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Last updated: 1/23/24
Louisiana attracts people from around the world with its music, food, culture, and, of course, Mardi Gras. And where you have people, you have business opportunities. A great way to capitalize on those opportunities in the Pelican State is to start a Louisiana limited liability company.
An LLC, short for a limited liability company, is a pretty popular choice for starting a business, and here’s why — it’s like getting the best of both worlds. You see, it combines the tax perks and operational flexibility you’d find in a sole proprietorship or partnership with something special: liability protection, similar to a big corporation. So, what does that mean? Well, it means that if you’re a member, which is what they call owners in an LLC, your personal assets, like your car and savings, are usually safe from any debts or problems the business might run into. It’s like having a safety net for your personal stuff while you’re out there hustling with your Louisiana business.
But starting a Louisana LLC isn’t necessarily a king cake walk. Louisiana offers a lot of wonderful things to its residents, but it also offers an excessive amount of red tape.
In this article, we’ll show you how to get an LLC in Louisiana. Before we get started, we want to let you know that this guide is for only domestic (in-state), for-profit LLCs. If you want to start a foreign (out-of-state) LLC, a low-profit LLC, a corporation, a foreign corporation, or some other business entity, you may need to follow different steps that 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.
LLC requirements vary state by state so it’s important that you are well-versed in Louisiana laws before proceeding. Generally, it comes down to these steps:
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.
Each business has different needs, but there are five main steps to opening an LLC in Louisiana. Let’s take a look.
Begin by 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 Louisiana naming rules for LLCs. Otherwise, your LLC filing will be rejected.
Let’s start with the rules you must follow when naming an LLC in Louisiana. Your official LLC name must comply with the following:
For a complete list of Louisiana naming rules, see Louisiana RS §12:1306. Despite these regulations, you still have plenty of freedom to be creative when naming your new venture.
Once you have a business name you like, most states give you the option to reserve it for a set amount of time for a small fee. This is ideal if you’ve found the perfect name but aren’t quite ready to file the rest of your LLC paperwork.
Louisiana is different, though. If you’re filing online, you’re required to reserve your name before completing your Articles of Organization. You’ll do this through “geauxBIZ,” Louisiana’s online system for registering new businesses.
You’ll first need to create a geauxBIZ account. From there, you’ll follow the online instructions to reserve a business name. The reservation is good for 120 days and costs a small fee. The reservation can be expedited for an additional fee.
The upside to this is that this system allows you to know for certain that your desired LLC name is available before you file your Articles of Organization, thus eliminating the possibility of the filing being rejected for having an unacceptable name.
Before you make a final decision on your business name, though, you still have more factors to consider.
In today’s dynamic business landscape, the significance of having a business website and securing an appropriate domain name that aligns with your Louisiana LLC’s name can’t be overstated. It’s a strategic imperative that can profoundly impact your LLC’s growth and success.
First, your business website acts as a virtual storefront, a gateway through which potential clients and customers perceive your LLC. It embodies your professional image and credibility. A well-designed, user-friendly website reinforces the legitimacy of your business, instilling trust and confidence among visitors. It serves as an accessible information hub, available 24/7, allowing prospective clients to explore your offerings, obtain crucial contact details, and even make inquiries or purchases at their convenience. Moreover, a website extends your market reach beyond geographical constraints. Whether your target audience resides in the heart of New Orleans or spans the entirety of Louisiana, your online presence transcends borders, enabling you to connect with a diverse clientele and fostering business growth.
Secondly, your website is a potent marketing tool. It provides a platform to showcase your LLC’s strengths, present client testimonials, and share success stories. Beyond that, it serves as the cornerstone of your branding efforts, allowing you to establish a unique identity in the market. Additionally, your website is a gateway to various online marketing strategies, such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media integration, and email marketing, further expanding your reach and attracting a broader audience.
To maximize the impact of your online presence, securing a domain name that mirrors your LLC’s name is paramount. A matching domain name enhances brand consistency, reduces the risk of confusion, and simplifies online discoverability. It helps ensure that potential clients can easily find you and connect with your business in a digital world brimming with choices.
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. Once you find a good name, our domain name service can help you secure your domain name. We can also help you build your business’s website.
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Even if the SOS approves your business name, that’s no guarantee that someone else hasn’t already claimed it with a federal or state trademark. To truly check to see if your business name isn’t trademarked is difficult because there’s no one central place to check. Some businesses even employ an attorney specializing in trademarks to see if they’re in the clear.
You can take some measures yourself, like searching the trademark database on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. This can help you determine if someone’s already claimed a federal trademark on the name you want.
