Start a Louisiana LLC

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In Louisiana, you can enjoy good food, good jazz, alligator tours (if you dare), and new business opportunities. A great way to capitalize on business opportunities in this southern state is to start a limited liability company (LLC). 

An LLC offers plenty of perks and protections to entrepreneurs like you, but you need to make sure you form your LLC correctly. We can help you do this. With our services and the following guide, you have a solid and clear playbook to get your LLC up and running. 

Before we get started, we want to let you know that this guide is for only domestic (in-state), for-profit LLCs. There are other types of LLCs you can start in Louisiana (e.g., professional LLCs). Forming these other LLC types requires you to follow different steps we don’t cover in this article. But if you’re ready to form a domestic LLC in Louisiana, you’re in the right place.

How to Start an LLC in Louisiana

Starting an LLC in Louisiana

If you want to create an LLC in Louisiana, you have to get comfortable with paperwork. You’ll need to submit initial paperwork to register your LLC with the Louisiana Secretary of State (SOS), and you’ll need to submit reports to the SOS on a yearly basis. Your paperwork helps the state keep track of your business and make sure it’s in line with the law. Your registration paperwork also helps potential patrons confirm your business’s existence and good standing. 

There’s plenty of preparation work to do before you form your LLC. This preparation work includes choosing a name for your LLC, appointing a Louisiana registered agent, and filing Articles of Organization and an Initial Report with the Louisiana Secretary of State.

What we’ve mentioned thus far sounds like a lot, but don’t worry. We’re about to break down starting an LLC in Louisiana step by step. These steps can help you whether you’re setting up shop in the bayou or negotiating deals in the French Quarter. And once you’re ready to start, we have multiple services to make the process much easier than doing it alone. 

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LA LLC in 5 Steps

Each business has different needs, but there are five main steps to opening an LLC in Louisiana. Let’s take a look. 

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Step 1: Name your Louisiana LLC

Begin with giving your LLC a name. When you start an LLC in Louisiana, you have to let the government and the public know who you are. Your LLC’s name must go on your business formation paperwork before you submit it.

When choosing a name, your LLC must comply with several rules. You can also take optional legal actions to protect your LLC’s name. 

Official Naming Requirements for Louisiana LLCs

Let’s start with the rules you must follow when naming a Louisiana LLC. Your official LLC name must comply with the below rules:

  • The name must be different from the other entity names on record with the SOS. To cut down on the likelihood of choosing a duplicate name before you file, take a look at our Louisiana Business Entity Search page. 
  • The name must contain the phrase “limited liability company,” the initials “L.L.C.,” or the initials “L.C.”
  • The name cannot contain words that indicate an unlawful purpose or a purpose that’s against your LLC’s Articles of Organization.
  • The name cannot contain the phrase “doing business as” or the initials “d/b/a.”
  • The name cannot imply that your LLC is a local, state, or federal agency. 
  • The name cannot have words or phrases that are deceptive, immoral, or scandalous.
  • The name cannot use the words or derivatives of the words “engineer,” “engineering,” “surveyor,” or “surveying,” and it cannot use the words “insurance,” “bank,” “banker,” “banking,” “savings,” “safe deposit,” “trust,” “trustee,” “building and loan,” “homestead,” or “credit union” unless your LLC fulfills specific requirements. 

There are quite a few rules for naming your business, but you have plenty of freedom to be creative when giving your venture a moniker.

Reserving a Business Name in Louisiana

Your official LLC name is one of the many pieces of business information you must have when you register for a Louisiana LLC. So what happens if your unique LLC name is ready to go and the rest of your business isn’t? Your business name might not stay available for long, but there’s a solution to your timing problem. You can reserve your LLC name while you complete the rest of your formation documents.

Our Name Reservation Service takes the worry out of keeping your desired business name available. We make sure the name you want is available and reserve it for you so no one else can use it for 120 days. With our help, you can have nearly four extra months to put your new LLC in order and keep your name.

Get a domain name for your business

Few things happen these days without the internet. The success of your business can hang on an attractive and easy-to-find website. If your domain name doesn’t mesh well with your LLC’s name, patrons will likely have trouble finding you online, and that means less money. These are factors to think about when naming your business and choosing available domains.

Is your Louisiana LLC name available as a web domain?

