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If you’ve decided to start an LLC in Kentucky — congratulations! Creating your own company can be an exciting time. However, figuring out the legal requirements and steps you need to take to form a Kentucky LLC can seem overwhelming at first.
Luckily, forming a limited liability company (LLC) in Kentucky is an affordable and relatively straightforward process once you understand all the steps you’ll need to take. Of course, you can always consult professional help along the way to take some burden off you.
To help, we’ve created this simple step-by-step guide to walk you through the LLC formation process in the Bluegrass State. We’ll discuss the steps you’ll need to take and direct you through each one in detail. We’ll also explain how the right LLC partner can help speed up the formation process, so you can have your Kentucky business up and running in no time.
We know that your priority as a new business owner is to grow and market your Kentucky Limited Liability Company — so allow this guide to demystify the LLC formation process for you.
To start your LLC in Kentucky, you’ll register your new company with the Secretary of State. This allows your business’s information to become public to Kentucky, allowing the government to reach out regarding new regulations or important business communications.
Before you can file this paperwork and register your LLC, you’ll need to do some legwork. You’ll start by deciding on your LLC’s official name. You’ll also want to choose a registered agent to receive legal notices, create an operating agreement to dictate your company’s operating structure, and set up your business with the IRS.
We’ll take you through each of these requirements and show you how to start an LLC in Kentucky.
Choosing a name for your LLC in Kentucky is the first step. One of the most important decisions you’ll make when launching your Kentucky LLC is deciding on your company’s name. Your name needs to achieve a few goals. It should be distinct and memorable, sums up your products or services, and follows all Kentucky government regulations.
You may already have a name in mind for your business. We recommend making a list of three to five names that you might like to use. Even if you’ve thought of a name you like, you need to research to find out if another company in Kentucky already uses that name.
Your LLC name must be unique in Kentucky, so you’ll need to check existing business names by conducting a business name search to ensure there are no conflicts. To do this, consult our Kentucky Business Entity Search page. Once you find a name that’s available, move on to the next step.
In Kentucky, you must add an LLC designator to the end of your official company name. This means that you’ll need to add a designator like “LLC” or “Limited Liability Company” to the end of your business name. You can find a full list of all acceptable designators below.
Once you’ve decided on a name and designator, you have the option to reserve it to ensure that no one else registers it before you. Kentucky allows you to reserve a business name for 120 days for a fee. If you’d rather not deal with this process yourself, we have a business name reservation service that can handle it for you. As part of the service, we also check to see if your desired name is available.
You’ll likely want to use your LLC name on a website, too. Double-check through a domain name search on whether it’s available, and have someone like us reserve your website domain name once you’ve made your choice.
If you want your LLC to operate under a name other than its legal name, you’ll need a DBA or “Doing Business As” name. To see if the DBA in Kentucky you want is available, use the same process above. Then file a Certificate of Assumed Name with the Kentucky Secretary of State. Our DBA service can handle this for you.
Finally, to make sure you’re entirely in the clear with your desired business name, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to make sure your business name or logo isn’t already federally trademarked. Trademarks can also happen at the state level, so you’ll also want to make sure that no state trademarks exist on your planned LLC name. To find out more and/or apply for a state trademark, go to the Kentucky Secretary of State website page for trademarks.
Now that you’ve named your LLC, you’re ready to assign a Kentucky registered agent. Your registered agent will receive important legal notices (such as subpoenas) and also act as a third party between you and the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office, passing along important communications and paperwork.
All Kentucky LLCs must assign a registered agent. You can work with an individual or company, as long as they have a registered office located in Kentucky and can be found during normal business hours. This must be a physical Kentucky address and not a P.O. box.
Sometimes, LLC members decide to act as their own registered agent. While that’s perfectly legal under Kentucky law, it’s not always recommended. Since registered agents can be served legal documents, like service of process, this means that when acting as your agent, you could receive a summons for a lawsuit in front of clients.
For these reasons, many LLCs decide to partner with an outside registered agent service that can receive paperwork on your company’s behalf. Hiring registered agent services in Kentucky is generally affordable, as well.
Some other benefits of working with an outside registered agent service like ours include:
Next, you’ll want to file articles of organization and register your business with Kentucky. 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 professionals will file for you to make sure it’s done quickly and correctly. But, although we can handle this for you, we’ll show you how the process works below.
To officially register your LLC, you’ll need to fill out the Kentucky Articles of Organization form. You’ll need to provide the below information:
You’ll also need to pay a fee when filing online or via the mail. For those who choose to mail it in, you can send it to:
Office of the Secretary of State
P.O. Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602
If you have us handle filing your Kentucky LLC 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 your LLC’s formation documents in a safe location along with other important documents. These can include legal documents like 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.
