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Starting an LLC in Arizona

An Arizona LLC (limited liability company) is a business type with a versatile management structure, limited liability protection, and tax flexibility. To start an LLC in Arizona, you’ll need to submit a form called the Articles of Organization to the Arizona Corporations Commission and pay the $50 filing fee. First, you must name your LLC and appoint a registered agent. Most Arizona LLCs will also need to publish their business in a local newspaper. We’ll take you through the necessary steps to make your LLC an official business.

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1. Name Your LLC

Your LLC needs a name that follows Arizona’s LLC statutes. According to AZ Revised Statute § 29-3112, an LLC name must:

  • Contain the words “limited liability company,” “limited company,” or an abbreviation such as “LLC.”
  • Be unique among registered business names in Arizona.
  • Not contain the words “association,” “corporation,” “incorporated,” “bank,” “deposit,” “credit union,” “trust,” or “trust company.”

Already have a business name? Check to see if it’s available.

Can I reserve a business name in Arizona?

Yes. If you aren’t ready to form your LLC but you want to make sure no other business claims your name, you can reserve your business name for up to 120 days by submitting an Application to Reserve Limited Liability Company Name to the Arizona Corporations Commission. Filing this form costs $10 by mail or in person or $45 online.

What’s the difference between my LLC’s name and an assumed business name?

Your LLC’s legal name is the one you write on your Articles of Organization. An assumed business name, which is also called a trade name or DBA, is any other name your business uses. For example, imagine you start a brunch restaurant called Champagne and Eggs, LLC, but then you start serving dinner as well, so you want to change your restaurant name to Champagne All Day. Champagne and Eggs, LLC would still be your business’s legal name, but you could operate using the name Champagne All Day if you registered it as an assumed business name.

In Arizona, to use an assumed business name, you must fill out a Trade Name Application on the Secretary of State website and pay a $10 filing fee.

Considering using an assumed business name? Learn How to Get a DBA.

2. Designate a Registered Agent

The next step is to appoint a registered agent. In Arizona, a registered agent is called a statutory agent. Your Arizona statutory agent is the person or company responsible for accepting service of process (lawsuits) and important notices from the Secretary of State on behalf of your business. All Arizona LLCs are required to appoint a statutory agent. You’ll need to include your statutory agent’s name and address on your Articles of Organization.

Learn why the pros use a registered agent service.

What does a registered agent do?

Arizona’s requirements for registered agents (aka statutory agents) are listed in AZ Revised Statute § 29-3115. Your registered agent must:

  • Maintain a physical street address (not a P.O. box) in Arizona.

  • Be available at this address during normal business hours.

  • Accept service of process and other important legal mail on behalf of your business and forward it to you promptly.

Can you be your own registered agent in Arizona?

Yes, as long as you’re okay with sharing your name and address on the public record, you can be your own registered agent in Arizona. You’ll have to maintain regular business hours to accept service of process in person.

However, if you’re worried about missing an important legal notice when you’re out of town, or you don’t want to share your personal address on public documents, it’s worth hiring a registered agent service that will put its business address on forms instead of yours.

Can I change my registered agent after I start an LLC?

Yes. If you want to change your registered agent in Arizona, you just need to file a Statement of Change form with the Arizona Corporations Commission and pay a $5 fee.

3. Submit LLC Articles of Organization

To formally start your LLC, you’ll need to submit the Articles of Organization to the Arizona Corporations Commission. You can submit this form by mail, fax, online, or in person.

Note: All of the information on this form will become part of the public record.

To complete this form, you must provide the following information about your LLC:

  • Entity type. Indicate if you are starting a standard LLC or a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC). PLLCs provide state-licensed services such as law or medicine.
  • Entity name. Must include “limited liability company,” “limited company,” or an abbreviation.
  • Professional services. PLLCs should list the professional service they will offer.
  • Statutory agent. Someone appointed to accept legal mail on your business’s behalf.
  • Statutory agent physical address. Must be a street address, not a P.O. box.
  • Statutory agent mailing address. A P.O. box is fine here.
  • Principal address. Where you will be sent service of process and other legal notices. Hint: if you hire a registered agent service, use their physical address as your principal address to protect your privacy.
  • Management structure. Whether your LLC is run by members or managers.
  • Organizer. The person who fills out your Articles of Organization signs here.

