How to Start a Wisconsin LLC
Wisconsin LLC Formation – Basics & Helpful Information
This article is meant to be a general overview of the Wisconsin LLC formation process; including information about how to start a Wisconsin LLC and other basic issues related to Wisconsin LLCs.
Wisconsin Filing Fees
The Wisconsin filing fee for the Articles of Organization (to create an Wisconsin LLC) is $130.00 to e-file and $170 to paper file, plus $25 to expedite the filing for a quicker turn around.See full fee schedule →
Wisconsin Filing Time
Regular processing time generally takes at least two business days. Expedited processing reduces the turn around time to one business day.
Wisconsin Annual Compliance Requirements
Wisconsin LLCs are required to file an annual report each year by end of the quarter in which an LLC was formed. The fee for filing is $25.File the Wisconsin Annual Report online →
Form an LLC in Wisconsin
You can use this checklist to help guide you through the process of forming a Wisconsin LLC:
Step 1: Decide on a Business Name
The first step in creating an LLC in Wisconsin is naming your business. You’ll need to check with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to make sure the name you’ve chosen is available. You can do this online via the Wisconsin Business Search.
It is also highly recommended that you check the US Patent and Trademark Office to see if someone has a federal trademark of the business name you want (the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions will not check other state’s databases or the federal trademark database). You can click here to have a comprehensive name availability search performed for you.
Your LLC name must contain the words “limited liability company” or “limited liability co” or the abbreviations “L.L.C”, or “LLC.”
Wisconsin Trade Names
A trade name is similar to a “doing business as” (DBA) name. Although a trade name is not legally required, it is a wise business practice. Trade names last for 10 years and can be renewed. The filing fee is $15 and processing time takes 2-3 weeks (or 1-2 days if expedited). Wisconsin trade names are only applicable in Wisconsin and are not substitutes for a national trademark filing.See more info on Wisconsin Trade Names →
Step 2: Register your LLC with the State
Wisconsin Articles of Organization
Your Wisconsin LLC is formed by signing and filing Articles of Organization with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. You can also e-file the Wisconsin Articles of Organization. The W.D.F.I. staff will examine the articles for statutory compliance and will either approve the articles for filing or reject the articles with instructions on how to resubmit the document.
Wisconsin Registered Agent Information
Wisconsin requires that the LLC have a Registered Agent (same as a Statuary Agent in other states), which is an individual or a business entity the LLC appoints for the purpose of accepting service of process (lawsuit papers or legal documents) for the LLC. An LLC cannot be its own Registered Agent, but the LLC can appoint one of its members as the statutory agent. Wisconsin law requires that the Registered Agent have a permanent, physical address on the records of the Wisconsin Corporation Commission at all times.Read more about Registered Agents →
Step 3: Create and Sign the LLC’s Governing Document
The governing document for an LLC is called the “company agreement” or sometimes the “operating agreement”. The company agreement is to an LLC like a partnership agreement is to a partnership (or bylaws to a corporation). The company agreement governs the internal operation of the LLC and is typically a private document that is kept in the company book and the principal place of business (it is NOT filed with the state). The company agreement can address many issues, some of the more common concepts found within a company agreement are:
- Limitations on the members liabilities
- The level of consent needed to take various actions (i.e. simple majority required to add new members)
- The percentage of the LLC that each member owns
- How profits and losses are allocated between the members (typically based on ownership percentages)
- Limitations on transferability
- What each member is contributing to the LLC and what happens is such contributions are not made.
- The authority of the members, officers, managers, committees, etc.
- How meetings are conducted
One of the reasons we recommend using an LLC formation company like IncFile is that they can provide you with a company agreement in connection with their LLC formation services.
Step 4: Get an EIN
After you form an LLC in Wisconsin, you can get the EIN. There are a few different ways to get an EIN:
- Apply Online Yourself: The IRS has an online EIN Application you can use to get an EIN. The turn around time on the EIN using this method is only a few minutes.
- Use Form SS-4: You can get an EIN the old fashion way by completing Form SS-4 and mailing or faxing into the IRS. How long does it take to get the EIN this way? According to the IRS: if you mail in Form SS-4, it will take 4-5 weeks to get your EIN. If you fax in Form SS-4 you should have the EIN back in a week if you provide a fax number or 2 weeks if you don’t have a fax number.
- Have a Third-Party Obtain: All of the LLC formation companies have the ability to get the EIN for you. The EIN obtainment charge varies by company, but it is generally between $50 and $100. If you get one of the higher priced packages, they will sometimes throw in the EIN for free.
Step 5: Get Licenses and Permits
After you create your new Wisconsin LLC, you’ll need to determine if your business/profession requires any licenses or permits to conduct business.Read more about Wisconsin Licensing and Permitting →
Registering a Foreign LLC in Wisconsin
If you have a non-Wisconsin LLC (aka Foreign LLC) and you are doing business in Wisconsin, you may need to register the Foreign LLC in Wisconsin. Each state has a different definition of “doing business”. In Wisconsin, the kinds of activities that would not constitute “doing business” are outlined in the Wisconsin Statutes Annotated, Section 183.1002.
The filing fee for the Application for Certificate of Registration of a Foreign LLC in Wisconsin is $100.
Helpful Tips & Information
Use an LLC formation service like IncFile to help you form an LLC in Wisconsin. IncFile has free LLC formation packages (you only pay the state filing fee).
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
Wisconsin Articles of Organization (paper form)
Wisconsin Name Availability Check
Wisconsin Annual Report Information
Wisconsin Business Licensing
Online EIN Application (for the LLC’s Federal Tax ID)
USPTO (Federal) Trademark Search