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How Long Does It Take To Form an LLC

LLC formation timelines in 50+ states

Written by Melissa Pedigo – CPA, updated on

Limited liability company (LLC) incorporation is a popular way to establish a new business. LLCs are easy to form, inexpensive, and simple to maintain.

Also, an LLC is an ideal business structure if you want to protect your personal assets, raise capital from investors, and benefit from different taxation schemes.

All sounds good, but how long does it take to form an LLC?

In this guide, we’ll go over the formation process and turnaround time, so you know what to expect.

How long does limited liability company formation take?

On average, LLC formation takes 7-10 business days in most states. Some states can even issue same-day approval if you file company formation documents online. Others may have a backlog of unprocessed LLC filings, leading to 4-6 weeks in waiting times.

How long does limited liability company formation take

For example, Florida takes two to five business days to approve your LLC registration request. Arizona authorities have a 30-day standard processing time for Articles of Organization submissions.

Several factors can speed up or delay the formation of your LLC, such as the following.

Times of the year. Some states are busier at the beginning or end of the year when there are heavy filing volumes.

Type of processing. Mailed-in filings always take longer. Online requests are handled faster. Some states also offer expedited services for online and in-person filings for an additional fee.

Document correctness. If you’ve not submitted all the required state forms or your LLC name doesn’t meet the state requirements, your registration will be denied.

Below we further break down how much every step of new LLC formation takes time-wise.

Articles of Organization processing

To make your LLC official, you’ll need to choose a business name. Then file the Articles of Organization (also called “Certificate of Formation” in some states) with the local Secretary of State for processing and approval.

This document includes various information about your legal entity such as:

  • LLC member(s) names, dates of birth, and addresses
  • Name and address of registered agent
  • Purpose of the business
  • Signatures of the members and registered agent

Most states accept online submissions, which are processed faster. Others prefer mailed-in submissions or walk-ins at the Secretary of State’s office.

Regardless of the filing method, make sure you fill the forms out correctly and include all the requested information. Otherwise, the state may reject your LLC’s Articles of Organization. And you won’t get any refund on the state fees you’ve paid.

Once you receive an approved copy of the Articles of Organization, your LLC is legally incorporated, and you can do business in the state.

Registered agent selection

When forming an LLC, you must appoint a registered agent to handle the service of process and other legal documents.

Registered agent selection

A registered agent keeps you posted on legal and official notices, annual report filing dates, and other compliance tasks you need to complete. If your business is subpoenaed or sued, these notices will be delivered at the registered agent’s address, listed with the state.

You can list yourself, a member of the LLC, or a third-party as your registered agent provided they:

  • Are at least 18 years of age
  • Have a physical address (not P.O Box) in the formation state
  • Can be available during business hours at the registered office

Remember: your registered office address becomes a public record. Meaning if you add your home address, you may get unsolicited visitors. At the same time, if you don’t live in the formation state or travel a lot, you won’t meet the “availability” requirement.

That’s why many new business owners hire a registered agent service who can:

  • Handle official correspondence and forward you the most important documents
  • Ensure your legal matters remain confidential and eliminate unwanted embarrassment
  • Relay all critical documentation about your LLC to you promptly
  • Be available during regular business hours so that you don’t have to

Getting a registered agent provider early on also ensures that your business maintains corporate compliance. Hence, you’re always in good standing with the state.

Operating agreement creation

An LLC operating agreement is an internal document that outlines how different administrative, financial, and governance decisions will be made in your company.

It also establishes the powers, rights, duties, obligations, and liabilities of all LLC members.

Most states don’t require operating agreements. Still, entrepreneurs should consider having one if they launch a multi-member LLC. Without this document, you may face compliance issues when doing common admin procedures, such as adding a new member to an LLC or transferring your LLCs to another state.

Also, in multi-member LLCs, operating agreements help clarify verbal agreements, which might lead to miscommunication or misunderstanding among members if not handled in writing.

But four states – California, Delaware, Missouri, and New York – require all LLCs (including single-member LLCs) to have an operating agreement. You don’t have to submit it to the State, however. Just keep a private copy.

You can create your LLC’s operating agreement using an online template. Or hire a law firm to create a custom version for your business (recommended for multi-member LLCs)

Business bank account application

Unlike sole proprietorships, LLCs can’t commingle personal and business finances.

Doing so can have negative legal consequences such as loss of good standing with the state, involuntary LLC dissolution, and loss of personal asset protection.

Business bank account application

A business bank account helps sustain LLC protections by establishing a legal distinction between the company and its owners. A separate bank account also establishes credibility for your new business and helps build your credit score.