Your LLC’s online presence is vital. That’s why you want to make sure that you choose an LLC name that matches an available domain name for your business. If there’s no connection between your domain name and your official name, you’re likely to have patrons who either can’t find you online or can’t find your storefront. 

What’s the best way to make sure that you have a good domain name and official LLC name combination ready for your business? Preparation is key. We can help you prepare with our Domain Name Search Tool and our Louisiana Business Entity Search. Once you find a good combination of available names, our Domain Name and Name Reservation Services can help you reserve both names. We can also help you build your business’s website.

Trademarking Your Louisiana LLC’s Name

Another consideration when choosing a business name is making sure the name isn’t trademarked by someone else. You can use the US Patent and Trademark Office’s search engine to see if anyone has trademarked your desired name on the federal level. It’s also possible to have a state trademark, one that applies only within the state’s borders. See the Louisiana SOS’s page on trade names, trademarks, and service marks to learn more about state trademarks in Louisiana. 

Filing for a Trade Name in Louisiana

Your LLC can have only one official name, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use multiple names for your business. Multiple names can help you market your LLC’s different products and services separately.

Any business name you use that’s different from your official business name is a “doing business as” (DBA) name. Louisiana calls a DBA a “trade name,” and you need to register your trade names with the SOS. 

Step 2: Appoint a registered agent in Louisiana

You must select a registered agent for your LLC. In fact, you must name your registered agent on your LLC formation documents. 

So what does a registered agent do? A registered agent is responsible for receiving service of process and other official notices for your LLC. Your registered agent must continuously remain at your LLC’s registered office in Louisiana. The state needs your registered agent to be a consistently available point of contact for your LLC’s legal and official affairs.

Who can be a registered agent in Louisiana?

Your registered agent must be a Louisiana citizen and resident or a business registered in Louisiana. If you choose a business to be your registered agent, that business’s governing documents have to authorize its registered agent role. A business that acts as a registered agent must also identify two people at its address who can fulfill the registered agent duties. 

Whatever choice you make for your registered agent, that person must be available at an address that is not a P.O. box. The registered agent must also accept their appointment in a signed and notarized statement on your formation documents. 

What if the state can’t find my Louisiana registered agent?

A court can dissolve your LLC when it can’t carry on business in conformity with its Articles of Organization. This includes a failure to maintain a registered agent and office. Without a registered agent, you also run the risk of missing important legal deadlines that could gravely affect you. If your registered office is vacated and you don’t file paperwork to change the office, the Secretary of State becomes your registered office.

You don’t want to take these risks with your business. This is why it’s essential to ensure that your registered agent is reliable and your paperwork is up to date.

Should I be my own registered agent? 

You might think you can simplify your business operations and save money by acting as your registered agent. The choice is yours, but being your own registered agent often leads to more complications than it’s worth.

One drawback of being your own registered agent is the increased likelihood of receiving embarrassing legal documents in front of patrons. Not only can this be humiliating, but it might also damage confidence in your business’s abilities. Using a separate registered agent at another location can help you avoid these risks.

Another drawback to being your own registered agent is that it can take the flexibility out of your day. Registered agents need to be constantly present at the registered office to receive notices. If you’re tethered to the office, this means you have less time to take business meetings, attend working events, scope out opportunities, etc. A separate registered agent can take on these time-consuming demands so you can travel to grow your business.

Consider using a registered agent service for your LA LLC

Does having a separate registered agent sound good to you? Are you unsure where you can find a registered agent that suits your needs? Well, you can look to us. Our Louisiana Registered Agent Service helps you locate and appoint a registered agent that meets your LLC’s needs and fulfills your legal obligations.

ZenBusiness can provide your registered agent

Our Registered Agent Service can make finding a compliant and reliable registered agent for your LLC a snap. Our service can keep you from getting in trouble with the state and missing important legal notices.

Our services also give the added bonus of helping you stay organized. If we provide you with a registered agent, that registered agent stores all documents they receive for you on an easily accessible dashboard. You can access and print documents from this dashboard whenever you need them.

Step 3: File Louisiana Articles of Organization

To start your LLC, file Articles of Organization and an Initial Report with the Louisiana Secretary of State. After submitting these documents, you can choose to have your LLC start immediately or within 30 days of their submission.