Ready to start your Arizona LLC Articles of Organization? File for free with Northwest.

How can I keep my personal information off the public record?

The names and addresses on your Articles of Organization will be posted online, so marketing firms and data brokers will have easy access to them.

The best way to protect your private information is to hire a registered agent who will complete your Articles of Organization and put their name and address on the form instead of yours.

What’s the difference between a member-managed and manager-managed LLC?

As the name suggests, in a member-managed LLC, all of the members take part in managing the LLC’s operations. In a manager-managed LLC, the members hire managers to run the LLC for them. The people who manage your LLC will have the power to hire and fire employees, sign contracts, open business bank accounts, and more.

For help with deciding which management structure will work for you, see our page on LLC Member Vs Manager.

How do I file the Arizona Articles of Organization?

You can file your Articles of Organization by mail, fax, online, or in person.

By mail or in person:
Arizona Corporation Commission – Examination Section
1300 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

By Fax:
Regular or expedited filing: 602-542-4100
Same day/Next day filing: 602-542-0900

Online:
Arizona Corporations Commission

4. Publish Your LLC

Arizona is one of just a few states with a publication requirement for LLCs. Per AZ Revised Statute § 29-3201(G), most Arizona LLCs will need to publish their LLC within 60 days of formation. However, there is an exception to this rule: if your statutory agent is located in Maricopa or Pima County, the Arizona Corporations Commission will publish your LLC for you, and you don’t have to do a thing.

If your statutory agent is not located in Maricopa or Pima County, you’ll need to meet the Arizona LLC publication requirement. To do so, you’ll need to publish a legal notice:

  • in one newspaper
  • for three consecutive issues
  • in the county where your statutory agent is located.

Our office is in Pima County, so if you hire us, you can skip this step entirely.

How much does it cost to publish an LLC in Arizona?

It depends. Publication fees can vary pretty widely. You’ll have to check with your local newspaper to find out their publication fee. Newspaper fees are typically between $60-$300.

How do I publish my LLC in Arizona?

Once the Arizona Corporations Commission approves your Articles of Organization, they will send you a Notice of Publication form. This is a form that you’ll need to complete and send to your local newspaper. To fill it out, you’ll need to provide the following information about your LLC:

  • Business name
  • File number
  • Business addresses
  • Statutory agent name and addresses
  • The name(es) and address(es) of your manager or members (depending on who managers your LLC)

Once you’ve completed the Notice of Publication, you’ll send it to a newspaper in the county where your statutory agent is located, ask them to run it in three consecutive issues, and pay the publication fee.

What happens after I publish my LLC in Arizona?

After your publication has run in three issues, the newspaper should send you an Affidavit of Publication, which is your proof that you’ve met the publication requirement. If for some reason you don’t receive an Affidavit of Publication within a month or so, call the newspaper to request it.

Once you have received the Affidavit of Publication, you can either file it with the Arizona Corporations Commission or you keep it with your company’s records. Keep in mind that if you file it, the information it contains (including member names and addresses) will become part of the public record.

The Arizona Corporations Commission will accept your Affidavit of Publication either by email or by mail. Be sure to include your LLC’s name, file number, and your contact information in your request.

What happens if I don’t publish my LLC in Arizona?

If you don’t publish your LLC within 60 days of receiving a Notice of Publication from the Arizona Corporations Commission, your LLC could be administratively dissolved.

5. Write an LLC Operating Agreement

An LLC operating agreement is a legal document that establishes your LLC’s policies and procedures. It will cover all the important stuff—how much each member invests, how membership interest is transferred, how voting works, and what you’ll do if you need to dissolve the business. An operating agreement is crucial for opening a bank account, maintaining limited liability status, and resolving disputes with members.

