For entrepreneurs who are ready to set up a business in Louisiana, you’ll need to file paperwork with the state and select a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or company that accepts important documents on behalf of the company. These documents might be tax notifications or service of process papers that are served during a lawsuit.
Selecting a registered agent is part of establishing a business in the state of Louisiana. Since the two actions are linked together, we’ve created a guide to help entrepreneurs set up an LLC and select the best registered agent for the job.
To start, we’ll explore how to set up an LLC in the state, but we’ll also explore the role of a registered agent and who can fill this role.
How is an LLC formed in Louisiana?
The State of Louisiana requires all entrepreneurs to file LLC formation paperwork. The name of the formation paperwork varies by state, but in Louisiana, it’s called the Articles of Organization. Before downloading this paperwork from the secretary of state’s office, you’ll need to do a few things, which include:
1. Naming the company
Do you have a name for the company? The state has a few rules when it comes to picking a name. For starters, the name can’t already be in use. If there’s another company in the state with the same name, you’ll need to pick something different. Business names must be recognizably different in the state of Louisiana.
To check and see if a name is already in use, run a search on the Louisiana Secretary of State website.
In addition, the names of all Louisiana LLCs must:
- Include the phrase “Limited Liability Company” or “LLC” in the title.
- Not include any wording that confuses your company for a government agency.
- Seek additional approval for certain titles. Company names with words like “academy,” for example, will need to provide proof of such.
It’s also a good idea to investigate domain names at this time too. Ideally, the domain name that matches the company name is also available. If it’s not available, there’s time to change the name if needed.
2. Picking a registered agent
As the owner, you need to select a registered agent. This person or company will receive sensitive, important documents on behalf of the company. The person or company selected should be trustworthy and know how to reach the owner or executives quickly.
When it’s time to fill this important role, the owner has several choices. We’ll explore who can and can’t be a registered agent in the state later.
3. Filing the Articles of Organization
With a company name and registered agent selected, you’re ready to fill out the state’s LLC formation paperwork, the Articles of Organization. This paperwork is filed with the Louisiana Secretary of State. Depending on the parish where the LLC is located, you may be required to file online.
If the LLC is in Ascension, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Livingston, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa or Terrebonne parishes, the documents must be submitted online.
LLCs located in other parishes can file by mail, fax, or in-person.
When filed online, expect to provide the company name and address, the registered agent’s name and address, a description of products or services provided, a list of managing members, and the LLC organizer’s signature.
There is a $100 fee to file this paperwork with the state.
4. Creating a company operating agreement
Next up, create an operating agreement. An operating agreement explains how a business is run, who the investors are, how decisions are made, and how profits and losses are distributed.
The state of Louisiana doesn’t require a copy of this document, but business experts say now is the time to do it – right after establishing an LLC with the state.
5. Obtaining an EIN
To do business, the company will also need an EIN or an Employer Identification Number. An EIN is issued by the IRS. The number is given to entrepreneurs after a five-minute question and answer session online. To get an EIN, visit this IRS website.
An EIN is required to:
- Pay taxes
- Hire employees
- Open business bank accounts
6. Filing an annual report
The State of Louisiana requires all LLCs to file an annual report on or before the anniversary date of organizing. The report is filed with the secretary of state.
What is a Louisiana registered agent?
A Louisiana registered agent is a person or company that’s willing to accept official documents for the company. These documents could be tax notifications or service of process papers, which are served during a lawsuit.
The registered agent can be the owner, an employee, a neighboring company, or an owner can hire a company, known as a registered agent service, to fill this role.
Do I really need a registered agent in Louisiana?
Yes. The state requires all Louisiana LLCs to list a registered agent with the secretary of state. The registered agent’s name and address are required on the Articles of Organization.
Can I be my own registered agent in Louisiana?
Yes. The owner or LLC organizer can serve as their own registered agent. It’s fairly common for the owner to fill this role, but there are other options. Another person or company can be nominated, but there are a few rules.
Who can be a registered agent in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, a registered agent can be a resident, a lawyer, or another company. The person or company must have a physical street address, not a P.O. box, and must be available during normal business hours to accept documents on an as-needed basis.
In other words, a registered agent can be the owner, an employee, the company lawyer, a nearby company, or a registered agent service.
Why would a company choose to work with a registered agent service?
A registered agent service is a company that agrees to be your company’s registered agent for a fee. There are dozens of registered agent services in the state, all of which offer varying levels of service. However, you may wonder why some entrepreneurs opt for a service as opposed to doing it themselves. Here’s a look at some benefits of using a registered agent service:
- Convenience. Some entrepreneurs don’t want to be tied to their company on the off chance documents are delivered on that day. For convenience, some owners opt for a service.
- Peace of mind. A service gives some owners peace of mind. If documents are delivered to a registered agent service, the owner is notified immediately. The owner knows that nothing gets missed this way.
- Privacy. If your company is sued, a service of process agent can show up, hand you the papers, and say, “You’re served.” This can happen anywhere, at your office, while you’re out to lunch, or in the middle of a client meeting. For privacy sake, some owners select a service to keep this situation from happening.
List of Louisiana registered agent services
There are quite a few registered agent services in the state. Usually, the secretary of state’s office has a list of these companies available on its website or can be provided by calling the office.
To give entrepreneurs an idea of what’s out there for choices, here’s a look at a few options:
- Incfile.com: Incfile.com can help entrepreneurs file their LLC formation paperwork and serve as the company’s registered agent. The online company offers a host of beneficial business services that includes filing reports and other necessary documents with the state. The first year is free. After that, it’s $119 a year.
- Northwest Registered Agent: For $125 a year, Northwest Registered Agent offers an online portal, real-time updates when mail is received, and pricing that remains the same each year. The company offers its services in several states and has years of experience in the field. Additional business services are also offered.
- Swyft Filings: Swyft Filings offers registered agent services that start at $149 a year. Users get an online dashboard, report and filing reminders, and secure document storage for this fee. In addition, the company has a buffet of other business services available when you have a need.
How much does a registered agent service cost in Louisiana?
Cost is always a concern, especially for a start-up. The cost of a registered agent service might surprise you. For as little as $50 a year, your company can use a service to accept official business documents. This cost will likely cover basic services, where an owner is notified electronically when documents are received.
More sophisticated services are available too. Some services offer online accounts, notify multiple contacts, and help file annual reports. These companies charge a higher annual fee. Expect to pay between $100-200 for this level of service.
How does an owner select a registered agent in Louisiana?
The registered agent is listed on the LLC formation paperwork that’s filed with the secretary of state’s office.
Can a company change its registered agent?
Yes. A company can change its registered agent at any time. Maybe the employee who held this role is leaving or maybe the owner would like to hand the responsibility over to a registered agent service. No matter the reason, to change the registered agent on file, owners should fill out the Statement of Change form on the secretary of state’s website.
There is a $25 fee to file this document with the state.
What’s a statutory agent?
The term statutory agent is used in place of registered agent in some states. In Louisiana, however, the common title is registered agent.
What’s a commercial registered agent?
As the owner, you might be asked if you have a commercial or a non-commercial registered agent. If you pay a service to fill this role, you have a commercial registered agent. If you or another person fills this role, you have a non-commercial agent.