How to File Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Arizona

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Arizona is easy — and the first task is filing your Articles of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the 10 steps required to file the Articles of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in Arizona.

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Getting Started

To start a domestic nonprofit corporation in Arizona, you must file the Articles of Incorporation for a Nonprofit Corporation. This guide covers each step you must take to fill out this document successfully and get on the right track to form an Arizona nonprofit.

Along with your Articles of Incorporation, you must include a completed Certificate of Disclosure, cover sheet, and Statutory Agent Acceptance form — also covered below.

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

The first step to filling out the Arizona Articles of Incorporation is to list your organization’s name in article one of the document. If you haven’t gone through the process of establishing a name for your organization, here are the requirements for naming a nonprofit in Arizona:

  • Your nonprofit’s name must include “association,” “company,” “corporation,” “limited,” “incorporated,” or an abbreviation of any of these terms.
  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Arizona, including any reserved names.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include any words that may infer it’s related to a government agency.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include words like “university,” “bank,” “credit union,” or “trust” as a separate word to convey the organization is engaged in banking or a trust.

Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in Arizona, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Arizona.

Search the Availability of Your Name

After selecting potential names — ideally, at least four or five — it’s important to search for their availability in your state. You can do this by conducting the four recommended searches outlined below, or use our 501(c)(3) Lookup Table.

Arizona Business Entity Search
To operate in Arizona, a nonprofit corporation must have a unique name. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the Arizona eCorp Business Entity Search tool.

Domain Name Search
We strongly recommend that you also check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL). Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring that domain name. It’s a free search.

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Federal Trademark Search
You can easily check if someone already trademarked your chosen nonprofit name by using the federal Trademark Electronic Search System. This is important even if you don’t plan to form your nonprofit right away.

Once you confirm that no one else already trademarked your chosen name, you can apply for a trademark for your nonprofit.

Web and Social Media Search
A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors as well as clients that will use your services. That makes it important to search the web and popular social media platforms for your desired name before registering it to ensure it’s available on all the platforms where you plan to promote your organization.

Step 2: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Character of Affairs

Describe your organization’s initial character of affairs — its purpose — in article two of the Articles of Incorporation. This is one of the most important sections of this document because your federal tax exemption depends on the purpose of your organization aligning with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements.

Your organization’s purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics to be eligible for 501(c)(3) status:

  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Literary
  • Testing for public safety
  • Fostering national/international amateur sports competition
  • Preventing cruelty to animals/children

Note: Unlike many other states, Arizona doesn’t require nonprofit corporations to follow their initial character of affairs throughout the entirety of their existence.

Step 3: Confirm Any Members

Disclose whether or not your nonprofit will have members by checking the appropriate box.

Step 4: Provide Your Nonprofit’s Address

Article four gives you two options:

  • If your nonprofit’s street address is the same as your statutory agent’s address, simply check “yes” and go to article five.
  • If your nonprofit’s street address differs from your statutory agent’s address, check “no” and continue on to article 4.2. Fill in your organization’s physical or street address — the provided address can’t be a P.O. Box.

Step 5: Name Your Initial Board of Directors

The state of Arizona requires you to name every director of your corporation on your Articles of Incorporation along with a business address for each. When listing your nonprofit’s initial board of directors, follow these requirements:

  • Don’t include any prefixes, such as “Mr.” or “Ms.”
  • If applicable, use titles of lineage.
  • If applicable, use designations like “M.D.” or “Ph.D.”

If you have more than six initial directors and need more space, simply check the appropriate box under this section and then complete and attach a Director Attachment form.

For a complete guide to forming your nonprofit’s board of directors, read our How to Develop a Board of Directors for a Nonprofit in Arizona article.

Step 6: Choose a Statutory Agent

A statutory agent, also known as a registered agent in most states, is required to file the Articles of Incorporation for a nonprofit in Arizona. A registered agent serves as the official contact for your nonprofit by receiving official documents on its behalf, such as compliance notices and tax documents. Your registered agent also is responsible for accepting service of process documents in the event of a lawsuit.

In addition to listing the name and address of your statutory agent in article six, you must attach a completed Statutory Agent Acceptance form.

Recommended: Using an affordable registered agent service offers many benefits. For more information on choosing a registered agent service, read our full guide.

Step 7: File a Certificate of Disclosure

To form your nonprofit corporation in Arizona, you must file a completed Certificate of Disclosure along with your Articles of Incorporation.

Step 8: Provide Incorporator Signatures

You must include the signature and address of every incorporator for your nonprofit — with a minimum of one. An incorporator is whoever files the Articles of Incorporation. If you have more than two incorporators, attach their information using the Incorporator Attachment form.

Step 9: Provide Any Additional Attachments

To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you must include a provision attached to your Articles of Incorporation that specifies exactly how your nonprofit will use its funding and what will happen to its funding if/when the organization dissolves. You can find a sample of such a provision on the IRS website. Specifically, in the event of dissolution, all of the nonprofit’s profits should be used for tax-exempt purposes.

Step 10: File Formation Documents

There are four ways to file your Articles of Incorporation in Arizona: online, by mail, by fax, or in person. You must create an account with Arizona eCorp to file online.

File the Arizona Articles of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With Arizona eCorp

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail, by Fax, or in Person

Download Form

Fee: $40

Filing Address:
Arizona Corporation Commission, Examination Section
1300 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Fax: (602) 542-4100

Note: If filing a hard copy form, you must also file a Cover Sheet, a Statutory Agent Acceptance form, and a Certificate of Disclosure form.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file the Articles of Incorporation in Arizona?

You can file your Articles of Incorporation with the Arizona Corporation Commission by mail, by fax, or online. In addition to your Articles of Incorporation, you also must submit these three documents:

How long does it take to process the Articles of Incorporation in Arizona?

Standard processing for nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Arizona takes about two months. But, if you wish to expedite the process, you can pay an additional $35 fee to have your formation documents processed within two to three weeks.

How do I find nonprofits in Arizona?

Use our handy Arizona 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to find nonprofits in Arizona. You can use this tool to see if your preferred nonprofit name is in use or not.

Arizona Nonprofit Quick Links

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