Getting ready to start your new company? The process can feel overwhelming, as there are many steps to handle. But if you do your research, it doesn’t need to be too complex. For entrepreneurs in Idaho, this guide will help you learn how to start an Idaho LLC quickly and accurately.
A limited liability company (LLC) is a very popular choice of business entity for many reasons. Like a corporation, they protect the owner’s personal assets from the results of lawsuits relating to the business entity. For example, if your company gets sued, your personal assets and investments will be protected. And unlike a corporation, LLCs are a bit easier to start and manage.
In Idaho, new LLC formation is handled by the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. The process can be done online, or by mail. Keep in mind that there is an additional $20 fee for filing by mail (in addition to the $100 Idaho LLC fee).
In this guide, we’ll explain how to start an LLC in Idaho, from start to finish. Let’s get started!
1. Consider using an LLC service
You can start an LLC in Idaho by yourself. However, it’s often worthwhile to use a professional LLC formation service. These companies make the process much simpler and more efficient, while also ensuring that every step is done accurately.
For most businesses, we recommend either ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent. These are two top-rated service providers that offer excellent solutions to the needs of entrepreneurs. Both are also quite affordable – particularly ZenBusiness, which has plans from just $49 + state fees.
If you choose to go this route, you will pay a bit more – but you’ll also enjoy services that will benefit you and your business. For example, both of our recommended companies also provide Registered Agent services, and you’ll be required to appoint a Registered Agent anyways. They can also help with compliance, business licensing, mail forwarding, virtual office services, and much more.
Check out our roundup of the Best LLC Services
2. Name your Idaho LLC
The first dedicated step that you will need to take is to select a name for your company. The name must be unique from other businesses in the state of Idaho. To confirm availability, you’ll want to use the Idaho Secretary of State’s business search feature. This allows you to search a statewide database of all the existing businesses in the state of Idaho.
In addition to finding a unique name that’s not already taken, the name you select must also meet certain requirements. The main requirement is to include “LLC”, “L.L.C.” or “Limited Liability Company” in the name of your business.
There are also some words that you cannot include in your business’ name. This includes any terms that may confuse your private company with a public agency. For instance, you can’t use terms like “FBI” or “State Department”.
Likewise, certain words are restricted and require additional paperwork. This includes medical and professional terms like “Doctor” and “Lawyer”.
Using an Assumed Business Name in Idaho
Before you spend time worrying about the “perfect” LLC name, keep in mind that you can also use what’s called an “assumed business name”. In most states, this is called a “doing business as” or “trade name”. More information about Idaho trade names can be found here.
An assumed business name is essentially a second name for your company that you can still operate under. It’s separate from your formal LLC name, but must also be registered with the state of Idaho. For example, your LLC could be called “XYZ, LLC” and you could have an assumed business name for “ABC” or “ABC Foods”.
3. Choose an Idaho Registered Agent
Every LLC formed in the state must also appoint a Registered Agent in Idaho. A Registered Agent is essentially an individual (or business) that represents your LLC. Their main responsibility is to receive legal documents and notice of lawsuits on behalf of your LLC.
The Registered Agent you choose must be either:
a.) An individual who is a resident of Idaho
b.) A company licensed to do business in Idaho
If you live in Idaho, you can be your own registered agent. Or you can appoint one of your employees. The downside of this option is that the mailing address of the Registered Agent will become public record. If you’d like to protect your privacy, keep this in mind.
The alternative is to hire a Registered Agent service in Idaho. Companies like Northwest Registered Agent and ZenBusiness are both excellent options, with services from $125 and $49 per year, respectively.
Hiring a Registered Agent company is worthwhile for many businesses. It protects your privacy because you use the company’s address instead of your home address. And it ensures that everything is handled correctly.
Do keep in mind that you must have a Registered Agent for the life of your business.
Check out our roundup of the Best Registered Agent Services
4. File the Idaho LLC Articles of Organization
The Articles of Organization are the primary documents that need to be filed in order to actually form an LLC. This can be done in two ways:
Online – Fill out this form and submit it online. You will need to create an account with the Secretary of State’s website. The fee for online filings is $100.
By Mail – Fill out this form (must be typed), print it out, and send it along with a check for $120 ($100 filing fee + $20 surcharge for manual processing) to:
Office of the Secretary of State
450 N 4th Street
PO Box 83720
Boise ID 83720-0080
The Articles of Organization collect key information about your new company. Once submitted and approved, your LLC will be formed.
The fee for Idaho LLCs is $100 for online filings. There is a $20 extra fee for mail applications, bringing the total to $120. Expedited processing costs $40 extra, while same-day processing costs $100 extra.
5. Create an operating agreement (optional)
Note: This is an optional, but strongly recommended, step.
An operating agreement is an optional document that most businesses should fill out. It’s an internal document, meaning that it’s kept on file internally and not actually filed with any agency. As such, it’s optional.
Operating agreements describe important details about your company. Most importantly, they lay out ownership details. By establishing ownership agreements, these operating agreements can prevent disputes between owners in the future. As such, they are extremely important for multi-member LLCs. Even single-member LLCs can benefit from an operating agreement, however.
There are a few different ways to draft an operating agreement. You can use a service like ZenBusiness, which provides detailed templates for your use. You can hire a local attorney to help you draft a legally binding document. Or you can search the web for a template to use.
6. Wait for your documents
Next, you will need to wait for Idaho to process your application. This typically takes 7 to 10 business days. Expedited filing is also available for additional fees, which can reduce processing time down to just a few business days.
7. Apply for business licenses & permits
The Articles of Organization establish your LLC, but that doesn’t mean you’re fully licensed to do business. Your company will likely be subject to additional requirements.
The state of Idaho has no state-wide business license. However, you may need to apply for a state sales tax permit, unemployment insurance account, and withholding account. Certain types of businesses will need additional permits – for instance, liquor licenses if you plan to sell or serve alcohol. Professional services will need additional licenses to operate.
Also, your business may be subject to local requirements for business permits and licenses. You may need to obtain a business license in the county or city where you plan to operate. Check with your local government for details.
The 7 steps above are the basics needed to start an Idaho LLC – but there are other steps you should tackle now, as well.
8. Apply for an EIN
An EIN is a tax identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Employer Identification Number is somewhat like a social security number, but for a business instead of an individual. EINs are required to hire employees, and will likely also be required to open a business bank account.
The good news is that it is easy (and free) to apply for an EIN online, on the IRS website.
9. Open a business checking account
For business owners, it is very important to separate personal and business finances. This is key for accounting and tax reporting purposes, but also for liability purposes. If your business is sued and all your personal assets are entangled in your business, your liability protection doesn’t offer much benefit.
To open a checking account, simply bring your business license, EIN, and other documents to a local financial institution. You may wish to call ahead to see what specific requirements they have. You may also wish to apply for a business credit card and other financial products/services.
10. Keep your business in good standing
Even after you start your business, there will be several ongoing responsibilities to stay on top of. In order to keep your company in good standing with federal, state, and local governments, there are various tasks you’ll need to complete. Some of these include:
- Filing Idaho annual reports for your company
- Filing Idaho sales tax reports and returns
- Filing employer tax returns (payroll taxes)
- Filing federal tax returns
- Filing local tax returns
- Renewing business licenses and permits
- Renewing specialized professional licenses and permits
- Maintaining an approved Registered Agent for the life of your company
This can all seem overwhelming, but ongoing compliance requirements are just as important as the initial formation process. We recommend taking the time now to understand all your requirements, and setting reminders in your calendar to stay on top of things.