If you’re nervous about filing your formation documents correctly, we can do it for you. Our Business Formation Service files the proper LLC formation paperwork on your behalf. We can get you started in minutes for $49 plus Louisiana’s filing fees. With the time and worry you save using our services, you can focus on putting the other pieces of your business together for opening day.

Although we have you covered, let’s go over the basic filing steps below.

Create a geauxBIZ account to file Articles of Organization and an Initial Report

You can file for an LLC in Louisiana online through Louisiana’s geauxBiz online portal. After creating a geauxBIZ account, you will submit your Articles of Organization, Initial Report, and the accompanying $100 filing fee. 

Information Needed for Louisiana Articles of Organization

Here’s a quick roundup of the information you will need to provide in your Articles of Organization: 

  • Your LLC’s official name
  • Your LLC’s purpose (if you want some flexibility, you can say its purpose is to engage in any activities that are lawful for LLCs)
  • Your LLC’s status regarding whether it’s low profit
  • The notarized signature(s) of whoever submits the document

The state of Louisiana doesn’t give them a specific name, but many states call the individuals who sign and submit Articles of Organization “organizers.” For more information on organizers, visit our LLC organizer information page

The above list is the bare minimum of what your Articles of Organization must contain. Louisiana law allows you to add more information to your Articles of Organization. And depending on the nature of your LLC’s business, you might need to include other information. 

Member-Managed or Manager-Managed?

Members are the default managers of a Louisiana LLC. Most LLCs choose to be managed by the members because they only have a few owners or just one. In those cases, it usually makes sense for the LLC owner(s) to do member-management because they’re running the business themselves. All of the owners are sharing in running the business and making decisions for it.

But some LLCs prefer to appoint or hire a manager instead. In the manager-managed option, one or more LLC members can be appointed to make management decisions, or someone from outside the LLC can be hired to manage the company.

Manager-management can be helpful when some of the members only wish to be investors in the company as opposed to running the business and making decisions about it. LLCs that have a lot of members also sometimes find it easier to have a manager because it’s difficult to get all the members together to make decisions on a regular basis.

Information Needed for a Louisiana Initial Report

When you create an LLC in Louisiana, You have to file an Initial Report at the same time you file your Articles of Organization. An Initial Report must include:

  • The address (not just a P.O. box) of your LLC’s registered office
  • The name and address (not just a P.O. box) of each registered agent
  • A signed and notarized affidavit from each registered agent that states they accept the position
  • The names and addresses (not just P.O. boxes) of your managers or members
  • The signature(s) of whoever signed the Articles of Organization

If you don’t know who your managers are when filing your formation paperwork, you must file a supplementary report with their names and information as soon as you select them.

Businesses rarely stay the same over time, so if you need to make changes to your business, you can file amendment documents with the SOS. And if you don’t want to file the amendment paperwork on your own, we can file business amendments for you with our Amendment Filing Service. We also offer a Worry-Free Compliance Service that keeps track of your compliance deadlines and takes care of two amendment filings per year.

Step 4: Create an operating agreement

Write your own business operations rules for your LLC in an Operating Agreement. An Operating Agreement is an agreement between your LLC members (or owners) about how to run and manage ownership of your LLC. 

Louisiana law doesn’t require you to write an Operating Agreement. However, you will have to conduct your business according to the state’s default rules if you don’t write an Operating Agreement. Louisiana’s default rules might not gel with your business needs, so it’s best to write as many of your own rules as you can.

Benefits of LA LLC Operating Agreements

Writing an Operating Agreement is a way to maximize your control over your business. An Operating Agreement can also provide the following benefits:

  • Sets clear expectations and boundaries for management of the business
  • Helps members and managers end conflicts peacefully by laying out detailed protocols for resolving disagreements
  • Establishes the percentage of ownership each member holds
  • Determines how profits will be divided among members
  • Sets clear rules about when you can and cannot dissolve the business

Do I need an Operating Agreement even if I’m the only owner?

An Operating Agreement isn’t legally necessary, but it’s a good idea regardless of how many members your LLC has. A good Operating Agreement can protect you financially and legally.

By writing an operating agreement now, you can have solid business rules in place if you ever choose to bring in new members. Drafting an Operating Agreement after acquiring new members instead of before can be an unnecessarily difficult experience. You might also need an Operating Agreement to persuade investors or open business bank accounts.

