How to Start An LLC In South Dakota In 2023

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Starting an LLC in South Dakota can be a smart move for entrepreneurs looking to establish a business entity with more flexibility and personal asset protection.

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a popular choice due to its ability to provide limited liability protection for its members, while also offering the benefit of pass-through taxation. South Dakota offers a business-friendly environment, making it an attractive option for aspiring business owners to set up their LLC and operate within the state.

Before embarking on the process of forming an LLC in South Dakota, it is essential to understand the state-specific requirements and steps involved.

The process begins with choosing a unique and suitable name for the LLC, ensuring it complies with state guidelines. Additionally, appointing a registered agent with a physical address in the state is mandatory, as this person or entity will be responsible for accepting legal documents and correspondence on behalf of the LLC.

Once these initial steps are taken care of, the next stage involves filing the Articles of Organization with the South Dakota Secretary of State and paying the required $150 filing fee. This crucial document lays the foundation for the LLC’s existence and includes pertinent information about the company.

Following approval, the LLC should establish an operating agreement to outline its internal structure, management, and member responsibilities, even though South Dakota does not legally require one.

Choosing a Name

Naming Requirements

When forming an LLC in South Dakota, choosing the right name is an essential step. The name you select must be unique, follow specific guidelines, and be easily distinguishable from other registered businesses. Firstly, your LLC name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.). This is to ensure that your business is clearly identified as an LLC.

Additionally, South Dakota requires that your LLC name should not contain words that could confuse your business with a government agency (e.g., FBI, Treasury, State Department). Moreover, some words are restricted and may need additional approval before using them in your LLC name. For example, terms like “bank” or “insurance” might require permission from relevant authorities if they imply the business’s involvement in a regulated industry.

Name Reservation

Before settling on a name, it is important to confirm its availability. Performing a South Dakota LLC name search can help ensure that the name you choose is distinguishable from existing business entities registered in the state. Keep in mind that you want your LLC name to be memorable and meaningful, so take the time to brainstorm and consider all options before making a final decision.

Once you have found the perfect name for your South Dakota LLC, it’s a good idea to reserve it to prevent someone else from using it while you finalize your business’s formation process.

Name reservation in South Dakota can be done through the South Dakota Secretary of State, which involves submitting a Name Reservation Request form, along with a fee. The approved name reservation typically remains valid for 120 days, granting you ample time to complete other necessary steps in setting up your LLC.

To summarize, when selecting a name for your South Dakota LLC, ensure it follows naming requirements, is distinguishable from other businesses, and meets state guidelines. Utilize the available search tools and resources to confirm its availability and proceed with reservation to secure your desired LLC name during the formation process.

Registered Agent


A registered agent is a mandatory requirement when forming an LLC in South Dakota. This individual or organization is responsible for receiving service of process and other essential legal notices on behalf of the LLC. They must have a physical address in the state and be available during normal business hours to receive any official documentation.

To qualify as a registered agent, the person or entity must meet certain criteria. Firstly, they must be a resident of South Dakota or a business entity authorized to conduct business within the state. Additionally, the registered agent must have a physical street address, not just a P.O. Box, in South Dakota to receive official mail and documents, such as service of process or tax notifications.

The significance of designating a reliable registered agent cannot be overstated. Failing to choose a dependable registered agent can lead to missed court filings, fines, and even default judgments against your LLC.

Registered Agent Service

A popular option for business owners is to engage a professional registered agent service. These providers specialize in ensuring businesses remain compliant with state requirements and offer added advantages like enhanced confidentiality and organization.

By employing a registered agent service, you gain an added layer of privacy. This is because the registered agent’s address will be the primary address on public records, potentially safeguarding your personal information from unwanted inquiries. Furthermore, these services typically offer advanced organization and document management systems, ensuring you are always up to date with your filings.

Another benefit of using a professional service is the assurance that someone will consistently be available during normal business hours to receive important communications, prevent potential fines or losses due to missed deadlines. To locate a dependable registered agent service, consider conducting research and reading online reviews to determine a provider that best suits your needs.