State trademarks are applicable only within the borders of a state. To find out if your desired name has been trademarked at the state level, contact the Louisiana SOS. If you want, you can also apply for your own state trademark.
In addition to checking these databases, it’s wise to do extensive internet searches for your business name, including checking domain names, social media sites, and online phone directories.
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.
You must select a Louisiana registered agent for your LLC. In fact, you must name your registered agent on your LLC formation documents.
A registered agent, also known as an agent for service of process, is indispensable when forming an LLC in Louisiana. Beyond receiving legal paperwork, they are your LLC’s vital connection to the legal system. Responsible for promptly receiving service of process and official notices, such as lawsuits or state notifications, they help ensure that your business stays compliant and informed. Their consistent availability at your Louisiana-based registered office during business hours is crucial to swiftly handle time-sensitive documents. Since some notices require in-person delivery, it’s essential that the registered office is a physical Louisiana address, not a P.O. box. Selecting a dependable registered agent is crucial for maintaining your LLC’s compliance and safeguarding its legal standing.
Your registered agent must be a Louisiana citizen and resident or a company authorized to conduct business 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.
The registered agent must accept their appointment in a signed and notarized statement on your formation documents. If filing online, the registered agent must consent to the appointment within seven days.
Some business owners think that serving as their own registered agent is the simplest way to meet Louisiana’s agent requirement. But consider what could happen if a process server is unable to find you.
This can occur if you aren’t in the office (for example, out of town, on vacation, sick, etc.) when someone needs to reach the agent. It can also happen if you move and forget to update your paperwork with the state.
In addition to legal penalties for being out of compliance, failing to maintain an agent could mean that a process server can’t find you to notify you of a lawsuit. In that scenario, a court case against you could go forward without your knowledge, meaning you wouldn’t even have a chance to defend yourself.
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. 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 takes the flexibility out of your day. Registered agents need to be constantly present at the registered office during normal business hours.
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 frees you from this responsibility.
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 registered agent service helps you locate and appoint a registered agent that meets your LLC’s needs and fulfills your legal obligations.
To start your LLC, file Articles of Organization and an Initial Report with the Louisiana Secretary of State. Once you pay the accompanying filing fee and the state approves these documents, your LLC will be official.
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. With the time and worry you save using our professional 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.
As we mentioned, Louisiana’s filing process is considerably more complex than most states. For starters, not all parishes have the same filing options. If you’re starting your LLC in any of the following parishes, you’re required to do an online filing through the geauxBIZ system: Ascension, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Livingston, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, or Terrebonne.
If you’re not in one of the parishes listed above, you also have the option of filing by postal mail. However, you’ll need to have both the Articles of Organization and the Initial Report notarized if you go that route. You’ll also need your registered agent to sign the Initial Report.
Filing by mail is slower, but Louisiana does give you the option to have your filing processed in 24 hours for an extra fee or in two to four hours for a higher fee.
Filing online is generally faster than mail, but the geauxBIZ system can be more confusing. One reason for this is that the system also wants you to register with the Louisiana Workforce Commission (if you have employees) and the Louisiana Department of Revenue at the same time you’re filing the Articles of Organization.
The reason this can be so problematic is that, although the SOS doesn’t ask for it, the Louisiana Department of Revenue may ask for your Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is a federal number you get from the IRS for the purpose of paying taxes, hiring employees, etc.
Most other states don’t require you to have your EIN until after your LLC is approved by the state, which eliminates the problem of getting an EIN only to have your LLC possibly rejected by the state. But, Louisiana is different, so you may have to have your EIN before you start the process with geauzBIZ. We cover getting an EIN later in Step 5.
The other issue with geauzBIZ is that you might be faced with a lot of questions you don’t yet know how to answer without the advice of an accountant. Plus, as we mentioned in Step 1, you’re required to reserve your business name when filing online.
Here’s a quick roundup of the information you’ll need to provide in your Louisiana Articles of Organization. Bear in mind that, once submitted, this information becomes public knowledge.
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 that your Articles 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.
If you don’t have your first managers or members selected when the Initial Report and Articles of Organization are filed, you’ll need to later file a Supplemental Report listing their names and addresses.
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:
You need only file your Articles of Organization once. But if any of the original Articles of Organization information needs to be updated, altered, or expanded, your business is required to inform the state about the changes.
You would report these changes by filing Louisiana Articles of Amendment and paying a filing fee. If your Articles of Organization isn’t current, it could affect your ability to get a Louisiana Certificate of Good Standing. A Louisiana Certificate of Good Standing isn’t required to conduct business, but it can be important for business accounts, members, and potential investors. Basically, failing to keep your business up to date with state requirements can limit your LLC’s potential future growth.
