How to form an LLC in Connecticut in 5 easy steps
If you’re thinking about starting a new business in Connecticut, you probably have many questions rolling around in your head, from where to set up shop and how to get those first few customers. You’ll also want to consider whether it makes sense for you to start an LLC.
An LLC (or Limited Liability Corporation) is a type of business that limits a business owner’s personal liability over their business. Basically, in the event of bankruptcy, lawsuits, or overwhelming debts, your personal assets, like homes or cars, can’t be used. Compare that to a sole proprietorship, where you can use your personal assets to cover business financial troubles.
However, unlike an S corporation, an LLC isn’t seen as a separate business entity tax-wise, so you can file your business profit and losses along with your income tax returns.
If you’ve decided that an LLC is right for your business, your next question will probably be, “How the heck do I actually start an LLC?” Luckily, the process is relatively simple; you’ll just need to make sure you have good attention to detail!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to starting your Connecticut LLC formation!
1) Check if your business name is available
One of the first steps in business formation is having a strong name. Your business name is how you present yourself to your customers and your community at large, so you’ll want something unique, eye-catching, and, more importantly, that adheres to Connecticut naming guidelines.
Your business name MUST include the term “limited liability company” or its authorized abbreviations (LLC, LC, L.C, L.L.C, LTD).
You can’t have anything in your name that could confuse it with a government agency. So, unfortunately, “State Department of Cookies” is out.
Suppose you’re using a restricted title in your LLC name (a name or title that requires licensing, like “therapist,” “bank,” or “hospital”). In that case, you may need to show documentation (like business licenses) that a licensed professional of that industry is involved with your LLC.
Or, suppose you’re planning to use a different business name than the one you officially incorporate or a trade name that’s different from your legal name (like how Stefani Germanotta does business under her stage name, Lady Gaga). In that case, you may want to file a DBA. A DBA (meaning Doing Business As) lets consumers know who exactly is behind a business, regardless of any name changes or assumed identities, and can protect you from any accusations of fraud or dishonesty.
Once you have your name, run it through the Connecticut Business Registry Search to verify its availability, then complete an Application for Reservation of Name with the Connecticut Secretary of State Business Services Division and pay the $60 filing fee to hold the name for 120 days while you complete your LLC.
2) Find a registered agent
A Connecticut registered agent is a person or entity that is the state’s main point of contact with your business. Your registered agent will receive any legal or government documents that your company receives.
By law, your registered agent will need to be a resident of Connecticut State with a street address (NOT a p.o. box) and is authorized to do business in the state.
You might be thinking you can just be your own registered agent, list your own business address, and cut out any middlemen. While you ARE allowed to act as your own, it can have some unforeseen consequences.
For example, the registered agent must be present at the given address during normal business hours. For instance, if you’re an electrician who regularly works outside of your office, that can cause huge limitations to your business.
Also, one of the main reasons a registered agent is required is if your business receives a service of process, which is a notice that legal proceedings are being filed against you. It MIGHT turn someone off their ice cream if they see the parlor is going to court.
Many businesses use a registered agent service to accept any legal or governmental documents at their office address and alert you with important updates. Some services provide digital documentation as well, so you can see how urgent the document is without making an extra trip.
3) Write your LLC operating agreement
An operating agreement is an unofficial roadmap of your business structure, detailing the terms of your business’s ownership and operation. This document helps keep everyone on the same page about the business and can save you some nasty infighting or even legal trouble in the future.
LLCs in Connecticut aren’t required to file an operating agreement, but you’ll still want to have one in place, even if you’re a single-member LLC.
For single-member LLCs in particular, an operating agreement helps outline exactly how your business is different from a sole proprietorship, so you don’t run into any issues while dealing with the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services or with your state tax return.
Some states do require an LLC operating agreement on file, so if you think you may extend your business to another state at any point (also known as setting up a foreign LLC), it’s convenient to have one on file already. You can find a template for an operating agreement pretty easily online if you don’t want to write one from scratch.
4) File your Certificate of Organization
Once you have your name picked out and reserved, a registered agent on board, and an operating agreement, you’re ready to file your LLC.
You’ll file your Certificate of Organization with the Connecticut Secretary of the State. The Certificate of Organization is a pretty straightforward application; here’s what you’ll need to make sure it’s filled out correctly.
- The full name of your LLC (including “limited liability” or one of the approved abbreviations)
- The principal office’s street address (no P.O. Boxes).
- Your mailing address. This can be a P.O. Box.
- Information about your registered agent. Necessary information will vary depending on if your registered agent is an individual or a business. There’s space for both scenarios, but only fill out one. If you’re using a registered agent service, you’ll be filling out the business section.
- Member or Manager Information. You’ll be required to give information for at least one member or manager, and the application has space for two.
- Entity Email Address. The Secretary of the State will notify you by email when your annual report is due, so make sure it’s a valid and active email.
- Your NAICS code. The U.S Census Bureau uses the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to gather data on the U.S. Business economy. The codes are related to the industry your business is a part of, so not necessarily unique to your business. You should find a NAICS code similar to your business by running a name search on the NAICS website. If your type of business changes, you can update your NAICS code during your Annual Report.
You can file by mail for $120, or online at no additional cost. It can take 3-5 business days to get your LLC approved if you apply online but can take anywhere from 7 business days to several weeks if you apply by mail, depending on how backed up the state is at the time. If you’d like to start your LLC relatively soon, online registration will be your best bet.
5) Get your Employer Identification Number
Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) is basically like your business’s Social Security Number. It identifies your business to the IRS as a unique entity and allows you to include your LLC in your state filing.
EINs are vital for Connecticut business owners, especially if you have an LLC. With an EIN, you can open a business bank account, which keeps your business and personal expenses completely separate and makes it easier to avoid mistakes when you’re filing your tax returns.
An EIN also allows you to hire employees. Remember that if you hire employees, the State of Connecticut requires you to provide worker’s comp insurance.
Get LLC insurance in minutes by following these steps
It’s easy to get LLC insurance with Huckleberry! Here’s how to get started:
- Head over to Huckleberry.com and hit the “Instant Estimate” button on the homepage.
- Type in your industry, and Huckleberry will show you the specific coverages they can offer.
- Answer a few questions about yourself and your business, like your location, estimated payroll, and revenue estimates. Nothing too complex is needed; we just want an overview of your business to ensure we have the right product for you.
- In the time it takes to get a cup of coffee, Huckleberry will have a quote ready for you with the coverage you need to keep your business safe and compliant.
- Still not convinced? Our quick rate estimator can get you a ballpark figure of what you’d pay for small business insurance.
Forming an LLC in Connecticut is only the start of your business adventure. With all the excitement and joy that comes with owning a business and creating products that serve your customers, there’s also the fear of the unknown. Even the smallest misstep can have huge consequences for your business.
That’s why Huckleberry is here to help you get the best small business insurance coverage at the lowest rates possible. From worker’s comp coverage to liability protection, Huckleberry gets you the quality coverage you need as quickly and easily as possible.
We know you’d rather be running your business than puzzling over paperwork. That’s why we get you your quotes fast and write them in plain English, so you can get back to what you do best.
Visit Huckleberry.com today for your free quote, and see what peace of mind looks like.