Choosing your business structure is the first big decision you make as a new business owner, and we’re happy to say that choosing a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is one of the best options you can choose. An LLC offers you the legal benefits of a corporation but with the simplicity of running a sole proprietorship in many ways.
If you live in Idaho or plan to do business in the Gem State, you’ll need to form an Idaho LLC, which is a relatively straightforward process. If you’re ready to start taking your business from idea to reality, follow the steps in our guide below.
Step 1 is to name your Idaho LLC. Most people have given a lot of thought to what their LLC will be called, so you will likely already have a name lined up. Your LLC name does not have to match your brand name exactly, so you don’t need to put too much weight on your LLC name, but it’s important to pick something you’re happy with as it’s difficult to change it later.
Your name must be easily distinguishable from the names of other companies registered in Idaho, regardless of business structure. You can check if your name is available here: Idaho Secretary of State Business Search.
If the name you wanted is already taken, you’ll need to choose a name that’s significantly different from the name of the registered business. For example, if you wanted to call your business Plant Made LLC, but there was already a company with that name, you won’t be able to register a company called Plants Made LLC.
Your LLC name must also include a designator in the name, which identifies it as a Limited Liability Company. You can choose from any of the following:
Your name must also not include any misleading or deceptive language which may lead someone to believe your business has authority it doesn’t or legally operates in a way it does not. For example, you cannot include State Department, Bank, Credit Union, Corp., or FBI in your name.
When you’ve found an available LLC name and registered it, consider securing your business’s domain name online. If you plan to brand your business differently to your LLC name this may not be important to you, but it’s something you should consider regardless, especially if you want to use cohesive branding.
You do not have to reserve your LLC name before you move on to steps 2 and 3, but if you do not plan to complete your business’s formation now, it can be a good idea to do so.
To secure your LLC name, file a Reservation of Legal Entity Name. You can file online or by mail; filing online costs $20 and filing by mail costs $40. Your reservation will last for 120 days.
Every LLC in the country is required to have a registered agent in the state they form their business in. A registered agent is a person or entity you appoint to receive legal mail and notices on your LLC’s behalf. This will mostly be tax information, but be aware that any court summons will also be sent to this address.
Your registered agent for your Idaho LLC must have a real Idaho address (a PO Box or virtual mailbox does not qualify) and be available to receive mail during normal business hours. You can be your own registered agent, or nominate another person (a friend or family member) or commercial registered agent.
Your LLC’s registered agent’s address will be available publicly, so you need to decide whether you’re willing to have your address available for all to see or not. If not, a commercial registered agent will be the best choice for you. Commercial registered agents are affordable, and usually charge around $15 a month for basic mail forwarding physically or electronically.
If you’re going to be working from home, it’s often best to work with a commercial registered agent. If you aren’t sure what to do, read our guide on the pros and cons so you can make a decision. If you decide a commercial registered agent is the right choice for you, we’d be glad to fulfill that need for you. Simply reach out to us and we’ll give you all the information you need to continue with your business’s formation.
With your name and registered agent chosen, you can move on to the exciting step of filing your Certificate of Organization. This is the step that will make your business a real legal entity ready to start trading.
You can file your Certificate of Organization (called a Certificate of Formation or Articles of Organization in most other states) online or by mail. It costs $100 if you file online or $120 if you file by mail, but payments must be made by credit card.
The information you’ll need to file includes:
To file go to: file Certificate of Organization of a Limited Liability Company
If you already have an LLC in another state and are forming an LLC in Idaho to do business there, you’ll need to form a Foreign LLC. The steps are all the same to form a Foreign LLC, the only difference is you’ll need to file this form: Foreign Registration Statement (LLC) with a Certificate of Existence or Certificate of Good Standing from your home state. (The certificate must be no more than 90 days old.)
Idaho is a little on the slower side when it comes to receiving your certified copy of your Certificate of Organization, as it usually takes around 10-15 business days. It may take up to 21 business days if you mail your filing.
Once you’ve got your certified copy of your Certificate of Organization, your business is a legal entity able to start trading. Our next steps will ensure you’re ready to start doing business.
An operating agreement is not a legal requirement in Idaho, but if anyone else besides you will be working in the business, it is essential.
An operating agreement lays out how your business will be run, who is responsible for what, who contributed what, and who has a right to what. This document can become priceless if there are any internal legal issues in the company.
Here are some of the things you will need to include:
Your business is almost ready to start operating - but before you go any further you need to acquire an EIN, otherwise known as an Employer Identification Number. Your business needs an EIN regardless of whether you will be an employer or not.
An EIN is a tax identification number, like an SSN, which allows your business to hire employees, get a business bank account, and pay taxes. At this stage in your business’s life, the most important factor is getting your business bank account.
The good news is getting your EIN is fast, free, and simple to do. Click this link to go to the IRS website. Once you’ve completed the form your EIN will be automatically generated for you.
You can also apply for your EIN by mail, but it will likely take 4 weeks to process. If you need to apply this way for any reason, use Form SS-4.
All Idaho LLCs must file an Annual Report each year. Your Annual Report will be due at the end of your anniversary month each year. For example, if you formed your business in November 2022, your first annual report would be due by the end of November 2023. You’ll receive a reminder from the Idaho Secretary of State 1-2 months before your report is due.
If you will be taking on employees or collecting sales tax, you will need to register with the Idaho State Tax Commission to pay taxes. You can register your business for these taxes here.
Idaho, like many other states, does not have a statewide business license requirement. You will need to look into the federal, state, city, or county licenses and permits you need. Fortunately, Idaho has a Business Wizard which will ask you a few questions and then give you a list of agencies you should look into or contact to get the appropriate licenses for your business.
If you need to find a list of professional licensing boards, you can do so here.
Now your business has all the legal things it needs to do business, it’s time to get your business bank account. Don’t be tempted to skip this step, even if you aren’t going to be trading soon. Remember that the reason you likely chose the LLC structure is to get legal protection for your assets in case anything goes wrong.
If you mix your assets by holding it all in your personal bank account, you may find that your personal funds aren’t separate enough to stand up in court. It’s best to get your business bank account now so you can practice good, separate money management from the first day of your business.
Now you’ve got your EIN, it will be fast and easy to apply for a business bank account.
The last step is to know about the legal requirement to keep some legal documents on-site at your business’s principal address. If you intend to work from home, this won’t take any work on your part, but if you will be working elsewhere you’ll need to make sure you follow this rule. The documents you need to keep on-site are:
Congratulations! Your Idaho LLC is now legally ready to start trading and you are well set up to find success.
Forming an LLC in Idaho is straightforward, but it can certainly be time-consuming. It can also be intimidating if you’ve never done anything like this before. If you don’t have the time to form your LLC or would rather have experts handle it for you, we’re here to help.
We’ll register your name, file your Certificate of Organization, obtain your EIN, and can even be your registered agent in Idaho. To get started, fill in this short form and we’ll do the rest.