Do LLCs have stock?

No, LLCs do not have stock; they have ownership interests represented by membership shares or units.

Starts at $0 + state fees and only takes 5-10 minutes

Excellent 4.8 out of 5 stars 15,656 reviews

Whether you are starting your own LLC or joining one, you may be wondering, “Can an LLC issue stock?” 

So, do LLCs have stock? No. Unlike corporations, the ownership of an LLC isn’t divided into portions that are easily bought and sold. The ownership percentages of an LLC are sometimes called “ownership interests” or “ownership units.”

The owners of a limited liability company (LLC) are called “members.” When the LLC is formed, the members decide how ownership will be divided among them and put that into an operating agreement along with how profits will be divided, how decisions will be made, how the company will be run, the procedure for adding and removing members, and many other important rules for the LLC.

The ownership of a corporation is measured in stocks. Stocks are types of security that show ownership interest in a certain company. Often, companies sell stock to generate capital and expand. Preferred stocks are similar, although this is hybrid security. While equity is still involved, there is a combination of both stocks and bonds.

When you start a business, it’s important to consider the various financial components involved in the process. Keep reading to learn more about stocks, corporations, and LLCs. 

Does an LLC have shares?

Shares are essentially the same thing as stocks, and the terms are used interchangeably. Put simply, LLCs do not have shares. The only businesses with shares are those structured as a corporation. With an LLC, ownership looks different. Instead, it’s determined by ownership percentage.

How the ownership of an LLC is divided is determined by its members. Unlike a corporation, an LLC has much more flexibility in how ownership of the company and the profits are divided. In a corporation, the number of shares one has is directly proportional to how much of the company they own and how much of the profits they receive. In an LLC, members can use the operating agreement to spell out exactly how ownership and profits are divided. For instance, a member who contributes half of the initial funds for the LLC doesn’t necessarily have to own half of the company or take half of the profits.

Can an LLC issue stock?

An LLC can’t issue stock. If someone wants to buy into or otherwise join the LLC, they would have to do so under the conditions the existing members have established in the operating agreement. For example, many operating agreements specify that all members must vote in agreement before a new member can be added.

Are there shareholders in an LLC?

Since an LLC can’t issue shares, there are no shareholders. As mentioned earlier, those who have ownership in an LLC are called members. The portion of the LLC they own is usually called a membership interest or membership unit.

How Corporations Work

Corporations issue “authorized shares” to company shareholders. Corporations must record the number of issued shares on a balance sheet and list the shares under owners’ equity or capital stock. Corporations must then list the number of issued shares to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in their quarterly filings.

Issued shares include the stock that the company publicly sells, which generates capital, and the stocks given to insiders as part of their compensation packages. Stock shares are only issued once.

After they’re first issued, investors can sell shares to other investors. Companies can also buy back their own stock. Afterward, the shares are listed as “issued” even though they will become “treasury shares.”

Entities That Can Issue Stock

Only corporations can issue stock. In fact, all corporations, public or private, are required to issue stock. While LLCs can’t issue stock, they may be able to issue bonds. However, this is a more complex process. Stocks are how ownership occurs with corporations. 

When a corporation is formed, it must issue a certain number of shares. “Authorized shares” are what is known as the number of shares the corporation can issue. The proportion of ownership is the number of shares held by an individual shareholder, then divided by the number of total issued shares. 

We can help!

Whether you want to start your dream business as an LLC or a corporation, our business formation services can help. We can get you started today for as little as $0 down. You read that right — with ZenBusiness, you can get started for free. And, we have many other services to help you run and grow your business.

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.

LLC Stock FAQs

  • An LLC can’t sell stock. Selling all or part of an LLC is a more involved and personalized experience. The terms of selling an LLC should be specified in the operating agreement.

  • Limited liability companies don’t issue stock or stock certificates. Though not required, some LLCs issue membership certificates to the members to indicate how much of the LLC each owns. But these certificates should merely reflect what’s already established in the LLC’s operating agreement.

  • An LLC can’t issue stock. Therefore, there’s no common stock for an LLC. Instead, they have owners known as members.

Start Your LLC Today