If you Google “start an LLC,” you’ll get a lot of results instantly. Most of them will be advertisements for different LLC formation services: LegalZoom, Incfile, Incorporate.com, Swyft Filings, Zen Business…the list goes on and on.
An LLC service is, for a lot of entrepreneurs, a lifesaver. Starting a business is a complicated process. It takes a lot of paperwork, and many people get overwhelmed by the legal procedures: filing for taxes, getting business licenses and permits, filling out the formation documents, and more.
Then there are requirements for ongoing compliance in Louisiana such as hiring a registered agent and filing annual reports.
LLC services take on most of that burden for you: you give them a bit of information about you and your business, and the service starts your business on your behalf. This process is perfectly legal, and hiring one frees you up to focus on the more “exciting” parts of your business. Most LLC services also offer registered agent service, helping you with ongoing compliance.
The Top 4 LLC Services in Louisiana
LLC formation services are a big help, but not all LLC formation services are created equal.
Between price differences, the extras offered (or excluded), and overall quality, some are better than others. And as a busy entrepreneur, you probably don’t want to spend your time sorting through the good ones and bad ones.
Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you and compared the top LLC formation services. We’ve done our best to consider all the important categories, including cost, ongoing fees, customer service, and more. Based on those criteria, here are the four top LLC formation services.
|BANG FOR YOUR BUCK||Excellent|
|CLAIM TO FAME||Consumer-friendly and socially conscious organization|
|COMPARED TO OTHER SERVICES||Above-average value|
Thanks to competitive technology and a dedication to affordability, Zen Business has one of the most affordable formation-plus-registered-agent packages available.
If you choose their Pro package ($149 annually), you’ll get a business formation, registered agent service, an operating agreement template, a risk-free accounting assessment, a banking resolution template, and access to their Worry-Free Compliance program for a flat annual fee.
- Formation package price: Starting at $39, plus LA LLC setup fee of $100 for a total of $139 (renews annually for $119)
- Registered agent service: $99 a la carte, but $119 in an annual package
- Customer service: Zen Business offers outstanding customer service thanks to their smaller customer base and individualized attention.
- Ease of use: Zen Business offers helpful tools for tracking annual reports and more, but the order process can be a bit confusing.
- Customer reviews: Overwhelmingly positive, with 4.8/5 stars on Trustpilot across 4,700+ reviews
|BANG FOR YOUR BUCK||Excellent|
|CLAIM TO FAME||Offers free Louisiana LLC formations and registered agent service for one year|
|COMPARED TO OTHER SERVICES||Above-average value|
If start-up costs are your primary concern, Incfile is a great option. They are a free Louisiana LLC registration service and don’t require any fees until the second year.
Incfile doesn’t have as many bonus features as some of its competitors, but they do offer all the essentials at an extra fee — filing an EIN, registering a DBA, filing annual reports, and a few others.
- Formation package price: No cost beyond Louisiana’s $100 LLC filing fee
- Registered agent service: First year free, and then $119 per year
- Customer service: Incfile recently doubled their customer service team, improving their response times — which were already pretty good to begin with!
- Ease of use: While there’s nothing fancy to Incfile’s order process, that’s a good thing. There aren’t a ton of messy gimmicks to sort through when ordering a package from Incfile.
- Customer reviews: Fantastic; over 98% are positive across 21,000+ reviews on Shopper Approved
Northwest Registered Agent
|BANG FOR YOUR BUCK||Great|
|CLAIM TO FAME||Excellent customer service|
|COMPARED TO OTHER SERVICES||Above-average value|
“We’re just not annoying” is their brand promise, and they stick to it. Northwest Registered Agent may be smaller than some of their competitors, but they leverage more industry experience than their competitors, too.
They also throw in a free year of registered agent service, which keeps your start-up fees low. Compared to Zen Business, our top pick, Northwest is a service that prioritizes incredible customer support above all else.
- Formation package price: $39
- Registered agent service: $125 annually, but the first year is free
- Customer service: Northwest assigns a dedicated account representative to each client, ensuring prompt, personalized service.
