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Maryland LLC For Beginners: No Attorney Required 

Maryland LLC For Beginners: No Attorney Required 

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Maryland LLC For Beginners: No Attorney Required 

Are you in the process of starting a business and looking to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC)? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular business structure for businesses starting in Maryland.  The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes. With our guide, I’ll show you how to start an LLC in Maryland without an attorney, by by breaking down the steps and answering some common questions.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Maryland

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Steps To Form A Maryland LLC

Step 1: Choose a Name for the LLC

The first step in forming a Maryland Limited Liability Company is to make sure the name you want is available. This step is important because the name of each LLC must be distinguishable from other entity names registered in the state. Fortunately, the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation makes it easy to do a Maryland LLC name search where you can verify if your LLC name is available. 

In addition to the name being unique, the entity designator (identifier used at the end of the business name) must be either:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • L.L.C.
  • LLC
  • L.C.
  • L C

Once you have secured a great name, you may also want to see if a domain name (also called a URL) is also available to have a matching website address.

Step 2: Appoint a Maryland Resident Agent

Every LLC in Maryland is required to have a Resident Agent (referred to as a Registered Agent in many states). A Resident Agent will act as a central point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc., on behalf of the LLC.

The basic requirements to be a Resident Agent in Maryland include:

  • The agent must be a Maryland resident at least 18 years of age or a commercial Resident Agent service
  • The agent must have a physical address in the state (PO Boxes aren’t allowed)
  • The agent must generally be available during normal business hours at the address provided to receive service of process

While many LLC owners opt to fulfill this role themselves, some owners choose to hire resident agent services like Northwest Registered Agent. Utilizing a resident agent service ensures that your LLC adheres to state requirements while offering an added layer of convenience and confidentiality since the owner’s personal address isn’t disclosed in public records.

Related: What is a Maryland resident agent?

Note that the resident agent will have to agree in writing to serve as the LLC’s Resident Agent.

Step 3: File the Maryland LLC Articles of Organization

Under the Limited Liability Company Act, Title 4A, LLCs may conduct activities related to any lawful business (with the exception of acting as an insurer), purpose, investment, or activity, whether as a for-profit business or a not-for-profit entity.

The paperwork to officially create an LLC in Maryland is called the Articles of Organization. These can be filed online through the Maryland Secretary of State’s Maryland Business Express website or by downloading the Articles of Organization and filing them by mail.

Related: How to fill out the Maryland Articles of Organization

At the time of filing, you will need to indicate if you are “opting out” of having the original filed documents returned (certified Articles of Organization and Certificate of Status).  To get the original documents returned, there is an additional $20 filing fee.

When filling out the Articles of Organization, there are a few sections to discuss as they may be challenging to answer, when seeing them for the first time. Let’s go over a few of those sections to help you get your LLC started right.

Business address: In this section, enter the street address, city, state, county, and zip code of the initial principal office.  This address can be the LLC’s physical address, or it can be the address where the business records are stored.  It’s important to note, that this address may not be a PO Box.  If there is a mailing address that is different from the Maryland business address, click on the box and enter that address.

Description of business: This is an optional section, but it asks for a brief description of the business’s activities. One to two sentences will be sufficient.

Authorized persons: The signature of an authorized person, such as an LLC member, attorney, etc., will be needed on the Articles of Organization.  At least one person must sign.

If you are worried about making a mistake when forming your LLC, or just don't want to deal with filling out state paperwork, an LLC formation service will help guide you through the process. My top recommended services include:

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What To Do After Starting A Maryland LLC

Once the LLC has been formed, there are a few additional steps to take care of. Below is a list of the most common tasks.

Prepare a Maryland LLC Operating Agreement

The operating agreement is a document that governs the framework of an LLC.  This document covers items like ownership rights, member responsibilities, how profits and losses are distributed, and more.

Most states (including Maryland) do not require an LLC to have an operating agreement, but it is still worth considering. Without an operating agreement:

  • The LLC could be subject to generic state rules that may be detrimental in the event of a lawsuit.
  • Member’s personal liability protection may be diminished.
  • Members may not fully understand their roles and responsibilities, which could lead to costly disputes in the future.

Related: Maryland operating agreement template

Obtain an EIN

If the LLC will hire employees or is owned by more than one member, an EIN is required. 

The EIN or Employer Identification Number (also referred to as a Federal Employer Identification Number, FEIN, or Federal Tax ID Number) is a unique 9-digit tax identification number assigned to a business by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Similar to a social security number for an individual, the EIN identifies business entities for tax purposes.

Related: How to apply for an EIN

Open an LLC Bank Account

Opening a bank account for your LLC is important for liability protection as the account separates the business’s funds from the member’s personal funds.

Several documents will be needed to open a business bank account, such as:

  • A banking resolution is a document that authorizes the members to open a business bank account on behalf of the LLC.
  • Copies of the original formation paperwork from the state showing the creation of the LLC.
  • State ID of the member(s).
  • In some circumstances, a Maryland Certificate of Good Standing may be needed to prove the LLC is active and in good standing with the state.

Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Depending on what your business does and where it is located, there will likely be various business licenses and permits needed before starting your business. Some common registrations include:

  • Business license: There isn’t a general state of Maryland business license, but some cities require businesses to obtain licensing before they can start. Licensing is often done through the Circuit Court in the county where the business is located.
  • Professional license: Certain services in Maryland, such as barbershops, accountants, salons, and others, must be licensed.
  • Sales tax license: A sales tax license from the Comptroller of Maryland is necessary to sell products and certain services.

Related: What business licenses are needed in Maryland?

File Maryland LLC Annual Reports

LLCs are required to file an annual report with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation.  The annual report is due by April 15th of each year.

Additionally, if your LLC will own, use, or lease personal property in Maryland, the Personal Property Tax Return will need to be filed along with the annual report.  Personal property can include equipment, tools, inventory, computers, supplies, and more. The amount of personal property taxes will vary depending on the type of property being used in the state.

Related: How to File a Maryland LLC Annual Report

File the Beneficial Owner Information Report

Beginning in 2024, any individual who owns at least 25% or has “substantial control” of an LLC or corporation in Maryland or any other state must file the Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) form with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). BOI reports are filed electronically through FinCEN’s website.

Maryland LLC FAQs

How much does a Maryland LLC cost?

The cost to form an LLC in Maryland includes a Maryland Secretary of State filing fee of $100.

Do you have to pay for an LLC every year in Maryland?

Each year, an annual report and a $300 state filing fee will be due for Maryland LLCs.

How long does it take for an LLC to be approved in Maryland?

It normally takes seven business days for the Maryland Secretary of State to process the Articles of Organization when filing online or four to six weeks when filing by mail.

What is a Foreign Limited Liability Company?

A foreign LLC refers to an LLC that is physically operating in states outside of the state where it was formed. Physically operating means having a presence, such as having an office or employee. The LLC will need to register as a foreign LLC in each state where it plans to operate.

Related: What is a foreign LLC?

What is a Professional Limited Liability Company?

Businesses in Maryland that require licensing from the state of Maryland, such as accountants, attorneys, psychologists, real estate brokers, veterinarians, and more., etc., can but are not required to file as a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC).

The filing process is very similar to that of the LLC.

Related: What is a Professional LLC?

Maryland LLC For Beginners: No Attorney Required 

Maryland LLC For Beginners: No Attorney Required 

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