You can typically apply for a business bank account in minutes, provided you meet all the account opening requirements. These vary based on the bank you choose, the state you formed your business in, and the business entity type.

In most cases, you’ll need a:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • ID document with photo
  • Certified copy of Articles of Organization
  • Fictitious (assumed name) certificate
  • Business license (if applicable)
  • Copy of operating agreement (if applicable)

Rates and fees also vary. Some banks don’t charge monthly fees, while others expect you to pay $10-$20/month to maintain an account with them. Other banks require a minimum opening deposit. But it can be as low as $25.

Employer identification number (EIN) application

You need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you:

  • Form multi-member LLC
  • Plan to hire employees as a single-member LLC

An EIN is a nine-digit number that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to businesses for identification.

You can apply for EIN online, by mail, or by fax for free. If you’re an international applicant, you can apply over the phone.

Online applications are preferable, and you can get your EIN immediately. The mail-in filings can take up to 4 weeks to process.

Business license application

You’ve formed your LLC, opened a bank account, and obtained an EIN.

The next step is to apply for business licenses and permits to run a business that complies with state requirements.

The following states require all types of companies to get a general business license:

  • Alabama (issued at county/city level)
  • Alaska (issued by Secretary of State)
  • California (issued at county/city level)
  • Delaware (issued by Secretary of State)
  • Hawaii (available through the Department of Taxation)
  • Maine (issued at city level)
  • Maryland (available upon registering with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation; a trader’s license is also required to buy and resell goods)
  • Massachusetts (issued at county/city level)
  • Missouri (issued at county/city level)
  • Montana (general licenses are required by some cities)
  • Nevada (provided and regulated by the Secretary of State)
  • Tennessee (Standard Business License issued at the county level for businesses whose annual sales exceed $10,000)
  • Washington (available through the State Business Licensing Service)

No two states issue business licenses within the same time frame. Some registrations can be done online – others require a mailed-in or in-person application.

It can take as little as one day or as long as six months to get your license. Delaware business license processing takes a month on average. Tennessee officials process all new business license registrations within 10 days.

Occupational licenses

Some business activities are regulated by the state. Meaning that some professionals need to obtain a specific occupational license – a document that says you comply with the best practices and standards for that career.

Licensed occupations include accounting, nursing, construction, cosmetology, and more.

To get a professional license, you must meet state-specific requirements such as educational training, testing, and practical experience.

Once you apply for an occupational license, it may take two business days to two weeks following the licensure date to receive written confirmation of licensure (your registration certificate).

Sales license

If you plan on selling products (wholesale or retail) or services (architects, attorneys, consultants), you may need a sales license or state sales tax ID to collect sales tax on transactions. These include ecommerce sales.

You can get a sales license from the government agency that regulates businesses in your state, such as the local Department of Revenue.

In most places, you can apply for a sales license online and receive your ID number in 24-48 hours. If you mail in your application, you can get your sales license within 14 days or the same day for in-person applications.

States like Oregon, Montana, Delaware, Alaska, and New Hampshire have no state sales tax, so you don’t need to apply for a sales license there.

LLC formation timelines in 50 states

State

Standard timelineExpedited service
AlabamaUp to 14 business days$200 for 3-day processing
Alaska10-15 business days for mailed-in state filings

In-person and online requests are processed faster

Expedited processing service not available
Arizona30 business days$35 for 5-day rush processing
ArkansasTwo business days from receipt for mailed filings

Up to 48 hours for in-person drop-offs and online submissions

Expedited service not available
California2-4 business days for online filings

10-15 business days by mail

About 10 business days for in-person filings

$300-500 for rapid preclearance

Another $500 for 4-hour processing

$750 for same-day service

ColoradoOnline filings are processed within several days

7-10 business days from the date received for mailed filings

$150.00 for 3-day processing
Connecticut3-5 business days for online filings

2-4 weeks for mailed filings

$50 for each document for 24-hour processing
Delaware7-10 business days from receipt of filingsStarting at $50-$100 per filing for next-day service.

