To start an LLC in Kentucky, you must file Articles of Organization with the Kentucky Division of Business Filings. You can file the document online or by mail. The Articles of Organization cost $40 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Kentucky LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Everything You Need to Know About Kentucky LLCs:
Kentucky LLC Formation Options
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How to Start an LLC in Kentucky
To start an LLC in Kentucky, you’ll need to do three things: appoint a registered agent, choose a name for your business, and file Articles of Organization with the Kentucky Secretary of State, Division of Business Filings. You can file the document online or by mail. The articles cost $40 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Kentucky LLC.
According to Kentucky Revised Statute § 14A.4-010, every Kentucky LLC must appoint a registered agent. You don’t need to hire a registered agent, but if you do, make sure your registered agent will list their address on your articles wherever possible to ensure maximum privacy.
If you’re starting a new business, you probably already know what you want to name your LLC. But you’ll need to know if your preferred name is available. To find out, visit Kentucky’s Business Entity Search and search until you find the perfect name for your LLC.
Once you know who your registered agent will be and what your LLC name is, you’re ready to file your Kentucky Articles of Organization. Follow along with our filing instructions below:
Filing the Kentucky LLC Articles of Organization
Learn more about each Articles of Organization requirement below. Note that the information you provide becomes part of the public record—permanently.
Or skip the form entirely and hire us to form your Kentucky LLC. We provide a free business address to list whenever possible throughout the filing to better keep your personal address private. And for the cheapest way to start a business? Pay just $39 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
1. Company Name
You have to include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC.” You can’t include words that would make people think you’re a different business entity like “corporation.”
2. Registered Office
This must be a street address (no PO Boxes). When you hire us to act as your registered agent, our information will go here—and you can avoid publicly listing your personal home or office address.
3. Registered Agent
Your Kentucky registered agent must be available during business hours to accept legal notices for your LLC. You can list yourself, someone else, or a service like Northwest. Naturally, we recommend Northwest. For paper filings, the Kentucky Secretary of State requires your registered agent to sign your articles as well.
4. Principal Office
This is where the state of Kentucky will send you any official mail (besides legal notifications). Want to better maintain your privacy? When you hire Northwest, you can list our address as your principal office—leaving your personal information off public record.
5. LLC Management
You’ll need to indicate whether your Kentucky LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. Most LLCs are managed by members who share decision-making power. However, if you don’t plan to run the day-to-day operations of your business, you can turn over the decisions to managers.
6. Veteran Owned
You may check this box if your Kentucky LLC is a veteran-owned business.
7. Kentucky LLC Organizer
Your organizer is just the person who completes and submits your articles. Organizers are required to put their name, title and signature. This doesn’t have to be anyone within your LLC—when you hire Northwest, we’ll put our information in this section, helping you keep your personal info private.
Why Have a Registered Agent Form Your Kentucky LLC?
Professionals in Kentucky hire registered agent services like Northwest Registered Agent to start an LLC—but why?
Standard filing companies don’t have employees or offices in every state. But as a national registered agent, it’s a requirement for us, which is a benefit for our clients. Our office is in Richmond, Kentucky. We’re on a first name basis with the people who work in the Kentucky Division of Business Filings. We know all the fastest filing methods, which translates to fast, professional service—without extra fees.
As your registered agent, we list our Richmond registered office address on your LLC’s formation documents. Why? If you’re starting a business from your apartment in Lexington, do you really want your apartment address as your business address? (Hint: the answer is no.) We’ll list our address, so you don’t have to list yours. Plus, we never sell your data. We don’t list your personal information on filings if we don’t have to. It’s all standard and part of our commitment to Privacy by Default®.
Free Mail Forwarding, Business Address and More
At Northwest, we do everything a registered agent should do and more. You can list our address as your business address on your state filings. We include limited digital mail forwarding with registered agent service (up to 5 pieces of regular mail per year; $15 a doc after that).
Plan on accepting credit cards? We also offer a Free Credit Card Processing Consultation. Our specialists work with processors to negotiate low rates and better contracts for our clients.
And now, try our in-house Northwest Phone Service for 60 days, free of charge with our formation service. Get a virtual phone number with your choice of area code, make and receive calls from any device, and more—for just $9 a month.
We know the in’s and out’s of each state—and we use this knowledge to help you when you need it most. Our team of Corporate Guides® has over 200 local business experts. You can call or email us for answers to all your questions about your LLC in Kentucky.
What Do I Do After My Kentucky LLC Is Formed?
After your Kentucky Articles of Organization are approved, you still have a few more important steps to take, including getting an EIN, drafting an operating agreement, opening a bank account, funding the LLC and learning about state reporting and tax requirements.
