Starting an LLC in Maryland is easy
To form an LLC in Maryland you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, which costs $100. You can apply online, by mail, or in-person. The Articles of Organization is the legal document that officially creates your Maryland Limited Liability Company.
Follow the step-by-step guide below to start your Maryland LLC today and get your business up and running.
STEP 1: Name your Maryland LLC
Choosing a company name is the first and most important step of forming an LLC in Maryland. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Maryland 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 Maryland limited liability company, limited liability partnership, limited partnership, or corporation.
2. Is the name available in Maryland? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a Business Entity Search with Maryland Business Express.
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 Maryland LLC
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. An LLC is one of several business structures, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation (C-Corp and S-Corp). For more information, read our What is an LLC guide.
Watch our 2-minute video: What is an LLC?
Do I need to get a DBA or Trade Name for my business?
Most LLCs do not need a DBA (Doing Business As). 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 Maryland guide.
STEP 2: Choose a Resident Agent in Maryland
You are required to nominate a Maryland resident agent for your LLC. A resident agent is more commonly known as a registered agent in other states.
What is a Resident Agent? A resident agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important tax forms, legal documents, notice of lawsuits, and official government correspondence on behalf of your business. Think of your resident agent as your business's point of contact with the state.
Who can be a Resident Agent? A resident agent must be a resident of Maryland or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in Maryland. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.
TIPRecommended: Northwest Registered Agent provides the first year of registered agent service free with LLC formation ($49 + State Fees)
FAQ: Nominating a Maryland Resident Agent
Can I be my own Resident Agent in Maryland?
Yes. You or anyone else in your company can serve as the resident agent for your Maryland LLC.
Read more about being your own resident 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 Maryland resident agents.
STEP 3: File the Maryland LLC Articles of Organization
To register your Maryland LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the Department of Assessments and Taxation. You can apply online, in-person, or by mail. Some states refer to the Articles of Organization as the Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization.
The Articles of Organization for an LLC (limited liability company) in Maryland is a legal document to officially form your business. You’ll be expected to provide the name of your LLC, choose a resident agent, list the services your LLC will offer, and pay the state filing fee. After you file the Articles of Organization, 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 Maryland LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. We recommend learning more about member-managed vs manager-managed LLCs before you file.
File the Articles of Organization
OPTION 1: File Online with Maryland Business Express
- OR -
OPTION 2: File by Mail or In-Person
State Filing Cost: $100, payable to the Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)
Mail or Submit In-Person:
Department of Assessments and Taxation
301 W. Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Maryland, you will need to form a Foreign LLC.
FAQ: Filing Maryland LLC Documents
How long does it take to set up an LLC in Maryland?
Filing the Articles of Organization takes about 5-7 days online or 4 to 6 weeks by mail. Expedited filings are also available.
What is the difference between a domestic 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 Maryland LLC Operating Agreement
In Maryland, LLCs are not required to have an operating agreement, 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 Maryland LLC operating agreement guide.
Recommended: Download a template or create a Free Operating Agreement using our tool.
FAQ: Creating a Maryland 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 Maryland LLC EIN
What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN), is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue System (IRS); an Employer ID Number 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 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 (S corp) 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 Maryland 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 Maryland 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 Maryland, 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 Maryland, businesses with one or more employees, including LLC members and corporate officers, 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
Maryland Business Permits and Licenses
To operate your Maryland 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 Maryland's Department of Commerce website.
- 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's licensing requirements. Our friends at Startup Savant have reviewed and ranked the top five license research services.
Maryland LLC Tax Requirements
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of state tax.
Maryland Sales Tax
If you are selling a physical product, you’ll typically need to register for a seller's permit through the Maryland Combined Registration Online Application 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.
Maryland Employer Taxes
If you have employees in Maryland, you will have to register for the Unemployment Insurance Tax, and the Employee Withholding Tax through the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.
Register for Maryland State Taxes
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 Maryland LLC Annual Report
Maryland requires LLCs to file an annual report with the Department of Assessments & Taxation.
File Your Annual Report
OPTION 1: File Online with Maryland Business Express
- OR -
OPTION 2: File by Mail
Fee: $300, payable to the Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)
Department of Assessments and Taxation
Taxpayer Services Division
P.O. Box 17052
Baltimore, MD 21297
Due Date: Due April 15 each year
Late Filings: If you file late, Maryland will charge you 1/10 of a percent of your property value. There is an extra two percent interest for every 30 days that your return is filed late. Failure to file will result in your business being assessed at twice the originally estimated value, so your late fees will be doubled, or your LLC may be dissolved.
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: Incfile offers a reliable registered agent service and excellent customer support.
Get Help Starting a Business in Maryland
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 Maryland. 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 for your Maryland business, 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 Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation website.
Recommended: Check out our Hiring for your Small Business Guide for resources like sample job descriptions, payroll service reviews, and more.
FAQ: Hiring Employees in Maryland
What is the minimum wage in Maryland?
The minimum wage in Maryland is $11.00 per hour.
How often do I need to pay employees in Maryland?
Employers in Maryland are required to pay employees on a bi-weekly basis.
Accounting For Your Maryland 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)
- 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.
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 Maryland, you will need to register as a foreign LLC. This can be done online or by mail.
How to Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing
A Certificate of Good Standing, known in Maryland as a Certificate of Status, 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
In Maryland, you can order a Certificate of Status online with Maryland Business Express.
Order a Certificate of Status
Request a Certificate Online with Maryland Business Express
Instructions: Do a search for your business entity, click on your business, and make your order.
Dissolve Your Maryland LLC
If at any point in the future you no longer wish to conduct business with your Maryland 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 Maryland LLC, follow the steps in our Maryland LLC Dissolution Guide.