How Much Does It Cost to Start an LLC in Iowa?

The cost to start an LLC (limited liability company) online in Iowa is $50. This fee is paid to the Iowa Secretary of State when filing the LLC’s Certificate of Organization.

We recommend Northwest ($29 + State Fees) to help form your LLC.

How Much Does an LLC Cost in Iowa?

Iowa LLC Online Filing Fee: $50

The main cost to start an LLC in Iowa is the $50 fee to file your LLC's Certificate of Organization online with the Iowa Secretary of State.

For a look at LLC costs in every state, read our other Cost to Start an LLC and How to Form an LLC guides.

Cost to Form a Foreign LLC in Iowa

If you already have an LLC that is registered in another state and you’d like to expand your business into Iowa, you’ll need to register your LLC as a foreign LLC in Iowa.

The cost for registering an Iowa foreign LLC is $100. You can register a foreign LLC in Iowa by filing an Application for Certificate of Authority online or by mail.

Optional LLC Formation Costs

There are optional fees associated with LLC formation:

LLC Name Reservation

Reserve your name for up to 120 days prior to LLC formation by filing an Application for Reservation of Name and paying the $10 filing fee. This can also be done by mail.

Fictitious Name

File a Fictitious Name Resolution and pay the $5 filing fee to create a name other than your legal LLC business name. This can also be done by mail.

Ready to Start Your Iowa LLC?

Read our LLC formation services review to choose the best service for you.

Iowa LLC Annual and Biennial Costs

When starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Iowa, it is important to understand the ongoing costs associated with maintaining an LLC. 

Here are the primary ongoing costs for an Iowa LLC:

  • Registered Agent Fee: Iowa requires every LLC to have a Statutory Agent, also known as a Registered Agent. The Statutory Agent is responsible for accepting legal documents and official correspondence on behalf of the LLC. The Registered Agent does not need to officially consent as the initial Registered Agent, but new Registered Agents must officially consent.
  • Biennial Report Fee: LLCs in Iowa are required to file a biennial report with the Secretary of State every other year on odd-numbered years. The filing can be done online or by mail, with a fee of $30 (online) or $45 (mail).

By taking these costs into account, you can estimate the total expenses of running an LLC in Iowa.

How to Register an Iowa LLC Yourself

Establishing your own LLC in Iowa is a feasible undertaking that you can manage on your own. Just follow the seven steps outlined below.

Recommended: Using an LLC formation service like Northwest ($29 + State Fees) saves time and ensures compliance. Besides the low cost, we like their streamlined approach and excellent customer service.

Seven Basic Steps to Start an LLC in Iowa

Step 1: Name Your Iowa LLC
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent
Step 3: File a Certificate of Organization
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
Step 5: Get an EIN
Step 6: File the Biennial Report
Step 7: Keep Your Company Compliant

Step 1: Name Your Iowa LLC

When you name your Iowa LLC, you’ll need to choose a name that:

  1. Is available for use in the state of Iowa
  2. Meets Iowa naming requirements
  3. Is available as a web domain

Recommended: Visit our Start an LLC in Iowa guide for detailed naming rules and instructions for registering a business name in Iowa.

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our How to Name a Business guide and free LLC Name Generator.

We recommend that you check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent

All LLCs in Iowa must appoint a registered agent. A registered agent primarily acts as your LLC’s main point of contact with the state. But most importantly, they are responsible for accepting service of process in the event your business is sued.

Your Iowa registered agent must:

  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • Have a physical address in Iowa
  • Be available during normal business hours to accept service of process

Recommended: Get a free year of registered agent services when you hire Northwest Registered Agent to form your LLC. $29 (plus state fees).

Get Started

Step 3: File the Certificate of Organization

The Iowa Certificate of Organization is a document that is filed with the Iowa Secretary of State to form an LLC. The fee for filing a Certificate of Organization is $50 online.

If filing by mail or by fax, you must draft your own Certificate of Organization according to the Iowa state statutes. For detailed instructions for completing the Certificate of Organization, visit our How to File the Iowa Certificate of Organization guide.

File an Iowa Certificate of Organization

OPTION 1: File Online With Iowa Fast Track Filing

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File the Certificate of Organization by Mail or by Fax

Read Requirements

State Filing Cost: $50, payable to the Secretary of State

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

Fax: (515) 242-5953

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement isn't required for Iowa LLCs, but it's a good practice to have one.

