Your new business idea has probably already taken hours of research and planning. You’re ready to get started, but before you begin doing business, you need to take care of all the paperwork to ensure your business is compliant in Maine.
Don’t let the process overwhelm you. We have your back. Our simple guide shows where to start to get your Maine limited liability company (LLC) up and running quickly and affordably.
In this guide, we’ve outlined five steps and simplified the details. We’ve also shown how the right LLC service can make the process easy and quick, allowing you to focus on opening and growing your business.
To form your LLC in the state of Maine, you need to file a Maine Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State’s office. However, there are several steps to take before and after to get your business ready.
Following this guide will allow you to focus on following your dream, not chasing down the paperwork.
Step 1: Name Your Maine LLC
The first step is selecting an LLC name. That may sound simple, but it’s important to consider a few factors. You need a name that is clear and identifiable for your Maine business.
Maine state law also requires that your business name include one of the following suffixes:
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Company
Maine also requires you to stay away from language considered obscene, language that promotes illegal activity, or that falsely claims affiliation with a public institution.
Before finalizing anything, though, you need to research if the name you want is available. We have an easy to use Maine business name search tool you can use to determine if your name is available.
Once you have a name, you can file an Application for Reservation of Name. 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.
When you’re coming up with a business name, it’s wise to consider whether you can secure a matching domain name so that your future website can be easily found online. 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 company.
If you plan on naming your LLC one thing but want to do business with another name, you will need a DBA (“Doing Business As”), known in Maine as an “assumed name.” For this you’ll need to file a Statement of Intention to Do Business Under an Assumed or Fictitious Name. There is a filing fee involved for an assumed name filing. Note that The Pine Tree State (unlike most other states) differentiates between an assumed name and a “fictitious name.” Here a fictitious name is a name adopted by a foreign (out-of-state) corporation authorized to transact business in Maine because its real name is unavailable. There is a fee involved for a fictitious name filing but if you want to simplify and speed up the process, we have a Maine DBA service you can use.
To make sure you’re entirely in the clear with your business name, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to see whether your business name or logo is federally trademarked. Trademarks can also happen at the state level. To find out if your desired business name is already trademarked and/or apply for a trademark of your own, go to the Secretary of State website page for trademarks.
We can help you focus on the fun of naming your business by taking the pain out of the process. We have packages that include form filling and website name reservations.
Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent in Maine
A registered agent is a person or entity designated to receive legal notices on behalf of your business. Maine requires a registered agent to be listed and kept current.
You can serve as your Maine registered agent if you are 18 years of age or older and have a physical address — you are not allowed to use a P.O. box. However, this might not be a smart choice, as the registered agent is required to be available during business hours for legal notices to be served and correspondence from the Secretary of State. It can be difficult to be available all day while running your business, so you may want to consider using a registered agent service. We can provide you with a Maine registered agent service through our third-party partner.
Freeing your time to grow your business is only one benefit of hiring an outside registered agent service. A few other advantages include:
- Many companies don’t maintain a storefront. If this is the case, hiring an outside registered agent service can be helpful, as they’ll serve as your registered address, so you don’t have to use your home address.
- Being served legal documents in front of potential clients can be distracting and awkward. This can be avoided with a registered agent service, who will receive documents and send them along to you.
- A registered agent service can often organize and maintain those documents, ensuring you meet deadlines and your business remains in good standing.
Maine does not offer an online filing option from the state for the registered agent form. You’ll need to deliver it in person or mail your completed form to:
Department of the Secretary of State
Division of Corporations, UCC and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
There is a fee involved to file.
If you don’t want to be your own registered agent, we have a Maine registered agent service with agents located in the state who can help. Take a look at our packages and talk with our experts today.
Step 3: File Maine Certificate of Formation
Now that you have your name and registered agent, it’s time to file your Certificate of Formation. To complete the application, you will need the following information:
- The name of the company
- The filing date (You can choose between the date you file the paperwork or a later date.)
- Your designation as a low-profit LLC (You only complete this section if you meet specific qualifications.)
- Your designation as a professional LLC (Here, too, you only complete if you meet certain qualifications.)
- A registered agent (You can select from a commercial or noncommercial registered agent.)
- Any attachments the LLC owners or members decide to include
- Signature (At least one authorized person needs to sign the application.)
The application also requires a cover letter that includes:
- The name of your organization
- A list of the filings you are enclosing (for example, Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Merger)
- Any special handling requests (This is where you can check a box if, for example, you want expedited filing. You can pick 24-hour or immediate service.)
- Contact information (List the person the Secretary of State’s office should contact if they have any questions.)
