Starting a limited liability company (LLC) can be an exciting venture made even better with careful planning. If you’ve never formed an LLC and are looking to start a business in Michigan, you might wonder where to begin. This guide will walk you through your next steps and help you outline your path to forming your small business. Follow these step-by-step instructions to get your LLC formed and be on your way to growing your business in the Great Lakes State.
Starting an LLC in Michigan involves filing your business with the state, appointing a registered agent, and deciding on an operating agreement. But before you contemplate the bigger decisions and get started on registering, you’ll need to knock out the easiest step of all: solidifying a name for your new business.
Although some steps are more complex than others, this step-by-step guide will help simplify the process of forming an LLC in the state of Michigan. As you check off each of the five steps below, you will learn how to start an LLC in Michigan, bringing your dreams closer to reality. We’ll also show you how our services can make the process easier.
Step 1: Name your Michigan LLC
You likely have an idea of what you’d like your business name to be, but naming a business is more than just a creative way to market your services; it also has to comply with state regulations. In this case, you’ll need to register your business under a unique name within the state of Michigan. Check out our page on how to conduct a Michigan business search for your desired name to check availability.
Your best bet is to create a list of possible names before running a name search. It might be helpful to check a more detailed explanation of the requirements for naming your business in Michigan. Keep in mind that slight changes in spelling and punctuation or choice of suffix will not be enough to distinguish your business in the eyes of the state.
To comply with Michigan’s state law, your company’s name must end with the proper designator. In this case, you have four options: including the entire phrase of “Limited Liability Company,” the abbreviation “LLC,” or a punctuated version of the previous as “L.L.C.” or “L.C.” Regardless of which option you choose, it must appear at the end of your company’s name.
Keep in mind that some words are prohibited. For instance, you can’t include the word “corporation.”
Once you’ve found a name that satisfies your business goals and Michigan’s requirements, you’ll have the option to lock it in. To reserve the name before someone else, you’ll need to deliver an Application for Reservation of Name and a filing fee to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. If the name you’ve chosen is approved, it will be put on hold for six months — allotting plenty of time for you to finish establishing your LLC. 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 the owners of a company want to do business using a name that is different from the original name used to form the business, they must also register the secondary name. Also known as a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name in Michigan, this secondary name doesn’t replace the original name, but it can serve as an additional, legal name for the business. Once you find one that is available, you can file a Certificate of Assumed Name or have us take care of it with our DBA service.
Finally, 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 more and/or apply for a state trademark, go to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website page for trademarks.
Step 2: Appoint a Michigan resident agent
To continue with the registration process, Michigan requires that every LLC appoint a registered agent, known in Michigan as a resident agent. The person or entity appointed will be the point of contact for legal matters — if your company is subpoenaed or sued, the papers will be delivered to your resident agent.
While the owner of the company can be the resident agent (if they reside in Michigan), this is not always the best option. Let’s face it, being served papers in front of customers is a sure way to deter business, and, with so many alternatives, it might be in your best interest to hire an outside registered agent service.
Some other benefits of hiring an outside registered agent service like ours include:
- Flexible business hours: A registered agent service is always available during regular business hours, providing you more flexibility to work when you’re most productive.
- Ensure compliance: A registered agent service can help ensure your LLC is meeting the legal requirements for maintaining a resident agent at all times.
- A consistent address: Your registered office address will likely remain the same, which means you have more flexibility with your business location in case you have to move.
As long as they are a resident of the state of Michigan or a business entity authorized to do business in Michigan, and have a physical street address within the state, hiring an outside resident agent is an affordable way to save you possible troubles later on.
Step 3: File Michigan Articles of Organization
Once you’ve secured a name and resident agent, it’s time to certify your LLC in the state of Michigan. To do so, you’ll need to complete your Articles of Organization and file it with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Corporations, Securities, and Commercial Licensing Bureau, Corporations Division.
Filing official government documents like this can be intimidating 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 correctly the first time. But, although we can handle this for you, we’ll show you how the process works below.
Before you begin filling in the form, ensure you have all of the necessary information.
You’ll need the following information to fill out the form accurately:
- The name of your LLC
- The purpose of its formation
- The duration of your company (if not perpetual)
- The name and address of your resident agent
Whether you prefer to go in person, send your paperwork through the mail, or utilize the online system, you will need to include a nonrefundable fee when filing your Articles of Organization. If you’d like the service expedited, you can pay additional fees for a 24-hour turnaround, same-day service, a two-hour service, or to have it completed in one hour. But if you 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.
Step 4: Create an operating agreement
Having an operating agreement in Michigan is not mandatory, but it can help you create governance for an LLC. An LLC operating agreement covers the rules your company will follow, lists LLC members and their percentage ownership, discusses how finances will be handled, how decisions will be made (including partner voting structure), and details any additional necessary regulations.
If you’re starting your LLC alone, you may feel an operating agreement is unnecessary, especially since one is not required to proceed in the state of Michigan. However, operating agreements can also outline what happens to your company in the event of your demise and can help protect you and your assets in case of dissolution or bankruptcy. If, in fact, you are starting your LLC with partners or other managers, each party will need to agree to the terms and sign the document.