- Ease of use: Northwest keeps their order form simple — no need for upsells to clutter up the process.
- Customer reviews: Primarily positive on most 3rd-party review sites; however, reviews are limited in number
|BANG FOR YOUR BUCK||Fair|
|CLAIM TO FAME||Massive ad budget and brand|
|COMPARED TO OTHER SERVICES||Below-average value|
If you prefer to work with a large, established brand, then LegalZoom is about as big as it gets.
Founded in 2001, LegalZoom’s offerings have grown from 10 initial online legal offerings to hundreds of different services. Compared to some other services in this guide, LegalZoom has a higher price tag. But if you’re looking for a one-stop legal shop, you’ll find a wide variety of other services.
- Formation package price: starting at $79, plus state fees for a total of $179
- Registered agent service: $249 per year (first year for $159 if added to a formation package)
- Customer service: As a large company, LegalZoom’s customer service won’t have the same personal touch as other companies we’ve listed.
- Ease of use: Many customers complain that the order process with LegalZoom is long and confusing. Many upsells are presented, even before you have a chance to choose your package.
- Customer reviews: Mixed; most negative reviews stem from a misunderstanding of the package offerings and ongoing fees
What Is a Louisiana LLC?
Short for limited liability company, a Louisiana LLC is an entity type that combines the flexibility of a sole proprietorship with the personal asset protection of a corporation. We get it — that’s a lot of words. So let’s unpack what that means.
If you start selling handcrafted apparel from your house (which is totally legal), you’d be operating as a sole proprietorship. From a legal standpoint, sole proprietorships are the same entity as their owners.
That means everything the business “owns” from fabrics to sewing machines and so on are actually owned by the sole proprietor. The proprietor pays any and all taxes, too. And if the business is sued or taken to court, the owner can lose his or her personal belongings to pay the damages.
In contrast, registered entities like LLCs have personal asset protection because the business is considered a separate legal entity from its owners. The business itself can own assets, maintain a bank account, and be sued. And in turn, the members of the business cannot lose their assets if something goes wrong with the business.
But unlike corporations, LLCs don’t have a bunch of complicated requirements. That makes it a good choice for entrepreneurs who want to keep filings simple but still get asset protection.
Pros and Cons of Creating a Limited Liability Company
An LLC is one of the most popular entity types nationwide. But it isn’t the right type for everyone.
Only you can pick which entity type best fits you and your business; after all, you understand your business idea better than anyone. You have a clear vision for your products and services, both present and future.
To truly determine whether an LLC is right for you, it’s helpful to consider the advantages and disadvantages of LLCs.
- Easier to form and maintain than a corporation
- Personal asset protection
- Flexible taxation structure; can pay as a partnership or a corporation
- Business name is protected for exclusive use within state boundaries
- No authority to issue stock, so opportunities to raise capital are limited
- In some states, annual fees and taxes can be higher than partnerships or sole proprietorships
- Requires more paperwork than some entrepreneurs are comfortable with
How to Set Up a Louisiana LLC on Your Own
Technically speaking, you don’t have to use an LLC formation service like Zen Business or LegalZoom. These services are incredibly helpful, but you can save money by completing the process yourself.
Creating a Louisiana LLC is exciting, but it’s also a legal process. Thankfully, though, there’s not a whole lot of “legalese” involved. Follow these steps, and creating your Louisiana LLC will be a cinch:
1. Name Your LLC
Your business’s name is a big deal—it goes on all of your official documents, your advertising, and it’s how your customers will get to know your business.
Name recognition goes a long way, right? And when it comes to what name you pick, the sky’s the limit…mostly. There are a couple general best practices to follow, and of course, there are a couple Louisiana-specific restrictions, too.
For example, a business name should be…
- Easy to say and spell
- Tell customers what good or service you offer
- Something you like!
Every name must also include the words “Limited Liability Company,” the abbreviation “LLC,” or some variation of the business type designation.
One last note: if your name includes specific words like Education, Academy, Bank, or something similar, you may need to get additional approval from the state’s banking division or Department of Education.
