The majority of small business owners and their customers are extremely concerned about security. Digitization has made it easier than ever for strangers to search and access personal, private information at little to no cost.
Keep your business's vital information like phone numbers, addresses, and asset details private by forming an anonymous LLC. Below, we've given you the pros and cons of registering as an anonymous LLC, a list of the states where anonymous LLCs are permitted, and the steps to forming an anonymous LLC accurately.
What Is an Anonymous LLC?
An anonymous LLC is a limited liability company that doesn't require the names of owners and members to be disclosed on incorporation documents. If someone were to look up your anonymous LLC on the Secretary of State's website, they would not be able to find your name or contact information.
Other names for an anonymous LLC include a "ghost LLC," "confidential LLC," "secret LLC," and "private LLC." Anonymous LLCs are only permitted in Delaware, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
Why Choose an Anonymous LLC?
An anonymous LLC helps prevent stalkers, abusers, and other dangerous individuals from using your information maliciously.
Anonymous LLCs can minimize financial harassment from third-party individuals looking to file frivolous lawsuits. They can also reduce spam marketing mail. Celebrities, professional athletes, and other public personalities often look to anonymous LLCs when making business investments to stop overzealous fans from knocking on their doors.
Perhaps you want to start a side business while continuing to work full-time. An anonymous LLC lets you become an entrepreneur while avoiding any awkward interactions with your current employer.
Anonymous LLC vs. Regular LLC
The only difference between an anonymous LLC and a regular LLC is that an anonymous LLC does not publically list owners or shareholders, whereas a traditional LLC does. There is no other legal differentiating factor.
An anonymous LLC is not a separate type of business entity. It offers the same pass-through tax advantages, tax deductions, ownership flexibility, and limited liability protection as a regular LLC. An anonymous LLC is required to pay all necessary taxes.
Setting Up an Anonymous LLC
Forming an anonymous LLC is very similar to forming a regular LLC. Here are three steps to forming an anonymous LLC:
1. Name Your Company
Your company's name is essential to its success and growth. You cannot hide your business name from the public eye.
Find a name that is memorable, original, and available using our business naming guide. You can also search available business names using our business name generator.
In addition, be sure to check your state's naming requirements for LLCs. For example, Delaware restricts the use of the following words: association, bank, banking, banc, club, foundation, trust, and union.
2. Get a Registered Agent
A Registered Agent receives and manages all legal and official communication on behalf of your business. They typically receive correspondence from the government about tax filings and summons notices, but they can also sign documentation on your behalf to protect your privacy.
A friend or family member can serve as a Registered Agent, but they will need to be available during standard business hours and prepared to list their name on public records. Listing yourself as a Registered Agent is possible, but eliminates your anonymity.
Incfile is authorized to provide Registered Agent services in all states, saving entrepreneurs time and giving them the flexibility to conduct business from anywhere in the world.
3. File the Necessary Paperwork
Finally, you must have all the necessary paperwork to file an LLC. If you're filing an anonymous LLC, this should mean you won't need to include your name on the formation paperwork.
For New Mexico and Wyoming LLC applications, an organizer is required to be mentioned on the documentation though. An organizer is simply a person authorized to file documents on your behalf and can be different than the LLC members or managers. The Delaware LLC application form only requires a business name and Registered Agent.
Visit your Secretary of State's website to find the latest guidelines. You can file formation paperwork online or via mail. Don't forget to pay the stipulated LLC fees alongside your application.
Incfile can help you file an anonymous LLC in any of the available four states.
Pros and Cons of Forming an Anonymous LLC
Should you form an anonymous LLC? Before deciding, take a look at the pros and cons:
- You'll be able to keep sensitive information (home address, contact information, assets, and property information) private and confidential.
- You'll minimize frivolous lawsuits.
- Your personal image will be protected if your business is sued or faces negative publicity.
- Competitors won't be able to access your personal information.
- You'll receive fewer marketing calls and less junk mail.
- You may find it difficult to build trust and credibility with customers.
- You will still be required to disclose your ownership to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and your bank.
- You could still be liable for lawsuits resulting in the disclosure of your identity.
- Registered Agents, Registered Agent services, and incorporation service providers may be summoned and expose your information during lawsuits.
- If you are living in a state that doesn't support anonymous LLCs, the process may be expensive and time-consuming, as you would have to repeat the process twice and be subjected to each state's local and federal laws. To dissolve your business, you would have to file paperwork in both states.
- You could have difficulty transferring ownership shares since potential shareholders won't know anything about the original members of your LLC.
Anonymous LLC States
Only a handful of states allow you to register as an anonymous LLC and keep your name off public records. These states include:
- New Mexico
Delaware, New Mexico, and Wyoming don't require ownership information for LLC filings, but they do require you to have a Registered Agent.
Which State Is Best for an Anonymous LLC?
The best state to form an anonymous LLC depends on your company's needs and where you'll be transacting business.
If we compare the anonymous LLC states on filing and maintenance costs, then New Mexico is the winner with one of the lowest LLC filing fees of $50 and no annual report required.
If a business-friendly environment is your top priority, then Delaware would be the best state for you. Delaware is the only anonymous LLC state that offers a streamlined Court of Chancery exclusively dedicated to business matters.
We compare how each state differs below:
Medium to large LLCs and corps
Highest level of privacy
Dedicated business court
No state or local tax
High annual tax ($300)
LLC formation fee ($90)
Need to have a Registered Agent
Strongest security and privacy
Lowest LLC formation fee ($50)
No annual report
Need to have a Registered Agent
Small, single-member LLCs
Asset protection from debitors
Strict attorney-client privilege
Lowest sales tax rate (4%)
Annual report fee ($60 or based on company's assets)
Higher LLC formation fee ($100)
Annual report requires you to disclose name
Need to have a Registered Agent
Forming an Anonymous LLC in Other States
If you reside in a state that does not permit anonymous LLCs, don't fret — you can still hide your name from an LLC. The process just involves a few more steps.
First, you will need to form an anonymous "holding company" in Delaware, Wyoming, or New Mexico. A holding company, as its name suggests, is created to "hold on" to other shares and assets.
Then, when creating an LLC in your state, you can list this holding company as the "organizer," making it responsible for signing and filing your Articles of Organization. This process allows you to retain ownership without disclosing your personal information, and you'll receive documentation that can act as proof of business, such as a utility bill.
A business lawyer can help set this up to best suit your needs.
Why Work With an LLC Expert?
Working with an LLC expert ensures your privacy remains intact throughout the formation process. Incfile gives you access to a team of LLC professionals and experienced lawyers, plus a wide range of tools and services. We can serve as a Registered Agent and file formation paperwork on your behalf so you can stay out of the records and focus on starting your business.
Incfile also offers Virtual Mailbox services for an added layer of anonymity. We not only provide you with a commercial virtual address that can be listed on all public documentation, but we also scan incoming mail to ensure you don't miss any important notices.
Protect Your Anonymity
Don't let the risk of cyber attacks run your business. Take charge of your LLC's security by considering an anonymous LLC.
If you're ready to file the paperwork, Incfile can help. Over 1,000,000 business owners have trusted Incfile to form and safeguard their entrepreneurship journey. Confidently start your anonymous LLC with Incfile at your side.