How to form an LLC in Iowa

Update: January 2, 2024

By: Tom Macken

Start an LLC in Iowa

Political Caucuses. Sliced bread. The Iowa State Fair and corn! Iowa is known for many things including being the nation’s top pork producer. Numerous budding entrepreneurs chose Iowa to launch their LLC and tap into the state’s abundant resources to grow their business.

You’ve chosen to create an LLC in Iowa. Next steps? The price? Below are the processes, fees, and documents needed for Iowa companies.


1. Name Your Iowa LLC
2. Select an Iowa Registered Agent
3. File a Certificate of Organization
4. Receive a Certificate From the State
5. Create an Operating Agreement
6. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
7. File Biennial Reports 
Costs and Next Steps

A limited liability corporation (LLC) gives liability protection and tax benefits to small enterprises, among other perks. Follow these easy steps to get your limited liability company (LLC) established in Iowa if you’ve decided that an LLC is the most suitable corporate structure for your requirements.

Note: You may set up the LLC yourself or use a business formation agency to accomplish so.

1. Give Your Iowa LLC a Fitting Name

When choosing a name for a limited liability company (LLC) in the state of Iowa, there are two primary rules that must be followed:

  • The name of a limited liability company (LLC) must be distinct from the names of already established firms registered with the Iowa Secretary of State.
  • At the very end of a limited liability company’s name, it must incorporate one of the following examples or abbreviations: “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.,” or “LLC” are all abbreviations for the same legal entity. It is possible to use the abbreviations “Co.” and “Ltd.” in place of the full-length terms “Company” and “Limited,” respectively.

Make a reservation for your company name with the Iowa Secretary of State.

When you have decided on a name for your limited liability company (LLC), you can take the next step of reserving it with the Iowa Secretary of State so that another company won’t be able to use it until you submit your Certificate of Organization.

Using the Iowa Secretary of State Business Entities Search, you should first check to see whether the name you want to use is available. In the event that the name is not already in use, you may submit an Application for Reservation of Name in order to reserve it for a period of up to one hundred and twenty days. 

You may submit the application either online or by the regular mail at your discretion. The cost to make a reservation is $10.

2. Opt for a Registered Agent in the State of Iowa

A registered agent in Iowa is required of every limited liability company operating in the state. If the limited liability company (LLC) is taken to court, this refers to a person or company that has agreed to accept service of process on its behalf.

The Registered Agent might either be a resident of Iowa or a business organization that is permitted to conduct operations in the state. A real, brick-and-mortar location on Iowan soil is required of the Registered Agent.

What does it mean to have a Registered Agent?

A Registered Agent is a person or corporate organization who acts on behalf of your company to receive essential tax forms, legal papers, notice of litigation, and official letters from the government on its behalf. You may think of the registered agent for your company as the point of contact that the company has with the state.

Who can be a company’s Registered Agent?

A Registered Agent in Iowa has to be either a person who lives in the state on a permanent basis or a company that is recognized by the state of Iowa as being able to legally operate a business there. You have the ability to choose someone from inside the firm, even yourself.

3. Send in your Certificate of Organization filing

The Certificate of Organization is a document that formally creates your limited liability company by outlining essential facts pertaining to it. Because this document is what the state will use to formally register your company, it is essential that you get every information correct.

A limited liability company (LLC) may be established in Iowa if a Certificate of Organization is submitted to the Iowa Secretary of State. In contrast to the majority of states, which provide a form or application that limited liability companies may utilize, Iowa mandates that LLCs write their own certificates.

After everything has been finished, you have the option of filing the certificate either online or by the mail. The filing cost is fifty dollars, and payment may be done by credit card or cheque.

What information should be included on an Organization Certificate?

When you are completing the Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization, you will need to give the following information:

  • LLC’s name
  • Whether the term of the LLC will be restricted or everlasting.
  • Location of the company’s main office contact information of the registered agent for the limited liability company
  • Provide a mailing address for the Sec of State to use for sending notifications to the limited liability company.
  • Whether the limited liability company will be run by its managers or its members as managers.
  • When it comes to whether or not the LLC will offer professional services
  • Names and addresses of each of the LLC’s organizers, as well as the names and addresses of at minimum one member or manager who has actual knowledge of the LLC’s business activities.
  • As a foreign limited liability company, engaging in business in Iowa
  • Any limited liability company (LLC) that was established in a state other than Iowa and wants to do business in Iowa is required to first enroll with the Iowa Department of State.

Foreign LLC’s in Iowa

In order to do business in Iowa as a foreign LLC, follow these steps:

  • Be sure to follow the naming requirements for Iowa LLCs, and check the Iowa Secretary of State’s Business Entities Search to see whether your desired name may be registered in the state.
  • Appoint someone to act as your registered agent in Iowa.
  • Put in an application with the Iowa Secretary of State for a Certificate of Authority. The application cost is $100.
    • When you submit the application, you are required to attach a Certificate of Existence or a Certificate of Good Standing issued by the state in which the LLC is based. The certificate’s effective date must be within ninety days of the day it was submitted to the Secretary of State.

