How to Start an LLC in Maine? (10 Steps Needed)

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: March 5, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Lou Viveros, Growth & Transition Advisor
We meticulously research and verify the information presented in our articles. By consulting reliable sources and ensuring factual accuracy, we are committed to providing readers with well-informed, trustworthy content.

Starting a limited liability company in Maine offers several advantages, making it one of the easiest states for business formation. With streamlined processes and unique benefits, Maine provides a favorable environment for entrepreneurs.

Drawing from personal experiences, extensive research, and a thorough understanding of the business dynamics in Maine, this guide is crafted to be a definitive resource for aspiring LLC owners.

It offers an all-encompassing guide, covering crucial steps, legal nuances, and helpful resources, ensuring a smooth path to setting up your LLC in Maine.

Furthermore, you can enlist the services of a Maine professional LLC service to efficiently start an LLC for you.

Quick Summary

  • To form an LLC in Maine, one needs to choose a business name, designate a registered agent, file Articles of Organization, create an operating agreement, and comply with tax requirements.
  • Entrepreneurs should also obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and be aware of annual reporting and local regulations.
  • In 2023, Maine had over 65,000 LLCs, with approximately 9,000 new LLCs formed in the first three quarters of the year, demonstrating the state's favorable business environment.
  • The growing number of LLCs in Maine, in my opinion, reflects the state's supportive ecosystem for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

How to Form an LLC in Maine

Man writing and reading documents

To form an LLC in Maine, there are a few steps that future LLC owners need to take.

1. Choose the Type of Your Maine LLC (Mandatory)

Drawing from my experience as a business consultant, I've observed that the choice of LLC structure in Maine can significantly impact a business's trajectory.

  • Single-Member LLC: Ideal for solo entrepreneurs. It offers simplicity in management and tax filing as income is reported on the owner's personal tax return. However, it may have limited growth potential and could be seen as less credible by some financial institutions.
  • Multi-Member LLC: Suitable for businesses with multiple owners. It provides a flexible management structure and shared responsibility, but requires more complex decision-making processes and a well-drafted operating agreement to prevent disputes.
  • Manager-Managed LLC: Best for owners who prefer not to be involved in daily business operations. It allows for professional management, which can be beneficial for growth, but can lead to less control for the owners over business decisions.
  • Member-Managed LLC: This structure involves all members in the management and decision-making process. It offers more control to the owners but can be challenging if there are disagreements or if members lack management experience.

The choice depends on how much control you want, your management capability, and your growth strategy. I often remind clients that while flexibility is a key advantage of LLCs, the structure should align with both immediate and long-term business objectives.

2. Choose a Name for Your LLC (Mandatory)

The state of Maine provides a web-based business name search tool for business owners to use when choosing an LLC name.

Business names must be distinguishable from any existing business entity that has already been registered or is currently pending registration in Maine.

Before filing your Certificate of Formation with the Maine Secretary of State, you should check for any restrictions on registering certain words as part of your company's legal name [1].

You should also consider restricted and prohibited terms when filing the business name with the Maine Secretary of State. Words like "bank," "national bank," "trust business," or "credit union" are not acceptable business names for an LLC.

Name reservations are also an option. In this case, the business owner can reserve his or her name for 120 days from filing your Certificate of Formation with the Maine Secretary of State at a $20 filing fee.

See more information about the cost of creating an LLC in Maine.

3. Select a Registered Agent (Mandatory)

A woman showing a contract to an agent

Nominating a Maine registered agent is something that every LLC registered in Maine needs to do.

It becomes more vital when you have no idea how to write operating agreements or get an employer identification number.

A registered agent in Maine will serve as an official point of contact between your LLC and the state government.

They receive important legal and official documents on behalf of your company, such as tax notices, lawsuits, and other important correspondence.

Here are the key points to consider when appointing a Maine registered agent for your LLC:

  • Understand the role of a registered agent
  • Consider the agent’s eligibility and availability. Ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria set by the state of Maine. The registered agent must also be available during normal business hours to receive legal documents and other correspondence.
  • Ensure the agent has a physical address. This address must be a physical street address in Maine, as post office boxes are not typically accepted.
  • Once you have appointed a registered agent, it is crucial to maintain their services throughout the existence of your LLC. 

4. File Certificate of Formation (Mandatory)

Among all other legal documents like the operating agreement, the Certificate of Formation is the most important for a Maine LLC.

The certificate is essential for making a limited liability company official in Maine and any other state they plan to do business with.

It outlines key information such as:

  • Name (the company's legal title)
  • A registered agent (who will receive mail on behalf of the company)
  • Duration (how long the company will be in existence)
  • Purpose of business (what they plan to do with their earnings/assets)
  • Assets and liabilities at the time of formation.

You want to take your time and ensure everything has been completed correctly by following directions carefully and signing forms where necessary.

Here's a detailed guide on how to complete this step:

  • Prepare the necessary information
  • Visit the Maine Secretary of State's website or their physical office to download the official Certificate of Formation form
  • Fill out the form accurately and completely. Double-check all the information you provide to avoid errors or omissions.
  • Choose a filing method. Maine offers multiple methods to file the Certificate of Formation online, by mail, or in person.
  • Along with your Certificate of Formation, you must pay a filing fee. The filing fee may vary, so check the current amount on the Maine Secretary of State website.
  • Once you have completed the form and paid the filing fee, submit your Certificate of Formation through your chosen filing method
  • Await confirmation

This document proves that your LLC exists and provides information regarding its formation.

Here is more information on the period necessary to get your Maine LLC approved.

Steps to Take After Forming an LLC in Maine

Creating an LLC operating agreement is important once you have chosen a name and filed the necessary paperwork to establish your limited liability company in Maine.

While Maine does not legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement, it is highly recommended to have one in place.

An LLC operating agreement is a legal contract that governs the relationship between members of an LLC.

"Maine does not mandate an LLC to possess an operating agreement, but acknowledges it as a legally binding document for governance if it exists"

- Delina Yasmeh, J.D./Tax LL.M, Distinguished Expert in Mergers & Acquisitions

Here are the key aspects to consider when creating an LLC operating agreement in Maine:

  • Purpose of the Agreement: Begin the operating agreement by clearly stating its purpose. 
  • Ownership and Membership: Outline the ownership structure of the LLC by specifying the names, addresses, and contributions of each member.
  • Management and Decision-Making: Specify how the LLC will be managed and the decision-making processes. You can choose between member-managed or manager-managed LLCs.
  • Voting Procedures: Define the rules for voting on important matters, such as admitting new members, amending the operating agreement, or selling the company. 
  • Profit and Loss Allocation: Clearly outline how the LLC's profits and losses will be allocated among the members. This may be based on ownership percentages or through a different agreed-upon distribution method.
  • Distributions and Member Withdrawal: Describe how the LLC will distribute profits to the members and the procedure for members who wish to withdraw from the company. Include details on how assets will be divided if a member decides to leave.
  • Dissolution and Buyout Provisions: Outline the conditions under which the LLC may be dissolved and the voluntary or involuntary dissolution procedures. 
  • Dispute Resolution: Include a clause outlining the procedure for resolving member disputes. This can specify whether arbitration or mediation will be used before resorting to litigation.
  • Amendments and Governing Law: Specify the procedure for amending the operating agreement and identify the agreement's governing law, which is typically the state of Maine.

Once the agreement is drafted and reviewed, all members should sign it to indicate their acceptance and commitment to its terms.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) or federal employer identification number is a nine-digit number used to identify companies and corporations.

It works like your social security number but for businesses instead of individuals. An EIN serves as the entity's taxpayer identification number (TIN).

To acquire an EIN, you need to apply with the Internal Revenue Service either online on the IRS website or by mail. The service is free.

If starting a new LLC in Maine, you will need an EIN and plan to hire employees or open a business bank account. Banks may require one before doing business with your company and setting up your LLC bank account.

If the only place you'll be using this number is for filing taxes, you can use your Social Security Number instead of obtaining an EIN.

Opening a separate bank account for your Maine LLC is not mandatory, but it is highly advisable for several reasons.

As a business consultant, I've consistently seen the advantages of maintaining distinct personal and business accounts. This separation simplifies accounting, aids in accurate tax filing, and provides clear financial records, which is crucial for audits or loan application.

Having a dedicated business account lends credibility to your LLC. It demonstrates to clients, suppliers, and financial institutions that you are running a structured and professional operation.

