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Start an LLC in Iowa

Use our free business tools below to complete your Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization. This is the document you file directly with the Iowa Secretary of State to form your LLC.

If you want more, hire us to form your LLC in Iowa for just $39 + state fees. We’ll get your business stood up in minutes with a free domain, website, email, business phone, and more.

File today

with the help of a Registered Agent

How to Start an LLC in Iowa

An Iowa limited liability company (LLCs) is a great business structure for people looking for liability protection, tax perks, and flexibility in how their business is structured. Starting an LLC in Iowa is as simple as picking an Iowa registered agent, submitting a Certificate of Organization document to the Iowa Secretary of State, and forking out a $50 filing fee. You can hire us to deal with all the paperwork or do it yourself, using our guide to Iowa LLC formation.

Let’s dive in!

 

1. Name Your LLC

Naming your LLC is almost as important as naming your child. Except you’ve got more hoops to jump through. In Iowa, you’ll need to follow the LLC naming laws outlined in Iowa Code § 23-0.5-3. To sum it up, your name:

  • Needs to have “limited liability company,” “limited company,” or an abbreviation like “LLC” in it.
  • Must be unique to other active businesses in Iowa.

Want to lock in that perfect name before someone else snags it? You can reserve an Iowa LLC name for 120 days by filing an Application of Reservation of Name with the Iowa Secretary of State for $10.

Tip: Use our handy business name availability guide to check if your name is available to use.

2. Register Your Domain Name

Now that you’ve got your LLC’s name dealt with, it’s time to claim your spot on the internet by snagging a domain name for your website. Your domain name is like your online street address—it’s how folks find you in the vast world wide web.

Remember these key points when choosing a domain name for your business:

  1. It should match your business name, industry, or service
  2. Make it easy to remember and stick in people’s minds

Grabbing your domain name early comes with some sweet perks. Your domain name gives you access to a professional business email address. Registering your domain name before you build your business website also takes it off the market to others.

Tip: Ready to claim your domain name? Hiring Northwest as a register agent or to form your Iowa LLC gets you a whole year of free domain registration and a business email.

3. File Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization

Iowa is a bit funky in that there is no official Certificate of Organization to submit to form your LLC. You’ll need to write a document yourself that’ll act as your Certificate. This document is what you’ll submit along with a $50 filing fee.

Here’s what you need to include.

Name of limited liability company

Your LLC name is going to have to comply with Iowa’s LLC naming laws.

Street and mailing addresses of the LLC’s principal office

Your LLC’s principal office is the primary address where people can contact your business. If your principal office has two addresses (the location and how people can contact you), you’ll need to list both of them. For example, if your principal office is your mom’s garage, but you receive mail through your ex-roommates PO box, you’ll need to list both of those addresses.

Registered agent name and Iowa mailing and street addresses

A registered agent is the person authorized to receive legal mail on behalf of your business. You’ll need to include their name and addresses on your Certificate. According to Iowa’s registered agent laws, your registered agent must:

  • Have a physical street address in Iowa (not a P.O. box).
  • Be available during regular business hours to receive legal mail.

You can be your own registered agent or someone else in your company. But be aware that you’ll need to list your address on public forms where anyone can find where you live. YIKES! That’s why a lot of people hire registered agent companies like Northwest.

Tip: Northwest is a unique registered agent and allows you to list our address on your Certificate for your business mailing address instead of you having to put down your own private and personal information.

 

How do you submit the Iowa Certificate of Organization?

You can submit your Iowa Certificate of Organization by mail or in person, but online is going to be your fastest option.

By mail or in person:

Secretary of State
Business Services Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Online:

Iowa Fast Track Filing

4. Adopt an Operating Agreement

Your LLC’s operating agreement lays out the essential rules and procedures of how your business will run. An operating agreement often covers aspects like:

  • Member investments
  • Profit distribution
  • Dissolution plans
  • Member removals or additions

As long as your operating agreement doesn’t go against anything in your Certificate or Iowa law, you have a lot of flexibility to tailor the agreement to the needs of your business.

Tip: Don’t sweat the small stuff! Our attorneys have already written up an initial Iowa operating agreement that you can personalize for free.

5. Get an EIN

An EIN, aka the employer identification number, is like your businesses ID number and how the IRS keeps tabs on you for tax purposes. You can get an EIN for free directly from the IRS. If you’re a US citizen or a citizen of one of the US territories, you just need to hop online and submit your info. Not a US citizen or without a social security number? You can still get an EIN for your business by submitting Form SS-4.

Tip: We go over everything you need to know to get an EIN for your LLC.

6. Get a Business Bank Account

Getting an EIN opens many doors for your business like one of the most crucial steps: opening a business bank account. Your LLC is like its own little legal island, legally separate from you. But if you start mixing business and personal cash, things get messy real quick, leading to legal and tax headaches. To keep things clean and tidy, set up a separate bank account just for your LLC. Here’s what you’ll need to bring to the bank your LLC’s:

  • Certificate of Organization
  • Operating agreement
  • EIN

If your LLC has more than one member, you’ll need an LLC Resolution to Open a Bank Account.

7. File Biennial Report Entity Report & Pay Taxes

Once you’re formed your business, you’ll still need to do some things to keep it in compliance and running successfully. In Iowa, you’re required to file a biennial report every two years. This report serves to update the state on your business’s contact details and inform them of any changes in ownership.

The filing fee for the biennial report is $30. The biennial report is due between January 1st and April 1st of the first odd-numbered year after your LLC was formed. For instance, if you formed your LLC in May 2022, your first report would be due on April 1st, 2023. Similarly, if your LLC was formed in May 2022, your report would also be due on April 1st, 2025.

By default, Iowa LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities. This means that the business itself isn’t taxed; instead, profits are passed through to the owners. The owners, you and your partners, then report the business profits as income on your own individual tax returns. Iowa LLC profits are also subject to the federal self-employment income tax rate. However, LLCs in Iowa also have the option to elect to be taxed as an S-Corp or C-Corp.

Tip: If dealing with paperwork isn’t your cup of tea, you can opt to have us handle filing your Iowa Biennial Report for you.

8. File the Beneficial Ownership Information Report

Many Iowa LLCs have to complete an additional filing at the federal level known as the Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report. This requirement mandates disclosing identifying information about the company applicant and all beneficial owners to a federal agency, FinCEN. You can choose to file online independently or opt for our assistance for a fee of $9.

 

*This is informational commentary, not advice. This information is intended strictly for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. This information is not intended to create, nor does your receipt, viewing, or use of it constitute, an attorney-client relationship. More information is available in our Terms of Service.

Ready to Start an LLC in Iowa?