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When starting a new company, choosing a business entity is the most important decision that the founders must make. For most businesses with more than one founding member, forming as an LLC is often the best option for a number of reasons.

An LLC is an uncomplicated business structure that affords business owners legal protection by separating personal assets from business debts. Moreover, LLCs often enjoy a lower tax rate than corporations. Nevertheless, creating an LLC can get complicated depending on where you are based, with the formation process, filing fees, and continuing legal obligations differing from state to state.

Starting an LLC in Maine is a bit more difficult than in most states due to high filing fees and two aspects of the filing process that deviate from the U.S. norm:

  1. The state refers to an LLC’s organizing document as a “Certificate of Formation” instead of the term “Articles of Organization” which is used in most U.S. states.
  2. Most organizing documents must be filed by mail.

To avoid a misstep in the filing process, follow these steps to start an LLC in Maine, and refer to the checklist at the bottom of the post to familiarize yourself with the legal and financial requirements for LLCs in the state.

Starting an LLC in Maine step-by-step

1. Select a name for your Maine LLC

Follow naming requirements

There are two major guidelines to follow when naming your LLC in the state of Maine:

  1. An LLC’s name must be distinguishable from the names of existing business entities on file with the Maine Secretary of State.
  2. An LLC’s name must contain one of the following phrases or abbreviations: “Limited Liability Company”, “Limited Company”, “L.L.C.”,  “LLC”, “L.C.”, or “LC.”

Need help coming up with a business name? Check out our free business name generator.

Reserve your LLC name with the Maine Secretary of State

After selecting a name for your LLC, you may reserve it with the Maine Secretary of State to ensure that it cannot be used by another Maine business entity before your Certificate of Formation is filed. First, use the Maine Secretary of State’s Corporate Name Search to confirm that the name you’ve selected is available for use in the state.

If the name is available, file an Application for Reservation of Name by mail with the Secretary of State to reserve it for up to 120 days. The filing fee is $20.

Read more: How to perform a Maine business name search

2. Designate a registered agent

As in every U.S. state, forming an LLC in Maine requires the appointment of a registered agent service to handle state and federal legal documents and service of process on the business’s behalf.

The registered agent must either be a state resident or business entity with a street address in Maine OR if the individual or business is based out-of-state, they must have a business office in Maine.

Our picks of the best registered agent services

  • ZenBusiness: There’s no need to stress about filing paperwork when you work with ZenBusiness. This company offers a great variety of LLC services, the focus of which is to ensure your business is set up correctly with the proper paperwork filled out and delivered to the right branch of your state government. Of course, ZenBusiness does charge for their services, but customers say they get the most bang for their buck.
  • Northwest Registered Agent: Starting a business requires a lot of state-mandated paperwork, which can be confusing for new business owners. Northwest offers business services that can help entrepreneurs find the right documentation, fill it out, and file it on time with the right government agency. In addition to helping you set up an LLC, Northwest has a host of additional services, like registered agent services, that new owners will find useful too.
  • Bizee: Bizee offers a great library of material to help first-time business owners figure out what kind of business they should set up. From there, Bizee will aid with documentation and filing procedures and demystify terms like registered agent, articles of organization, and EIN. The company has a strong reputation and great reviews online, too.

Read more: How to Find the Best Registered Agent in Maine

3. File a Certificate of Formation

When you are ready, file a Certificate of Formation with the Maine Secretary of State to legally form your LLC in the state. The certificate is required to be filed through the mail, and cannot be filed online as in most other states. The filing fee is $175, however, you can pay an additional $50 for 24-hour expedited service, or $100 for immediate service.

Your Maine LLC’s Certificate of Formation must include the following:

  • LLC name
  • Date the Certificate should become effective, upon filing or a later date
  • Registered agent’s name and address
  • The date that the certificate will become effective
  • A statement declaring whether the LLC is a low-profit LLC
  • A statement declaring whether the LLC is a professional LLC
  • The signature of an authorized individual

Foreign LLCs

An LLC formed in a state other than Maine that intends to do business in the state must register with the Maine Secretary of State.

