Starting an LLC in Maine is easy.
To start an LLC in Maine you will need to file the Certificate of Formation with the Maine Secretary of State, which costs $175. You can apply by mail or in-person. The Certificate of Formation is the legal document that officially creates your Maine Limited Liability Company.
Follow the step-by-step guide below to start your Maine LLC today and get your business up and running.
STEP 1: Name your Maine LLC
Choosing a company name is the first and most important step of forming an LLC in Maine. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Maine 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.
- Your name must be distinguishable from any other Maine, limited liability company, corporation, limited liability partnership or limited partnership.
- For a complete list of naming rules in Maine, check out Maine's Naming Guidelines.
2. Is the name available in Maine? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a Business Entity Search on the Maine Secretary of State website.
3. Is the URL available? We recommend that you check 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.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
FAQ: Naming a Maine LLC
Do I need to get a DBA or Trade Name for my business?
Most LLCs do not need a DBA. 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 in Maine guide.
STEP 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Maine
You are required to nominate a Maine registered agent for your Maine 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' point of contact with the state.
Who can be a Registered Agent? a Registered Agent must be a resident of Maine or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in Maine. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.
TIPRecommended: ZenBusiness provides the first year of registered agent service free with LLC formation ($39 + State Fees)
FAQ: Nominating a Maine Registered Agent
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 Registered Agent service is an affordable way to manage government filings for your LLC. For most businesses, the advantages of using a professional service significantly outweigh the annual costs.
For more information, read our article on Maine registered agents.
STEP 3: File the Maine LLC Certificate of Formation
To register your Maine LLC, you will need to file the Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State. You can apply by mail or in-person. Some states refer to the Certificate of Formation as the Articles of Organization or Certificate of Organization.
The Certificate of Formation for an LLC (limited liability company) in Maine is a legal document to officially form your business. You’ll be expected to provide the name of your LLC, choose a registered agent, list the services your LLC will offer, and pay the state filing fee. After you file the Certificate of Formation, we recommend you obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you plan to hire employees and open a business bank account.
Now is a good time to consider whether your Maine LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. We recommend learning more about member-managed vs manager-managed LLCs before you file.
File the Certificate of Formation
File In-Person or by Mail with the Maine Secretary of State
Fee: $175, payable to the Maine Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)
Secretary of State
Division of Corporations, UCC and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Maine, you will need to form a Foreign LLC.
FAQ: Filing Maine LLC Documents
What is the processing time to form my Maine LLC?
5 to 10 business days, but may be expedited for an additional fee.
What is the difference between a domestic Maine LLC and foreign LLC?
An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. Normally when we refer to an LLC we are actually referring to a domestic LLC. 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.
STEP 4: Create a Maine LLC Operating Agreement
In Maine, LLCs are required to have an operating agreement per Revised Statutes Section 1531.1.B of the state's legal code. Maine refers to the operating agreement as the limited liability company agreement.
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 Maine LLC operating agreement guide.
Recommended: Download a template or create a Free Operating Agreement using our tool.
FAQ: Creating a Maine LLC Operating Agreement
Do I need to file my operating agreement with the state?
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.
STEP 5: Get a Maine LLC EIN
What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. It is essentially a social security number for the company.
Why do I need an EIN? An EIN 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 obtain an EIN. For more information, read our guide on how to obtain an EIN as a foreign LLC.
FAQ: Getting an EIN
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.
However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing S corporation status. We recommend consulting with a local accountant to find out which option is best for you.
Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?
We reviewed and ranked the top 5 LLC formation services.
Find out which is best for you.
Protect Your Business & Personal Assets
Business Banking for Personal Asset Protection
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
You can protect your business with these two steps:
1. Opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: You can get $200 when you open a Chase business checking account with qualifying activities. Learn more.
2. Getting a business credit card:
- Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
- Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
Recommended: Learn more about the best small business credit cards.
Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance are:
- General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.In Maine, businesses are required to have general liability insurance.
- Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers against claims of malpractice and other business errors.
- Workers' Compensation Insurance: A type of insurance that provides coverage for employees’ job-related illnesses, injuries, or deaths.In Maine, businesses with one or more employees, excluding business owners, are required by law to have workers' compensation insurance. Get a free quote with ADP.
Learn more about which business insurance you need to keep your business safe.
Properly Sign Legal Documents
Improperly signing a document as yourself and not as a representative of the business can leave you open to personal liability. When signing legal documents on behalf of your company, you could follow this formula to avoid problems:
- Formal name of your business
- Your signature
- Your name
- Your position in the business as its authorized representative
See the image below for an example.
This ensures that you are signing on behalf of your LLC and not as yourself.
Learn more on how to protect your business & personal assets by reading our article - How to Maintain your LLC Corporate Veil.
Keep Your Company Compliant
Maine Business Permits and Licenses
To operate your LLC you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.
The details of business licenses and permits vary from state to state. Make sure you read carefully. Don't be surprised if there are short classes required as well.
Fees for business licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of license you are seeking to obtain.