Get an EIN
An EIN (“Employer Identification Number”) is a federal tax ID assigned to your business by the IRS. The IRS uses your EIN to easily identify your business on tax filings.
Does a Kentucky LLC need an EIN?
Your Kentucky LLC is required to get an EIN if you have employees or file federal excise taxes like
Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms returns. Even if you aren’t required to get an EIN, there are situations where you’ll be asked for one, especially when first starting your business. For example, you’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account.
How do I get an EIN for my LLC?
You can apply for an EIN directly from the IRS at no cost. Most businesses are able to apply online, but if you don’t have a social security number, you’ll need to apply with a paper form. Want one less thing to do? Add on EIN service when you hire us, and we’ll get your EIN for you. Or choose our VIP service—an EIN is included.
Write an LLC Operating Agreement
Operating agreements put into writing how your business actually operates—how much each member invested, how profits and losses will be allocated, how voting works, and what happens if there’s a dispute or if the whole business (knock on wood) falls apart.
For more on Kentucky operating agreements (including free Kentucky operating agreement templates), see our Kentucky LLC Operating Agreement resource.
Do I need an operating agreement for a Kentucky LLC?
Kentucky doesn’t legally require an LLC to have an operating agreement. In fact, the state doesn’t even have a specific state statute that lays out LLC operating agreement ground rules. Instead, they have a statute that mentions what your operating agreement may cover. For example, according to Kentucky Revised Statute § 275.180, your written operating agreement may remove or limit personal liability from a member/manager or create provisions for paying a member/manager’s legal fees.
This is just one example that illustrates that while an operating agreement is not technically required, that doesn’t make it any less important. An operating agreement is one of your LLC’s most important internal documents, and creating one can help your LLC with everything from opening a bank account to handling major events from mergers to dissolution.
What should be in an operating agreement?
An operating agreement should explain how the business will handle “big picture” situations—everything from allocating profits and losses to dissolving the business. Below is a list of common topics that operating agreements should cover.
Profits, losses, and distributions
Voting rights, decision-making powers, and management
Transfer of membership interest
Dissolving the business
Your operating agreement can cover pretty much anything as long as it isn’t contrary to Kentucky law. And if you don’t have an operating agreement? KRS § 275.185 still requires you to maintain a complete list of member/manager information and any amendments made to your LLC. With all that required writing, you might as well have an operating agreement.
How do I write an operating agreement?
To write an operating agreement, you need to address how your business will handle money, members, votes, management, and more. Not sure how to get started? At Northwest, we’re here to help your LLC get off on the right foot. When you hire us, we provide your business with a free LLC operating agreement, specific to your management style. We’ve spent years developing these agreements and other free LLC forms—which have been used by over a million LLCs.
Open an LLC Bank Account
Your LLC needs its own bank account. Why? An LLC gets its limited liability from being a distinct entity, separate from its members. If you mix personal and business finances, you could lose your liability protections.
How do I open a bank account for my Kentucky LLC?
To open a bank account for your Kentucky LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
- A copy of the Kentucky LLC Articles of Organization
- The LLC operating agreement
- The LLC’s EIN
If there are multiple members in the LLC, you may also want to bring an LLC resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the members to open the account in the name of the LLC. Northwest can help with this as well—LLC bank resolutions are one of the many free legal forms we provide to ensure you can get your LLC started fast.
Fund the LLC
Time to put some money in that new LLC bank account. What money? For starters, your initial contributions to your LLC’s capital. LLC members are owners, and each owner needs to pay for their membership interest to fund the LLC.
What is membership interest?
Membership interest is your percentage of ownership of the LLC. Membership interest is normally proportionate to your investment. So how does this work?
Imagine your LLC has 5 members. 4 members each invest $1,000 in the business. One member invests $6,000. The total contribution of all members is $10,000. The 4 members each own 10% of the business. The moneybags member who shelled out $6,000 owns 60% of the business.
Typically, this also means that the 4 members would each get 10% of any profits, and moneybags would get 60%. Exactly how profits and losses are allocated, however, can be adjusted in the operating agreement as long as changes are in line with IRS requirements and Kentucky laws.
File Kentucky Reports & Taxes
Kentucky LLCs are required to file a state report each year. This report is basically an information update you file so the state knows who currently runs things and how to contact your business. Kentucky LLCs are also subject to state tax filing requirements.
How much is the Kentucky Annual Report fee?
The fee for the Kentucky LLC Annual Report is $15. The real killer, however, is that your business will be administratively dissolved or revoked if you fail to file by June 30th.