Beyond that, there are a few Louisiana-specific rules you’ll want to follow. Most importantly, you cannot use a name that’s already been claimed by another business in Louisiana. Thankfully, you can check if your desired name is still available by running an Entity Name Search.
If your desired name is available, you shouldn’t hesitate to claim it! Ultimately, you’ll officially claim the name when you file your Articles of Organization (see Step 3). But if you’re not quite ready to file the Articles, you can reserve your name with the state. Simply fill out the Reservation of Corporate/Limited Liability Company/L3C/Partnership Name form and pay the applicable $25 fee. This will protect your chosen name for 120 days, giving you time to prepare anything else you need.
2. Choose a Registered Agent
In your Articles of Organization, you’ll be required to list the name and address of your registered agent. “Registered agent” sounds fancy, but don’t let the name overwhelm you: an agent acts as your primary contact for all official communications.
A registered agent accepts what the state calls “service of process” on your behalf. Basically, if your business ever falls out of good standing (or something similar), the state will send an official alert to your registered agent. Because of that, the registered agent needs to be available during all regular business hours.
In Louisiana, you can serve as your own registered agent, but we don’t recommend it. You’d be tied down to your listed address, or worse, you might run the risk of missing an important letter. Plus, appointing someone else keeps your personal address private and cuts down on junk mail.
If you’d like to hire a registered agent, we have a few recommended services.
3. File the Formation Documents
Once you’ve chosen your name and appointed a registered agent, you’re ready to file your Articles of Organization. This all-important filing is what will legally create your business in the state of Louisiana, so it’s important to fill it out carefully.
Louisiana needs a lot of important information from you, including:
- County of the business
- Your chosen business name
- Purpose of your business
- Duration (usually perpetual)
- Signature of organizer
- Signature of notary witness
You can file your Articles online or by mail. Either way, you’ll need to pay the $100 filing fee. You can pay by check, money order, or by credit card. All checks should be made payable to the Louisiana Secretary of State.
Congratulations! Your LLC is now officially recognized by the state of Louisiana.
After You Set Up an LLC in Louisiana
Your LLC is now an official entity in Louisiana, but don’t get too comfortable. There’s still plenty of work to be done if you want to set yourself up for long-term success. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and you may need to address some requirements that are unique to your industry.
1. Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
If you have one or more employees (or expect to in the future), you should get an EIN from the IRS. This filing is actually pretty simple, and it’s completely free. You do need to complete the application in one sitting (you can do it online here), so be sure to have your valid Taxpayer Identification Number on hand.
If you file the form online, you’ll receive your number almost immediately.
2. Obtain any needed licenses and permits
Depending on your industry and location, you may need to obtain licenses and permits for your business.
Unlike some states, Louisiana does not require a statewide general business license. However, they do uphold all federal-level licensing requirements. For example, business owners in industries like alcohol and agriculture need to get licenses from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and U.S. Department of Agriculture respectively.
Lots of professions and industries also need to obtain trade-specific licenses. Thankfully, Louisiana makes it pretty easy to determine which licenses and permits you need. Simply log into geauxBIZ, click “Getting Started,” and the online business portal will help generate a list of possible federal, state, and local licenses for you.
3. Meet zoning requirements (if you have a physical location)
Cities and counties across Louisiana have careful regulations regarding how land and property is used.
For example, some properties can only be used for residential purposes, not commercial. It’s vital to check the zoning requirements for your physical location (or before building on your property) to ensure that you’re not violating zoning requirements.
To learn more about zoning requirements in your area, we recommend checking out your county and city websites.
4. Draft an Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is almost as important as your Articles of Organization, but you don’t have to file it with the Secretary of State.
Here’s why the Operating Agreement is so important: it details just how your LLC is going to succeed. For example, the Operating Agreement will describe how profits are distributed to members of the LLC, how members can join (or leave), ownership policies, the rights and responsibilities of each member, and more.
Even if you’re a single-member LLC (you’re the only one running it), you should draft up an Operating Agreement. Who knows? Your business might grow, and an Operating Agreement will ensure you’re ready to bring new members into the game.