Follow these steps to legally do business in Maine as a foreign LLC:

  1. Comply with Maine LLC naming guidelines and confirm that your LLC’s name is available for use in the state using Maine’s Corporate Name Search.
  2. Appoint a Maine registered agent.
  3. File a Statement of Foreign Qualification to Conduct Activities with the Maine Secretary of State by postal mail (there is no online filing option).  The filing fee is $250.
    • The statement must be accompanied by either a Certificate of Good Standing or a Certificate of Existence from the LLC’s home state. The certificate must be dated no more than 90 days before it is filed with the Secretary of State.

4. Draft an operating agreement

Although not a legally mandated step for forming an LLC in Maine, drafting a comprehensive LLC operating agreement is strongly recommended for all nascent limited liability companies.

The operating agreement should do the following:

  1. Describe the LLC’s business structure
  2. Establish the individual responsibilities and obligations of LLC members
  3. Detail how the LLC will be run

Without an operating agreement clarifying the specific duties of its members, an LLC may face significant legal and operational difficulties.

5. Obtain an IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN)

All newly formed LLCs in the United States must acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (with the exception of single-member LLCs).

The nine-digit EIN is like a social security number for a business and is necessary to pay income tax, file tax returns, open business bank accounts, and perform many other important functions.

You can apply for an EIN online on the IRS website without paying a filing fee.

6. Fulfill your Maine LLC’s additional legal obligations

Once an LLC is legally formed in Maine, its members must devote attention to fulfilling legal requirements that apply for the duration of the company’s existence.

File Annual Reports

All LLCs active in Maine are required to file an Annual Report with the Secretary of State every year. Reports are due each year by June 1.

You can file your annual reports online or by mail. The annual report filing fee is $85 for LLCs formed in Maine and $150 for foreign LLCs doing business in the state.

Read more: What is an annual report?

Obtain business licenses and permits

A Maine LLC may be required to obtain one or more state or locally-issued business licenses, permits, or certifications depending on the nature of its business and its location.

Check Maine.gov’s Business Licensing page for information on state license and permit requirements, and visit the Maine.gov Local Government portal to learn about local business license requirements and find local city clerk contact information.

Read more: How to Get a Business License

Register with Maine Revenue Services

Certain LLCs active in Maine are required to register with the Maine Revenue Services in order to fulfill certain state tax obligations. This includes LLCs that collect sales tax on retail goods as well as LLCs with employees.

You can register with Maine Revenue Services online on the department’s website.

7. File a BOI Report

Effective January 1, 2024, the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) mandates that most corporations, LLCs, and similar entities in the U.S. report their beneficial owners’ information to FinCEN. In Kansas, a beneficial owner is identified as someone with significant control or at least 25% ownership of the entity. Required information includes the owner’s name, birth date, address, and ID number from an approved document, along with its image.

Entities established or registered before the 2024 cutoff must file their initial reports by January 1, 2025.

For businesses formed in 2024, there is a 90-day window after confirmation of formation to file, while those established afterward have 30 days from their creation or registration date to comply. Filings are processed electronically via FinCEN’s BOI reporting portal.

Learn more about BOI Reporting.


Maine LLC checklist

Naming requirements:

A Maine LLC’s name must obey the following rules:

  1. Must be distinguishable from the names of existing business entities on file with the Maine Secretary of State.
  2. Must contain one of the following phrases or abbreviations: “Limited Liability Company”, “Limited Company”, “L.L.C.”,  “LLC”, “L.C.”, or “LC.”

Formational documents and filing fees:

Registration procedure:

  • An LLC is formed in Maine through the filing of a Certificate of Formation with the Maine Secretary of State.

Additional legal obligations:

  • File Annual Reports – Required of all LLCs doing business in Maine
  • Obtain State and local business licenses/permits – Necessary for certain types of LLCs
  • Register with Maine Revenue Services – Necessary for certain types of LLCs