How to Start a Wisconsin LLC
Located in the north central U.S., Wisconsin is a beautiful, geographically diverse state. It shares borders with Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan. The state is home to nearly 6 million people and is a major center of manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare.
For most business owners, the fastest and easiest way to start a business in Wisconsin is by creating a Wisconsin LLC. A limited liability company (LLC) is a type of business entity that’s ideal for startups and small- to medium-sized businesses. You get the advantages and protections of larger Wisconsin corporations, but with much simpler rules and regulations.
Briefly, the benefits of starting a Wisconsin LLC include:
Separating and limiting your personal liability from your business liability and debts
Quick and simple filing, management, compliance, regulation and administration of your Wisconsin LLC
Easy tax filing and potential advantages for tax treatment
Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure here.
Six Quick Steps to Creating an LLC in Wisconsin
We’ve got lots of useful information on starting a business in WI. On this page you’ll find the basic steps for forming a Wisconsin LLC, with more in-depth content throughout the rest of our guide.
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 Wisconsin LLC
You will need a distinctive and original name for your Wisconsin LLC that’s not used by any other business in WI. To find out if another company is using your chosen business name, carry out a Wisconsin business entity name search on the WI Department of Financial Institutions 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 Wisconsin LLC.
Learn about Wisconsin LLC business naming rules.
STEP 3: Provide an Official Address for Your WI LLC
Every Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin and can be a P.O. Box.
STEP 4: Assign a Registered Agent for Your Wisconsin LLC
Every WI LLC must have a “Registered Agent” when it is formed. 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 Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
This position can be filled by you, another manager in the business or a dedicated Registered Agent service. Your WI Registered Agent must have a physical street address in Wisconsin and must be present to receive important documents for your company during business hours.
At Incfile, all of our packages include a Wisconsin 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 California Agents for Service of Process.
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 Incfile can get one for you as part of the Wisconsin LLC business formation process.
STEP 6: File Articles of Organization with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
Once you've gathered all the information for your Wisconsin LLC, you’ll need to file a formal document with the WI Department of Financial Institutions. This document is known as your “Articles of Organization,” and filing the document creates your Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin LLC Articles 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 Wisconsin. You only need to file your Articles of Organization once.
Form Your LLC Now
Review Information from the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
The WI Department of Financial Institutions has plenty of information on forming and running a business in Wisconsin.
These are all the basic steps for forming an LLC in Wisconsin. You’ll find other useful information below.
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions for forming and running your WI LLC
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development for WI employers and hiring
Wisconsin Department of Revenue for WI taxes
Form a Foreign LLC in Wisconsin
If your business is already operating in another state and expanding to Wisconsin, you’ll need to form a foreign LLC.
More information on Wisconsin filing and licensing requirements here. <link to state subpage once published>
What to Do After Setting Up Your Wisconsin LLC
Want to know your next steps after registering a new LLC in Wisconsin? 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 Wisconsin LLC
You’ll find plenty more insight and guidance on the other pages of this guide, including:
How to search the Wisconsin business registry of the WI Department of Financial Institutions and find the right name. Includes information on naming rules, fictitious names, reserving a Wisconsin LLC name and more.
How to appoint a Wisconsin Registered Agent to your new LLC or change to a different Registered Agent. Includes information on Registered Agent rules and searching for Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin rules. Includes details of Employer Identification Numbers (EINs), Wisconsin and federal business licenses, Wisconsin annual reports and more.
How to understand the various taxes you will need to pay to the federal and Wisconsin government. Includes details of federal taxes like income and self-employment, and Wisconsin taxes like sales tax and income tax.