How to Register an LLC in Wisconsin: A Step-by-Step Guide

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By: Michaela Dale Updated on: June 13, 2024

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) grants you tax flexibility, brand credibility, and personal asset protection. If you’re ready to launch a business in Wisconsin, we’ve got you covered. This guide has all the steps you need to know to register an LLC in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin LLC Quick Facts 

  • To register an LLC in Wisconsin, you must file Articles of Organization. 
  • The filing fee for starting an LLC in Wisconsin is $130-$170.
  • All LLCs in Wisconsin are required to appoint a registered agent.
  • To maintain an LLC, you must file an Annual Report every year. 

6 Steps to Forming an LLC in Wisconsin

Ready to register an LLC in Wisconsin? Follow these six key steps to set up your business.

Starting an LLC in Wisconsin is as easy as six steps: 

  1. Name Your Wisconsin LLC
  2. Appoint a Registered Agent
  3. File the Articles of Organization 
  4. Create an Operating Agreement
  5. Obtain an EIN and Handle Taxes
  6. File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report

Step 1: Name Your Wisconsin LLC 

To begin registering an LLC in Wisconsin, the first step is to choose a unique name for your business. 

When selecting a name for your Wisconsin LLC, it must adhere to the following criteria:

  • Include “Limited Liability Company”, “LLC”, or “Limited Company”
  • Must be unique and distinguishable from any other business entity in the state
  • Cannot include terms that are restricted or imply government affiliation 

We recommend that you review Wisconsin’s naming requirements in their entirety before choosing a business name. 

To ensure your chosen business name is available, you will need to conduct a taxable entity search on the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions website

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Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent 

To register an LLC in Wisconsin, you need to designate a registered agent for your LLC. The registered agent will be responsible for receiving important legal documents and information on behalf of your company such as tax forms and government correspondence. 

The registered agent in Wisconsin must be a business entity or an individual with a physical address in the state. It is important to note that the registered agent cannot be the LLC itself, but can be an LLC owner or employee. 

Who Is Eligible To Serve as a Registered Agent in Wisconsin?

A registered agent can be the LLC owner, an employee of the company, a friend, family member, or a hired registered agent service. 

Step 3: File the Articles of Organization

To register an LLC in Wisconsin, you must file Articles of Organization with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. This can be completed online or by submitting Form 502 by mail. 

The filing fee is $170 if submitted by mail or $130 if completed online

It is advisable to have the following information ready before filing for your LLC:

  • Your LLC’s name and principal office address
  • The name, email address, and address of your registered agent 
  • The name and address of all LLC organizers 
  • Your contact information 

Quick Note: If your business is already established in another state, you must register as a Wisconsin foreign LLC. You can accomplish this by filing a Foreign Registration Statement online or by mail along with a $100 filing fee. 

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement 

After registering your LLC in Wisconsin, the next step is to create an operating agreement for your company. This isn’t required in Wisconsin but it is still good practice. An operating agreement is a crucial document that outlines the internal procedures and ownership details of the LLC. 

Step 5: Obtain an EIN and Handle Taxes 

Next, you need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is necessary for tax reporting purposes, from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number is crucial for tax filings, hiring employees, and opening a business bank account. 

You can obtain an EIN for free on the IRS website

Additionally, it is important to identify any additional tax obligations your business may have by visiting the Wisconsin Department of Revenue website

Step 6: File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report 

Once you have completed the necessary paperwork, obtained an EIN, and established your LLC with the state of Wisconsin, the next step is to ensure compliance with federal regulations. LLCs in Wisconsin are required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

New LLCs must file this report within 90 days of formation, while existing LLCs must complete the filing between January 1st, 2024, and January 1st, 2025. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in a $500 per day fine.

To complete the Statement of Beneficial Ownership Form, you can file online for free on the FinCEN website

Next Steps 

  • Open a business bank account to separate your personal assets from your business finances. This will help protect your personal assets in case of any legal issues. We recommend Lili Banking and Accounting Services for fast, reliable banking services. 

Lili is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by Sunrise Banks N.A., Member FDIC.

  • Apply for any necessary licenses and permits required at the federal or state level to operate your LLC legally in Wisconsin. You can check with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for more information on specific requirements.
  • File an Annual Report with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to maintain good standing for your LLC.
  • Consider getting insurance for your LLC to protect your business from liability and other risks. General liability, workers’ compensation, and personal liability insurance are some essential types to start with. Get an online quote from NEXT Insurance for quick, affordable business insurance. 

Additional Tips for Success

  • Build a strong network: Networking with other entrepreneurs, mentors, advisors, and industry leaders can provide valuable support and open new opportunities for your business.
  • Keep track of compliance requirements: Wisconsin, like many states, has specific reporting and fee requirements that must be followed to ensure your LLC remains in good standing.
  • Plan for the future: It is essential to map out the goals and ambitions of your company to ensure you are on track to meet important milestones and achieve long-term success.

Conclusion

Starting a business in Wisconsin as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a great way to protect your personal assets while enjoying the benefits of pass-through taxation. Registering an LLC in Wisconsin can be a straightforward process if you follow the necessary steps diligently. By taking the time to properly establish your LLC, you can set your business up for success and protection.