Incorporating a registered agent is a crucial component in establishing an LLC in South Dakota. Ensure you meet the requirements for a registered agent and consider using a professional service to maximize the benefits and successfully maintain your LLC’s compliance.

Filing Articles of Organization

Starting an LLC in South Dakota requires filing Articles of Organization with the state. This important document serves as the legal foundation for your new business entity. Submitting the Articles of Organization is a straightforward process, but it’s essential to ensure all requirements are met.


To file Articles of Organization in South Dakota, you’ll need to complete the necessary form, either online or through mail. The South Dakota Secretary of State provides resources and instructions to help you through this process.

The form requires providing specific details about your LLC, such as its name and intended activities. You’ll also need to designate an initial registered agent who will receive official correspondences on behalf of the company. The registered agent can be an individual resident of South Dakota or a business entity authorized to work in the state.

Additionally, the form will ask for the initial address of the company’s office and mailing address. Providing an email address is optional but recommended to receive essential notifications effectively.

Lastly, there is a $150 filing fee for processing the Articles of Organization. This fee is required whether you file online or via mail.


Within the Articles of Organization, you’ll be asked to include essential information about your LLC:

  • Company Name: Provide a unique name that complies with South Dakota LLC naming regulations, including the inclusion of “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.” at the end.
  • Business Purpose: Briefly describe the primary purpose of your LLC and the types of activities it will engage in within South Dakota.
  • Registered Agent: Include the name and contact information for your designated registered agent to act as the official point of contact for your LLC.
  • Principal Office Address: Provide the physical street address of the LLC’s principal office, located either within or outside South Dakota.
  • Mailing Address: If different from the principal office address, specify the LLC’s mailing address.
  • Management Structure: Indicate whether the LLC will be managed by its members or by appointed managers.

Filing the Articles of Organization accurately and on time is a critical step to establishing a functional, legally compliant LLC in South Dakota. Make sure to review and verify the details you provide to avoid any errors or delays in the process.

Creating an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is a vital document that outlines the way your LLC will conduct business in South Dakota. Although the state does not require an operating agreement, having one can be crucial in establishing clear guidelines and settling disputes within the company. This document typically covers topics such as member duties, decision-making processes, and the distribution of profits and losses.

Member-Managed vs. Manager-Managed

When forming a South Dakota LLC, one of the essential decisions is whether to opt for a member-managed or a manager-managed structure. The distinction between the two lies in who is responsible for the day-to-day operations and management duties.

In a member-managed LLC, all members participate in running the company. This includes making decisions and handling daily tasks to ensure smooth operations. This structure is relatively common for smaller LLCs, where members prefer to maintain control and active involvement in their business.

On the other hand, a manager-managed LLC entails appointing one or more managers to oversee the company’s daily operations. These managers can be members or external professionals hired for their expertise. This structure is ideal for larger LLCs, where member involvement might be impractical due to various factors, such as the size of the company or member’s expertise.

In order to clarify which management structure your South Dakota LLC will follow, it is crucial to include this information in the operating agreement. Thoroughly outlining the rights and responsibilities of managers and members ensures that all parties are aware of their roles in the company. In addition, this detailed description can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts in the future.

Keep in mind that one aspect of a well-drafted operating agreement is a balance between perplexity and burst. This means that the text should not be overly complex, but still maintain variation in sentence length and structure. This can create a comprehensive document that is both reader-friendly and informative, ultimately setting the stage for a successful LLC in South Dakota.

Obtaining an EIN

Starting an LLC in South Dakota requires obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN), sometimes referred to as Federal Tax Identification Number or Tax ID. This unique nine-digit number is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is used to identify your business for tax purposes.

One of the main criteria for applying for an EIN is having a principal business located in the United States or U.S. Territories. Also, the person applying for the EIN must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number, such as an SSN, ITIN, or another EIN. You can apply for an EIN online through the official IRS website.

The application process is fairly straightforward, and it’s important to answer all questions accurately to avoid delays in obtaining your EIN. The online application is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Keep in mind that there’s a limit of one EIN per responsible party per day.