4. Acquire a Certificate of Setup From the State

After the formation paperwork of the limited liability company (LLC) has been submitted and authorized, the state will send customers a certificate that proves the LLC officially exists if you ask for one and pay enough postage.

With this certificate, the limited liability company will be able to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN), as well as business permits and a bank account for businesses.

5. Establish a Business Operating Agreement

Although establishing a detailed LLC operating agreement is not a legally required step for incorporating an LLC in Iowa, it is highly suggested for all new limited liability companies to do so nonetheless.

The following items have to be included in the operating agreement:

  • Specify the organizational setup of the limited liability company.
  • Determine the roles that each member of the limited liability company will play, as well as their specific duties and obligations.

An LLC may be subject to serious legal and operational challenges if it does not have an operating agreement that defines the precise responsibilities of its members.

6. Obtain your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

A federal employer identification number, commonly known as a tax ID number, will be required of many limited liability companies (LLCs). It is necessary to get an EIN in order to pay federal employment taxes, establish a checking account like a Kabbage checking account or a Novo account, or recruit staff. An EIN identifies your company to the IRS.

On the website of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is accessible without charge, you are able to do research to determine whether or not you need an EIN and submit an application for one. 

The vast majority of businesses are required to obtain an EIN, but a significant exception is provided for single-member limited liability companies (LLCs), which are permitted to use the owner’s Social Security number instead.

Business permits and licensing

Depending on the kind of company they run and where they are located in Iowa, some limited liability companies (LLCs) that are currently in operation may be needed to get one or more licenses or permits for doing business issued by the state or by local governments.

Review the “Iowa Start a Company Guide” offered by the State Secretary for advice on how to satisfy the prerequisites for obtaining a state license to operate a business in the state. The Iowa License Directory allows users to search for specific licenses that they need.

Talk to a local municipal clerk in the municipality or county where your limited liability company (LLC) is based to find out more about the local licensing procedures that apply to your business.

7. Prepare Biennial Reports

LLCs in Iowa are required to file a statement to the Secretary of State’s office every couple of years rather than annually, as is the case in several other states.

The charge is $65 unless it is submitted electronically using the Fast Track Filing system, in which case it is just $45. Every odd-numbered year, the forms need to be filed between the first of January and the first of April.

Pricing and follow ups?


A new limited liability company may be formed in the state of Iowa for a fee of $50. Registration of a limited liability company (LLC) in Iowa costs $100 for foreign businesses.

Consider the following additional expenditures associated with operating an LLC:

  • LLC name registration – $10 
  • Doing Business As (DBA) name
  • Certified document copies 
  • Certificate of existence 

Next up

When you register a limited liability company (LLC), you establish a legal basis upon which you can operate your firm. It is important for companies to have a strategy in place to ensure that their limited liability company remains compliant and in an active position on the state’s website.

A registered LLC also gives you the ability to perform the following:

  • You will need to get any permissions or licenses required to run your company, such as those from the health department, the zoning department, the department of home occupations, the department of professional licensing, and others. Some states need a seller’s permission to conduct sales
  • You need to have your company registered with the state’s tax bureau.
  • Create a business checking account.
  • Submit an application for a credit card that is designated for business use.
  • Invest in commercial insurance for your company.
  • Create a trademark to protect your business’s name and brand.

LLC setup by DIY or pro company formations service?

When forming a limited liability company (LLC), it is not required by law to use the services of an attorney. In most states, forming a limited liability company (LLC) is possible by establishing the business entity on the website of your state’s secretary of state and through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

If you are inexperienced with the procedure of forming an LLC, hiring a professional LLC service may be the best choice for you to assure a smooth and rapid establishment of your new business.

When starting a new company, owners of businesses may save time and money by using a professional firm that specializes in the creation of companies

They are able to take care of the things that you perhaps do not have time to think about for a price ranging from fifty dollars to more than five hundred dollars, and these things include:

  • Putting together a limited liability corporation operating agreement that explains your organization’s who, what, when, where, why, and how 
  • The process of creating articles of organization that identify the registered agent, the management of the LLC, and the date the company was formed.
  • Serving in the capacity of registered agent for your business.
  • Keeping meticulous documents in the event that a dispute goes to court or an audit is conducted.
  • Costs associated with filing and enrolling with the appropriate parties.
  • The process of registering the name of your firm and determining whether or not the LLC name is accessible.
  • Completing the necessary legal and formation paperwork, then submitting them.


What are the requirements to form an LLC in the state of Iowa?

In order to establish a limited liability company (LLC) in the state of Iowa, you will need a registration fee, a name for your LLC, a Registered Agent, a Certificate of Formation, an Operating Agreement, and an EIN number from the IRS.

What is the cost to form a limited liability company in Iowa?

In Iowa, forming a limited liability company (LLC) costs $50, however registering an LLC for a foreign entity costs $100.

How much time does it take to have an LLC setup in Iowa?

Mail filing applications for Iowa LLCs take between four and five weeks, which includes the seven to fourteen working day processing period in addition to the amount of time that your paperwork spends in the mail, while internet filings for Iowa LLCs are authorized within one business day.

Editorial Manager

Tom is the founder of He reads the offers, deciphers the details including features, pricing, included services and more to find you the best products and services.

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