How to Start an LLC in Iowa
Located in the middle of the continental United States, Iowa is bordered by six neighbors and three large rivers. The Hawkeye state started with an agricultural economy, but over the last few decades it has increasingly moved towards manufacturing, technology and green energy.
If you want to start your own business in Iowa, one of the best ways to do so is by forming an Iowa LLC. Limited liability companies (LLCs) are a business entity designed for startups and small- and medium-sized businesses. Iowa LLCs give you many of the protections and advantages of larger corporations without all the rules, regulations and compliance issues common to larger business entities.
Briefly, the benefits of starting an Iowa LLC include:
- Separating and limiting your personal liability from your business liability and debts
- Quick and simple filing, management, compliance, regulations and administration of your Iowa LLC
- Easy tax filing and potential advantages for tax treatment
Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure here.
Six Quick Steps for Forming Your Iowa LLC
This guide has plenty of information on how to start your Iowa LLC, but you can break down the basics of creating a business in IA into just a few simple steps.
STEP 1: Gather Information for Your Members
First, you need to gather basic information about your LLC, including the names and addresses of the managers or members. The LLC members are typically the people who own and run the business. They are also the ones who can take profits out of the business to pay themselves.
STEP 2: Search for and Choose a Unique Business Name for Your Iowa LLC
You will need a distinctive and original name for your Iowa LLC that’s not used by any other business in IA. To find out if another company is using your chosen business name, carry out an Iowa business entity name search on the IA Secretary of State website.
There are a few rules you’ll need to follow when choosing an LLC name. You can find out more in our guide to searching for and naming your Iowa LLC.
Learn about Iowa LLC business naming rules
STEP 3: Provide an Official Address for Your IA LLC
Every Iowa LLC must have a designated street address. That could be your home address (if you’re running the company from your residence), your company’s office building or any physical address of your preference. The address can be outside the state of Iowa but it cannot be a P.O. Box.
STEP 4: Assign a Registered Agent for Your Iowa LLC
Every IA LLC must have a “Registered Agent.” This is an official position; the Registered Agent is someone who receives official legal and tax correspondence and has responsibility for filing reports with the Iowa Secretary of State.
This position can be filled by you, another manager in the business or a dedicated Registered Agent service. Your IA Registered Agent must have a physical street address in Iowa and must be present to receive important documents for your company during business hours.
At Incfile, all of our packages include an Iowa Registered Agent service that is free for the first year and just $119 per year afterward. We also have a dashboard where you can log in and easily view any document your Registered Agent has received on your behalf.
Learn more about Iowa Registered Agents
STEP 5: Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service
You will need an EIN to identify your business to the IRS. You use this number when filing and paying taxes or when submitting payroll information and payments for your employees. You can obtain one directly from the IRS, or we can get one for you as part of the Iowa LLC business formation process.
STEP 6: File Articles of Organization with the Iowa Secretary of State
Once you've gathered all the information for your Iowa LLC, you’ll need to file a formal document with the IA Secretary of State. This document is known as your “Certificate of Organization,” and filing the document creates your Iowa LLC. Here’s what is typically included:
- Your business name and address
- Details of your Registered Agent
- Name of the incorporator
You can file your Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization online, mail in a form or have Incfile do it on your behalf. There is a fee to file and start an LLC in Iowa. You only need to file your Certificate of Organization once.
Form Your LLC Now
Review Information from the Iowa Secretary of State
The IA Secretary of State has plenty of information on forming and running a business in Iowa.
These are all the basic steps for forming an LLC in Iowa. You’ll find other useful information below.
Special Types of Iowa LLCs
A regular Iowa LLC is suitable for most business needs, but you also have a few other options to incorporate a special type of LLC.
Form an Iowa Series LLC
In Iowa, you also have the option to set up a “Series LLC” — these are specialized LLCs designed to allow you to manage multiple separate LLCs under one master umbrella LLC. These can be very useful if you don’t want to set up a separate Iowa LLC for every individual business you run.
Decide if an Iowa Series LLC is right for your new business.
Form a Professional Iowa LLC
Some states, including Iowa, allow certain occupations to form “Professional LLCs.” These types of businesses typically have special requirements and licensing. Iowa does not list the specific occupations that can from a professional LLC, but an Iowa professional LLC may practice a profession through licensed members, managers, employees or agents.
Form a Foreign LLC in Iowa
If your business is already operating in another state and expanding to Iowa, you’ll need to form a foreign LLC.
More information on Iowa filing and licensing requirements here
What to Do After Forming Your Iowa LLC
Want to know your next steps after creating a new LLC in Iowa? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide to understanding your ongoing requirements, setting up new bank accounts, protecting your business name, getting accounting in place and more.
Detailed Information for Your Iowa LLC
You’ll find plenty more insight and guidance on the other pages of this guide, including:
How to search the Iowa business registry of the IA Secretary of State and find the right name. Includes information on naming rules, fictitious names, reserving an Iowa LLC name and more.
How to appoint an Iowa Registered Agent to your new LLC or change to a different Registered Agent. Includes information on Registered Agent rules and searching for Iowa Registered Agents.
How to understand the various fees you’ll need to pay and the requirements you’ll need to meet for both federal and Iowa rules. Includes details of Employer Identification Numbers (EINs), Iowa and federal business licenses, Iowa annual reports and more.
How to understand the various taxes you will need to pay to the federal and Iowa government. Includes details of federal taxes like income and self-employment, and Iowa taxes like sales tax and income tax.