A limited liability company (LLC for short) is a way to legally structure a business. It combines the limited liability of a corporation with the flexibility and lack of formalities provided by a partnership or sole proprietorship. Any business owner who seeks to limit his or her personal liability for business debts and lawsuits should consider forming an LLC.
Under Maine law, an LLC name must one of the following: "limited liability company" or “limited company,” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” “L.C.,” or “LC”; or, in the case of a low-profit limited liability company, “L3C” or l3c.”
Your LLC’s name must be distinguishable from the names of other business entities already on file with the Maine Secretary of State. Names may be checked for availability by searching the Maine Secretary of State’s business name database. You may reserve a name for up to 120 days by filing an Application for Reservation of Name (MLLC-1) with the Secretary of State. The reservation must be filed by mail. The filing fee is $20.
Every Maine LLC must have an agent for service of process in the state. This is an individual or business entity that agrees to accept legal papers on the LLC’s behalf if it is sued. A registered agent may be (1) an individual who resides in Maine, or (2) a business entity authorized to do business in Maine. The registered agent must have a physical street address in Maine. A list of Maine commercial registered agents can be found on the Maine Department of State website.
A Maine LLC is created by filing a Certificate of Formation (MLLC-6) with the Maine Secretary of State. The certificate must include:
The articles must be filed by mail. The filing fee is $175.
All of the paperwork and procedural steps to start a limited liability company in Maine can be done online using Nolo's Maine Online LLC Formation application.
An LLC operating agreement is not required in Maine, but is highly advisable. This is an internal document that establishes how your LLC will be run. It sets out the rights and responsibilities of the members and managers, including how the LLC will be managed. It can also help preserve your limited liability by showing that your LLC is truly a separate business entity. In the absence of an operating agreement, state LLC law will govern how your LLC operates.
For help creating an LLC operating agreement, see Form Your Own Limited Liability Company, by Anthony Mancuso (Nolo) or use Nolo’s Online LLC. If an operating agreement is created, it need not be filed with the Articles of Organization.
Additional tax and regulatory requirements may apply to your LLC. These may include:
EIN: If your LLC has more than one member, it must obtain its own IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN), even if it has no employees. If you form a one-member LLC, you must obtain an EIN for it only if it will have employees or you elect to have it taxed as a corporation instead of a sole proprietorship (disregarded entity). You may obtain an EIN by completing an online application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.
Business Licenses: Depending on its type of business and where it is located, your LLC may need to obtain other local and state business licenses. For local licenses, check with the clerk for the city or town where the LLC's primary place of business is located (or county if it is in an unincorporated area). For state license information, check Maine’s Department of Economic & Community Development online Business Answers service. For more information, see Nolo's article How to Get a Small Business License in Maine.
Maine Revenue Services: In some cases, for example if you have employees or will be selling goods and collecting sales tax, you’ll need to register with Maine Revenue Services (MRS). You can register online on the MRS website. For more information on Maine LLC tax registration, check Nolo's article, Maine LLC Annual Filing Requirements.
All LLCs doing business in Maine must file an Annual Report with the Maine Secretary of State every year by June 1. You can obtain a preprinted annual report form from the Secretary of State’s website; you'll need your LLC's state charter number to access the online form. The report may be filed online, or by mail. The filing fee is $85 for domestic LLCs, $150 for foreign LLCs. For more information on Maine LLC annual reports, see Nolo's article, Maine LLC Annual Filing Requirements.
To do business in Maine, all LLCs organized outside of the state must register with the Maine Secretary of State. Foreign LLCs must appoint a registered agent for service of process physically located in Maine. To register, file a Statement of Foreign Qualification to Conduct Activities (MLLC-12) with the secretary of state. The application is filed by mail. The filing fee is $250.
The completed application must be accompanied by a Certificate of Existence or Good Standing from the foreign LLC’s home state, dated nor more than 90 days prior to the filing of the certificate.
Before filing, make sure the LLC’s name is available in Maine by checking the Maine business name database. If the name is not available, the foreign LLC must adopt a fictitious business name for use in Maine and submit with the application a Statement of Intention to Transact Business Under an Assumed or Fictitious Name (MLLC-5). An additional $40 fee must be paid when filing the statement.