How to Start an LLC in Iowa

Here are the 7 steps to start a limited liability company (LLC) in Iowa

For more information on how to form an LLC in any state, see the article How to Form an LLC.

Find out how to form a Iowa LLC for yourself

Learn about Iowa LLC formation, including information on Registered Agents, naming rules, business licenses, and more.


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how to start an llc in iowa

Creating an LLC in Iowa

A limited liability company (LLC) offers many benefits to small businesses, including liability protection and tax advantages.

In order to form a Iowa LLC, you must file the Certificate of Organization with the Iowa Secretary of State, which costs $50 online and by mail.

However, you’ll first need to choose a name and registered agent for your Iowa LLC.

Mail filings: Approval of mail filings for Iowa LLCs takes 4-5 weeks in total. This includes the processing time of 7-14 business days, as well as the time your documents are in the mail.

Online Filling: Iowa LLC online filings are approved within one business day. There is no additional transit time because you can download your documents as soon as they are approved.

An LLC can be easily formed in Iowa. Our step-by-step guide on how to start an llc in Iowa will help you get started today. Find out more about LLCs and their benefits in our What is an LLC guide.

Step 1. Choose a Name for Your LLC Iowa

Creating an LLC in Iowa requires you to choose a business name before you can file a Certificate of Organization. Be sure that your business name complies with the Iowa naming requirements and can be searched by potential customers.

  • Iowa law requires an LLC name to contain the words “Limited Liability Company” or “Limited Company,” or the abbreviations “Ltd.,” “LLC,” or “LC.” “Limited” may be abbreviated as “Ltd.” or “LTD,” and “Company” as “Co.”
  • It is not acceptable for your Iowa LLC to have words associated with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • You should avoid using words or abbreviations that may make your LLC Iowa appear to be a different type of entity, such as “LP” or “corporation”.
  • There may be additional documentation and licensure paperwork required for certain restricted words (bank, lawyer, attorney, credit union, etc.).
  • Check the state’s business name database to ensure the name you want is not already taken(including businesses no longer in operation)

See a complete list of Iowa’ naming rules here.

Check URL availability: You are likely to need a web page even if you don’t think you do. Buying your domain name now will at least give you the option of having one in the future. It’s a good idea to check the URL availability before finalizing your Iowa LLC name.

Recommended: Consider setting up a business phone service after securing a domain name for your Iowa LLC to establish credibility and improve customer satisfaction.
Wise business plans offer a variety of features for businesses, including Toll-free numbers, Coverage in US and Canada, team messaging and more. Try our business phone services today.
Is it possible to reserve a business name in Iowa?

By filing an Application for Reservation of Name with the Secretary of State, you can reserve a name for up to 120 days. The application can be submitted either online or via mail. The filing fee is $10.

What is an LLC?

An LLC stands for a Limited Liability Company. A simple business structure that is more flexible and offers many of the same benefits as a traditional corporation. For more information, see “What is a Limited Liability Company?”.

Does my business need a DBA or trade name?

A DBA isn’t always required, depending on the state and the type of business conducted. However, if you want to operate under a name other than your own, you’ll need an LLC or a DBA.

Step 2: Appoint Your Registered Agent in Iowa

Your next step in forming an LLC in Iowa is to appoint a Registered Agent, an individual or company authorized to receive legal and state mail on your behalf.

All Iowa LLCs must have a registered agent. Please include your registered agent’s name and address on your Certificate of Organization.

Registered Agent Requirements in Iowa

To comply with Iowa law, your LLC’s registered agent must be a resident or business entity that maintains a physical address in Iowa. The “registered address” cannot be a P.O. box. It must be a real physical address that can be visited in person.

Although you do not have to submit this form to the Secretary of State, your business must record it. Learn more about Iowa Registered Agents by reading our full guide.

Who can be a Registered Agent?

A Registered Agent must be an Iowa resident or a corporation authorised to conduct business in Iowa, such as a registered agent service. You have the option of electing someone from your company, including yourself.

Is it possible to change my registered agent after I form an LLC?

Fill out a Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent with the Iowa Secretary of State to change your registered agent.

Are You looking for a Registered Agent?

Wise Business Plans offers a free year of registered agent service when forming an LLC in Iowa.

Step 3.Prepare and File the Certificate of Organization

To create a Iowa LLC, you will need to file a Certificate of Organization with the Iowa Secretary of State. You may apply online, by mail, or in person.

You must draft your own Certificate of Organization in accordance with Iowa state statutes if filing a hard copy.

There is a $50 filing fee online and by mail. You must send the original and a copy of your certificate if you file by mail.

If you choose one of our business formation services, we can handle this step for you.

