If you’ve ever tried to start a business, you know there’s a lot more that goes into it than picking a name and collecting money from customers. One of the first steps in starting an LLC is filing your articles of organization with the state. Keep reading to learn how to find your articles of organization and how to go about filing them.

The basics of articles of organization

Articles of organization are legal documents states use to establish an LLC. These documents essentially outline the “who, what, where, when, and why” of your LLC. They’re also used to establish the rights, duties, and liabilities of each member of your LLC. So, needless to say, properly filing this document and retaining your copy is essential.

After you get your articles of organization, you and your business partners can get an employer identification number (EIN), get your business license, and open your small business bank account.

How to file articles of organization

Filing your articles of organization is pretty straightforward, and some states even have templates you can use during the process. The main thing is being prepared with all of the right information. Here’s how to get started:

  • Choose a business name: Did you know that many states have regulations around what you can and cannot call a business? In fact, a business name that doesn’t meet a state’s requirements is one of the most common reasons why LLC applications get rejected. A basic example of this is that most states require “LLC” to be part of the business name if it’s a limited liability corporation. Be sure to read through all of your state’s requirements before choosing a name.
  • Collect the right details for your LLC: States have more requirements for filing an LLC than you might think, and you need to have this information in order before you file for your articles of organization. Along with your business name, you’ll need to submit information like your address, budget, business plan, and date of business launch.
  • Get a registered agent: A registered agent is a third party appointed to receive legal documentation and government notices for an LLC or corporation. Registered agents are required in every state, but they can technically be just about anyone. That said, it’s a good idea to hire a legal expert who has experience in your industry rather than a friend or family member.
  • Check your government requirements: Each state requires slightly different documentation to file for your articles of organization—and failing to submit all of the correct forms and documents will lead to rejection. Your secretary of state’s website will have info on all the documents and forms you need to submit.
  • Fill in the correct information: Now it’s time to fill out all of the information you’ve just gathered. The details vary by state, but the general information you need includes your address, registered agent’s information, the duration for which you intend to run your LLC, management structure, the purpose of the LLC, liabilities and debts, organizers, and members. Having an experienced registered agent on your side can really come in handy here.
  • Submit the form: There’s nothing left to do at this point other than submit your forms. Some states let you submit them online, while others still require that paper copies be sent through the mail. As you may already know, the government often moves slowly, so it can take up to five weeks for your LLC to be approved. After you get your certificate of approval, you can move on to the next steps of owning a business, like starting a small business bank account.

How to get a copy of my articles of organization

If you lose the certification documentation you received after approval, you’re not completely out of luck. Every state allows you to get a new copy, and the process is pretty painless. In fact, getting a copy of your articles of organization is even easier than filing the initial paperwork.

The thing to keep in mind is that the steps do vary by state, and many states will charge you a replacement fee. Here’s a little bit more information about how to find articles of organization:

Where to find copies of your articles of organization

The majority of states have copies of articles of organization available through the secretary of state’s website. However, that’s not the case across the board. For example, Arizona’s are on the Arizona Corporation Commission website, while Delaware’s are available on the Division of Corporations website. A quick Google search will tell you what website you need to log into to find articles of organization in your state.

Searching for your business

The next step in how to find your articles of organization is searching for your business. Each state has a slightly different platform for finding your business online, but the information you need remains fairly consistent across the country. You’ll need to enter your business’s legal name and your state-assigned number. Many states also require the name and address of your registered agent. If you don’t have this information for any reason, you can find it by doing a “business entity search” on your state’s secretary of state website.

Completing the required forms

Now that you’ve entered your business using the business entity search, it’s time to fill out all of the necessary fields on the request form. These forms are all pretty short and don’t require much information—you’ll just need to ensure you fill out each field as required without making any mistakes. Be prepared to wait at least 24 hours to receive an electronic version of your copy—and longer if you need a physical version.

States that make you pay for articles of organization

All states make business owners pay a fee for filing articles of organization. And, as we mentioned, many states make business owners pay a fee if they want to get copies of their articles of organization. Furthermore, the fees typically vary depending on whether you need a certified or non-certified copy of the document. Thankfully, these are small fees in comparison to other costs of owning a business. The majority of fees are less than $20, though some states do charge more (particularly for certified copies).

States that give copies for free

If your business is located in the following states, you’re in luck: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia (up to 25 pages), West Virginia, or Wyoming. These states will give you copies of your articles of organization for free, though most of these states only provide online copies for free. If you need a certified copy, you may need to pay.

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Finding the right small business bank is nearly as important as knowing how to find your articles of organization. For the best in small business banking, look no further than North One. Mobile banking options, business debit cards, and automatic budgeting are just a few of the tools we offer that make business banking easier for small business owners. Visit us online today to see how banking with North One can change your life.