How To Start a Wisconsin LLC

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Last Updated: August 15, 2022

Overview

So you’re looking to get a Wisconsin LLC started and you are ready to get started. Well in this guide on how to start an LLC in Wisconsin, I walk through all the steps that you need to take.

You’ll also see some recommended services once your Wisconsin LLC has been established and you’re operational.

Recommended: Northwest Registered AgentĀ 

Use Northwest Registered Agent and they will also give you the first year of their registered agent service included too. Go check it out and you’ll appreciate that you did.

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Wisconsin is known for their cheese and beer. It’s been called the “Dairyland of America” so maybe you’re trying to figure out how to start the next Miller Brewing Company (which is based in WI).

Name Your Wisconsin LLC

You have to choose the name of an article before you can start establishing an LLC. The name is required for the state of Wisconsin.

Here are some of the naming rules:

  • Your LLC’s name must include “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.,” or “LLC.”
  • The name must also not be too similar to other businesses that are already established in the state.

You can conduct a search of business names that are already taken by visiting the website of the Division of Corporate filings. You can find the search engine location at wdfi.org which is the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. They put together a great search portal you can find here: https://www.wdfi.org/corporations/

Be sure to choose a name that will be easily identifiable and trustworthy to your potential customers. As you think about whether you’re going to incorporate a sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company or if you have a Foreign LLC – you’ll want to make sure your business name is accurate.

Whether you have a multi member LLC or a Foreign LLC you are going to need a business name that will conduct business in Wisconsin if you’re going to file online or just have your legal documents ready to go for a lawyer to help you.

So, how do you pick the perfect name for your new business?

Here are some questions that you’ll want to consider:

  • What is the purpose of my LLC?
  • What am I selling?
  • Who is my target market?
  • How will my customers find me?
  • What feeling do I want my name to evoke?

Keep in mind that the name of your LLC is a reflection of your brand. You’ll want to make sure it’s memorable, unique, and speaks to the values of your company.

You can use a business name generator to help you that GoDaddy has put together to help you find the right domain. In my opinion, having the .com available for your business is one of the more important things. Some people want to go after .io or some other TLD but the business advice delivered straight tells you that you need the .com and make sure you can lock that in as you’re building your business.

Choose Your Registered Agent for your Wisconsin LLC

A Registered Agent is required in the state of Wisconsin.

The term “Registered Agent” is also known as a “Statutory Agent.”

This person or business entity agrees to accept service of process on behalf of your company if you’re ever sued. They also agree to accept other important legal and tax documents on behalf of the company.

The Registered Agent must have a physical address in Wisconsin. P.O. Boxes are not allowed to be used as a Registered Agent address.

The Registered Agent will be listed on the Articles of Organization for your Wisconsin LLC.

You can act as your own Registered Agent but I generally don’t recommend it. It’s not worth the hassle in my opinion.

Here are some reasons why you might not want to be your own Registered Agent:

  • You have to be available during business hours at your registered address in order to receive any legal documents.
  • If you’re ever sued, the process server will need to serve you in person which could be a bit awkward.
  • Your home address and personal information is available to the public.

I recommend using a professional Registered Agent service that you can find at Northwest Registered Agent or find a law firm in your state that offers those services.

The Wisconsin registered agent service that we recommend does also have the ability to help setup a Wisconsin LLC operating agreement too. We’ll get to that in a bit but it’s important to note that if you are creating a business or business entities, you’ll need to have a partner who can help you make sure this part of the equation is taken care of.

Prepare and File Articles of Organization

This document outlines the formal establishment for your LLC and provides identifying information about it.

Prepare the Organizational Articles for filing to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions in an adequate manner. It’s not an extensive project, so just make a quick online application and send it in.

Alternatively, you can send it through the mail. If you decide to send it through the mail, please include the following:

  • The name and address of your LLC
  • The names and addresses of the organizers
  • The effective date of formation, if not formed immediately
  • Whether your LLC will be managed by members or managers
  • The signature of an organizer

File Articles of Organization with the State

Once you’ve completed the Articles of Organization, you’ll need to file it with the state.

  • You can mail in your filing or submit it online.
  • The filing fee is $130 and can be paid by check or money order.
  • If you’re submitting your filing by mail, you’ll need to include:
  • Articles of Organization
  • The $130 filing fee

You can file online here: https://wdfi-opensmtp.wi.gov/LLC/ArticlesOfOrganization

Create an operating agreement

Operating agreements are documents that outline how your company will run its business.

Wisconsin does not require operating contracts, but they should be a critical part of the business structure. Having an easy-to-use written operating contract can be beneficial for a number of different reasons.

Unless there is a legal agreement, courts will assess whether an individual or entity’s interests are in good standing.

An operating agreement may include

  • The capital contributions of each member
  • The voting rights of each member
  • How the LLC will be managed
  • The duties and powers of the managers or members
  • Buy-sell agreements
  • Procedures for admitting new members
  • Resolving disputes
  • Dissolution procedures

There are a few other business regulations and requirements that you’ll need to take care of. Getting your operating agreement in order if it’s just for you as an individual or business entity will be important for the future of your business. Operating agreements help you resolve disputes and the LLC owners will thank you for it (along with the Internal Revenue Service) who always wants more documentation.

If you’re operating agreement does involve capital up-front that came from personal assets, it will be wise to make sure that’s clear. Sometimes people think that pulling together an operating agreement isn’t necessary if it’s a professional service or you aren’t going to hire employees. The truth is that whenever you have an LLC formation, you’ll want to document things as much as possible – down to your business assets, business expenses and the business tools being used.