- The address where the Secretary of State’s office will return documents
To file your application, there is a fee involved. Expedited filing is an additional cost for 24-hour processing and immediate processing. All applications must be delivered by mail or in person. There is no online filing option.
To mail in your Certificate of Formation, send it to:
Department of the Secretary of State
Division of Corporations, UCC and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
That all being said, 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 handle the filing for you to make sure it’s done quickly and correctly the first time.
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.
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
Maine requires LLCs to have an Operating Agreement, which it calls an LLC Agreement. This document sets out business operations and governs the relationships between LLC members and between members and the company.
Besides being required by the state, an Operating Agreement is a good idea. It is an additional step that formalizes your business and protects its LLC status. If you have multiple members in your LLC, it’s important to put agreements in writing. That way, when disagreements come up between members, there is a written document to refer to rather than potentially faulty memories.
Operating Agreements typically include a number of things, like:
- Member responsibilities and returns. You will want to specifically lay out the percentage of each member’s ownership, the distribution of income, and member voting rights and responsibilities.
- Roles within the company. Who will be responsible for which parts of the business, and what power does each member or manager hold?
- Buyout/buy-sell details. This is where you discuss how it will work if a member wants to leave the LLC or if a new member needs to be added. It’s also important to discuss what will happen if a member dies.
Your Operating Agreement, once complete, should be kept with your business filings.
Let us help take the guesswork out of creating your Operating Agreement. We have plans that include a customizable Maine Operating Agreement template.
Step 5: Apply for an EIN
The fifth step is to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or also called a Tax ID Number. You can apply for an EIN by applying through the IRS website or mailing Form SS-4. But if you’re unfond of dealing with that particular government agency, we can get it for you. Our EIN service is quick and eliminates the hassle.
Among other things, you need an EIN if you have multiple LLC members or if you plan to hire employees. Still, even if neither of those applies to your business, you should consider obtaining an EIN anyway. Your business EIN works like a Social Security number and is also referred to as a Federal Tax Identification Number.
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.
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.
Maine LLC FAQs
How much does it cost to start an LLC in Maine?
The state fees for forming a Maine LLC range from $175 to $250, depending on factors such as your method of filing, whether you choose to reserve your business name, etc. Note that fees change over time, so you should check the Secretary of State website for the most recent fee schedule.
What are the benefits of an LLC in Maine?
There are several benefits to selecting an LLC structure for your business. A few include:
- Limited liability for individual owners or members. If your business is sued or goes out of business owing debt, the personal assets of individual members are protected.
- Taxes. The income that your business earns will be distributed to the members, and those members will be taxed on their personal income. This is different from a corporate structure where the business would be taxed and then the income distributions would also appear on personal taxes.
- Less red tape. There’s more flexibility over the structure and record-keeping of an LLC than a corporation.
Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure.
How is a Maine LLC taxed?
Your Maine LLC may need to pay a variety of business and state taxes. These include taxes that are payable to the Maine government, like Maine sales tax. You might also need to pay federal, self-employment, and possibly payroll tax.
As an LLC, your company will not pay income taxes; instead, you and your partners will be taxed on your personal income. However, if you plan to sell products or services taxable in Maine, you will need to file an Application for Tax Registration with the Maine Revenue Services.
If you want to determine your bookkeeping, accounting, and tax needs, check out our Free Accounting Assessment.
What is the processing time to form my Maine LLC?
After filing your Certificate of Formation, it takes five to 10 business days to be processed.
Maine has options for expediting your filing for an additional fee. If you’re in a hurry to form your LLC and don’t want to jump through the hoops of the state’s expedited filing processes, we can handle it for you with our faster filing speeds service.
Do I need to file my Operating Agreement with the state of Maine?
While Maine is one of six states requiring an LLC to have an Operating Agreement, you are not required to file it with the Secretary of State’s office.
What tax structure should I choose for my Maine LLC?
LLC owners typically pay state and federal taxes on their personal income from the LLC. An LLC is not separately taxed. Some larger LLCs may choose to change their tax status to a corporation where the business is taxed as a separate entity.
Does Maine allow a Series LLC?
A Series LLC is set up with one primary LLC that acts as an umbrella over several other LLCs. As of right now, Maine does not allow for this kind of business setup.
Which licenses and insurance are required for an LLC in Maine?
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 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 business has all the licenses and permits it’s legally required to have, our business license report service can do the work for you.
When do I file my Maine LLC annual report?
Your Maine LLC must file an annual report to the Secretary of State by June 1 of each year.
We can help you with your Maine 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.
How do I dissolve my Maine LLC?
You can officially dissolve your LLC by filing the Articles of Dissolution with the Maine Secretary of State. There is a filing fee involved for submitting the application.