Do you need help amending your Articles of Organization? We have an amendment filing service that can handle it for you, as well as our Worry-Free Compliance service, which includes two amendment filings every year.
If we help you file Articles of Organization, once the state approves your LLC, your paperwork will be available from your ZenBusiness dashboard. In the dashboard, you can keep this 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, legal documents, etc. We offer a customized business kit to help you keep these important documents organized and looking professional.
Write your own LLC operations rules in an operating agreement. Operating agreements outline the rules and procedures for the management of the LLC and establish ownership percentages, how profits are divided among members, and much more.
Louisiana law doesn’t legally require you to write an operating agreement, but it’s still considered an essential step in forming an LLC in Louisiana. 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.
Writing a Louisiana operating agreement is a way to maximize your control over your business. A comprehensive operating agreement can also provide the following benefits:
It seems like most of the things in your operating agreement are intended to avoid disputes among the LLC members, so we understand why you might think a single-member LLC doesn’t need one. But potential investors, future business partners, and others may want to see your operating agreement regardless.
Your operating agreement can also spell out what you want to happen to your single-member LLC and its assets if you die or become incapacitated.
One more thing: Occasionally, someone takes an LLC owner to court to try to prove that the owner and the LLC are the same entity so that they can go after the owner’s personal assets. If that happens, having an operating agreement in place is one more thing to further demonstrate to the court that the business owner and the single-member LLC truly are separate.
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:
Unsure as to how to create an operating agreement for your LLC? We offer a customizable template to help get you started.
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 at the federal level if they have more than one member, have employees, or are otherwise required to do so by the IRS.
Even if you run a single-member LLC without employees, having an EIN is likely in your best interest. Your EIN is like a Social Security number for your business. It prevents you from having to put your own Social Security number on tax and business filings and other paperwork, thus lowering your risk for identity theft. You’ll 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.
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:
You can set up state tax account and unemployment insurance account numbers through the Louisiana geauxBIZ portal.
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.
The default tax status of an LLC is 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, employee health 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.
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. It also helps you avoid commingling funds.
Commingling funds makes your taxes more difficult to sort out, and 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 own assets).
You may also want to get business credit cards to make small purchases and start establishing your company’s credit score.
GeauxBIZ is Louisiana’s online resource for starting a business. It can be a bit confusing to navigate at first, but it’s designed to streamline the formation process. That’s because GeauxBiz is integrated with multiple state agencies, allowing you to simultaneously register with the state Department of Revenue, the Secretary of State, and the Workforce Commission all in one portal. Since most businesses have to register with these agencies anyway, it can be a helpful tool. This platform also makes it easy to file your initial report and annual reports down the line.
Physical Address: 8585 Archives Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Phone: (225) 925-4704
Just because you’ve set up your Louisiana LLC doesn’t mean your work is over. There are some crucial steps to complete to keep your business operating efficiently well into the future.
Forming an LLC in Louisiana involves several fees, each varying based on specific requirements. You may be responsible for other fees depending on whether you want to expedite your filing and other circumstances, such as fees for required licenses and permits.
These are estimated costs and can fluctuate based on various factors. Louisiana filing fees are subject to change, so check the SOS website for the latest information. It’s important to consult with professionals or refer to the latest state guidelines for the most accurate information.
In general, Louisiana LLCs pay federal and state income taxes only at the member level. This is called pass-through taxation, and each member pays income taxes only on their share of the revenue.
Many business owners prefer LLC pass-through taxation to the double taxation of C corporations. A doubly taxed corporation has to pay income taxes as an entity, and then each shareholder must also pay income taxes on their share of the income.
However, an LLC still has the option of being taxed as a C corporation for federal income tax purposes. That may be advantageous to some larger LLCs because C corporations have the widest range of deductions.
You can also choose to have your LLC taxed as an S corporation. There are more restrictions if you choose to be taxed as an S corporation, but you can get the benefit of more flexible self-employment tax options while retaining pass-through taxation. If you have questions about S corporations, speak to a tax professional and look at our “What Is an S Corp?” page.
You need to submit a Louisiana annual report and a filing fee to the Secretary of State each year. The Secretary of State revokes the Articles of Organization of LLCs that fail to meet this requirement. Our Annual Report Service can help you stay on top of this obligation year after year so you don’t risk your business.
In Louisiana, business entrepreneurs have several business entity types to choose from apart from LLCs, each with its own characteristics and advantages. Here’s an overview of the other primary business entities available:
Sole Proprietorship: A sole proprietorship offers simplicity but lacks the liability protection of an LLC, exposing the owner’s personal assets to business debts and legal issues.