What should I include in my LLC Operating Agreement?

You can customize as much or as little about your business operations as you want in your Operating Agreement. However, you might want your agreement to address:

  • Rules for accepting new members. Under the default rules, there must be unanimous, written consent from all LLC members before a new individual can become a member. If this is too stringent for your business, an Operating Agreement can change it. 
  • Rules for sharing profits and losses among members. Without a provision in your Operating Agreement, members have to share profits and losses equally.
  • Rules for how to run the LLC. Your Operating Agreement can dictate what kind of powers and responsibilities each person in management will have.
  • Rules for dissolving and winding up your LLC. With your Operating Agreement, you can identify specific events that will trigger the termination of your LLC. By identifying these events in an Operating Agreement, you don’t have to wait for member consent or a judicial dissolution before you shutter your business.

Writing a document as important as an Operating Agreement is easier when you have a solid outline. Our customizable Louisiana Operating Agreement Template can help you get the ball rolling on writing your own business rules.

Step 5: Apply for an EIN

Prepare your LLC to pay its federal taxes by getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN comes from the IRS, and it’s the identification number LLCs must use for paying their taxes if they have more than one member, have employees, or operate in certain ways.

Even if you run a single-member LLC without employees, having an EIN is in your best interest. Your EIN is like a social security number, and it prevents you from having to put your sensitive personal information on LLC tax filings and business applications. You will also likely need an EIN to open a business bank account.

Of course, obtaining your EIN involves filling out more paperwork, but that’s another task you can hand off to us. Our Employer ID Number Service quickly handles obtaining an EIN for your LLC so you can comply with your federal tax obligations.

Can filing as an S corp lower my taxes?

The LLC business structure gives you more flexibility than a corporation. One of those flexibilities is how you can choose to have your LLC taxed.

By default, an LLC has pass-through taxation. This appeals to most owners of LLCs because it avoids “double taxation,” in which a corporation pays taxes at both the business level and again when the income is paid to the individual owners. But some LLCs opt to be taxed as a C corporation or an S corporation because, in their case, it works to their advantage.

Being taxed as a C corporation does mean you get double taxation, but, for certain LLCs, the pros can sometimes outweigh the cons. One benefit is that C corporations have the widest range of tax deductions, which could be an advantage in some scenarios, especially for more profitable LLCs. For example, insurance premiums can be written off as a business expense.

S corp is short for “Subchapter S Corporation” and is a tax status geared toward small businesses. Having your LLC taxed as an S corp has pass-through taxation like a standard LLC, but there’s another potential advantage for some LLCs: It could reduce your self-employment taxes. 

Self-employment taxes are the portion of your taxes that pay for Social Security and Medicare. In a typical LLC, you would pay these on all of your profits.

But filing as an S corp allows you to be an “employee-owner” and split your income into your salary and your share of the company’s profits. In this way, you pay employment taxes on your salary, but not self-employment taxes on your profits. (You’ll still pay the other applicable taxes on your LLC profits, of course.)

The drawback is that the Internal Revenue Service scrutinizes S corps more closely, meaning you’re more likely to get audited. S corps also have more restrictions for qualifying.

While it’s possible that one of the above options could work better for your LLC, remember that business taxes are very, very complicated. They’re also very specific to your situation. That’s why you truly need to consult a tax professional to see which taxing method works best for your Louisiana business.

If you decide to form your LLC with an S corp status, our S corp service can help you do that.

Register for Louisiana business taxes

There’s a good chance your LLC will need to pay a number of local and state business taxes. Common state business taxes and fees include:

  • Income taxes
  • Franchise taxes
  • Sales taxes
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Withholding taxes

You can set up state tax account and unemployment insurance account numbers through the Louisiana geauxBIZ portal.

We can help

New Orleans, Shreveport, Lafayette, Baton Rouge. Wherever you are in Louisiana, your opportunities for starting the next great business are without limit. You might even want to try your hand in popular Louisiana industries such as tourism or real estate. Whatever you choose, we have the tools to help you. 

If you need quick and accurate help for starting an LLC in Louisiana, take advantage of our online business formation services. And we don’t leave you at the start line. Once your LLC is up and running, we have business support services that can take the worry out of operating your business from start to finish. 

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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