On top of that, a lot of banks request to see your Operating Agreement before you can open a business bank account.
You can hire a business attorney to help you draft your Operating Agreement. But if you’d like to save money, there are plenty of free templates online that you can customize to meet your LLC’s needs.
5. File federal and state taxes
Nobody likes taxes. We get it. But it’s part of life while running a business. Every year, you’ll need to pay taxes on the federal, state, and local levels. And on top of that, you’ll need to make reports of your business income.
We’re not accountants, so we won’t go into a ton of detail about taxes here. But we do want to give you a good idea of what you’ll be up against in terms of taxes.
First off, it’s important to note how you’ll pay taxes. By default, members of LLCs will report the profits they get through distributions on Schedule C of their individual tax forms. They then pay individual tax rates on those profits. However, LLCs can also elect to be taxed as corporations, and if they do, the LLC itself will pay taxes at the corporate income tax rate.
In Louisiana, there are two primary taxes for LLCs that elect to be taxed as a corporation: the corporate income tax, which ranges from 4-8%, and the franchise tax. If you are taxed as a pass-through entity, you’ll pay the income tax rate of 2-6%. Beyond that, you’ll be expected to collect and pay the state sales tax (4.45%) if you’re involved in sales. You can learn more about Louisiana’s sales tax here.
Employers in Louisiana are also required to make regular contributions to the state unemployment insurance fund. (Technically speaking, it’s not a tax; but it acts like one, so we’ve listed it here).
Last but not least, you may need to pay some industry-specific taxes. For example, Louisiana has unique taxes for motor fuel, school readiness, and more. You can learn more about all business tax types with the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
6. File your annual report
Louisiana requires all businesses (LLCs included) to keep the state and the public informed about the financial and legal standing of their business. This filing is called the annual report. The report is fairly easy to complete; all you have to do is file it online through geauxBIZ. You’ll also need to have a credit or debit card on hand to pay the $30 filing fee. In Louisiana, the report is due before your LLC’s anniversary date—more specifically, before the date the Secretary of State approved your business.
7. Understand business insurance requirements
Louisiana has two primary insurance requirements for businesses.
First, all businesses with employees must get worker’s compensation insurance. This policy protects you and your employees if someone ever gets injured on the job. If you’d like to learn more about the state’s policies regarding worker’s compensation, check out the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Second, if you have any company-owned vehicles, you must get a commercial auto insurance policy.
Beyond that, you can pick and choose what insurance policies you’d like to get. Which policies you choose depend on a lot of things: your own risk tolerance, how dangerous or risky your industry is, how much capital you have, and more. In general, it’s a good idea to get a general business insurance policy. Accidents, while (hopefully) rare, happen. Insurance will help protect all the time and money you’ve invested in your business.
8. Start a business bank account
Even before you have your grand opening, you’ll want to set up a bank account that’s unique to your business. A business account presents several advantages. Most importantly, these accounts keep your personal and business finances separate (mixing them is a major legal no-no).
Plus, a business bank account gives you credit and debit cards and checks under your business’s name. For some customers, writing a check out to a business (instead of a person) is more comfortable. The business name feels more legitimate.
Most banks will request to see your Operating Agreement before they’ll give you a business bank account, so be sure to tackle Step 4 (Draft an Operating Agreement) before you go!
Louisiana LLC Fast Facts
- LLC Formation Speed: Approximately 20 business days with standard filings; expediting cuts it down to 8 business days
- Cost to File an LA LLC: $100, plus the service’s fee if you use one
- How to File Your Articles of Organization: Online or by mail
- Annual Reports: Due each year by the date the LA Secretary of State approved your business; costs $30 to file
- State General Business License: Not required, but industry licenses may apply
- PLLCs: Available for 12 different industries; however, LA prefers professional corporations to PLLCs
Forming an LLC is possible on your own, and it’s cheaper to do so. But the process can be overwhelming. LLC formation services make it possible to start your LLC without all the hassle, but that convenience will cost you. Either way, starting a Louisiana LLC enables you to run a business that’s recognized by the state and federal government.