When you’ve come up with a great business idea, excitement can get the best of you. While this is certainly a thrilling time, there are certain things that must be done to set up a business in Mississippi.
To legally form a Mississippi LLC, you’ll need to file LLC formation documents with the state, for starters. You’ll also need to select a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or company that will accept official, usually confidential, documents on behalf of the newly-created LLC.
To help budding entrepreneurs launch a business in the state of Mississippi, we’ll explore how to establish an LLC, how to select a registered agent, and how a registered agent’s role impacts the company as a whole.
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How is an LLC formed in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, as with every state, forming a company requires official paperwork to be filed with the state. In Mississippi, business owners file what’s known as a Certificate of Formation. In some states, LLC formation documents are called Articles of Organization, but no matter what the name, the purpose is the same – to legally set up a business in the state.
Before filing these documents, you’ll need to do a few things. Follow these steps to get your business up and running:
1. Name the company
The company needs a name. Whether you have a name in mind or are still thinking of one, before it can become official you have to check its availability with the state. To do so, run a business name check on the Secretary of State’s website.
No two businesses in Mississippi can have the same name, so if the name you like is already in use, consider a new variation.
Entrepreneurs can also reserve a business name 180 days prior to filing the formation paperwork. To do so, visit the Mississippi Secretary of State website, create an online account, and fill out the Name Reservation Application form. There is a fee of $25 to reserve a name.
Now is also a good time to see if the company’s domain name is available. Ideally, the company website matches the company name. If the domain name isn’t available, this may impact the name of your company. It’s better to investigate this before setting up your company with the state.
Mississippi also has several other naming rules, which are similar to those in other states. The rules include:
- The name must include the phrase “Limited Liability Company” in the title or must contain “LLC.”
- No company name should confuse the public into believing it has government connections.
- Some names may require additional approval from state officials.
2. Pick a registered agent
The Certificate of Formation documents will ask you to list the company’s registered agent. A person or company name must be listed, along with a physical street address.
A registered agent is your company’s point of contact. This person will receive sensitive documents, like tax notices or service of process papers that are served during a lawsuit. For this reason, it’s important to select a person or company with a great reputation.
The company owner can serve as the company’s registered agent. (We’ll explore who can and can’t fill this role in a later section).
3. File the Certificate of Formation
To form an LLC in Mississippi, entrepreneurs must file the Certificate of Formation with the Mississippi Secretary of State. This document is fairly simple to fill out, provided you have an available company name and know who will serve as the company’s registered agent.
The document will also ask you to provide the company’s address, managing members, the company start date, and a list of products or services. The LLC organizer must sign the document and submit it to the state office.
To submit this paperwork, business owners must create an online account with the Secretary of State and pay a $50 filing fee.
It takes the state government about 3-5 business days to approve the paperwork.
4. Create a company operating agreement
An operating agreement is next on the list. An operating agreement explains how the business will run. It details who’s in charge, who the investors are, how decisions are made, and how profits and losses are managed.
This document isn’t required by the state, however, most business experts say it should be created before a company opens to the public. This document becomes a binding contract once it’s completed and can avoid a lot of problems in the future.
5. Obtain an EIN
Once LLC formation documents are submitted and an operating agreement is created, you can move on to the next item on the list: Getting an EIN or an employer identification number. An EIN is a nine-digit number that’s issued by the IRS. The number is needed for multiple business actions like setting up bank accounts, paying employees, and paying taxes, so it’s not a step you should skip.
To get an EIN, simply go to the IRS website, answer a few questions, and you’ll receive the number at the end of the session. It takes about 5-10 minutes.
6. File an annual report
Every Mississippi LLC must file an annual report with the state. The reports are due by April 15 each year. As with the formation papers, this report can be filed through the online portal. Unlike other states, there is no fee to file this report.
What is a Mississippi registered agent?
A Mississippi registered agent is a person or company that’s willing to accept confidential documents for the company. The person can be the owner, an employee, a board member, or even a friend or neighbor. Entrepreneurs can also pay a registered agent service to fill this role. For a fee, there are companies that will accept documents for your company, whether they’re delivered via mail or delivered in person.
Do I really need a registered agent in Mississippi?
Yes. It’s state law. The state of Mississippi, along with most other states, requires a registered agent to be on file with the state.
Can I be my own registered agent in Mississippi?
Yes. The owner can be the company’s registered agent. The owner can also select another person or company, as long as the owner follows the rules regarding who can be a registered agent.
Who can be a registered agent in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, there are certain rules to select a registered agent. In this state, a registered agent can be:
- A state resident with a physical street address; or
- A company with a physical street address (as opposed to a P.O. box)
- A person or company that’s available during regular business hours
Why would a company choose to work with a registered agent service?
A company owner could choose to work with a registered agent service. For a fee, a professional company will accept documents for your company. To explore why some entrepreneurs decide to pay for a registered agent service as opposed to doing the job themselves, here’s a look at the benefits:
- Availability. A registered agent service is open during regular business hours. This availability might be better than an owner can provide. An owner may need to travel or visit different sales territories, for example, and not be in one location during daytime hours.
- Peace of mind. A registered agent service provides peace of mind. The owner knows that all documents will go to a trusted, reliable company that will notify him or her with any updates.
- Privacy. Most of the documents that are sent to a registered agent are sensitive in nature. Documents like tax notices or process of service papers aren’t necessarily something you want floating around the office. For that reason, some owners opt for a more secure, offsite location for this kind of correspondence.
List of Mississippi registered agent services
Mississippi has many qualified registered agent services. To find a full list, reach out to the Secretary of State’s office. In the meantime, you can explore these three options to get a sense of what’s out there and what the cost could be. All of these companies offer multiple services, including but not limited to registered agent services:
- 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 Mississippi?
The cost of a registered agent service will vary. The services that offer basic features like mail forwarding are about $50 a year. Companies with more extensive features like document storage, compliance reminders, and assistance with annual reports are more expensive. Expect to pay around $100-200 a year.
How does an owner select a registered agent in Mississippi?
The owner lists the registered agent’s name and address on the Certificate of Formation documents.
Can a company change its registered agent?
Yes. The registered agent can be changed at any time. It can be done online through an owner’s account with the Mississippi Secretary of State. A Change of Registered Agent form can be filled out and submitted. The fee to file is $50. The form is usually approved within 24 hours.
What’s a statutory agent?
A statutory agent is the same as a registered agent. The name varies by state. In Mississippi, however, the term registered agent is most common.
What’s a commercial registered agent?
A commercial registered agent is a registered agent service. A non-commercial agent is any person or company that’s not paid to fill the role. If the owner or an employee is the company’s registered agent, for example, the company has a non-commercial agent.