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A Delaware LLC is a business vehicle with a legal existence separate and distinct from its owners. Owners and managers are not personally liable for the company's debts and obligations.
A Delaware LLC has the ability to be treated as a pass-through entity for tax purposes. As such, it is considered a hybrid business formation that combines some of the best features of corporations and partnerships. However, it is important to clarify that while LLCs can be treated as legal partnerships, they are not corporations. Owners (or members, as they are called in an LLC structure) can be individuals or any type of entity, from anywhere in the world, and are unlimited in number.
What Does LLC Mean?
The abbreviation LLC stands for "limited liability company," which refers to the entity's ability to limit its owners' personal liability in relation to business matters. In other words, if the LLC is sued or is unable to pay its debts, the personal assets of its owner (e.g. house, car, etc.) generally are not at any legal risk.
Delaware LLC Benefits
A Delaware LLC is an extremely flexible business entity with low start-up costs and an affordable Franchise Tax.
The features of a Delaware limited liability company, when combined with non-U.S. source income, mean non-resident aliens of the United States can avoid U.S. taxation when using an LLC.
The Delaware LLC is a truly unique business entity in that the structure of the company and the rules that govern the members, or owners, of the company are contained in a contract called the operating agreement, which is drafted by the company's members.
The operating agreement can be customized to provide for whatever terms the members and/or founders want subject to law and public policy. The contractual flexibility offered by the state of Delaware is unmatched by any other LLC statute in any other state.
LLCs offer members asset protection against liability and creditors, since a limitation on personal liability means that LLC members cannot be held responsible for a sum higher than hiser initial investment in the LLC, even if a member participates in management (as opposed to protections in a limited partnership).
Therefore, if you are sued and a judgment is levied against you personally, the judgment creditor cannot take the assets owned directly by the LLC.
The single-member LLC also provides a good way for you to purchase assets without revealing your personal identity. For example, if you are the owner of a single-member LLC, you can contract to purchase a piece of real estate without revealing your personal identity to the seller.
Then, once you have purchased the property and titled it in the name of your Delaware LLC, no one will be able to search public records in order to connect you with the LLC.The reverse is also true. If someone sues your LLC and a judgment is levied against the LLC, the creditor cannot seek assets that are not owned by the LLC.
How Many LLCs Are There in Delaware?
Steps to Forming an LLC in Delaware
Step 1: Choose a Company Name for your LLC
The name of your Delaware LLC must be unique and available in the State of Delaware. This can be checked for free through our website.
Choose your company name carefully. This will be the foundation of your brand identity. You should consider how your company name will look, not only in print but also on a logo, on a sign, on business cards and on social media.
You may also want to check the availability of a website domain name using your company name. If it’s not available, most domain registrars will suggest similar alternatives.
Step 2: File Your Certificate of Formation
This is the process commonly referred to as “incorporating.” It is the formal creation of your LLC by the Delaware Secretary of State. Once the Certificate of Formation is filed and accepted, you officially own your company!
We offer several incorporation packages, starting at just $179, which includes all state fees AND your first year of Delaware Registered Agent service, which is required by the State of Delaware. See our options for domestic (U.S.) and International formations.
Step 3: Get a Federal Tax ID
If your company will realizing any U.S.-sourced income, you will be required to have a Federal Tax ID number, also know as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This number is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and we offer assistance in applying for your EIN as an add-on to the incorporation packages.
Step 4: Get Required Licenses and Permits
Generally, regardless of what type of business you own, you are going to need to obtain and maintain a business license (and possibly more than one). Special permits may also be required, depending on local and federal regulations and your particular industry.
It is wise to ensure you have the appropriate licenses and permits before you begin operating to prevent penalties for non-compliance. We do not offer license assistance, but you can contact LicenseLogix for help.
Step 5: Create an Operating Agreement
The LLC Operating Agreement is a required and foundational document for the company. It allows it’s owners, known as members, to establish ownership shares, responsibilities, and any other terms they wish to formalize. In Delaware, this document is maintained internally by the LLC (not filed with the state or on public record), but is still permissible in court and respected in most cases.
We offer a variety of templates to help get you started with your Operating Agreement.
Step 6: Open a business bank account
Opening a business bank account is vital to maintaining a “wall” between your personal assets and business assets. If you mix the two in the same account, you risk having your personal assets vulnerable to liabilities (such as lawsuits) of your business.
Delaware company owners can open a bank account wherever it is most convenient for them, which is generally their home state and/or where they are doing business. A Delaware LLC owner living in another state can open a bank account in that state. An LLC owner in another country can also use a bank local to them – and this is frequently much simpler than opening a U.S. account.
Step 7: Authority to Do Business in Other States
You will need to get a Certificate of Authority for your business to do business in another state (besides the one in which it is registered) before beginning your operations there. This is known as Foreign Qualification and the exact process varies from state to state.
Refer to our summary of requirements for each specific state for more information on what you'll need and what exactly constitutes "doing business."
Forming an LLC in Delaware is easy with Harvard Business Services, Inc. If you are ready to form a Delaware limited liability company with us today, simply navigate to our form your Delaware LLC page. You can form a Delaware LLC in just a few minutes, and pay online with PayPal or any major credit card.
If you're still unsure about setting up a Delaware LLC with us, these five reasons clarify why we are the leading Delaware business formation company and your best choice of a Delaware Registered Agent.
When you form your Delaware LLC through Harvard Business Services, Inc., our Corporate Kit, which is included in the Standard package, will provide you with an Operating Agreement to customize to your specific business needs.
*THE TEMPLATE DOCUMENTS ARE PROVIDED "AS IS", "AS AVAILABLE", AND WITH "ALL FAULTS", AND HARVARD BUSINESS SERVICES, INC. DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTIES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
After forming your Delaware LLC, the next step is usually to obtain your Federal Tax ID Number. Then, you file for a Certificate of Authority in order to do business in your home state and open a business bank account. Read more about the steps to take in our guide to “After Forming Your Company."
The HBS Blog offers insight on Delaware corporations and LLCs as well as information about entrepreneurship, startups and general business topics.
Harvard can provide assistance throughout the life of your company. These custom services are the most popular with our clients: