The actual steps you take to form a Wisconsin limited liability company are pretty simple, especially with our instructions. If you just need some help getting the forms filled out and filed, continue reading below. These instructions are up-to-date as of August 5, 2020. If you could use some additional information, such as an article on the pros and cons of using an LLC as your entity, operating agreement templates for single or multiple-member LLCs, as well as samples of forms and a guide to getting your EIN, you may find our free, downloadable “do it yourself” kit to be a valuable resource. We used to sell the kit but since the Covid-19 pandemic, we have simply given the kit away.
1. Check if the LLC name you want is available
As a first step, you may want to check if the LLC name you want to use is even available. Here’s an easy and free way to do this: You can search for a similarly named LLC using the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions online database at:
You may get verbal information on name availability from the DFI office, but the pool of available names changes hourly. The fact that the name is available today does not mean that it will be available the next day, because, in the interim, another filing may been made with DFI using the name. Reserving your name has the dual function of determining that the name is available, and forestalling any other party from adopting that name for the term of the name reservation. Contact the Secretary of State at PO Box 7848, Madison WI 53707-7846, or by phone at 608-266-5653, for the prescribed application form. Note: Reserving a name is not a necessary step in forming an LLC.
2. Download the Articles of Organization form from the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ web site, then print this form
The URL, or web page address, for this form is as shown below.
An electronic edition of this form (with a lower fee) is “Quickstart LLC,” available at:
Mailed applications require $170 filing fee. Applications filed online are charged $130.
3. Identify the name you want to use for your new LLC
Enter your business or investment name onto the lines provided. (I used the example name, “Acme Explosives LLC.”) Note that the name goes onto the first page the form in two places and onto the second page of the form in one place. The name must include the either phrase “Limited Liability Company” or the phrase “Limited Liability Co.” or one of the standard abbreviations, “LLC,” or “L.L.C.” For example, all of the following names should be acceptable:
- Acme Explosives Limited Liability Company
- Acme Explosives LLC
- Acme Explosives L.L.C.
4. Identify yourself as the initial registered agent and provide your address
The company must have a registered agent located at a registered office in Wisconsin. The address of the registered office is to describe the physical location where the registered agent maintains their business office. Provide the street number and name, city and ZIP code in Wisconsin. PO Box addresses may be included as part of the address, but are insufficient alone. The company may not name itself as its own registered agent.
5. Select management style
Indicate whether management of the company will be vested in a manager or managers, or in its members. Select only one choice.
6. Give name and complete address of each organizer
Print or typewrite the name and complete address of each organizer. At least one organizer is required to sign the document, although all organizers may sign. This document may declare a delayed effective date. To do so, enter a remark: “This document has a delayed effective date of (enter the future date).” The delayed effective date may not before, or more than 90 days after, the document is received by the Department of Financial Institutions for filing.
Note: The articles of organization may contain only that information required under items 1 through 6. The company may create a separate operating agreement that includes additional information.
7. Put your name, address, and phone number on the second page
This information will allow the Wisconsin DFI to contact you with any concerns or problems with your LLC form.
8. Submit the application
After you complete the Articles of Organization, mail one original and one exact copy and a check for $170 to:
State of WI-Dept. of Financial Institutions
Milwaukee WI, 53293-0348
If sent by Express or Priority U.S. mail, you should visit www.wdfi.org/contact_us/ for a current physical address.
Processing lead times vary, but in general, it takes several weeks to get your LLC certificate back from the DFI. Note that you can pay $25 to have your articles of organization filed in an expedited manner. Those filling out the online form can request expedited service at the end of the online application.