A separate business account helps to maintain the LLC's limited liability status. Commingling funds can lead to 'piercing the corporate veil', potentially exposing personal assets to business liabilities.

Steps to Open a Business Bank Account in Maine:

  • Choose a Bank: Research and select a bank that offers services and benefits tailored to your LLC’s needs. Consider factors like fees, accessibility, online banking features, and customer service.
  • Gather Required Documents: Typically, you will need your LLC's Articles of Organization, EIN (Employer Identification Number), and Operating Agreement. Some banks may also require a resolution authorizing the opening of the account, especially for multi-member LLCs.
  • Complete the Application Process: Visit the bank with your documents to open the account. Some banks may allow you to start the process online, but a physical visit is often required to finalize the account opening.
  • Set Up Online Banking and Other Services: Once the account is active, set up online banking, order checks, and explore other services like credit lines or merchant services that your bank offers.

In my consulting experience, taking this step early in your LLC’s life can greatly streamline financial management and contribute to the overall health and sustainability of your business.

8. File Your Maine LLC Annual Report (Mandatory)

Filing an annual report for your LLC in Maine is a critical compliance requirement. Based on my experience as a business consultant, I strongly recommend staying informed and punctual with this obligation to ensure your LLC remains in good standing.

Here’s what you need to know about filing your Maine LLC Annual Report:

  • Annual Requirement: In Maine, unlike some states where the frequency may vary, LLCs are required to file an annual report each year. This consistency helps maintain the legal status of your LLC and ensures updated records with the state.
  • Filing Deadline: The annual report for Maine LLCs is due by June 1st every year. The report covers the previous calendar year. It's crucial to mark this date in your calendar to avoid late filing fees or potential administrative dissolution of your LLC.
  • Information to Include: The report typically requires basic information about your LLC, such as the business name, registered agent information, principal office address, and the names and addresses of the members or managers.
  • Filing Process: The Maine Secretary of State's office facilitates online filing of the annual report. This is the most efficient method, but you can also file by mail if needed. To file online, visit the Maine Secretary of State’s website, navigate to the Annual Report section, and follow the instructions.
  • Filing Fee: There is a nominal fee for filing the annual report. As of my last update, the fee was $85, but it's wise to check the current fee on the Secretary of State’s website to ensure accurate payment.
  • Late Filing Consequences: Late filing can result in penalties, including late fees. More significantly, continuous non-compliance could lead to the administrative dissolution of your LLC, jeopardizing its legal status.

9. Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Signing a document with law gavel

Once you’ve completed the initial steps of forming your LLC in Maine, ensure that your business operates in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Therefore, you’ll need to obtain business licenses from the various levels of government.

The paperwork required for an LLC varies by region, type of company (profit or nonprofit), number of employees, and other factors.

A general business license is still required even if you don't provide professional services.

The licensing process is the same for all types of LLCs, but you may have to file different forms depending on your offered professional services and the number of employees.

For example, a single-member LLC with no employees will use one set of documents, while a company with ten or more workers must complete other paperwork.

In addition, if you plan to hire independent contractors as part of your business operations in Maine, this should be reflected on any applications submitted.

You can obtain copies from the state's Business Services Online portal. If you require help understanding what needs to be done, seek support from an experienced professional specializing in setting up new companies in Maine.

10. Choosing Your Tax Structure

When selecting a tax structure for your Maine LLC, you typically have two main options: being taxed as a disregarded entity (like a sole proprietorship or partnership) or electing to be taxed as a corporation (S-Corp or C-Corp).

  • Disregarded Entity: The default for single-member LLCs, profits and losses are reported on your personal tax return. It's simple but may lead to higher self-employment taxes.
  • S-Corporation: Ideal for LLCs with significant net income. It can reduce self-employment taxes but requires payroll setup for owners. There are also strict IRS requirements for S-Corp status.
  • C-Corporation: Offers potential tax benefits for reinvesting profits in the business and can be good for raising capital. However, it comes with double taxation (corporate and personal tax on dividends) and increased complexity.

Based on my experience, many small to mid-sized LLCs benefit from S-Corp status due to self-employment tax savings. However, this depends on your business's specific financial situation.

You can change your tax structure by filing a form with the IRS. The timeline for this change usually aligns with the tax year. For S-Corp election, Form 2553 must be filed by March 15th of the tax year the election is to take effect.

