An LLC (Limited Liability Company) is one of the best business structures available for small and medium-sized businesses, so it’s no surprise that it’s also one of the most popular. An LLC provides you with the same legal protections as a corporation, because the business and the owners are considered separate legal entities, but aren’t as complicated to run.
If you want to do business in Arizona, either because you live in the Grand Canyon State or trade there, you’ll need to form an Arizona LLC. This guide will show you the exact steps you need to follow to make your Arizona LLC official.
Your first step is often one you’ve thought about most, and that’s giving your new business an official name. Your LLC name won’t always match the name you trade as (you don’t often see brands using the LLC part of their name in their branding), but it is still important.
All Arizona LLCs must have a unique name from other businesses in the state and it must meet Arizona’s naming requirements. You can search on the Secretary of State’s website to find out if your preferred name is available (click here to start your search).
Your LLC name must include a designator, which makes it clear to anyone doing business with you that you are an LLC. You can choose from the following:
For example, if you plan to call yourself Hattie’s Hotdogs, you’ll need to register the name as Hattie’s Hotdogs LLC, or the same with one of the other designations.
If you are a professional (such as a lawyer or dentist), you will need to form a Professional LLC. This process is the same, but you’ll need to include a slightly different designation. You can choose from the following:
Your name cannot include any word that may lead people to believe it is something it’s not, including:
Unless you are certain you do not need a website (for example, if you’re forming an LLC to hold assets) or know you’ll use different branding for your business, check there is an appropriate domain name (website address) available at this point. When you form your LLC, also purchase your domain name so you aren’t stuck without it later.
You don’t need to reserve your LLC name before registering it in Arizona, but if you have found the perfect LLC name and aren’t yet ready to form your LLC, it’s a good idea to do so.
You can reserve your name for 120 days by filing an Application to Reserve Limited Liability Company Name with the Arizona Corporations Commission. You can do this online for a fee of $45, or by mail for a fee of $10.
Every LLC in the country is required to have a statutory agent (called a registered agent in most states). This is someone (an individual or business) that receives legal mail on behalf of your LLC.
Your statutory agent must have a real Arizona address - it cannot be a PO Box or virtual address.
You can be your own registered agent if you live in Arizona, or you can nominate a family member, friend, or another business, known as a commercial registered agent.
Your statutory agent’s address will be available publicly, which is why most LLCs choose to nominate a commercial agent. A commercial registered agent is affordable (usually around $15 a month, depending on what services are included) and will at the least forward your mail to you physically or electronically.
If you’re not sure whether or not you should be your own statutory agent, read our guide on the pros and cons here. We can be your trusted Arizona statutory agent if you decide not to be your own - simply reach out to us and we’ll give you everything you need to move forward.
This is the exciting step where you get to make your business official! While it can be intimidating if you’re new to all the jargon, we’ll help make the process of filing your Articles of Organization (called Certificate of Formation in some states) straightforward.
You can file your Articles of Organization online or via mail, both options costing $50, which can be paid online when you file. The information you need to have to hand includes:
To file your Arizona LLC online, go to: Arizona Corporations Commission
To file your LLC by mail, you’ll need the following forms:
Send the forms to:
Arizona Corporation Commission
Corporate Filings Section
1300 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
If you are filing a Foreign LLC (your LLC resides in another state but you’re going to be doing business in Arizona), the process is the same, but you’ll need to file an Application for Registration of a Foreign Limited Liability Company along with a copy of your certificate of formation or similar from your business’s home state. It costs $150 to file a foreign LLC.
Arizona is a notoriously slow state for processing LLCs. You should expect it to take 50-55 days to get confirmation of your LLC’s formation. It’s best to expedite the process by paying an additional fee, which will complete the process in just 10 days. If you aren’t sure how to go about this, reach out to us for help.
Once your Articles of Organization are approved, your LLC is a fully-fledged legal business entity. You’ll receive your certificate to prove it.
This is not a legally mandated document in Arizona, but if anyone else will be running your business with you, you should create one. An operating agreement records any essential details about how the business will be run, as well as how ownership is distributed.
Your operating agreement should include details like:
Include any other information that may help prevent legal issues later.
Now your business is official, you can apply for your EIN. An EIN may not sound exciting, especially when you consider it is a tax ID number, but an EIN will allow you to get a business bank account, pay taxes, and hire staff.
The process is free and easy. Simply apply for your EIN on the IRS website here. Your EIN will be generated automatically.
If you need to file by mail (not recommended, since it will take around 4 weeks for you to hear back), use Form SS-4.
Arizona is one of the few states that requires you to publish a notice of LLC formation in your county newspaper for 3 consecutive weeks within 60 days of formation.
You need to include the following:
This is not required if your business is formed in Maricopa or Prima counties. Instead, the Corporations Commissions in Maricopa and Prima publish a list of recently-formed LLCs on their websites.
If your business is going to be hiring employees or collecting sales tax from selling goods, you will need to register your business with the Arizona Department of Revenue. This is called a TPT License. To register your business for the first time, go to: Arizona Business One Stop.
The One Stop also gives you access to other information and ways to manage your business.
You can apply for the first time online, by mail, or in person, but it will take 3-5 days for you to receive your TPT license regardless.
If you aren’t sure if you need a TPT license or not, click here.
There is no state-wide business license required in Arizona, but if your business is involved in regulated activities, you will likely need to get a license from the appropriate governing body.
If you suspect you will need a business license, or just want to check that you don’t, go to the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Checklist Program to find more information.
Here are the business licenses you’re most likely to need:
You’re not legally required to have a separate business bank account, but if you don’t, you may negate the benefits of having an LLC in the first place. An LLC allows you to separate yourself from your business, so if your business were to get sued you couldn’t be held personally liable (or vice versa). If you don’t keep your assets separate and the worst happens, you may find yourself defending what’s rightfully yours in court.
Fortunately, this can all be easily avoided with a business bank account. Use your EIN to apply now so you can keep your business and personal assets separate from the start. It may not seem that important now, but you’ll thank us come tax time!
If you’re operating a single-member LLC from home, you’ll likely do this step out of necessity. It is a legal requirement for any LLC (regardless of size) to keep certain legal documents on-site at the business’s principal office. These documents are:
With all 10 steps covered, your Arizona LLC is officially ready to do business!
These 10 steps are straightforward, but they can also be stressful! It’s no secret that the government uses a lot of jargon that can leave you worried that you’ve got something wrong, or spending more time figuring out what should go where than you’re willing to give.
Your time should be spent getting your fledgling business off the ground. If you’re excited about seeing your business idea take off, we can handle your LLC’s formation. We’ll take care of everything from registering your business name to acquiring your EIN and we can even act as your statutory agent for you.