Check out our attorney-drafted Arizona LLC Operating Agreement.

Does Arizona require an LLC to have an operating agreement?

No. Arizona has several statutes specifying the powers and limitations of operating agreements, but they do not say you must have one.

However, most banks require you to show an operating agreement when opening a business bank account. And if you ever need to fight a lawsuit, a strong operating agreement can help you demonstrate that your LLC is a distinct legal entity with limited liability protection.

Operating agreements are internal documents, so you won’t file yours with the Arizona Corporations Commission. But without one, your business will be governed by Arizona’s default LLC laws.

What should be included in an operating agreement?

A strong operating agreement looks at the big picture of your business and plans for major situations that are likely to happen. Most operating agreements include:

  • initial investments
  • profits, losses, and distributions
  • voting rights, decision-making powers, and management
  • transfer of membership interest
  • dissolving the business

Rules for what your operating agreement can include are covered in AZ Revised Statute § 29-3105. For the most part, you can cover anything that doesn’t contradict your Articles of Organization or Arizona law.

Does a single-member LLC need an operating agreement?

Yes. Single-member LLCs won’t need an operating agreement to settle arguments, but they’re still essential for opening a bank account and maintaining limited liability.

6. Get an EIN

Your EIN (Employer Identification Number) is the number given to your business by the IRS for tax purposes. Think of it as a social security number for your business. It’s free to apply for an EIN directly from the IRS. You can either apply online or by mail. It’s faster to apply online, but you’ll need to mail the paper form if you don’t have a social security number.

Learn How to get an EIN for your LLC.

Do I need an EIN for my Arizona LLC?

Yes. Only LLCs that have employees or are taxed as corporations are legally required to obtain an EIN, but LLCs almost always need an EIN to open a business bank account. Plus, having an EIN protects you from having to share your social security number with vendors and other strangers.

What To Do After Forming Your Arizona LLC

7. Open a Bank Account

Your LLC needs a separate bank account. Why? LLCs have limited liability status because they’re considered separate legal entities from their owners. If your LLC’s money is kept in an owner’s personal bank account, a court could decide your business isn’t really a separate entity—and you could lose your limited liability protection.

Here’s what you should bring to the bank when you open your account:

  • Arizona LLC Articles of Organization (a copy is fine)
  • the LLC’s operating agreement
  • the LLC’s EIN
  • an LLC Resolution to Open a Bank Account (if your LLC has more than one member).

If your LLC has more than one member, use our free LLC Resolution to Open a Bank Account.

8. Fund the LLC

Time to put your money where your mouth is! You need to fund your LLC. Each member should make an initial contribution to pay for their membership interest. This is done by writing a check to the business bank account, or (less commonly) by contributing property or services to the LLC. Note that if your members invest property or services, there’s likely to be a tax event.

What is LLC membership interest?

Membership interest is the percentage of the LLC each member owns. In most cases, the amount you invest in the LLC corresponds with your amount of membership interest. For example, if one member contributes $5,000 to the LLC, and five other members each invest $1,000, the first member would own 50% of the LLC, and the other five members would own 10% each. Voting power is often directly proportional to membership interest.

9. File State Reports & Taxes

Arizona LLCs are not required to file an annual report. That means no annual report fees! Rejoice! However, your business will need to register with the Department of Revenue and pay the transaction privilege tax (TPT), which is Arizona’s tax for the privilege of doing business in the state. You can register on the Arizona Department of Revenue website, or by mailing the Arizona Joint Tax Application (JT-1).

How are Arizona LLCs taxed?

Arizona LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities by default. This means the LLC itself is not taxed. Instead the profits “pass through” the business to the owners, who report the profits as income on their individual tax returns. LLC profits are taxed at the federal self-employment tax rate (15.3%). LLCs can also file with the IRS to be taxed as an S-Corp or a C-Corp.

Learn more about S-Corp Vs LLC tax designation.

Ready to Start an LLC in Arizona?