The following information is typically required to create a Certificate of Organization:

  • Your LLC name and principal place of business.
  • Name, address, and signature of the LLC’s registered agent
  • Decide whether your Iowa LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. Indicate the names and addresses of each member and manager.
  • The reason for forming the LLC in Iowa.
  • Name and address of the LLC’s organizer.
  • The effective date of the certificate,
  • The person forming the LLC must sign the Certificate.

Foreign LLCs: LLCs that are based in another state but intend to conduct business in Iowa must complete a form called the Qualification of Foreign LLC.

A filing fee of $100 also applies to this form, and you need to attach your state’s certificate of good standing.

Two Ways to File the Certificate of Organization

The 1st option is:

File Onlinewith the Iowa Secretary of State

The 2nd option is:

Filing the Certificate of Organization by Mail

There is a state filing of $50 online and By Mail payable to the Iowa Department of State. (nonrefundable)

Mail to:

Lucas State Office Building
321 E 12th St
Des Moines, IA 50319

How does a member-managed LLC differ from a manager-managed LLC?

In a member-managed LLC, the members (owners) take on the business’s daily responsibilities. Manager-managed LLCs are managed by managers who are elected by the members. Those who manage your LLC will have the authority to do a wide range of tasks-from hiring staff to opening bank accounts.

How do Iowa LLCs differ from foreign LLCs?

When an LLC conducts business in the state where it was formed, it is referred to as a “domestic LLC.” Normally, when we talk about an LLC, we’re talking about a domestic one. When an existing LLC wants to expand its operations to another state, it must form a foreign LLC.

How long does it take to form an LLC in Iowa?

Mail filings: Approval of mail filings for Iowa LLCs takes 4-5 weeks in total. This includes the processing time of 7-14 business days, as well as the time your documents are in the mail.

Online Filling: Iowa LLC online filings are approved within one business day. There is no additional transit time because you can download your documents as soon as they are approved.


Step 4. Get a Certificate From the State

Upon filing your Certificate of Organization, the secretary of state will review it. As soon as the Certificate of Organization is approved, the LLC becomes a legal entity.

By obtaining this certificate, LLCs will be able to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), licenses, and business accounts.

Step 5. Write an Iowa LLC Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is a legally-binding document that sets out how your LLC will operate, from the voting process to mergers.

Operating agreements are not required in Iowa, but they are an essential part of your business.

Written operating agreements are helpful for different reasons, including resolving disputes over financial agreements and other potential litigation.

The LLC declaration can prove that your LLC is a separate entity, which can help preserve your limited liability.

An operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the possibility of future conflict.

How should an operating agreement be drafted?

The operating agreement should detail the LLC’s overall business purpose and other important matters, such as how the company will be taxed and how new members will be accepted. Legal agreements can clarify several important concerns, such as:

  • Who makes decisions for the company, especially those who decide if partners disagree.
  • Who is responsible for different aspects of the business as well as for strategic decisions.
  • If a partner leaves the company, what will happen to their ownership interests in the corporation.
  • The members and their contributions
  • How profits and losses will be divided
  • Procedures for admitting new members and removing outgoing members

In Iowa, you can include just about anything in your operating agreement, as long as it doesn’t violate the state law or the Certificate of Organization.

Is my operating agreement required to be filed with the state of Iowa?

Operating agreements are not required in Iowa for LLCs, but they are highly recommended. An operating agreement will help protect your limited liability status, prevent financial and managerial misunderstandings, and ensure that you, not state law, determine the rules that govern your business.

Step 6. Get an EIN for Your Iowa LLC

Basically, an employer identification number (EIN) is a social security number for your LLC in Iowa.

To identify your LLC for tax purposes, the Internal Revenue Service assigns a nine-digit Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can apply for your EIN either by mail or online.

An EIN is used for the following purposes:

  • Manage state and federal taxes
  • Create a business bank account
  • Hire employees

Get an EIN Number in Iowa

Getting an EIN number is easy and free, There are two ways to get an EIN number in Iowa.

The 1st option is:

Apply online for an EIN from the IRS

The 2nd option is:

Get an EIN by Mail or Fax

Address to Mail

Mail to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

 Is a Iowa LLC required to have an EIN?

An EIN is required for any LLC with employees or more than one member. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires this.

 What is the best tax structure for my LLC?

When you apply for an EIN, you will be informed of the various tax classification options available to you. The default tax status is chosen by the majority of LLCs.

Some LLCs, on the other hand, can reduce their federal tax liability by electing the S corporation (S corp) status.

Do I need to apply for an EIN if I already have one for my sole proprietorship?

When converting from a sole proprietorship to an LLC, the IRS requires a new EIN.

How do I obtain an EIN?

An EIN can be obtained from the IRS for free. The process of obtaining an EIN is easy and can be done online or by mail.