General Partnership: Similar to a sole proprietorship, a general partnership doesn’t provide liability protection for partners, making it riskier than an LLC.
Limited Partnership (LP): LPs provide limited liability to some partners but require at least one general partner with unlimited liability. LLCs offer more uniform liability protection for all members.
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP): LLPs provide liability protection to all partners, much like an LLC. However, they are often chosen by licensed professionals, while LLCs are suitable for various businesses.
Corporation (C Corporation): C corporations (the default form of corporation) offer robust liability protection but face double taxation. LLCs avoid this issue with pass-through taxation.
S Corporation: S corporations aren’t a business entity type but are a tax status an LLC or corporation can apply for. They have pass-through taxation and the potential to save business owners on self-employment taxes, but they have stricter eligibility criteria than LLCs.
New Orleans, Shreveport, Lafayette, Baton Rouge…wherever you are in Louisiana, your opportunities for starting the next great business are limitless. You might even want to try your hand at 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.
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There isn’t a statewide Louisiana business license. However, you might need several local, state, and federal business licenses, depending on where you conduct business and the nature of your activities. For instance, Orleans Parish requires all businesses in its jurisdiction to have occupational or general business licenses.
In addition to licensing general business activities, you might need building permits and/or licenses to offer professional services, engage in specific activities, or comply with zoning requirements.
So how do you figure out what all of your specific licensing obligations are? You can do a lot of research on your own, or our services can research it for you. Our business license report service provides you with a report that identifies all of your business licensing responsibilities at every level of government.
Opening an LLC in Louisiana can give you the best of both business worlds. An LLC provides personal liability protection without subjecting you to the double taxation that corporation income must pay.
If your LLC gets sued or owes a debt, creditors and plaintiffs usually can’t drag your personal finances or property into the dispute. And, you pay LLC state and federal income taxes only out of your personal share of the business income, not at the entity level.
It’s also simpler to start an LLC in Louisiana than to create a corporation in the state because it’s a more informal business structure. LLCs have more flexibility in how they’re run and have fewer reporting requirements and paperwork.
The Louisiana SOS can take multiple days to process your formation documents after you apply for an LLC in Louisiana. If you pay an additional filing fee to the SOS, they can process your documents in a day or a few hours.
You don’t need to file your operating agreement with the state. It’s an internal document for your LLC. Keep your agreement in a safe place along with your other legal documents.
Series LLCs don’t exist under Louisiana law. Some states have series LLCs, and their purpose is to insulate some LLC assets from the liabilities attached to other LLC assets without forming a separate entity.
While some are asking questions about how to get a LLC in Louisiana, others just want to know how to end one. To dissolve your Louisiana LLC, you first need to get majority approval from your members or follow the procedures in your operating agreement.
After you get approval, you may need to publish a notice in the newspaper. Then you must file an Affidavit to Dissolve Limited Liability Company with the Secretary of State. Filing dissolution paperwork requires you to pay a fee.
It’s time to wind up your LLC after you file to dissolve it. Winding up includes liquidating LLC assets, addressing outstanding debts and liabilities, and dividing remaining assets among interest holders.
You can transfer ownership of your Louisiana LLC once you have the unanimous consent of the members or you follow the procedures in your operating agreement. After you transfer ownership, you need to update your internal and public business documents. This includes filing a Notice of Change of Members of a Limited Liability Company with the Secretary of State.
Yes. You can apply for an LLC trade name through the Secretary of State.
You can remove a member by a vote of the members or by following the procedures in your operating agreement. It’s important to know how you will handle the departing member’s distributions. You also need to file change of ownership paperwork with the Secretary of State.
There’s no legal requirement to have a business plan, but it’s easier to realize your dreams when you have a good plan. This plan can include market research, budgets, financing needs, and product details. And if you need outside funding or resources, you might need to present a plan to investors and financial institutions to get the funds you require.
There’s no publication requirement to start your LLC, but there’s a publication requirement to close your LLC if a Notice of Dissolution is filed. The Notice of Dissolution is the “long-form” dissolution. “Short-form” dissolutions, known as Affidavit to Dissolve or Simplified Articles of Termination filings, don’t have this publication requirement because it’s already assumed that all assets have been liquidated.
If you’re doing a Notice of Dissolution, before you can wind up an LLC, you need to publish notice of the winding up/liquidation in a newspaper of general circulation. The newspaper you use needs to be in the same parish where your LLC’s registered office is, and you must submit a copy of the notice and the publisher’s affidavit to the SOS. Contact the SOS for further information.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information 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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