How to Start an LLC in Arkansas

Written by Nikki Winston – CPA, updated on

If Arkansas is where you want to start a limited liability company (LLC), this post outlines the steps to follow.

Arkansas may not be a bucket list vacation spot, but it’s an attractive hot spot for small business owners. The state has a pro-business tax system, a robust transportation network, and a host of larger corporations to contract with.

Forming an LLC involves several procedures such as submitting company formation documents to the Arkansas Secretary of State, permits and business license registration, and completing other administrative formalities.

We discuss all of them in-depth.

Steps to open an LLC in Arkansas

Step 1: Choose a name for your LLC

The first order of business is to select a name for your Arkansas LLC.

Your LLC's name must:

  • Include Limited Liability Company or one of the abbreviations of LLC, Ltd, LC
  • Be unique and distinguishable from existing business entities
  • Avoid words like bank, engineer, or insurance unless authorized

Use the Arkansas Secretary of State’s name availability tool to see if a name is available. Avoid using names related to existing businesses. You don't want to create confusion.

arkansas business name search

If a business name is available, you are not guaranteed to use it. You get exclusive use for a specific business name until it’s approved by the Secretary of State.

Making a name reservation

You can reserve a specific business name for 120 days. This lets you secure the name while preparing to launch.

File Form RN-06 to reserve your LLC’s name. There’s a $22.50 fee for online filings and $25 for mail-ins.

Trade name

Some business owners choose to operate under a name different from the LLC's legal name. This is a DBA (doing business as) name or trade name. Arkansas calls it a fictitious name.

Fictitious names offer a lot of flexibility. You can form one LLC and operate different product or service lines under it.

For example, Lisa's Enterprises LLC could use trade names like Lisa's Ad Agency and Lisa’s Web Design. You can have an unlimited number of DBAs for each LLC.

File Form DN-18 to register a fictitious name in Arkansas with the Secretary of State. Be prepared to pay $22.50 for online submissions or $25 for mail-in ones.

Apply for a fictitious business name for your LLC
Apply for a fictitious business name for your LLC. Source: Arkansas Secretary of State.

Step 2: Select a registered agent

A critical step in starting an LLC in Arkansas is appointing a registered agent. This contact receives official items like tax documents and legal notices.

You can serve as your own registered agent if you’re over 18 and have a physical address in Arkansas. You can’t use a P.O. Box.

Being your own registered agent comes with some downsides:

  • You must be available during business hours to receive legal notices
  • It lacks privacy as the registered agent’s address is public information
  • You’ll have to sort through junk mail without missing any critical documents
  • You must update your address if you move

To avoid these problems, experienced business owners hire a registered agent instead. They take care of the heavy lifting so you can focus on your operation.

A commercial registered agent service costs about $50-$100 per year.

Step 3: File the Arkansas LLC Articles of Organization

The next step is filing a Certificate of Organization for a domestic LLC in Arkansas. This exciting step turns your business dreams into an actual legal entity. Other states call this the Articles of Organization.

Filing your LLC’s organization documents can seem intimidating. But the process is much easier than you likely imagine.

The Certificate of Organization only requires basic information about your business, including:

  • Business name
  • Principal address
  • Registered agent
  • LLC owner(s)

The filing fee is $50 for paper filings or $45 for online submissions.

Certificate of Organization for a domestic LLC in Arkansas
Certificate of Organization for a domestic LLC in Arkansas. Source: Arkansas Secretary of State.

Companies from other states that wish to do business in Arkansas must register as a Foreign LLC. They’ll need to use the Certificate of Registration of a Foreign LLC. This filing fee is $270 for online applications and $300 for mailed applications.

Both domestic and foreign LLCs will also complete an annual franchise tax registration form attached to the respective company formation document.

Step 4: Get a Certificate of LLC formation

Once the Arkansas Secretary of State approves your LLC’s formation, you’ve started an Arkansas LLC. You want to get a certified copy of the approval to keep with your records.

Request certified document copies from the Arkansas Secretary of State. There is a $5 fee plus $0.50 per page.