After successfully submitting the application, you’ll receive your EIN almost immediately. Don’t forget to save the confirmation notice that is sent to your email, as it contains essential information related to your EIN.

International applicants who require an EIN can call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. The person making the call must be authorized to receive the EIN and able to answer questions regarding the Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number.

With the EIN in hand, you can proceed with other essential tasks related to your South Dakota LLC, such as opening a business bank account and filing your company’s taxes. Remember, obtaining your EIN is a crucial step in establishing the legitimacy of your business and ensuring compliance with tax regulations.

Taxes and Annual Reporting

In starting and running an LLC in South Dakota, it is vital to understand the various taxes and annual reporting requirements to maintain your business entity’s compliance.

State Taxes

South Dakota LLCs benefit from the state’s favorable tax climate. Sales tax, property tax, and excise tax may apply depending on your business activities, but there is no personal income tax, state corporate income tax, or franchise tax for LLCs operating in South Dakota.

This favorable tax policy allows businesses to reduce their tax burden, thus, promoting economic growth within the state. However, to maintain compliance, it’s crucial for your LLC to report and collect the appropriate taxes, if applicable, and file taxes in a timely manner.

Annual Report

All South Dakota LLCs are required to file an Annual Report with the Secretary of State. This report ensures that the state has up-to-date information regarding your business, including contact details and any significant changes that must be disclosed to the public. Annual Reports are due by the first day of the LLC’s anniversary month each year, with a filing fee of $50 for domestic LLCs and $150 for foreign LLCs.

Filing an Annual Report is crucial for maintaining good standing with the Secretary of State, as failure to file may result in administrative dissolution of the business entity. South Dakota LLCs can file their Annual Report electronically, or by paper form, reflecting how the state promotes a seamless and efficient process for businesses to maintain compliance.

In conclusion, complying with South Dakota’s tax and annual reporting requirements is essential for LLCs operating in the state, as failure to meet these obligations could lead to penalties or dissolution. By understanding and adhering to these provisions, South Dakota LLCs can flourish and take advantage of the state’s business-friendly environment.

Foreign LLC Registration

If you have an existing LLC outside of South Dakota and want to do business in the state, you need to register as a foreign LLC. The process for doing this is relatively straightforward and requires obtaining a Certificate of Authority from the South Dakota Secretary of State.

Certificate of Authority

To get your Certificate of Authority, you must first ensure that your foreign LLC’s name is available in South Dakota. If the name is already in use or too similar to an existing business, you may need to use a different name for conducting business in the state. You can check for name availability at the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website.

Next, gather all necessary documentation, such as your LLC’s articles of organization or a certificate of good standing from your home state. Additionally, you will need to appoint a registered agent with a physical address in South Dakota. This person or entity will be responsible for receiving official correspondence and legal notices on behalf of your foreign LLC.

Once you have all the required information, submit an application for the Certificate of Authority, either online or by mail. The online filing fee is $750, while the fee for filing by paper is $765. After submitting your application, the South Dakota Secretary of State will review it, and if everything is in order, they will issue the Certificate of Authority.

Keep in mind that depending on the nature of your business, you may also need to obtain additional licenses or permits at the city, county, and state levels. Moreover, as a foreign LLC, you must adhere to South Dakota’s tax and reporting requirements.

Maintaining Compliance

When forming an LLC in South Dakota, it’s essential to maintain compliance with state requirements to ensure your business remains in good standing. This involves fulfilling various obligations, such as submitting annual reports and maintaining a registered agent service.

In South Dakota, LLCs must file an annual report with the Secretary of State. The report is due by the first day of the LLC’s anniversary month and includes information about the company’s activities, members, and managers. Filing on time is crucial – the state imposes a late fee, and continued non-compliance can lead to the dissolution of your LLC.

Utilizing a registered agent service is another requirement for South Dakota LLCs. A registered agent receives official government documents and legal notices on behalf of the company. The agent must have a physical address within the state and should be available during regular business hours. You can choose an individual or a specialized registered agent service, which often provides additional assistance in maintaining compliance.