What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.

Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.

For more information on operating agreements, read our Iowa LLC operating agreement guide.

Step 5: Get an EIN

What is an EIN? An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue System (IRS) to identify a business for tax reporting purposes. An EIN is essentially a Social Security number (SSN) for your company.

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN number is required for the following:

Free EIN: You can get an EIN from the IRS website (free of charge) after forming your business.

Step 6: File the Biennial Report

Iowa requires LLCs to file a biennial report every other year with the Iowa Secretary of State. This can be done online for $30 or by mail for $45. In the Fast Track Filing portal, you can choose whether to file the report online or print a paper form.

Biennial reports are due every odd-numbered year between January 1 and April 1. While the state does not charge late fees if you miss your filing deadline, it may administratively dissolve your LLC after a few months for failure to file a biennial report.

Steps After LLC Formation

Read all the steps you’ll need to maintain your LLC’s personal liability protection, open a business bank account and business credit card, get business insurance, and stay up to date with state reporting requirements.

Visit our After Forming an LLC guide to learn more.

Step 7: Keep Your Company Compliant

Ensuring regulatory compliance for your Iowa-based LLC involves several steps:

  • State Licenses & Permits: Adherence to all federal, state, and local regulations is vital for your LLC. The specifics of the licenses and permits required depend on your business activities, as there are no mandatory general business licenses.
  • Tax Commitments for Iowa LLCs: Keeping on top of your tax obligations is key. Iowa imposes a flat state sales tax of 6%, with a max local tax rate of 1%. If you plan on having employees, remember to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax and Employee Withholding Tax. The state also has a graduated income tax ranging from 4.4% to 6%.
  • Hiring Employees in Iowa: When hiring, you must ensure that all new employees are legally permitted to work in the US, report new hires to the state, provide workers' compensation insurance, handle employee tax withholdings, and visibly display workplace compliance posters.

Iowa LLC Cost FAQ

What is the cost to file a Certificate of Organization for an LLC in Iowa?

The cost to file a Certificate of Organization for an LLC in Iowa is $50. This fee is paid to the Secretary of State during the LLC formation process. You can file this document online, by mail, or by fax.

What is the role of a registered agent in an LLC in Iowa?

A registered agent is an individual or business entity that accepts legal documents on behalf of your LLC. This agent plays an important role in keeping your business compliant with state regulations. While a registered agent does not directly influence the cost of forming an LLC in Iowa, they usually charge an annual fee for their services.

Do I need a registered agent’s consent when forming an LLC in Iowa?

In Iowa, while the initial registered agent is not required to officially consent during the formation of the LLC, any new registered agent must physically or electronically sign a change form. This confirms their consent to perform this role for your LLC.

Are there any other costs associated with the formation of an LLC in Iowa?

Yes, in addition to the $50 filing fee, you may need to budget for a registered agent, business insurance, and obtaining a business license. The cost of these services can vary.

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

Maintaining an LLC in Iowa includes filing a Biennial Report every two years, which costs $60. Other potential costs include the fees for a registered agent and the renewal of business licenses and insurance.

What is a DBA or fictitious name, and do I need one for my LLC in Iowa?

A DBA (doing business as) name, also known as a fictitious name for LLCs, is used when your LLC operates under a name other than its legal name. The cost to register a DBA in Iowa can vary. It is not always necessary, but can be beneficial depending on your business strategy.

Do I need to perform a name search when forming an LLC in Iowa?

Yes, before you file the Certificate of Organization, you must perform a business entities search to ensure that your chosen LLC name is unique and not currently in use by another business in the state. There is no fee for this search.

Is there a need for a Certificate of Existence or Good Standing Certificate for my Iowa LLC?

A Certificate of Existence, also known as a Good Standing Certificate, verifies that your LLC is legally registered and compliant with Iowa state regulations. While this certificate isn't necessary for the formation of your LLC, it may be required for certain business transactions, like securing loans or contracts. The cost for this certificate is $5, but can vary depending on fax fees and whether you need certified copies.

What are the additional fees associated with LLC formation services in Iowa?

The exact cost of LLC formation services can vary depending on the service provider. These services can help streamline the LLC formation process by handling tasks such as filing paperwork, maintaining compliance, and offering registered agent services. However, it's important to review what is included in the service fee to ensure it fits within your budget.

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