Always consult a tax professional for tailored advice and to ensure compliance with deadlines.

Related Articles:

Benefits and Drawbacks of an LLC in Maine


  • Limited Liability Protection: As with LLCs in other states, Maine LLCs provide personal liability protection, meaning personal assets are generally protected from business debts and lawsuits.
  • Pass-Through Taxation: Typically, LLCs in Maine benefit from pass-through taxation, avoiding the double taxation faced by C-Corporations. This can be a significant advantage, especially for smaller businesses.
  • Flexible Management Structure: Maine allows LLCs to have a flexible management structure, which can be tailored to the specific needs of the business.
  • State-Specific Incentives: Maine provides business incentives like the Pine Tree Development Zone's tax breaks for specific sectors and fosters small business growth through easy access to seed capital from a broad network of investors and banks. This is underscored by Maine's leading 88.13% one-year startup survival rate as shown by BoostSuite, evidencing its robust support system for new businesses [2].


  • Annual Report Requirement: Unlike some states, Maine requires LLCs to file an annual report, which comes with a filing fee and administrative work.
  • Limited Growth Potential: For businesses looking to go public or raise significant capital, the LLC structure, with its limitations on types of stock and ownership transfer, might not be ideal.
  • Self-Employment Taxes: Members of an LLC are subject to self-employment taxes on their share of the profits, which can be higher than the taxes on corporate profits.
  • State Taxes: While Maine's tax rates are not the highest, they are not particularly low either. Businesses need to be aware of their tax obligations, including state income tax and sales tax requirements.

As a consultant, I often find that the benefits of LLCs, particularly the liability protection and tax advantages, outweigh the drawbacks for many small to medium-sized businesses.

However, the decision should be based on specific business needs, growth projections, and the individual financial situation of the members. For those businesses that may benefit from the incentives offered in Maine, an LLC can be an especially attractive option.

Always consult with a legal or financial advisor to understand how these factors apply to your unique situation.

DIY vs. Professional LLC Formation

DIY LLC Formation


  • Cost-Effective: DIY is generally less expensive since you're not paying for professional services.
  • Personal Learning Experience: Handling the process yourself can provide a deep understanding of your business's legal structure.
  • Control and Customization: You have complete control over every step, allowing for customization of documents to your specific needs.


  • Time-Consuming: The process can be time-intensive, requiring thorough research and paperwork.
  • Risk of Errors: Without legal expertise, there's a higher risk of making mistakes in filing or compliance, which can lead to issues later.
  • Complexity: Some aspects of LLC formation, like drafting an Operating Agreement, can be complex and daunting without legal knowledge.

Professional LLC Formation Services


  • Expertise and Accuracy: Professionals are knowledgeable about state-specific regulations, reducing the risk of errors.
  • Time-Saving: Outsourcing this task frees up your time to focus on other aspects of your business.
  • Compliance Assistance: Many services offer ongoing compliance support, helping you stay on top of annual reports and other requirements.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing experts are handling the process can provide reassurance, especially in legal and compliance matters.


  • Cost: Professional services can be more expensive than DIY, with costs varying depending on the provider and package.
  • Less Personal Involvement: You may have less hands-on involvement in the formation process, which can impact your understanding of your LLC’s legal structure.
  • Generic Solutions: Some services may offer less customization, providing more generic solutions that might not fit unique business needs.

There's no one-size-fits-all, it’s about balancing cost, time, expertise, and personal comfort level. Some business owners start with DIY and turn to professionals as their business grows and becomes more complex.


How Do I Get an LLC Certificate of Good Standing in Maine?

You can get an LLC Certificate of Good Standing in Maine by submitting a written request to the Secretary of State along with the applicable filing fee. The certificate confirms your LLC's compliance with state requirements and serves as proof of its active and authorized status.

What Is a Professional LLC?

A professional LLC represents professional services. Professional LLCs in Maine hold professional licenses and are usually formed by doctors, lawyers, architects, or other professional service providers who wish to separate their professional business from other non-professional businesses they might own.



About The Author

Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Jon Morgan, MBA, LLM, has over ten years of experience growing startups and currently serves as CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter. Educated at UC Davis and Harvard, he offers deeply informed guidance. Beyond work, he enjoys spending time with family, his poodle Sophie, and learning Spanish.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Growth & Transition Advisor
LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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