in the middle of a meeting or client presentation when a process server walks in to deliver a giant stack of court documents, embarrassing you and derailing the meeting. Working with an outside registered agent service can help you focus on your business with reduced stress. Additional benefits of hiring an outside registered agent service like ours include:
- Working when it’s convenient for you (your Indiana registered agent must be available during regular business hours)
- Not having to change your registered office address with the state if you move
- Ensuring you stay compliant with the legal requirements for having a registered agent
Step 3: File Indiana Articles of Organization
To create your LLC in the state of Indiana, you’ll need to file the Articles of Organization with the Indiana Secretary of State and pay a filing fee. Filing official government documents like this can be intimidating and/or complicated for many people, which is why we’re here. With our business formation plans, our team of professionals handles the filing for you to make sure it’s done quickly and correctly the first time. But, although we can handle this for you, we’ll show you how the process works below.
To complete the Articles of Organization, you’ll need to know the following information:
- The name and address of your LLC
- The name and address of your company’s registered agent
- Whether the LLC’s duration will be perpetual or for a specified period
- Whether the LLC will be member-managed (managed by the LLC’s owners) or manager-managed (managed by a manager appointed by the LLC owners)
- The signature of the organizer
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.
By now you’re realizing how often you’ll need to supply an address for your new business. That can be unsettling for some business owners, especially those running their business from home. In instances where you’re not required to give the registered agent address or official principal address for your business, a virtual business address can come in handy.
With our virtual business address service, we supply you with a physical street address where you can have your mail sent without divulging your real address to more people than necessary. Then we can send that mail to the address of your choice.
Step 4: Create an operating agreement
Operating agreements outline the rules and procedures for the management of the LLC. However, unlike corporations, LLCs can customize their internal practices to fit the needs of the business. Your Indiana operating agreement also makes your business more legitimate and helps protect the LLC’s owners (members) from liability. While Indiana doesn’t require you to file an operating agreement, if you don’t have one, background Indiana state law applies to your company and determines how you must run your business. You should keep your operating agreement with your other business documents so you can refer to it easily.
Typical concepts in an LLC operating agreement may include:
- Procedures for admitting or removing LLC members
- Allocation of profits and ownership
- Management structure and voting requirements
- Dissolution and winding up of the LLC
If you’re not sure as to how to go about creating an operating agreement for your LLC, we have a customizable template to help get you started.
Step 5: Apply for an EIN
Unless you’re a single-member LLC without employees (and sometimes even then), you’ll likely need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Even if you don’t legally need an EIN, getting one can help you open a business bank account or obtain credit to grow your business.
You can get your Indiana LLC’s EIN through the IRS website, by mail, or by fax, but if you’re unfond of dealing with that particular government agency, we can get it for you. Our EIN service eliminates the hassle.
If your company has employees or collects sales tax, you may need to register your LLC with the Indiana Department of Revenue. For instructions on how to register your business, visit the INBiz website.
Every Indiana LLC (and foreign LLCs doing business in Indiana) must file a biennial Business Entity Report with the Indiana Secretary of State. The biennial report contains basic information like your LLC’s name, filing date, and registered agent information.
You’ll need to submit your report every other year in the anniversary month of your business’s formation. For example, if you created your LLC on Aug. 13, 2020, you would need to file your biennial report in August of every even year (2022, 2024, etc.). There are separate fees for filing online or by mail.
We can help you with your Business Entity Report in a couple of ways. Our annual report service will help you file your Business Entity Report, and our Worry Free Compliance service not only helps with filing your report, but also sends you other important compliance reminders and helps you with two amendment filings each year.
Once you’ve secured an EIN, you’ll be able to open a business bank account. Having separate accounts for your business and your personal banking is critical for sorting out your finances at tax time and helps you avoid commingling funds. Commingling funds can not only make your taxes more difficult, but it could also be used against you if someone takes you to court to challenge whether you and your LLC are truly separate entities (i.e., they want to sue you for not just your business assets, but also your personal assets).
We offer a discounted bank account for your new business. This allows for unlimited transactions, online banking, a debit card, and more. When you want to authorize others in your business to use the account, we offer a banking resolution template to simplify the process.
For further help managing your new business’s finances, try the ZenBusiness Money App. It can help you create invoices, receive payments, transfer money, and manage clients all in one place.
Indiana LLC FAQs
How much does it cost to start an LLC in Indiana?
The state fees for forming an Indiana LLC can range from $95 to $120, depending on factors such as your method of filing and whether you choose to reserve your business name. Note that fees change over time, so you should check the Indiana Secretary of State website for the most recent fee schedule.
What are the benefits of an LLC in Indiana?
The benefits of forming an Indiana LLC include:
- Separating and limiting your personal liabilities from your business debts and obligations
- Quick and simple filing, management, compliance, and administration of your Indiana LLC
- Easy tax filing and potential tax advantages
Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure.
How is an Indiana LLC taxed?
LLCs are typically considered “pass-through entities,” meaning they are not subject to corporate taxes. Instead, the profits are passed through to the owner’s personal income, and the responsibility to pay income taxes falls only on the individual; in a typical corporation, profits are taxed at both the business level and the individual owners’ level. In Indiana, LLCs are treated as pass-through entities for both federal and state income taxes.
Those who purchase any of our plans get a free accounting consultation and tax assessment from our specialists to receive helpful resources and no-obligation recommendations around your bookkeeping, accounting, and tax needs.
What is the processing time to form my Indiana LLC?
If you file a paper application, processing usually takes five to seven business days. However, if you file online, you’ll often receive a stamped copy of your Articles of Organization within 24 hours.
Do I need to file an operating agreement with the state of Indiana?
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. Like most states, Indiana doesn’t require LLCs to draft or adopt an operating agreement.
What tax structure should I choose for my Indiana LLC?
When you get an EIN, you’ll choose between the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect pass-through taxation, where the LLC’s members are only taxed once on their earnings. If you select corporate taxation, you’ll be taxed twice on your profits — once at the entity level and then at the individual level when you file your yearly tax returns.
Does Indiana allow a Series LLC?
In a Series LLC, multiple categories of LLC interests have distinct ownership, rights, and legal obligations. Many owners use Series LLCs to protect separate business units from cross-liability. Although not many states permit a Series LLC to be formed, Indiana does.
Which licenses and insurance are required for an LLC in Indiana?
INBiz has a list of state permits and business licenses your LLC may need to obtain to remain compliant with Indiana state law. Licensing also happens at the federal and local levels, and different industries require different licenses and permits. Be sure to research what licensing your business needs.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to do all this research, or if you just want the security of knowing that your business has all the licenses and permits it’s legally required to have, our business license report service can do the work for you.
For questions about what insurance you need for your LLC in Indiana, contact the Indiana Department of Insurance.