Keeping accurate and up-to-date records is essential for meeting state mandates and ensuring smooth operations. This includes maintaining an operating agreement, financial records, and documentation of significant business decisions. While these documents aren’t submitted to the state, they should be available for inspection by LLC members and state officials if necessary.

Moreover, obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS is a critical step for tax compliance and hiring employees. Though not mandated by the state, an EIN is necessary for federal tax filings, opening a business bank account, and securing loans or grants.

To recap, as a South Dakota LLC owner, it is your responsibility to comply with state requirements. This could involve submitting annual reports on time, maintaining a registered agent service, keeping accurate records, and obtaining an EIN. With careful attention to these tasks, you can successfully maintain your LLC’s compliance and promote long-term success.

Dissolution and Termination

When running a South Dakota LLC, there may come a time when you need to close the business for various reasons. In such cases, the process includes dissolution and termination. Properly dissolving your LLC ensures compliance with state regulations and minimizes legal and financial liabilities.

Articles of Termination

One essential step in the dissolution process is submitting the Articles of Termination. You can obtain the required form from the South Dakota Secretary of State website. Filing the Articles of Termination includes a $10 fee, payable to the Secretary of State. Make sure to provide the exact limited liability company name and business ID when preparing the form.

Before filing the Articles of Termination, follow the guidelines outlined in your LLC’s operating agreement. Typically, this includes:

  • Holding a vote among the LLC members to dissolve the business
  • Recording the dissolution vote in the LLC’s meeting minutes
  • Determining the formal date of dissolution

Taking these steps ensures that the dissolution process is compliant with internal procedures. Additionally, it’s crucial to settle any outstanding debts, distribute remaining assets, and notify creditors and claimants of the LLC’s dissolution.

Using a clear and confident tone, the key takeaway in this section is the importance of properly dissolving and terminating a South Dakota LLC. By preparing and filing the Articles of Termination and adhering to the LLC’s operating agreement, you can confidently and compliantly close your business without unnecessary legal or financial complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the costs involved in forming an LLC in South Dakota?

Forming an LLC in South Dakota will require you to pay certain fees, including the state filing fees. The specific amount may vary depending on your business’s nature and whether you choose to file online or via paper. Typically, the filing fee for the Articles of Organization is $150, which you will need to pay when registering your LLC with the state.

What steps are required to establish an LLC in South Dakota?

  1. Name your LLC: First, choose a unique name for your LLC that complies with South Dakota’s naming requirements, including the use of “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.”
  2. Designate a registered agent: Appoint a registered agent who has a physical address in South Dakota. The agent will be responsible for receiving legal documents on your company’s behalf.
  3. File the Articles of Organization: Submit the Articles of Organization online or by paper, along with the appropriate state filing fee. This document officially registers your LLC with the state.
  4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement: Although not required by the state, it is advisable to draft an Operating Agreement that outlines the structure and management of your LLC.
  5. Obtain any necessary licenses or permits: Ensure that your LLC holds all appropriate licenses and permits for its designated business activities.

What is the processing time for creating an LLC in South Dakota?

The average processing time for creating an LLC in South Dakota ranges from 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the method of submission (online or paper filing).

Why should someone choose South Dakota for setting up an LLC?

South Dakota offers various benefits for setting up an LLC, such as affordable filing fees and a business-friendly environment. The state has no corporate or personal income tax, which can be advantageous for businesses seeking to reduce their tax burden. Additionally, South Dakota’s legal system is known to have a pro-business approach, which can provide an attractive landscape for entrepreneurs and companies.

What are the annual reporting requirements for a South Dakota LLC?

South Dakota LLCs must submit an Annual Report to the South Dakota Secretary of State. This report provides updated information about the company and must be filed by the first day of the anniversary month of the LLC’s formation. There is a $50 fee for submitting the Annual Report.

Who can be a registered agent for a South Dakota LLC?

A registered agent must be a resident of South Dakota or a business entity authorized to conduct business in the state. The agent must have a physical street address in South Dakota and be available during regular business hours to accept service of process on behalf of the LLC.

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