Step 7. Biennial Report

Every two years, all LLCs doing business in Iowa must file a Biennial Report with the Secretary of State. You can file the report online or download a pre-filled form from the Secretary of State’s website.

filing fee: The filing fee is $30 for online filings and $45 for filings by mail.

Due Date: Every odd-numbered year, between January 1st and April 1st, payment is due.

Late Filings: If you miss your filing deadline in Iowa, you will not be charged a late fee, but your LLC may be administratively dissolved after a few months if you fail to file an annual report.

Are you Looking for Iowa LLC Formation Service?

Get the easiest and fastest Iowa LLC formation online with Wise business Plans.

What to do After Forming Your Iowa LLC

Keep your personal and business assets separate

Your personal assets (such as your home, car, and other valuables) may be at risk when your Iowa LLC is sued if they are mixed with your business accounts.

Here are some steps you can take to protect your LLC in Iowa:


1. Create a Business Plan:

If you have decided that a Iowa LLC will be a good choice for your business in Iowa, your next step is to create a business plan (although it is not required), so that you have a roadmap for what you will do and how you will accomplish it.

Business Plan Template

Free: Business Plans Examples

Do you need help creating a business plan? Check out these six free, proven business plan examples from different industries to help you write your own.

1. Open a Bank Account

As soon as your LLC is officially formed, you should open a business bank account. Why? Keeping separate bank accounts will help you maintain the legal distinction between the LLC and you (the owner).

Because LLCs are limited liability companies, creditors and litigants can’t take your assets.

It is essential for small business owners to partner with the right bank. Find out which banks offer the best business checking accounts, have low or no fees, ATM accessibility, and interest-earning accounts as well as online or mobile banking tools. 

Recommended: Check out our business bank account page to learn which banks offer the best business check accounts, ATM access, interest-bearing accounts, and online and mobile banking options for businesses.

2. Obtaining a business credit card:
  • Allows you to separate personal and business expenses.
  • Develops your company’s credit history, which can be helpful to raise capital (e.g., small business loans) later.
3. Hiring a business accountant:
  • It prevents your business from overpaying taxes while preventing penalties, fines, and other costly tax mistakes.
  • Gives you more time to focus on your growing business by simplifying bookkeeping and payroll.
  • Manage your business’s funding more effectively. Find out where extra profit or loss can be made

Getting Business Insurance for Your LLC

You can manage risks and grow your LLC with business insurance. Here are the most common types:

  • General liability insurance protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses purchase general liability coverage.
  • Professional liability insurance protects professionals and businesses from claims of negligence from their clients or customers. Liability insurance typically covers negligence, copyright infringement, personal injury, and more.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance: Covers illnesses, injuries, and deaths resulting from a worker’s work.

Ready to Protect Your Business

Let us help you with your business insurance needs.


  • General business liability insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Term life insurance
  • Workers’ Comp
  • Surety bonds
  • Commercial auto

Create Your Business Website

A website is an important step in legitimizing your business. It is essential for all businesses. You are missing out on a large percentage of potential customers and revenue if you don’t have a website, even if your business is too small or in an offline industry.

More than 90% of consumers begin their search for products and services online. If you don’t have a website that is ready to welcome your customers, then they will simply find your competitors.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • Every respectable firm has a website. When it comes to getting your firm online, size or sector isn’t a concern.
  • Creating a basic website has never been easier, thanks to website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder. To design a website, you don’t need to hire a web designer or developer.

Recommended: If you want to enhance your conversion rates and maximize revenue in order to help expand your business and meet objectives, you should always hire a professional business website design company to build your business website.

Wise Business Plans is a leading web design company, We have created over 2000 + websites across 20 countries for our clients but we are physically based in 7 major cities in the United States including Alabama web design, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, Iowa, Michigan and San Diego.


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

You must file a Certificate of Organization with the Iowa Secretary of State, which costs $50. You can submit your application online, by mail, or by fax. The Certificate of Organization is the legally binding document that establishes your Iowa Limited Liability Company.

Is it a good idea to form an LLC in Iowa?

Yes, For small businesses, a limited liability company (LLC) provides liability protection as well as tax advantages. In Iowa, forming a limited liability company (LLC) is simple.

What is the procedure for dissolving an LLC in Iowa?

To formally dissolve your LLC, you must submit a statement of dissolution and termination, along with filing fees, to the Iowa Secretary of State Business Services Division. You are formally terminating the LLC’s status as a business entity registered directly with the state by filing these statements.

Is it possible to change the name of an LLC in Iowa?

You must file an Amendment to Certificate of Organization with the Iowa Secretary of State, Business Services Division, to amend your Certificate of Organization for an Iowa LLC. You’ll also have to pay a $50 filing fee.

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