If you’re unsure as to how to start creating an operating agreement for your Michigan LLC, we offer a customizable template to help get you started.
Step 5: Apply for an EIN
To finalize your LLC, you’ll need a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), also known as an EIN or tax ID. Unless you are a single-member LLC with no employees, this nine-digit number is required for tax purposes, including filing taxes, hiring new employees, and opening business bank accounts. An EIN is sometimes even required for single-member LLCs with no employees.
You can get your Michigan LLC’s EIN through the IRS website, by mail, or by fax, but if you’d rather avoid of dealing with that particular government agency, we can get it for you. Our FEIN service is quick and eliminates the hassle.
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 troublesome, it could also be used against you if someone takes you to court to challenge whether you and your LLC are truly separate entities.
Fortunately, we have partnered with LendingClub to 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 make the process simple.
For further help managing your new business’s finances, check out the ZenBusiness Money App. It can help you create invoices, receive payments, transfer money, and manage clients all in one place.
Michigan LLC FAQs
How much does it cost to start an LLC in Michigan?
Starting an LLC in Michigan is relatively affordable. The state fees for forming an LLC range from $50 to $75, depending on whether you choose to reserve your business name, but expediting the process can bring the cost higher than that range. Note that fees change over time, so you should check the most recent fee schedule on the website of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Corporations, Securities, and Commercial Licensing Bureau, Corporations Division.
What are the benefits of an LLC in Michigan?
When starting a business, there are various forms it can take. Ninety percent of our customers, along with the majority of entrepreneurs, choose to form an LLC. Compared to corporations, limited partnerships, and other forms of entities, LLCs come with enticing benefits.
Forming a Michigan LLC means you’ll reap the following benefits:
- Personal asset protection: Your personal liability will be separate from your business liability and debts.
- Avoid double taxation: You’ll only pay personal federal income taxes rather than personal and corporate federal income taxes.
- Flexible management: You’re not required to have a board of directors or annual meetings.
- Less reporting: Compared to corporations, LLCs have fewer required meetings and reports.
How is an LLC taxed in Michigan?
LLCs are typically considered “pass-through entities,” meaning they are not subject to corporate federal income taxes. Instead, the profits are passed through to the owner’s personal income, and the responsibility to pay federal income taxes falls only on the individual (as opposed to being taxed on both levels, as is the case with corporations). This holds for all Michigan LLCs — unless you choose to file as a corporation, you will not be required to pay Michigan’s corporate income tax. However, your LLC might be subject to other taxes, including:
- State employer taxes, if you have employees
- State unemployment insurance taxes, if you have employees
- Sales tax, if you sell goods
For more information on specific taxes that you could be required to file for your Michigan LLC, visit the Business Tax Guide from the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Those who purchase any of our business formation 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.
What is the processing time to form my Michigan LLC?
Usually in three to five business days, your Articles of Organization will be processed with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs if you choose to mail in your paperwork. If you file online, the turnaround time can be as quick as 24 hours from when the state begins processing your submission. For an extra fee, you can have your documents expedited and processed in as little as an hour.
Do I need to file an operating agreement with the state of Michigan?
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. While some states legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement, Michigan is not one of them.
What tax structure should I choose for my Michigan LLC?
When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the available tax classification options. Most LLCs elect the default tax status, which is to be taxed as a sole proprietorship (for a single-member LLC) or a partnership (for a multi-member LLC). For either of these options, the LLC is not taxed on federal income, but the LLC members pay income taxes on their portion of the profits on their individual tax returns.
You can also elect to have your LLC taxed as a C corporation or an S corporation. Although most new LLCs don’t choose these options, they do have advantages for certain companies. Be sure to review each option’s details to determine the best one for your business.
Does Michigan allow a Series LLC?
A Series LLC is a group of limited liability companies operating under one “parent” entity. While each entity under the parent is considered independent, entrepreneurs are often attracted to the structure if they wish to create numerous companies to explore different avenues but not risk one’s success due to the liabilities of another. However, only a few states have adopted Series LLC laws — none of which are Michigan.
Which licenses and insurance are required for an LLC in Michigan?
Although Michigan doesn’t require a general business license to operate, certain industries require specific licenses and permits. 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.
Your LLC might be required to obtain an insurance policy, depending on the type of business and whether you have employees. The types of insurance range from professional liability insurance to unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance. You can find a list and industry requirements on the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services website.
How do I change my LLC name in Michigan?
To change the name of your LLC in Michigan, you need to file a Certificate of Amendment that includes the reason you’re changing your Articles of Organization (in this case, you want to change the name of your LLC). You submit this form to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Corporations, Securities, and Commercial Licensing Bureau. There is a filing fee to amend your Michigan LLC Articles of Organization.
How do I pay my annual LLC fees in Michigan?
In Michigan, an annual report or annual statement is a regular filing that your LLC must complete every year. This annual statement costs $25 and should be filed with the Michigan Secretary of State by Feb. 15.
We can help you with your annual statement in a couple of ways. Our annual report service will help you file your annual statement, and our Worry Free Compliance service not only helps with filing your annual statement, but also sends you other important compliance reminders and helps you with two amendment filings each year.