How to Start an LLC in Maine

Written by Melissa Pedigo – CPA, updated on

If you want to start a business in Maine, consider forming a limited liability company (LLC). This business structure provides liability protection to its owners and has a flexible management structure.

A Small Business Administration (SBA) report found that small businesses made up 99.2% of Maine businesses in 2022, employing 57.2% of the state’s workforce. And Maine is a friendly environment for minority-owned companies.

We'll walk you through everything you need to know about starting an LLC in Maine in this step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Name Your LLC

Choosing a business name for your Maine limited liability company is the first and most crucial step.

Under Maine law, your LLC’s name must comply with several naming guidelines. Your business name must:

  • Differ from other business entities registered with the Maine Secretary of State (SOS).
  • Contain “limited liability company,” “limited company,” or the abbreviation “LLC,” “L.L.C,” “LC,” or “L.C.”
  • Not contain words that refer to other types of legal entities such as “limited partnership” or “Corp.”
  • Exclude obscene language or promotions of abusive or unlawful activity.
  • Exclude any references to government agencies (e.g., State Department, Treasury, FBI, etc.)

If you intend to use restricted words (e.g., bank or credit union) in your LLC name or a professionally licensed individual (e.g., lawyer or doctor), you may need to file additional paperwork that proves your qualification.

You can check name availability by searching the Maine SOS’s business name database.

Maine Secretary of State business name search. Source: Maine Secretary of State.

Making a name reservation

Once you verify the selected name availability, you can reserve it for up to 120 days. It gives you extra time to prepare other business formation documents without rushing. Maine name reservations can’t be renewed after the initial 120 days.

You’ll file an Application for Reservation of Name (MLLC-1) form by mail and pay a filing fee of $20.

MLLC1 form maine

Trade name

If you want to do business under a different legal name, you must register a trade name, often called a DBA, or “doing business as.”

For example, if your business’s legal name is “Kate’s Wedding Gowns LLC” and you want to do business as “Best Wedding Gowns in Maine,” you’ll have to register this trade name with the Maine Secretary of State. Maine laws recognize fictitious and assumed names as two different designations:

  • An assumed name: A DBA that allows you to do business under another name. The filing fee is $125.
  • A fictitious name: A name taken by a foreign LLC if another Maine entity uses its legal business name. The filing fee is $40.

To register a fictitious or assumed name, you’ll file a Statement of Intention to Transact Business Under an Assumed or Fictitious Name (MLLC-5) form with the Maine Secretary of State.

MLLC5 form Maine

Step 2: Select a registered agent

As a business owner, you might handle several tasks to avoid spending more on payroll and other employee costs. One of those tasks is accepting legal papers on your LLC’s behalf.

Maine LLCs are required to have a registered agent for service of process. The agent can be an individual or business entity that agrees to receive and handle legal paperwork on the company’s behalf. The requirements for a registered agent generally include:

  • Being at least 18 years of age.
  • Reside in Maine.
  • For commercial agents, have a business entity authorized to do business in Maine.
  • Have a physical address (not a virtual office or P.O. Box) in Maine.
  • Accept legal correspondence and mail from Maine’s Division of Corporation on behalf of the LLC.
  • Keep regular business hours.

Legally, you can be your own registered agent. However, you must meet all the above requirements. You’ll also need to share your personal information (name, address, etc.). It opens you up to annoying sales calls, junk mail, or spam email.

Plus, you must keep regular business hours, which means you have to be available all day every day in case of service of process. For any business owner, it might be challenging to do all of this while growing a business. So you may consider hiring a registered agent service. A registered agent service accepts legal documents on your company’s behalf and sends them to you. This way, you’re protected from potentially awkward situations like being served a lawsuit in front of potential clients. Plus, a professional agent can organize all your legal documents, freeing you to meet other deadlines while keeping your business in good standing with the state.

Step 3: File the Maine LLC Articles of Organization and Obtain a Certificate of LLC Registration

To form an LLC in Maine, you’ll need to submit Articles of Organization through the mail (there’s no online option).

Before that, there are a few steps you need to take:

  • Download a Maine Certificate of Formation (MLLC-6) form.
  • Fill out the form with the entity name, entity type, registered agent’s name and office address, and the filing date.
  • File the completed form with the Maine SOS by mail.
  • Pay a filing cost of $175.

The SOS will process your filing, which typically takes around 5-10 business days (or up to 15 business days in the event of delays and federal holidays).

If you need your LLC formed faster, expedited processing is available at an additional fee:

  • 24-hour processing: $50
  • Immediate processing: $100

In the latter case, your formation documents are processed the same day they’re received in the mail. Once you have submitted your LLC registration and it has been approved, you should request a Certificate of LLC registration (evidence of existence) from the state of Maine to have for your records. The cost is $30.

Step 4: Create an LLC operating agreement

Several states, including Maine, legally require single-member and multi-member LLCs to have an operating agreement.

An operating agreement is a legal document that establishes your LLC's business structure and internal governance rules all members must follow. The agreement may be oral or in writing. A written agreement is preferable as it holds more value in court. You can create your own operating agreement using a template or an online tool. Or have a corporate attorney draw one up for your business.

An operating agreement must include the following sections:

  • Initial investments
  • Profits, losses, and distributions allocations
  • Decision-making powers, voting rights, and management
  • Transfer of membership interest
  • Dissolution of the business
LLC operating agreement example. Source: Northwest Registered Agent.

You don’t need to file your LLC’s operating agreement with the Maine Secretary of State office since it’s an internal document. Just make sure it’s filed safely with other important company documents.

Step 5: Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS

Congrats! You’ve formed your LLC.

The next step is to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

You’ll need an EIN to handle payroll and file federal taxes, especially if you plan to hire employees or have multiple LLC members. Single-member LLCs without employees don’t need to get an EIN, though. You can use your social security number to file tax returns if you report taxes as a sole proprietorship.

To obtain an EIN for your Maine LLC, complete and submit your application on the IRS website at no cost. If you’re not a U.S. citizen or resident who formed an LLC in Maine, you can’t get your EIN online. Instead, you’ll mail or fax Form SS-4 to the IRS.

Costs to Set Up an LLC in Maine

The initial filing fee for a new LLC in Maine is $175. This fee is mandatory and cannot be avoided when starting a Maine LLC. You could also potentially face additional optional charges, including an assumed name ($125), a fictitious name for a foreign LLC ($40), name reservation ($20), and third-party commercial registered agent fees (usually around $100). Depending on the nature of your business, you may also need to apply for specific business licenses.

Last steps

After creating your Maine LLC, there are a few additional recommended steps to complete. The most critical is to open a separate bank account for your company. Mixing personal and business funds can lead to legal and tax problems. Additionally, If you have employees, you’ll need to register for Maine State Income Tax Withholding by completing and filing an Application for Tax Registration. Even if you don’t have employees, you’ll still need to register when you sell taxable goods or services. The issued state ID lets you report all applicable state taxes.


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Last updated: Sep 2023
Melissa Pedigo

Article by:

Melissa Pedigo


Melissa Pedigo is a US CPA with more than 20 years of experience. She’s worked at Big 4 firms, for the government, and internationally. Now a full-time writer, she enjoys translating complex financial and tax topics into plain English. When she’s not keeping current reading IRS rules or tax legislation, you’ll find her studying foreign languages or playing tennis.

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