Some banks or financing opportunities may need this to open an account or receive funds.

Step 5: Create an LLC operating agreement

An operating agreement is a private contract between members. It lays out how the LLC will work. They are important for multi-member LLCs especially.

If you don’t have an operating agreement, state law will apply if disputes arise. This can lead to unexpected results that may not align with your desires. Executing an operating agreement protects your interests and helps avoid surprises.

This legal document includes:

  • LLC management structure
  • Operating principles
  • Profit and loss distribution among members
  • Internal administrative processes
  • Members’ voting rights

A clear-cut operating agreement establishes the rights and responsibilities of all LLC members. It also minimizes the grounds for disputes.

An operating agreement is an internal legal document. You don’t need to file it with the Arkansas Secretary of State.

Free and low-cost LLC operating agreement templates are available online. You can adjust them to meet your needs. Or hire a corporate lawyer to draft a custom document for your LLC.

Step 6: Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a unique 9-digit number for businesses, like a Social Security number. The IRS uses it to track your LLC's tax information.

You can get an EIN for free from the IRS website. You can also request one through the mail, which can take up to 3 weeks to process.

EIN is optional for a) LLCs, reporting federal taxes as a sole proprietorship and b) those without employees. But all multi-member LLCs must register for an EIN.

Arkansas will also use your EIN for state tax withholding purposes.

Costs to set up an LLC in Arkansas

The costs to form your LLC in Arkansas vary. They depend on how much professional help you use and your LLC's complexity.

At the least, you must pay $45 to file the Certificate of Organization online and another $5 for a copy of the approved certification.

Other costs to start an Arkansas LLC may include:

  • Name reservation: $22.50 online / $25 mail
  • DBA/trade name registration: $22.50 online / $25 mail
  • Professional registered agent: $50 – $100 per year
  • Certificate of Organization: $45 online / $50 mail
  • Foreign LLC Registration: $270 online / $300 mail
  • Certified copies of documents: $5 – $10
  • Operating agreement draft: $0 – $2,000
  • GRAND TOTAL: $50 – $2,460

Last steps

You're almost ready to launch your Arkansas business. Before you start operating, you’ll need to take care of a few more details.

Register with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration

All Arkansas LLCs are subject to a minimal annual franchise tax of $150.

You may also be liable for other state taxes. LLCs that hire employees may be subject to employment taxes.

Some business operations must collect and pay excise taxes, such as sales and use tax. This applies if your LLC:

  1. Sells goods from a retail location or inventory
  2. Performs a taxable service
  3. Leases or rents tangible property

The Arkansas Secretary of State has combined business tax registration on the AR-1R form. You can also use the Arkansas Taxpayer Access Point online system.

Open an Arkansas business bank account

LLC members need to keep business and personal finances separate. It’s crucial for maintaining LLC personal asset protection.

If you combine your personal and business finances, you may lose the legal benefits that LLCs offer.

Open a small business bank account in Arkansas for less than $100. Some banks offer a free business bank account if you deposit a certain threshold.

Local licenses and permits

Besides state needs, your LLC must also meet local laws. These may include city licenses and other local permits.

For example, the city of Little Rock requires all LLCs to have a business license. Little Rock also issues permits for alcohol sales. Fort Smith has a mandatory business license as well.

Before you launch operations, make sure your LLC gets what it needs to start up.

Other considerations

Many savvy business owners get insurance policies to protect them during challenging times. Things like general liability and workers’ compensation policies are worth the price.

Connecting with the local business community can also pay dividends. By joining groups like the Chamber of Commerce, you can learn from successful peers. The Arkansas SMTDC provides free consulting.

Leap forward by heading over to the Arkansas business name search to see if your idea is available. Keep up the progress by figuring out the registered agent you want to use.

Follow the above steps to quickly form your Arkansas LLC and start your new venture.


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Last updated: May 2024
Nikki Winston, CPA

Article by:

Nikki Winston


Nikki Winston is a CPA who enjoys writing about accounting, tax, personal finance, and career advice. Catch Nikki on Twitter @NikkWinstonCPA.

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