$1,000 for one-hour service

District of Columbia (D.C.)Up to 15 business days for online and mail-in filings

In-person filings are processed while you wait

$100 for one-day service and $50 for three-day service
Florida2-5 business days for online filing

Mail-in filing takes longer due to postage delays

$100 for 24-hour service
Georgia7 business days for online filings and a few weeks for mailed-in filings$100 to $1,000 depending on urgency
Hawaii3-5 business days for online filings

1-2 weeks by mail

$25 for 1-3 day expedited processing
IdahoSeveral business days for online submissions

7-10 business days for mailed in filings

Expedited service not available
IllinoisUp to 4 weeks in case of a backlog$100 expedited service filing fee for faster processing of online and in-person submissions
Indiana1-2 business days for online filings

Up to 2 weeks for mail filings

Expedited service not available

Iowa1 business day for online filings

7-14 business days for mailed-in filings

$50 for two-day service and $15 for five-day service
KansasSame/next-day processing for online filingExpedited service not available
KentuckyEstimated processing times are not available, but mailed-in filings take longer than online filingsExpedited service not available
Louisiana3-5 business days for online filings

2-4 weeks for paper applications

$30 for 24-hour processing

$50 for 2-4 hour processing

Maine10-15 business days on average$50 for 24-hour processing

$100 for same-day processing

Maryland7 business days for online filings

4-6 weeks for mailed-in or in-person filings

$50 for expedited 7-day processing for mailed-in or in-person filings
Massachusetts2-5 business days for online filings

Mailed in filings can take up to 6 weeks

$20 expedited fee collected on top of all online filings
Michigan5-10 business days for regular submissions

Online filing is faster

$100 same-day processing

$500 for two-hour processing (filed before 3 pm)

$1,000 for one-hour processing (filed before 4 pm)

MinnesotaUnder 7 business days for in-person and online filings

Up to 2 weeks for mailed-in filings

$20 expedited fee is charged for online or in-person submissions
MississippiOnline filing only

Up to 3 days

Expedited service not available
MissouriEstimated processing times not available

Mailed-in filings take longer than online filings

Expedited service not available

Online filings are $20 cheaper than mailed in + processed faster

MontanaNormal processing time is 3-5 business days post-receipt$20 for 24-hour service

$100.00 for 1-hour service

Nebraska1-2 business days upon document submissionExpedited service not available
Nevada2 business days for online applications

Up to 2 weeks for mail applications

$125 per document for 24-hour processing

$500 per document for 2-hour turnaround

$1,000 per document for 1-hour processing

New Hampshire2-3 business days for all filings

$25.00 for 24-hour service

$50.00 for same-day service

New JerseyEstimated processing times not available$25 for processing faxed, in-person, or courier-delivered documents within 8.5 business hours
New MexicoWithin several business days for online filings – which are now requiredExpedited service not available
New YorkAround a week since the day of receipt

$25 for 24-hour processing

$75 for same-day processing (for requests submitted before 12:00 p.m.)

$150 for 2-hour service (for requests submitted before 2:30 p.m.)

North Carolina7-10 business days

$100 for 24-hour processing

$200 for same-day processing

North DakotaEstimated processing times not available$50 for completion sooner than the normal course of business upon request
Ohio3-7 business days for online submissions

Up to several weeks for in-person or mailed-in filings

$100 to $300 per document, depending on urgency
Oklahoma1 business day for online filings

5-10 business days for mailed-in filings

$25 for same-day document processing
OregonA few business days for online filings and up to 2 weeks for mailed-in filingsExpedited service not available
PennsylvaniaUp to 15 business days, but online filings are processed faster$300 to $1,000, depending on urgency
Rhode IslandAround 5-7 business days (including mailing time)Expedited service not available
South CarolinaSame or next day for online filings

Up to 7 days for mailed-in filings

$100.00 for 24-hour service

$200 for same-day service

South DakotaImmediate for online while mailed-in filings take 3-5 business days$50 for completion sooner than the normal course of business upon request
TennesseeSeveral business days for online filing

Up to 14 business days for mailed-in or in-person filing

Expedited service not available
Texas4-5 business days for online filings

Up to 40 days for mailed in and faxed documents

$25 per document for expedited faxed documents processing (4-5 business days)
Utah24 hours for online filings

7 business days for mailed-in or fax filings

$75 for each document for a 1-2 business day process time
VermontLess than 1 business day for online filing

7-10 business days for mailed-in filing

Expedited service not available
VirginiaUp to 4 weeks for mailed-in filings

Online filings are much faster

$50 or $100 for next-day service

$200 for same-day service

Washington2 business days for online filings and expedited paper filings

$50 per paper filing

$20 for online filings

West Virginia5-10 business days on average

$25.00 for 24-hour service

$250.00 for 2-hour service

$500.00 for 1-hour service

Wisconsin10-14 business days for standard processing$35 per document for 1-2 day processing
Wyoming2-3 business days for online filings

Up to 15 business days for mail or in-person filings

Expedited service not available

Conclusion

LLC formation takes time, so plan your go-to-market strategy accordingly.

As per usual, the more money you are ready to spend – the faster you can get your business up and running!

Melissa Pedigo

Article by:

Melissa Pedigo

CPA

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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