Follow our step-by-step How to Start an LLC in Kentucky guide to get started today.
- Name Your Kentucky LLC
- Choose a Registered Agent
- File the Articles of Organization
- Create an Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN
- File the Annual Report
- Keep Your Company Compliant
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Step 1: Name Your Kentucky LLC
Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your Kentucky LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Kentucky naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.
1. Follow the naming guidelines:
- Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
- Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
2. Is the name available in Kentucky? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a name search on the Kentucky Secretary of State website.
To learn more about searching for a Kentucky LLC name, read our full guide.
3. Is the URL available? 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 make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.
Find a Domain Now
Once you have verified your name is available, you may now select a professional service to complete the LLC formation process for you.
We reviewed and ranked the best LLC services. Find out which is best for you.
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Kentucky
You are required to nominate a Kentucky registered agent for your Kentucky LLC.
What is a registered agent? A registered agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important legal documents on behalf of your business. Think of your registered agent as your business's point of contact with the state.
Who can be a registered agent? A registered agent must be a resident of Kentucky or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in Kentucky. You may elect an individual within the company, including yourself.
Recommended: Check out these best registered agent services.
Step 3: File Your Kentucky LLC Articles of Organization
To register your LLC, you will need to file Form KLC: Articles of Organization with the Kentucky Secretary of State. This can be done online, by mail, or in person.
Now is a good time to determine whether your LLC will be member-managed vs. manager-managed.
File the Articles of Organization
OPTION 1: File Online With the Kentucky Secretary of State
- OR -
OPTION 2: File Form KLC by Mail or In Person
State Filing Cost: $40, payable to "Kentucky State Treasurer" (Nonrefundable)
Michael G. Adams
Office of the Secretary of State
P.O. Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602
Room 154, Capitol Building
700 Capital Ave.
Frankfort, KY 40601
Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. ET
For help with completing the form, visit our Kentucky Articles of Organization guide.
If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Kentucky, you will need to form a foreign LLC.
Step 4: Create Your Kentucky LLC Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is not required in Kentucky, 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 LLC owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.
For more information on operating agreements, read our Kentucky LLC operating agreement guide.
Recommended: Download a template or create a free operating agreement using our tool.
Step 5: Get an EIN
You can get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for free. It is used to identify a business entity and keep track of a business’s tax reporting. It is essentially a Social Security number (SSN) for the company.
Why do I need an EIN? An EIN number is required for the following:
- To open a business bank account for the company
- For federal and state tax purposes
- To hire employees for the company
Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail.
FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: You do not need an SSN to get an EIN. Learn more here.
Step 6: File the Annual Report
Kentucky requires LLCs to file an annual report with the Secretary of State. This can be done online or by mail for a flat $15 fee. To file a hard copy report, fill out your information online and print it out.
Kentucky LLC annual reports are due by June 30 every year. The filing window opens on January 1.
Steps After LLC Formation
Read all the steps you’ll need to maintain your LLC’s personal liability protection, open a business bank account, 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
Kentucky LLC Licenses & Permits
To operate your LLC, you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. Fees and requirements for licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of business license you need.
Find out how to get the necessary business licenses and permits for your LLC with our Kentucky Business License guide.
Recommended: Consider having a professional service research your business’s licensing requirements. Read our best business license services review.
Kentucky LLC Tax Filing Requirements
In order to keep your business in good standing, it's important to stay up to date on your Kentucky LLC taxes.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of tax.
Kentucky Sales Tax
If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for a seller's permit through the Kentucky Department of Revenue website.
Kentucky's sales and use tax rate is 6%. Unlike many states, Kentucky does not impose any local sales taxes.
Kentucky Employer Taxes
If you have employees in Kentucky, you will have to register for the Unemployment Insurance Tax with the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. You will also need to sign up for the Employee Withholding Tax with the Kentucky Department of Revenue.
Limited Liability Entity Tax
All businesses that are protected from liability under Kentucky law are required to pay the state’s limited liability entity tax (LLET) to the Department of Revenue.
Your LLC’s tax payment will ultimately depend on your company’s gross receipts or gross profits in Kentucky.
Additional state taxes may apply if your business falls within a specific industry. Most of these additional taxes apply to hospitality or service industry businesses.
Kentucky has a flat individual income tax rate of 5%. For more information about common deductions, processing times, and due dates, visit the Kentucky Department of Revenue website.
Hiring Employees in Kentucky
If you plan to hire employees, stay compliant with the law by following these steps:
- Verify that new employees are able to work in the US
- Report employees as "new hires" to the state
- Provide workers' compensation insurance for employees
- Withhold employee taxes
- Print workplace compliance posters and place them in visible areas of your work space
Check out Kentucky's "Managing Employees" resource.
Recommended: Check out our Hiring for Your Small Business Guide for resources like sample job descriptions, payroll service reviews, and more.
Common Questions About Kentucky LLCs
What is an LLC?
LLC is short for “limited liability company.” It is a simple business structure that offers more flexibility than a traditional corporation while providing many of the same benefits. Read our What is a Limited Liability Company guide for more information.
Or, watch our two-minute video: What is an LLC?
How do I name my Kentucky LLC?
You must follow the Kentucky LLC naming guidelines when choosing a name for your LLC:
- Include the phrase "limited liability company" or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Do not use words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, State Department, CIA, etc.).
- Receive the proper licensing when using the words such as lawyer or doctor.
If you are having trouble coming up with a name for your LLC, use our LLC Name Generator. That will not only find a unique name for your business but an available URL to match.
After you get your business name, get a unique logo using our Free Logo Generator.
Do I need to get a DBA or assumed name for my business?
Most LLCs do not need a DBA, known as an assumed name in the state of Kentucky. The name of the LLC can serve as your company’s brand name and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under another name.
To learn more about DBAs in your state, read our How to File a DBA guide.
Can I be my own registered agent?
Yes. You or anyone else in your company can serve as the registered agent for your LLC.
Read more about being your own registered agent.
Is a registered agent service worth it?
Using a professional service is an affordable way to manage government filings for your LLC. For most businesses, the advantages of using registered agent services significantly outweigh the annual costs.
For more information, read our article on Kentucky registered agents.
What is the processing time to form my Kentucky LLC?
The Kentucky LLC formation process is approved immediately online but can take three to five days for hard copy filings to be approved by the state.
What is the difference between a domestic Kentucky LLC and foreign LLC?
An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. A foreign LLC must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state.
Read our What Is a Foreign LLC article to learn more.
How much does it cost to start a Kentucky LLC?
The cost to start a Kentucky LLC is $40.
To learn more, read our guide on the cost to form a Kentucky LLC.
Do I need to file my operating agreement with the state of Kentucky?
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.
How do I get an EIN if I don’t have a Social Security number?
An SSN is not required to get an EIN. You can simply fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Learn more about applying as an international applicant.
What tax structure should I choose for my LLC?
When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.
Do I need an EIN for my LLC?
All LLCs with employees, or those with multiple LLC members, must have an EIN. This is required by the IRS.
Learn why we recommend always getting an EIN and how to get one for free in our Do I Need an EIN for an LLC guide.
What is the minimum wage in Kentucky?
The minimum wage in Kentucky is $7.25 per hour.
How often do I need to pay employees?
Kentucky requires wages to be paid at least twice per month.