Find out how to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your business or have a professional service do it for you:
- Federal: Use the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guide.
- State: Use the State of Maine's online Business Answers resource.
- Local: Contact your local county clerk and ask about local licenses and permits.
Recommended: If you are a first-time entrepreneur, consider having a professional service research your business’ licensing requirements. Our friends at Startup Savant have reviewed and ranked the top five license research services.
Maine LLC Tax Requirements
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of state tax.
If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for a sellers permit through the Maine Department of Administrative & Financial Services website.
This certificate allows a business to collect sales tax on taxable sales.
Sales tax, also called "Sales and Use Tax," is a tax levied by states, counties, and municipalities on business transactions involving the exchange of certain taxable goods or services.
Read our sales tax guide to find out more.
If you have employees in Maine, you will have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax through the Maine Department of Labor. Employers will also need to sign up for Employee Withholding Tax through the Maine Revenue Services on behalf of your employees.
Federal LLC Tax Requirements
- Form 1065 Partnership Return (most multi-member LLCs use this form)
- Form 1040 Schedule C (most single-member LLCs use this form)
Read our LLC Tax Guide to learn more about federal income taxes for LLCs.
File Your Maine LLC Annual Report
Maine requires LLCs to file an annual report with the Maine Secretary of State.
File Your Annual Report
File Online with the Maine Secretary of State
$85, payable to the Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)
Due Date: Due by June 1st each year.
Late Filings: Maine fines LLCs $50 for late filings. In addition, Maine can dissolve LLCs within 60 days for failure to file an annual report.
Avoid Automatic Dissolution
LLCs may face fines and even automatic dissolution when they miss one or more state filings. When this happens, LLC owners risk loss of limited liability protection. A quality registered agent service can help prevent this outcome by notifying you of upcoming filing deadlines and by submitting reports on your behalf.
Recommended: ZenBusiness offers a reliable registered agent service and excellent customer support.
Get Help Starting a Business in Maine
We understand that creating an LLC and getting your business up and running comes with many challenges. To help you succeed, we compiled the best local resources in every major metro area in Maine. You can get free assistance in the following areas:
Make Running Your Business Easier
After starting a business, two of the most important things you can do are get professional accounting and hire the right employees. Streamlining these processes can save you time and money as your business grows.
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 compliance posters and place them in visible areas of your workspace
Find out more information from the Maine Department of Labor.
Recommended: Check out our Hiring for your Small Business Guide for resources like sample job descriptions, payroll service reviews, and more.
FAQ: Hiring Employees
What is the minimum wage in Maine?
The minimum wage in Maine is $12.00 per hour.
How often do I need to pay employees?
Employers in Maine are required to pay employees in regular intervals that may not exceed 16 days.
Accounting For Your LLC
It’s critical to get your books in order-- even if you haven’t officially opened for business. A well-managed accounting system will help you:
- Track your business finances, including bills, expenses, and income.
- Simplify your annual tax filings.
The right software makes accounting easy. Look for software that:
- Syncs with your bank automatically.
- Matches transactions to invoices, bills and purchase orders.
- Can be accessed from your phone.
Recommended: QuickBooks has all the accounting features your small business will need.
Try QuickBooks for free
Women in Business Tools and Resources
If you have a woman-owned business, many resources are available to help you concentrate on your business’s growth:
- Funding - (ie. grants, investors, loans) Events - (ie. conferences, meetups)
- Events - (ie. conferences, meetups)
- Guides - (ie. business formation, personal growth)
- Support - (ie. advice, communities, business strategies)
Our information and tools will provide educational sources, allow you to connect with other women entrepreneurs, and help you manage your business with ease.
TRUiC has created video guides to support and reinforce our on-page guides. These videos help to visualize the ideas and lessons that you need to know to create and run a successful business.
Check out our growing library of small business videos on the TRUiC YouTube channel.
Maine Foreign LLC Registration
Forming a foreign LLC allows your company to operate as one entity in multiple states. If you have an existing LLC and want to do business in Maine, you will need to register as a foreign LLC. This can be done by mail or in-person.
Maine Foreign LLC Registration
File by Mail or In-Person the State of Maine
Fee: $250, payable to the Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)
Secretary of State
Division of Corporations, UCC and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
How to Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing
A Certificate of Good Standing, known in Maine as a Certificate of Existence, verifies that your LLC was legally formed and has been properly maintained. Several instances where you might need to get one include:
- Seeking funding from banks or other lenders
- Forming your business as a foreign LLC in another state
- Obtaining or renewing specific business licenses or permits
You can order a Certificate of Existence online.
Order a Certificate of Good Standing
Request a Certificate of Existence Online
Fee: $30, payable to the Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)
Dissolve Your Maine LLC
If at any point in the future you no longer wish to conduct business with your LLC, it is important to officially dissolve it. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can result in tax liabilities and penalties, or even legal trouble. To dissolve your LLC, there are two broad steps:
- Close your business tax accounts
- File the Articles of Dissolution
When you are ready to dissolve your LLC, follow the steps in our Maine LLC Dissolution Guide.