The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a smart entity choice for many 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 Maryland 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, protecting for the business owner’s personal assets.
Besides the liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides several 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 Maryland 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, Swyft Filings and others that do all of this for only $49.
To form a Limited Liability Company in Maryland, file the Articles of Organization with the Maryland Secretary of State. The filing fee for an LLC is $100 for standard processing.
Approval for the LLC typically takes 4-6 weeks for standard processing and 1 week for expedited filing. The cost for expedited processing is an additional $50.
If you have questions, contact the Maryland Secretary of State.
HOW TO FILE THE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION AND FORM A MARYLAND LLC
The steps for filing online or by mail are largely the same. The screenshots show filing online.
Step 1: Create a New Business Filing
To start with the LLC formation process, after registering for an account, go to “Click Here to Create a New Business Filing” on the home page.
Step 2: Select the Business Type
Select the type of business entity you wish to form. In this case, select “Limited Liability Company”
Step 3: Filing Options
On the next screen, you are asked if you prefer to upload your own documents or use the online forms. Most LLCs will choose “I will use the online forms”
Step 4: Name the LLC
Enter the name you want for the LLC. This will start an LLC name search to see if the name is available. The name of the LLC also has to be different from other entities registered with the Maryland Secretary of State.
The name of the LLC must also include one of the following designators at the end of the business name:
- Limited Liability Company
- L C
If the LLC name you want is available, you will be able to proceed to the next step, otherwise a message saying the name cannot be used in the State of Maryland and to enter another business name will show up.
Step 5: Business Information
In this section, enter the street address, city, state, county and zip code of the initial principal office. This address can be the physical address of the LLC or it can be the address where the business records are stored. This may not be a PO Box. If there is a mailing address that is different from the business address, click on the box and enter that address.
Enter the email address and phone number of the main contact should the Secretary of State have questions about filing the LLC.
Description of Business
This is an optional section but is asking for a brief description of what the business does. One to two sentences will be sufficient.
Step 6: Registered Agent
To have an LLC in Maryland, a Registered Agent must be identified. The Registered Agent can either be a resident of Maryland (select “Individual” under “Registered Agent is”) or a registered agent service (select either “Maryland Corporation” or “Maryland LLC” under “Registered Agent is”) The Registered Agent must have a physical address in the state to act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc on behalf of the LLC. A PO Box won’t be accepted
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.
Step 7: Contact Information
If there is another person that should receive any contact information from the Secretary of State (usually an accountant or attorney) enter their contact information in this section. If there isn’t a person, just skip and hit the “Continue” button.
Step 8: Review
Review that the information is correct. When ready, click on “Proceed to Certification”
Step 9: Sign and Certify
Authorized Persons – Have a person authorized to sign on behalf of the LLC (member, attorney, etc), sign the Articles of Organization. At least one person must sign.
Resident Agent Certification – Click on the box to certify the Resident Agent agrees to be the Resident Agent for the LLC.
Filing Party – Enter the name and address of the person filing the articles. This may be the same person as the authorized person and resident agent.
Certified Copy – Click on the check box if you want to receive a certified copy of the articles. A certified copy will cost $20 plus $1 per page.
Step 10: Pay and File
Pay and file the Articles of Organization.
If mailing the LLC form, send the Articles of Organization and payment to:
Department of Assessments and Taxation
301 W. Preston Street; 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201-2395
In approximately 4-6 weeks with standard processing or 1 week, if expedited, the LLC will be approved.
That concludes the basics of forming an LLC in Maryland. Remember, even though you can do it yourself, there is more to an LLC than just the filing. If you have questions, work with an attorney or a specialized entity formation company such as IncFile or Swyft Filings to make sure everything is done correctly.
While not required, an Operating Agreement is recommended in many cases. An Operating Agreement is a legal document outlining the roles and responsibilities for the members of the LLC. Read more about when an LLC needs an Operating Agreement.
After filing the LLC, be sure to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN is basically a social security number for a business and will be needed before opening a business 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 Maryland, you may still need to apply for business licenses, sales tax permits, self-employment taxes and more in Maryland. See the Guide to Starting a Business in Maryland for more information.