How to start an LLC in Wisconsin

Update: January 2, 2024

By: Tom Macken

Start an LLC in Wisconsin how to

America’s Midwest. Dairy farms. Green Bay and Ginseng. Wisconsin is known for many things including the beautiful Pattison State Park and a thriving environment for new business owners.

You’re ready to form an LLC in Wisconsin. Next steps? The price? Below are the processes, fees, and needed documents for Wisconsin LLC’s.


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

One of the many benefits for small companies is the restricted liability protection and tax breaks that are available to them via forming an LLC. Follow these procedures to set your Wisconsin LLC up and going if you’ve decided on an LLC.

Note: You may set up an LLC using a business formation service or by yourself. 

1. Name Wisconsin LLC

Wisconsin has 2 primary naming requirements for LLCs:

  • Names of existing commercial enterprises on file with Wisconsin’s Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) must be identifiable.
  • An LLC must include one of these words or abbreviations: “Limited Liability Company” or “LLC”

Check LLC name availability

Use the DFI Search Corporate Records Name Availability tool to see whether your LLC name is available in Wisconsin.

Reserve your LLC name with the Department

You may reserve your LLC name with the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) before filing Articles of Organization.

To reserve a name for 120 days, send a Name Reservation Application to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. $15 is due.

2. Choose a WI Registered Agent

Wisconsin LLCs need a process server. This person or company agrees to take legal documents for the LLC if it’s sued.

The Registered Agent might be a Wisconsin inhabitant or a Wisconsin-licensed firm. The Registered Agent must live in Wisconsin.

Registered Agent explained

A Registered Agent receives tax forms, legal paperwork, lawsuit notices, and government communication on your business’s behalf. Your registered agent is your company’s state contact.

Role of a Registered Agent

A Registered Agent should be a full-time Wisconsin citizen or a company allowed to do business in Wisconsin. You may elect yourself or another employee. 

3. File company articles

Articles of Organization create your LLC by providing fundamental information. This paperwork registers your company with the government, so be accurate.

Form 502 is filed with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to form a Wisconsin LLC.

When completing the Articles of Organization for your Wisconsin LLC, you are required to give the following information:

  • Naming LLC
  • Permanent or limited?
  • The LLC’s registered agent’s name and address
  • The LLC’s mailing address for state notifications
  • Member-managed or manager-managed?
  • The LLC’s professional services
  • Name and address of each LLC organizer and a member or manager with operational competence.

Articles may be submitted online or by mail with the Wisconsin DFI. $170 to file by mail, $130 online. Send forms, fees to:

255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 151, Salem, WI 97310-1327. 503-986-2200.

Foreign LLCs 

To register a foreign LLC in Wisconsin, submit a Certificate of Registration Foreign Limited Liability Company application with the Department of Financial Institutions (WFDI). Foreign qualifying registers a foreign LLC.

4. Wisconsin State certificate

After the LLC formation paperwork is submitted and authorized, the state will issue you a certificate confirming its existence if you request it and pay postage.

This certificate allows the LLC to get an EIN, business permits, and Novo or Bluevine business bank accounts.

5. Create your LLC Operating Agreement

Although not required for founding an LLC in Wisconsin, writing an operating agreement is highly recommended.

Operating agreements should include the:

  • Business structure of LLC
  • Establish member roles and obligations
  • LLC operational setup information

Without a member operating agreement, an LLC may suffer legal and operational issues.

6. Get an EIN tax number

Many LLCs require an EIN, or tax ID number. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number that identifies your company to the Internal Revenue Service. 

You need an EIN in order to pay federal employer taxes, establish a business checking account (in most situations), or recruit staff.

You may apply for a free EIN online at the IRS website. Single-member LLCs may use the owner’s SSN instead of an EIN.

Business permits

Depending on their company kind and location, certain Wisconsin LLCs may need state or municipal licenses or permissions.

You must register with the IRS, Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and maybe other state authorities. Wisconsin’s One Stop Business Registration Portal lets you register with various agencies.

This business site lets you receive a seller’s permit to collect sales tax. You need this if you sell, lease, or rent taxable goods or services in Wisconsin.

The Department of Revenue recommends getting a seller’s permit three weeks before opening. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services has licensing information.

Contact the municipal or county clerk where your LLC is situated for local licensing requirements.

7. Wisconsin Report Renewals

Wisconsin’s Division of Corporate and Consumer Services requires all LLCs to produce an annual report. Online or mail your yearly report. $25 is due. The yearly report updates the state on your LLC’s basics and the state filing fees are modest.

If you fail to submit your annual report, the state may dissolve your limited liability company, leaving you without any protection from personal responsibility.

Filing due dates

When you submit your Articles of Organization determines your Wisconsin annual report due date. Your annual report is due in the same quarter you founded your LLC. 

Quarterly breakdowns include:

  • January – March
  • April – June
  • July – September
  • October – December

Quarterly deadlines are used i.e. If your LLC was created on April 25, the annual report is due June 30.

Next steps and costs?


Wisconsin costs $170 to file Articles of Organization by mail and $130 online. To secure your LLC name before filing Articles of Organization costs $15.

Optional LLC fees include:

  • DBA name
  • Official copies
  • Existence certificate next steps

Next steps
LLC registration offers you a legal business basis. Businesses should maintain their LLC current on the state’s website.

A registered LLC lets you:

  • Obtain business permissions and licenses, such as city health permits, zoning permits, house occupancy permits, and business licenses. Some states need a seller’s permit.
  • Tax agency registration
  • Choose a business bank account
  • Business credit card application
  • Business insurance
  • Trademark your name and logo.

DIY or professional LLC formation?

LLC formation doesn’t need a lawyer. Most states enable LLC establishment by registering with the secretary of state and IRS (IRS).

Choosing a seasoned LLC company formation service could be the best choice if you’re inexperienced with the creation procedure.

A skilled LLC creation service may save business owners time and money. They can handle stuff like:

  • Creating an LLC operating agreement including member and company details
  • Articles of incorporation specify the registered agent, management, and creation date.
  • Registering your firm.
  • For litigation or audits, keep meticulous documents.
  • Payment and registration.
  • Registration of your company name and LLC name.
  • Doing legal and formation paperwork.


How much does it cost to form an LLC in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin LLC filing fees are $170 by mail, $130 online, and $15 for a name reservation.

How quickly can Wisconsin LLC’s be set up?

Wisconsin LLCs may be formed online instantly or by mail in 3-4 weeks.

How can I start an LLC in Wisconsin?

To start an LLC in Wisconsin, you’ll need a registration fee, name, Registered Agent, Articles of Organization, Operating Agreement, and IRS EIN.

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