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To start a business in Missouri, entrepreneurs need to complete their first official administrative task: Filing LLC formation paperwork. The State of Missouri requires all companies, no matter what kind of business entity is formed, to file documents with the state.

In the State of Missouri, the LLC formation documents are called Articles of Organization. This simple document can be filed online in a matter of minutes. However, the document will ask the LLC owner to select a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or company that accepts confidential documents for your company. These documents can arrive by mail or be delivered in-person and are usually sensitive in nature. 

Every LLC must list a registered agent on its Articles of Organization. 

To help entrepreneurs set up an LLC and better understand the role of the registered agent, this guide will provide answers to common questions. 

How is an LLC formed in Missouri?

In Missouri, an LLC is formed by filling out LLC formation documents, which in Missouri, are called Articles of Organization. In other states, they’re called Certificate of Formation. The name may vary by state, but it’s used to legally set up a company. 

Before jumping right to the Articles of Organization, there are a few additional tasks that an owner must do. Follow these steps to get an LLC up and running in the State of Missouri:

1. Name the company

First and foremost, your company needs a name. It’s a good idea to come up with a few different names because no two companies in Missouri can have the same name. If one of the names you like is already taken, you can move to the next one on the list. 

To check the availability of a certain business name, visit the Missouri Secretary of State website and conduct a business name search.

An owner can also reserve a name for up to 60 days and can review the reservation two times. If you’re not ready to file the Articles of Organization, but want to make sure that your company name isn’t taken, this is a good option. The cost to reserve the name is $25.

After checking name availability, entrepreneurs should also be aware of these naming rules: 

  • The company name must include “Limited Liability Company” or “LLC” in its title.
  • The company name can’t include any reference to the government or make any inference of association with the government. 
  • There are some names that may require additional approval from the state. A company calling itself a “Financial Institution” or an “Academy,” for example, may need to provide proof of such a service. 

Don’t forget to look into the availability of the company website too. If the domain name that matches the company name is not available, is that a dealbreaker? It’s important to make these inquiries now before settling on a name rather than learn after the fact that the company URL won’t match the company name. 

2. Pick a registered agent

The Articles of Organization will ask the LLC organizer to list the company’s registered agent. The registered agent will receive official documents for the company and serve as the company’s point of contact with the state. 

The registered agent could be the owner, an employee, or even a professional registered agent service. A registered agent service can fill the role for your company and notify the owner when documents come in. 

No matter who the registered agent is, it should be a trustworthy person or company.

3. File the Articles of Organization

With a name selected and a registered agent chosen, the next step is to fill out and file the Articles of Organization with the Missouri Secretary of State. Owners can set up their own online portal through the secretary of state’s office to file this paperwork. It’s cheaper to file online. The cost is $50. The document can be filed via mail, but the fee for paper documents is $105.

Aside from the company name and address and the registered agent’s name and address, this document also asks for a list of managing members, a list of products and services offered, and the date in which the company plans to start or open. Before submitting this paperwork, the LLC organizer, which is usually the company owner, must sign it first.

Once approved by the state, your company is officially established in the State of Missouri.   

4. Create a company operating agreement

An operating agreement isn’t required by the state, but it’s a good idea to have. This contract explains how the company will operate. It should outline the rights, powers, and duties or all interested parties, and should expressly explain how profits and losses are managed. 

For DIY entrepreneurs, there are plenty of online templates that can help create this document from scratch. 

5. Obtain an EIN

To conduct business, every LLC needs an EIN. An EIN is issued by the IRS. It’s a nine-digit identification number that’s used to file taxes, pay employees, and open bank accounts. In fact, to do any kind of official business actions, you’ll need this number so don’t skip this step. 

The IRS has created a simple 5-minute online process for entrepreneurs to complete to receive the number. To get an EIN, visit the IRS website

6. File an annual report

Unlike other states, LLCs in Missouri do not have to file an annual report. Most states require this and charge a fee of $50-$100.

What is a Missouri registered agent?

A Missouri registered agent is a person or company that accepts documents for a company. These documents, which arrive by mail or are delivered in-person, are usually confidential. They could include tax notices or service of process papers that are issued when a company is sued. 

Do I really need a registered agent in Missouri?

Yes. A registered agent is required by Missouri law. The registered agent must be listed on the Articles of Organization documents. 

Can I be my own registered agent in Missouri?

Yes. The owner can be the company’s registered agent. Many owners, especially those who are running a small start-up, serve as their own agent. However, there are other options. An owner can select another person or company to fill this role, but there are some rules outlined by the state.

Who can be a registered agent in Missouri? 

In Missouri, a registered agent can be any person or company with a physical street address. The person or company can’t have a P.O. box. If service of process papers need to be delivered, they’re served in-person, which is why a P.O. box won’t work.

The person or company should also be available during regular business hours to accept correspondence via the mail or that’s dropped off in-person.

Why would a company choose to work with a registered agent service? 

An owner can serve as the company’s registered agent, but some choose to pay a registered agent service instead. A registered agent service will accept documents and notify the owner when they come in. Here are the benefits of such a service:

  • ConvenienceSome owners want a registered agent service out of shere convenience. It’s simply easier to have someone else be on call, so to speak, to handle incoming documents.
  • AvailabilitySome owners simply aren’t available during regular business hours. For some, travel and offsite meetings prevent them from being at the company office with any kind of regularity.
  • Peace of mindHaving a registered agent accept documents gives some owners peace of mind. Rather than having documents be sent or delivered to office personnel where they might get overlooked, a registered agent service is paid to notify the owner upon delivery. 
  • PrivacyTo keep the sensitive documents that registered agents receive out of the office, a registered agent service is an appealing privacy feature to some owners.

List of Missouri registered agent services 

To explore some of the registered agent services that are available in Missouri, here’s a look at a few popular choices: 

  • Northwest Registered Agent: Northwest is one of the most recognized names in the registered agent business. The company has decades of experience and local offices scattered across the U.S. to serve small businesses like yours. The cost for a registered agent service is comparable to others. Business owners can also take advantage of additional services like report filing.
  • ZenBusiness: ZenBusiness is fairly new to the market, but they’ve grown a strong following. Business owners love the affordable rates for a registered agent service, which are as low as $99 per year. The company offers worry-free compliance too, to help business owners file the necessary reports on time.
  • Incfile: Incfile is another trusted name for business services, including its registered agent services. Business owners can get a registered agent free for a year. That’s right, free. After the first year, the price kicks in at $119. An online dashboard, automatic mail forwarding, and tailored notifications also come with the service.

How much does a registered agent service cost in Missouri?

Costs are especially important for start-ups, but you might be surprised to learn how affordable a registered agent service is. A service can cost as little as $50 a year. The cost does go up for more advanced features, and can hover around $100-200 annually.

How does an owner select a registered agent in Missouri?

The owner of a Missouri LLC lists the name and address of the registered agent on the LLC formation documents called Articles of Organization. This document is filed with the Missouri Secretary of State.

Can a company change its registered agent?

Yes. To change a registered agent, file a Statement of Change of Registered Agent form with the Missouri Secretary of State. There is a $10 filing fee to submit this document to the state.

What’s a statutory agent?

Statutory agent and registered agent are the same thing. The title varies by state, but the role is the same. A statutory agent or a registered agent is charged with accepting documents for a company. 

The title “registered agent” is most common in the U.S.

What’s a commercial registered agent?

At some point, an entrepreneur might be asked if the company has a commercial agent or a non-commercial agent. If the company hires a registered agent service, the company has a commercial registered agent. If the company relies on the owner or another employee to file this role, the company has a non-commercial agent.