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The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a smart entity choice for most start-up businesses. The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes. With a little research, you can learn how to form an LLC in Alabama without an attorney.
Unlike a sole proprietorship or partnership where the small business owner can be held personally liable for lawsuits against the business, the LLC is a separate legal structure, providing protection for the business owner’s personal assets.
In addition to the liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides a number of other benefits over the sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation because of the multiple tax options, ease of administration and management flexibility.
Forming an LLC in Alabama can be both affordable and is simple enough for most people to start on their own. That said, it’s not a bad idea to have a legal professional like While the filing is pretty straightforward, it’s nice to have some support if you have questions, alerts when the annual report is due, forms like operating agreements, banking resolutions and more. There are companies like IncFile or Swyft Filings and others that do all of this for only $49.
To officially form an Alabama Limited Liability Company, the Certificate of Formation has to first be filed with the Office of the Judge of Probate and the Alabama Secretary of State. The LLC files with the Probate Judge in the county where the LLC will be located and the filing fee varies by county from $50 – $73.25. Here is a list of contact information for Alabama Probate Judges. There is an additional filing fee of $100 for the LLC registration and an additional $10-$28 for the name registration that is paid to the Secretary of State. The name registration must be done prior to filing the LLC.
Expect the LLC approval process to take around 2 weeks (3-4 days for the Judge of Probate and 10 days for the Secretary of State. Expedited processing is available for an additional $100 which will reduce the Secretary of State’s filing time from 10 days down to 3 days.
The filing can be started online at the Secretary of State’s website or by filling out the pdf version of the Certificate of Formation. If mailing, send one signed original and two copies of the Certificate of Formation along with the fees to the Office of the Judge of Probate in the county where the LLC will be located. The Probate Judge will file and then forward to the Secretary of State for final processing. Filing online will be slightly faster, however, there are additional processing fees and most counties still require mailing the Certificate of Organization.
If you have questions, contact the Alabama Secretary of State
HOW TO FILL OUT THE CERTIFICATE OF ORGANIZATION TO FORM AN ALABAMA LLC
To file the Certificate of Organization, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Download the Certificate of Formation
Download the Certificate of Organization from the Alabama Secretary of State.
Step 2: Enter the Name of the LLC
Here you will enter the legal name of the LLC. Each LLC is required to have a unique name in Alabama. Before filing, the LLC’s name has to be reserved by the Secretary of State. If you haven’t checked to see if the name you want is available, first see how to do an LLC name search. The name can be reserved by filling out the LLC Name Reservation Request Form for $10 with standard processing which will take about one week. The other option is to file online, which will cost $28 and is processed immediately. Filing online also makes the Name Reservation certificate available immediately, which is required before filing the Certificate of Formation.
The name chosen must contain the words Limited Liability Company or the abbreviation L.L.C. or LLC.
Be sure to attach the copy of the Name Reservation certificate that came from the Secretary of State.
Step 3: Enter the Form Preparer’s Information
Include the name and address of the individual or company preparing the Certificate of Formation. This name does not have to be any of the LLC members.
Step 4: Enter the Name of the Registered Agent
To have an LLC in Alabama, there must be somebody, referred to as the registered agent, with a physical address in the state to act as a point of contact and receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc on behalf of the LLC.
The registered agent can be the business owner, a resident of Alabama with a physical address or a company that provides resident agent services.
Even though the business owner can be the registered agent, their name and address become public record and with that comes a loss of privacy. This is more important for some entrepreneurs, especially when they are doing business from home.
Read more about registered agents in Alabama.
Remember the address has to be a physical street address since PO Boxes are not allowed.
Include the name of the registered agent, the physical street address and a mailing address if a different address is used for mailings.
Step 5: Certification
The next question asks the undersigned to certify that there is at least one member of the limited liability company. There is nothing to do here.
Step 6: Special Entity Selection
This question is optional and will only be used if the LLC intends to form as a Series LLC or a Professional LLC.
These are not common selections. A Series LLC provides liability protection across multiple asset groups or business lines each of which should be protected from liabilities from the other series. The Series LLC is more common with real estate companies. The Professional LLC is only for licensed professionals, like accountants, doctors, lawyers, etc.
Step 7: Effective Filing Date
This is an optional field should you want to delay the formation date of the LLC. By default, the LLC is officially formed on the date the Judge of Probate files the Certificate of Formation. A common reason for a delayed effective date is when the LLC is being formed at the end of a calendar year and delaying the start will keep from having to file a tax return for only a few weeks of operation.
Most people will leave this section blank.
Step 8: Additional Attachments
Last, include any additional attachments, often used to identify all of the members of the LLC. This is optional and not used by most LLCs.
Step 9: Sign and Date
Step 10: File the Certificate of Formation
- Make two copies of the signed Certificate of Formation and attached Name Registration certificate.
- Either mail or drop off the original and two copies to the Recording Office of your county’s Judge of Probate. Do not send to the Secretary of State.
- Include payment with 2 separate checks or money orders. The Secretary of State can be paid with the credit card form, but some counties will only take checks or money orders.
- Be sure to keep a copy for your records.
That is all that is involved when forming an LLC in Alabama. Remember even though you can do it yourself, there is more to an LLC than the filing. If you have questions or concerns, work with an attorney or a specialized entity formation company such as IncFile or Swyft Filings to make sure everything is done correctly.
To check on the status of the LLCs approval, visit the Alabama Business Entity Database and enter the name of your LLC in the Entity Name field.
Next, while not required an Operating Agreement is recommended in many cases. Read more about when an LLC needs an Operating Agreement.
After the LLC is formed, be sure to file for an EIN with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN is basically a social security number for a business and will be needed to get a bank account. There is no cost to apply and it takes about 5 minutes to get. See how to apply for an EIN.
Last, before starting a business in Alabama, you may still need to apply for business licenses, sales tax permits, self-employment taxes and more in Alabama. See the Guide to Starting a Business in Alabama for more information.