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Launching a new business is exciting. You can create and grow your idea into a revenue stream, and you’re also able to collaborate and learn from other professionals along the way. While getting your company off the ground can seem like an overwhelming task, the process isn’t as complicated as you might think when forming an LLC.
If you’re planning to form a new Oregon Limited Liability Company, you’ll be happy to know that you can have your business legally formed and registered in a few simple steps. Completing the formation process can seem daunting, but we promise it’s really straightforward when forming an LLC — and we’ll be right here to walk you through each step.
Use this guide to navigate through the LLC setup process in Oregon. We’ll link you to the resources you need and let you know if we recommend any additional consulting. We’ll also provide insights that offer examples for many of the steps to help you better understand how to apply the directions to your business.
Let’s get going — we know you have no time to waste!
Choosing your company’s name is an important first step. Your name is how customers and clients will remember you, and it will also be what draws in prospective buyers as you begin marketing. While your name needs to be catchy and memorable, it also should fit your industry. If you’re forming an LLC with partners, you’ll want their input to ensure everyone agrees on a company name. Lastly, but most importantly, you need to make sure your name is compliant with Oregon’s business laws.
We recommend making a short list of three to five names (or more) before checking to see which names are compliant. You have to make sure that your LLC’s name does not already belong to another company in Oregon. This is where the list comes in handy. You’ll log on to the Oregon Business Name Registry and search for the names on your list. If they’re already taken, cross them off. If not, narrow your list down. Lastly, make sure you review the additional requirements for naming your LLC in Oregon before settling on a name. From there, you’ll decide on the remaining names on your own or with your partners until you have the name that best fits your company and meets Oregon’s compliance laws.
When you have your name ready, you’ll also need to decide on an LLC designator. An LLC designator is a suffix added to your company name to denote that your business is an LLC. This means you’ll need to add a suffix like “LLC” to the end of your company name. You have three choices: spelling out “Limited Liability Company” in full or using the abbreviation “LLC” or “L.L.C.”
Once you have your designator chosen, you can reserve your company’s name to ensure no one else takes it while you’re finishing the registration process.
To reserve a company name, you’ll need to create an account on the Oregon Secretary of State’s Business Registry website. From there, you’ll gain access to the Name Reservation form, which can be submitted online. This form has a $100 filing fee you’ll also need to pay.
While the above covers the basic steps for selecting an LLC name, there are some other factors you’ll want to consider. For instance, if you want to create a company website, you’ll need to register your LLC name as a domain (or find an available domain). You can do a fast domain search to determine if your URL is free. Once you’ve found a domain that makes sense, reach out to a professional company like ZenBusiness to help you reserve your new domain.
In addition, you might be interested in securing a DBA or finding out if there are trademarks on your company name. A DBA (“Doing Business As”), also known as an “assumed name,” is an alternate name you can use for your business. To secure a DBA , you’ll go back through the name search to ensure the name you’ll use is available. If it is, you’ll fill out a new Assumed Name Registration form. The fee for filing this document is $50, and the filing is good for two years.
At the same time, if no trademarks exist on your name, you can register a trademark with the Oregon state via the Oregon Trade and Service Mark Registration form. It’s often easier and quicker to register a trademark at the state level. However, to broaden your protection, you can register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, especially if you plan on doing business outside of Oregon. You can also use their search engine to make sure your desired business name isn’t already taken.
Once you have your company name decided, you’ll next want to find a registered agent for your Oregon LLC. A registered agent works with your LLC to receive important paperwork and updates from the Oregon Secretary of State.
Every LLC in Oregon is required to designate a registered agent for their company. Your registered agent can be an individual or business entity, as long as they meet Oregon requirements. They’ll need to work in-state and be available for contact during normal business hours (typically 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time). The street address of their business cannot be a P.O. box or something similar.
Can you be your own Oregon registered agent? Technically, yes. Some companies decide to have a partner or owner serve as their registered agent, but this isn’t always a good idea. Since the government will be reaching out to this agent with important legal documents (potentially including a service of process), you won’t want to have this happen at your office, where you’ll be meeting with clients. On top of this, serving as your own registered agent means that some of your private information will become public record.
Here are a couple more reasons why you might not want to act as your company’s registered agent:
That’s why many LLCs choose to hire an outside registered agent service. If you have an accountant, they might serve as your registered agent, or you can opt for a professional registered agent service to pass along all of your legal documents and paperwork to ensure you remain in good standing.
Once your Operating Agreement is complete, you’re ready to move on to the fifth and final step — registering for an EIN and checking to see if your company needs any special permits or licenses.
To get started, you’ll need to register your LLC with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by requesting an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can do this online so that your LLC will be set up to pay its taxes.
Your company’s EIN is equivalent to a Social Security number, but for businesses. With your EIN, you can handle all of your taxes, set up business bank accounts for your company, and hire employees.
If you only have one member in your LLC and no employees, you likely don’t have to register for an EIN, although you might want to. Having an EIN can offer benefits, such as making it easier to separate your company’s taxes and assets from your personal taxes and assets.
You can apply for an EIN directly on the IRS website. In a matter of minutes, you’ll be able to register and receive your EIN. Best of all, there’s no cost for this service, and you can begin using your EIN right away.
Once you’re registered with the IRS, you’ll want to find out if there are any special permits or licenses you’ll need to operate in Oregon. A general business license is not required in this state, but your industry or county may require one. You can find out if you’re required to apply for any special licenses or permits at the state level on the Oregon Secretary of State Business Information Center page. There could also be licensing your LLC requires on the local or federal level, so you’ll need to do some careful research to find out what you need.
If you file your Articles of Organization for Oregon online, your request will typically take 24 hours to be confirmed. If you file by mail, the process can take longer.
No, you are not required to file an Operating Agreement to form your Oregon LLC, but it is recommended that you create one to protect your company.
Most LLC owners have their business taxed the default way, which is as a sole proprietorship (for single-member LLCs) or a partnership (for multi-member LLCs). This method only requires partners to pay taxes on their percentage of the profits on their personal tax returns. The LLC itself is not taxed.
An LLC might choose to be taxed as a corporation if it yields high earnings or is a large company. It’s important to understand the distinctions of being taxed as a corporation as laid out in this corporation tax guide. We strongly encourage you to talk to an accountant or tax specialist if you have any questions.
In Oregon, you cannot form a Series LLC. A Series LLC refers to a group of LLCs that fall under one parent LLC. Most states do not allow you to form Series LLCs.
Oregon does not require a general business license to operate an LLC. You may need a special permit or license depending on your location or industry. You can review state regulations for licenses and permits through the Oregon Business Wizard.
ZenBusiness can also help you understand what licenses, permits, and insurance your Oregon LLC will need to remain compliant.
We hope this guide has helped you better understand all the steps to the LLC formation process in Oregon. If you have any questions along the way, reach out to ZenBusiness for expert recommendations and advice.
You can also contact ZenBusiness to learn more about how our professional services can help you launch and grow your LLC. Want to learn more about starting a business in Oregon? Reach out to us today!
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