You’ll want to use a physical street address (not a home address) and make sure you have personal asset protection because as your business grows – so will the business liability. This doesn’t matter if you are a professional service or just a business owner trying to get by and collect sales tax with every transaction.

Get Your Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

You’ll need to obtain an EIN for your Wisconsin LLC. You can apply for an EIN online, by fax, or by mail.

If you apply online, you will need to have the following information handy:

Your Social Security number

The legal name and address of your LLC

The names and addresses of the principal officers of your LLC

The LLC’s date of formation

The LLC’s business purpose

The name and address of the LLC’s authorized representative

You can find the online application here: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online

If you choose to apply by fax or mail, you will need to complete and sign Form SS-4 and submit it to the address or fax number specified on the form.

You can find Form SS-4 here: https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-ss-4

Register as a foreign LLC in Wisconsin

If your LLC was formed in another state but will be doing business in Wisconsin, you’ll need to register your LLC as a foreign LLC in Wisconsin.

You can register your LLC by filing a Certificate of Authority with the state.

The filing fee for a Certificate of Authority is $130 and can be paid by check or money order.

If you’re submitting your filing by mail, you’ll need to include a completed and signed copy of Form BCA-1033, Application to Register Foreign Limited Liability Company.

You can find Form BCA-1033 here: https://www.wdfi.org/corporations/llc/docs/LLC_BCA1033_Application_to_Register

Get a Business License

You may need to get a business license from the city, county, or state in which your LLC will be doing business. To find out if you need a business license, contact your local city hall, chamber of commerce, or visit the website of your state’s business licensing division.

Now that you’ve registered your LLC and obtained the necessary licenses and permits, you’re ready to start operating your business.

There are a few things you need to do to keep your LLC in good standing with the state of Wisconsin, including:

  • Filing an annual report
  • Paying annual taxes
  • Keeping minutes of meetings
  • Maintaining a registered agent

You’ll need to make sure you’ve setup the right financial institutions to help you file your business licenses because they do cost money and business bank accounts will help you with this.

Filing an Annual Report

All LLCs in Wisconsin are required to file an annual report with the state. The annual report is due by April 15th and can be filed online, by mail, or in person.

The filing fee for an annual report is $25.

You can find the online filing system here: https://dsps.wi.gov/licenses-and-permits/business-licensing

If you’re filing by mail, you’ll need to include a completed and signed copy of Form BCA-1002, Annual Report for Limited Liability Companies.

You can find Form BCA-1002 here: https://www.wdfi.org/corporations/llc/docs/LLC_BCA1002_Annual_Report

Paying Annual Taxes

All LLCs in Wisconsin are required to pay an annual tax of $60. The tax is due by April 15th and can be paid online, by mail, or in person.

You can find the online payment system here: https://tap.revenue.wi.gov/vendortap/_/#1

If you’re paying by mail, you’ll need to include a completed and signed copy of Form CT-5, Annual Report and Tax Voucher for Limited Liability Companies.

You can find Form CT-5 here: https://www.revenue.wi.gov/DORForms/CT/ct5.pdf

Open a Business Bank Account

It’s a good idea to open a business bank account for your LLC. This will help you keep your personal and business finances separate and will make it easier to track your business expenses.

When you’re ready to open a business bank account, you’ll need the following:

  • Your LLC’s Articles of Organization
  • Your LLC’s EIN
  • A resolution authorizing you to open a bank account on behalf of your LLC.

Once you have the required documents, you can contact your chosen bank and begin the process of opening a business account.

File for a Business Credit Card

If you’re planning to use a business credit card for your LLC, you’ll need to apply for one in your business name. When you’re ready to apply, you’ll need the following:

  • Your LLC’s Articles of Organization
  • Your LLC’s Federal Employer Identification Number
  • A resolution authorizing you to apply for a business credit card on behalf of your LLC.

Once you have the required documents, you can contact your chosen bank or credit card issuer and begin the process of applying for a business credit card. There are so many options when it comes to banking options that you’ll really need to focus on finding the right financial institutions.

Get your Small Business Insurance

You may need to get business insurance for your LLC. This will depend on the type of business you’re in and the risks involved. Some common types of business insurance include:

Property insurance – This covers damage to your business property, such as your office or store.

Liability insurance – This covers damages that you or your employees may cause to other people or their property.

Workers’ compensation insurance – This covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job.

You can get business insurance from an insurance agent or broker. Make sure to compare rates and coverage from a few different companies before you choose a policy. We recommend using CommercialInsurance.net which you can find on the right side of this article in the sidebar.

FAQs

How much does it cost to get a LLC in Wisconsin?

What are the costs to start an LLC in Wisconsin? The state of Wisconsin requires filing of the Articles of Organization via email and $130 to submit via internet.

What is required to start an LLC in Wisconsin?

LLC Wisconsin. To become a Wisconsin LLC, a filing fee of $130 for online filing will be required. Applications are available online and by mail.

How long does it take for an LLC to be approved in Wisconsin?

Email approval: Filing approvals for WI LLC companies are typically three to four weeks. The time taken to process a request is 5 working days plus the amount of time you are sending out the request. Online applications are accepted in Wisconsin as quickly as possible.

How do I start an LLC online in Wisconsin?

To start an LLC in Wisconsin, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the state. The filing fee is $130. You can file online or by mail.

What is the first step to starting an LLC in Wisconsin?

The first step in starting a Wisconsin LLC is to file the Articles of Organization with the state. The filing fee is $130. You can file online or by mail.

How much does it cost to file LLC in Wisconsin?

To file an LLC in Wisconsin, you will need to pay a filing fee of $130. You can file online or by mail.