How to File Articles of Incorporation in Wisconsin

Filing your Articles of Incorporation in Wisconsin is essential for establishing your business with a formal legal structure. Explore the key information on costs, processing times, and statutes in our comprehensive guide below to ensure a smooth incorporation process for your business.

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When starting a new corporation in Wisconsin, you need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

Articles of Incorporation is a legal document registering your corporation to do business in Wisconsin. Once your business gets the green light from the Wisconsin DFI, you’re good to get started. Filing Wisconsin Articles of Incorporation (AOI) is the first and most critical step in this process.

How to Complete Wisconsin Articles of Incorporation

Per the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), every domestic (in-state) for-profit corporation wanting to do business in the state must file AOI in the prescribed format. Sample forms are available on the DFI website that meets these legal requirements, according to Chapter 180 of the Business Corporations Act. You can file online or print the hard copy and mail it.

For Domestic Entities

A domestic corporation in Wisconsin needs the following information to file Articles of Incorporation:

  • Corporation name: It must be unique and represent your business purposes. It should follow Wisconsin naming guidelines.
  • A statement under Section 180.0202(1) (a) stating that the entity is formed according to Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 180.
  • The number of shares authorized.
  • Details about the Registered Agent: Every entity functioning legally in Wisconsin needs to appoint a registered agent to act as a point of contact on its behalf. The agent must have a registered office address with a physical location in Wisconsin. The corporation itself can’t become the registered agent. You can get in touch with our registered agent partners to hire their services and forget your worries.
  • Name and addresses of all incorporators for a business corporation
  • Signature of the incorporator

For Foreign Entities

If you’ve incorporated your business entity in any other state or country, Wisconsin Statutes define it as a foreign corporation. In this case, you must file a Certificate of Authority with the DFI.

Per Chapter 180.1503, you can file for this certificate with the following information:

  • Name of your foreign entity
  • State or country where it was incorporated
  • Date of incorporation and existence period
  • Complete address of the principal office
  • The registered agent in Wisconsin and registered office address
  • Name and business address of current officers, managers, and directors
  • Number of aggregate shares issued with a par value
  • The number of shares the corporation has authority to issue and the number of shares issued, itemized by class and series (if any), and the par value of the shares, or a statement that the shares are without par value
  • A Certificate of Status issued by the Secretary of State under whose authority the business was incorporated

How to Obtain a Business Name in Wisconsin

Wisconsin DFI specifies two main naming guidelines for selecting the business name. First, the name should be distinguishable for entities covered by Chapters 178, 180, 181, and 183. Second, the name shouldn’t be similar to any other business already registered in the state. Avoid prohibited terms, such as words representing a government body (FBI, Department of State, etc.)

Use the right designator at the end of the business name. Your name must conclude with one of the following designators: “Company,” “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” or “Limited.” The abbreviations “Corp.”, “Inc.”, “Co.,” or “Ltd.” are also allowed.

You can check the name availability on the Wisconsin Corporate Registration System database. Once you find a name you like, you may reserve it. It will ensure that the name is saved for 120 days so no other business can use it.

Or, ZenBusiness name reservation services to take this off your plate so you can focus on other things.

Optional Information to File Articles of Incorporation

If you want to provide additional information, such as a grant or details not covered by the law, you can mention it on the form. Other optional information includes:

  • The secondary corporate name
  • Purpose of organization
  • Powers of organization, directors, and shareholders
  • Name and addresses of the initial directors

Include any supplemental forms

Apart from the Certificate of Authority, foreign corporations also have to provide a Certificate of Good Standing (CGS) for incorporation. It’s a legal document issued by the Secretary of State where the business was incorporated. The document verifies the business’s legality, its compliance with state laws, and tax filing. It may be called the Certificate of Existence or Certificate of Fact in some states.

How to Submit the Form

Online filing is the quickest way to submit AOI, but the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions also allows for filing by mail.

After you file, you’ll want to make sure you stay in good standing with the state. Use our Worry Free Compliance service to put your mind at ease and focus on what’s important.


This guide will lead your way when filing for your Wisconsin Articles of Incorporation. If you need any guidance, ZenBusiness is here to help. Take a look at our business formation plans and let us help you get started.

Wisconsin Articles of Incorporation FAQs

  • Check the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions website to see the most current information on fees and methods of payment available.

  • It takes around five working days to process any charter documents. High volumes of applications may cause delays. You can expedite the service with an additional fee.

  • The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions processes the Articles of Incorporation.

  • Wisconsin Statute 180.0202 governs the Articles of Incorporation.

  • No, it’s not legally required. It depends on your needs. If you need professional help, you can reach out to ZenBusiness for assistance.

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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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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