Note also that you can’t update contact details in your report—if your principal office or registered agent’s address changes, you have to submit a Statement of Change, which will cost you an additional 10 bucks.
When is the Kentucky Annual Report due?
Your Kentucky Annual Report is due each year on June 30th.
When you sign up for Northwest, we send you reminders for your annual report due dates. Want one less thing to worry about? With our business renewal service, we can complete and submit your annual report for you for $100 plus the state fee.
What should I know about Kentucky LLC taxes?
Kentucky assesses state income tax at a flat rate of 5%. In addition, many counties and cities levy an occupational tax that averages between 0.01% – 2.50%.
The sales tax in Kentucky is also a flat rate of 6%. Unlike many other states, Kentucky’s cities and counties don’t tack on additional local sales taxes.
Kentucky also has a unique tax called the Limited Liability Entity Tax (LLET), a tax on gross receipts. This tax applies to both corporations and “pass-through” entities, like LLCs and LPs. The minimum LLET is $175 for gross receipts under $3 million.
Kentucky has one of the lowest property taxes in the US (an average of 0.86% of assessed value). Thinking about investing in property? Your accountant will likely suggest setting up an LLC. An LLC limits your liability and can help you maintain your privacy by keeping your name out of public records. At Northwest, we can form your Kentucky LLC for as low as $265. Or, pay just $30 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
Do LLCs have to register with the Kentucky Department of Revenue?
Yes. Kentucky is pretty heavily invested in making sure businesses meet all of their tax obligations. If you conduct business in Kentucky, you must register with the Kentucky Department of Revenue. You can register online at the Kentucky One Stop Business Portal or by filing a Kentucky Tax Registration Application (Form 10A 100) by mail.
Kentucky LLC FAQs
How can I submit the Kentucky LLC Articles of Organization?
You can file Kentucky articles online with Kentucky’s OneStop by mail, or in person.
Office of the Secretary of State
PO Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602-0718
Capital Building, Room 154
700 Capital Avenue
Frankfort, KY 40601
How much does it cost to start a Kentucky LLC?
The filing fee for your Kentucky LLC Articles of Organization is $40.
Hire Northwest for a one-time fee of $265, including state filing fees, a year of registered agent service, limited mail forwarding and loads of useful forms and tools to help get your Kentucky LLC up and running. Or, pay just $39 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
How long does it take to start a Kentucky LLC?
Typically a day or less online. While most filings are processed the same day, it can take up to a full business day. Mail and in-person filings will take approximately 2-3 business days to process.
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your Kentucky LLC formed within 24 hours.
Does a Kentucky LLC need a business license?
The state doesn’t have a statewide business license law. However, certain types of businesses—from ear piercing to landscape architecture—will require a special license or permit. To see if you need one, check out the Kentucky Occupational License/Permit web page. Also, some cities and counties have local business license requirements. Franklin County, for example, requires those conducting business in the county to obtain a business license.
Need an EIN or a certified copy of your formation docs for your license applications? Northwest can help. You can easily add on these items to your LLC formation order.
Can a Kentucky LLC help me live more privately?
Yes. While you can’t remove all ownership information from an Kentucky public filing (like you can in states like New Mexico, Delaware, and Wyoming), a Kentucky LLC can still help you reduce your public footprint. You can maintain a significant degree of address privacy by listing our address on public docs instead of your own. Check out our page on living privately with an LLC to learn more.
What is a foreign Kentucky LLC?
A foreign Kentucky LLC is any LLC formed outside of Kentucky but registered to do business in the state. For example, if you formed an LLC in Ohio but wanted to conduct business in Kentucky as well, you would register as a foreign LLC in Kentucky by filing a Certificate of Authority with the Kentucky Secretary of State. Like domestic LLCs, foreign LLCs in the state have to file annual Kentucky annual reports. Northwest can register your foreign Kentucky LLC for you today!
How to Order LLC Formation Service
Our Kentucky LLC formation service is designed to be fast and easy—signing up takes just a couple minutes. Here’s how it works:
With Northwest, we give you flexibility on how to pay. You can pay all the fees up front (this includes one full year of registered agent service). Or, pay just $39 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option. With our VIP option, we also include an EIN. Just choose one of the buttons below, answer a few easy questions about your business and submit your payment.
We’ll prepare your Kentucky Articles of Organization and send them to the Secretary of State for approval. In the meantime, you’ll have immediate access to your online account, where you can find useful state forms, pre-populated with your business information.
Once the Kentucky Secretary of State has approved your filing, we notify you that your Kentucky LLC has been legally formed. You can now take any necessary next steps, like getting an EIN and opening a bank account.