In Kentucky, operating agreements are highly recommended but not a requirement. Your operating agreement clearly defines how your LLC is owned and structured, detailing how financial decisions are made and how employees are managed.
Even if you’re forming an LLC where you’re the sole member, it might be good to construct an operating agreement. This agreement can help protect you if you’re incapacitated or unable to run your business for any reason. Without an agreement, you’ll default to Kentucky LLC law, which might not reflect your LLC’s best interests.
Let’s look at a few other key benefits of creating an LLC operating agreement.
While you don’t have to file your operating agreement with Kentucky, you should still make sure it covers all your bases. Unsure how to create an operating agreement for your LLC? We offer a customizable template to help you start.
Now that you’ve registered your LLC in Kentucky and created your operating agreement, you’re ready to register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You’ll start this process by registering for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Think of your LLC’s EIN as your company’s Social Security number. This allows the government to easily identify your LLC, file taxes, hire employees, and open business bank accounts.
Sometimes a single-member LLC with no employees isn’t required to secure an EIN, providing they fall within the IRS’s parameters. But even those who aren’t legally required to have an EIN can benefit from having one because using an EIN can build business credit and help protect against identity theft, as you won’t be using your Social Security number for business purposes. Banks often require you to have an Employer Identification Number to open a business bank account.
You can get your LLC’s EIN through the IRS website, by mail, or by fax, but if you’re not fond of dealing with that particular government agency, we can get it for you. Our EIN service is quick and eliminates the hassle.
Once you’ve secured an Employer Identification Number, 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).
Now you know to get an LLC in KY. In addition to our formation services, 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.
The state fees for forming a Kentucky LLC can range from $40 to $55, depending on factors such as whether you choose to reserve your business name. Note that fees change over time, so check the Kentucky Secretary of State website for the most recent fees.
Of course, these fees don’t take into consideration the time or effort you’ll need to spend filing them and making sure your information is correct. You will also need to file your Kentucky annual report each year, which should be submitted with a filing fee.
We can help you with your annual report in a couple of ways. Our annual report service will help you file your annual report, and our Worry Free Compliance service not only helps with filing your annual report, but also sends you other important compliance reminders and helps you with two amendment filings each year.
LLCs are a popular business structure for many reasons. This type of business allows for flexibility in management while offering personal financial and legal protections. LLCs are also fairly straightforward to set up.
Here are a few reasons forming an LLC in Kentucky is an excellent choice:
Want to learn more about the benefits of forming an LLC? Check out our LLC guide for more information.
As already noted, Kentucky LLC owners are exempt from double taxation. Of course, there are other tax requirements you’ll need to be aware of. An experienced accountant or tax specialist can come in handy here to ensure you make the best tax decisions and are tax-compliant.
Here are a few additional tax requirements you’ll need to keep in mind.
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. Read our small business taxes guide for more information.
If you file your Articles of Organization online with the commonwealth of Kentucky, your request is generally processed within minutes and active within 24 hours. If you file through the mail, your request may take longer to process.
No, you are not required to file an operating agreement in Kentucky, although the law strongly encourages all LLCs to create one.
Most LLC owners decide to have their business taxed the default way, which is as a sole proprietorship (for single-member LLCs) or a partnership (for multi-member LLCs). This method only requires members to pay taxes on their percentage of their profits on their personal tax returns. The LLC itself is not taxed. This avoids the “double taxation” that corporate shareholders pay, in which profits are taxed both at the business level and the personal level.
If your LLC is large or has particularly high earnings, it may make sense to file your taxes as a corporation instead. It’s important to understand the tax distinctions before making this decision. You should reach out to an experienced accountant.
Kentucky does not allow you to form a Series LLC. A Series LLC, which is essentially several child LLCs operating under one parent LLC, is an intriguing business structure for many entrepreneurs. Still, many states in the U.S. do not allow for this type of company.
While Kentucky does not require a general business license for your LLC to operate, some industries have different requirements. You’ll need to make sure your LLC has all the licenses and permits it’s required to have by law. Unfortunately, because licensing varies by industry and location and can occur on the federal, state, and local levels, there’s no central place to check to see if you have all the business licenses and permits you need. You’ll have to do some research.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to do all this research, or if you just want the peace of mind to know that your LLC has all the business licenses and permits it’s legally required to have, our business license report service can do the work for you.
Before starting the dissolution process, the members of an LLC should vote to dissolve it. For the subsequent steps please refer to our Kentucky business dissolution guide.