In my guide on how to start a Maine Limited Liability Company we’ll go through all the right steps to make sure it’s an official business with the Maine Secretary of State’s office. Before we do though, I always recommend using Northwest Registered Agent to do this without having to go through the steps on your own.
One of the best things to understand is what Maine is known for that let’s you really figure out the best business ideas for Maine. The best business ideas for Maine are:
- Start a Lobster Fishing Business
- Start a Ocean Touring Business
- Start a Lobster T-Shirt Apparel Business
Once you’ve figure out what your business name is you’re going to need to make sure you setup your Maine Limited Liability Company with an appropriate business name.
Name Your Maine LLC
When thinking about a name for your individual or business entity, you’ll need to follow the Maine business name guidelines which are going to have rules around a few things:
- First, the name must include “LLC,” “L.L.C.” or “limited liability company.”
- Your LLC’s name can’t imply that it’s something it’s not. For example: You can’t call your one-person LLC “Global Enterprises”
- The name can’t be too similar to an existing business in the state
- The name can’t include restricted words without proper licensing
Once you have a few names in mind, you’ll need to check with the Maine Secretary of State’s office by doing a business entity search on their website. If your desired LLC name is available, you may reserve it for 120 days by filing an Application for Reservation.
The best way to determine if your business name is available is to search the Maine Secretary of State’s office through their portal here:
If you’re one of the LLC owners of your business or you’re thinking about your professional LLC where you’d like to capture your name, you’ll need to make sure it’s available.
Get a Website Domain for Your Maine Limited Liability Company
Once you’ve done that you’re going to need to get a website domain that you can lock in your business name with. It’s important that use GoDaddy to help you with this. I always tell people that your website is more important than your physical address if you’re going to be selling online. It’s business advice you can take or leave but if you’re going to be operating a business in Maine – you’ll need a website address to transact business on.
After you’ve done this, you’ll need to get a Maine Registered Agent so let’s get into how you’re going to do that next.
Choose your registered agent
One of the best ways to get a reliable registered agent service is to use Northwest Registered Agent who is a service I recommend to everyone. They will help with the LLC formation you’ll need to do and give you the first year of their registered agent service because they want to make sure you’re happy and satisfied with what they provide.
A registered agent is someone or a business that will:
- Receive Service of Process on behalf of your LLC
- Have a physical address in Maine
- Be available during business hours
You will need to make sure you’re using a registered to receive paperwork and other legal documents on behalf of your LLC. This is so important because if you don’t have a registered agent and something goes wrong, the state could dissolve your company.
You can also look for a law firm to act as your professional service on this and help in other legal matters but they typically only do low volume. I’m sure you’ll be able to find a Maine law firm that can help you but I’d recommend using a service that does this 100s and 1000s of times per month and year.
Now that we’ve gone over what you need to do for your Maine Limited Liability Company, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how you’re going to take the next step of your organizing your articles of organization.
Prepare and File Articles of Organization
Now that you have everything in place, it’s time to file your Articles of Organization with the state. The easiest way to do this is by using an online service like ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent. I’ve used both and they make the process pretty simple.
If you want to do this on your own, you can. I’d recommend going to the Maine Secretary of State’s office to figure out what specifically they need from you because it may have changed. From my research you’ll need to:
- Include the LLC’s name and address
- List the names and addresses of the organizers
- Include the LLC’s purpose
- Designate a registered agent and their address
- Sign and date the document
- Provide the filing fee
After you’ve filed your Articles of Organization, you’ll need to get an operating agreement setup.
Create an operating agreement
I always tell people that operating agreements are some of the most important legal documents you’ll setup for your business. An LLC operating agreement is something that will help your LLC members protect themselves. If you’re going to be putting in personal assets or have more than one member of the foreign LLC, sole proprietorship or you’re setting up one of the many Limited Liability Companies – you’ll need an operating agreement.
The pieces you’ll need to include in an operating agreement are
- The LLC’s name and address
- The names and addresses of the organizers
- Provisions for admitting new members
- Voting rules
- How profits and losses will be distributed among the members
- What happens if a member leaves the LLC
- The LLC’s purpose
There are quite a few templates you can find online but I always recommend using an operating agreement the LLC formation team sends your way. It’s the best way of making sure you have a Maine LLC operating agreement that the Maine Secretary of State’s office is going to allow you to use. You won’t need a Maine LLC certificate for this but you’ll at least have a legal document for your team as one of the business tools that you can bring back as a business owner.
Get an EIN
An EIN is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number and you’ll need to get one for your business so you can open a business bank account, file taxes, and hire employees. You can apply through the IRS website which is here:
The employer identification number is one of them most powerful tools for any new business. This will allow you to hire employees, make sure your business structure is setup the right way and that you’re paying Maine sales tax, federal taxes and of course state taxes.
After you’ve figured this piece out with the Internal Revenue Service, it’s time to make sure the Maine Revenue Services team understands you have a business bank account.
Open A Business Bank Account
I always recommend using Lili as your bank. It’s extremely easy to use your EIN, setup business entities and make sure your LLC online is setup with the right way to track business expenses using that Federal Employer Identification Number.
Once you get a bank account setup to conduct business, you’re ready to go figure out what type of business insurance you need.
Get Small Business Insurance
The different types of business insurance you’ll need to consider are:
- Product liability insurance
- Professional liability insurance
- Property insurance
- Workers’ compensation insurance
These are all important to have as a business owner because they protect you, your team and of course your customers. If something goes wrong, you want to be sure that everyone is safe and that your business is protected. Once you’ve done this, you’ll want to make sure you have the right business licenses setup.
Get a Business License
The first step is to figure out what type of business license you need. The best way to do this is to go to the Maine Business Portal and they’ll help you understand which licenses you need:
You can also find licenses and permits by visiting your city or county’s website. They’ll have a list of businesses that need to be licensed in order to operate. For example, if you’re planning on running a daycare, you’ll need to be licensed by the state of Maine.
The process for getting a business license varies depending on the type of business you have and where you’re located. Once you have your business license, you’re ready to start hiring employees.
File an Annual Report
All LLCs in Maine are required to file an annual report with the state. The report is due by April 1st and can be filed online through the Secretary of State’s website:
The annual report is a way for the state to keep track of your business and make sure you’re still in good standing. It’s a simple form that you’ll need to fill out and pay a small fee.
Now that you know how to start a Maine LLC, you’re ready to get started on your business adventure.
Pay Annual Taxes
All LLCs in Maine are required to pay an annual tax of $100. The tax is due by April 1st and can be paid online through the Secretary of State’s website:
The annual tax is a way for the state to make sure you’re still in good standing and that your business is up-to-date. It’s a simple tax that you’ll need to pay each year.
How much does it cost to start a Maine LLC?
The cost to start a Maine LLC is $100. This includes the filing fee for the annual report and the annual tax.
Do I need a business license to start a Maine LLC?
No, you do not need a business license to start a Maine LLC.