How Much Does an LLC Cost in Iowa

Written by: Mary Gerardine

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The minimum Iowa LLC cost is $50, which covers the processing fee for filing your Certificate of Organization.

Having said that, the total cost of forming an Iowa LLC will depend on several factors, including your personal preferences and business needs.

In our How Much Does an LLC Cost in Iowa article, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the different costs associated with launching and maintaining an LLC.

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Iowa LLC Cost

In the table below, you can find a summary of the main requirements of forming an Iowa limited liability company (LLC) and their associated fees.

                                                         
RequirementFee
Certificate of Organization$50
Registered Agent$0-$150+
LLC Name$0-$15
Operating Agreement$0+

Iowa LLC Filing Fee ($50+)

To form your LLC in Iowa, you will be required to submit a Certificate of Organization with the Secretary of State.

It should be noted that there is no official form for the Certificate of Organization, and you will need to draft it yourself in accordance with Iowa state statutes.

You will need to ensure that your document includes the following information:

  • The name of your LLC
  • The street and mailing addresses of your LLC’s principal office
  • Your LLC’s registered agent’s information (i.e., business address, full name, etc.)

Keep in mind that you will need to pay a filing fee of $50 to the Secretary of State in order for your submission to be processed.

If you are registering as a foreign LLC, you will need to submit a Foreign Registration Statement and pay a $100 filing fee instead.

Having said that, if you choose to use an LLC formation service, the cost will be a little higher as it will include a small service fee in addition to Iowa’s state filing fee.

The fees for an LLC formation service can range significantly, but can start from as low as $29, increasing if you decide to purchase any additional offerings.

Note: For more details on the formation process, you can check out our Iowa LLC Formation guide.

Iowa Registered Agent ($0-$150+)

As part of filing your Certificate of Organization, you will be required to appoint a registered agent.

This is a person or business entity that you must assign to receive tax, legal, and governmental correspondence on behalf of your Iowa LLC. Your registered agent will need to be available during normal business hours in order to receive service of process.

While you can act as your own registered agent at no extra cost, it’s often recommended to hire a professional service so you avoid any potential penalties or legal issues caused by non-compliance with state regulations.

Hiring a third-party service can also be a great way of ensuring that your personal information remains private.

The cost of a registered agent service varies significantly from provider to provider, depending on factors such as the number of features offered, the level of customer support provided, and the reputation and reliability of the provider.

Having said that, prices generally range between $49 and $150 per annum.

Note: It should be noted that any business organization may change its registered agent at any time by completing this form.

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Naming Your Iowa LLC ($0-$15)

When forming your Iowa LLC, you’ll be required to pick a suitable name that’s available to use.

There are two potential costs to be aware of when naming your LLC.

Reserving Name

If you think that your preferred name is at risk of being selected by another business entity, you may reserve it by using the Fast Track Filing system provided by the Secretary of State.

To do this, you will need to:

  • Check the Name’s Availability: Before you can reserve a name, you first need to ensure it’s not already taken by another business entity. The Fast Track Filing system allows you to search for and verify this
  • Reserve the Name: If your desired name is available, you can proceed to reserve it directly through the Fast Track Filing system. This reservation requires a $10 processing fee and will hold the name exclusively for you for a period of 120 days

Keep in mind that the information you provide will be open to public inspection under Iowa Code chapter 22.11.

When choosing a name for your LLC, it’s important to select one that corresponds to an available domain. This is because a matching domain ensures consistency between your LLC’s name and its online presence, which helps to strengthen its brand recognition and credibility.

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Doing Business As (DBA) Name

If you plan to operate your business under a name that differs from your LLCs official one you’ll need to obtain a Doing Business As (DBA) name — which is also known as a Trade Name in Iowa.

To do this, you will need to submit your application with the Iowa Secretary of State, which can be done by either completing the Fictitious Name Resolution form in person or by using Fast Track Filing online.

The process requires a $5 fee; since Iowa does not require DBA renewals, no further action will be needed.

Note: While Iowa does not require trade names for businesses to be unique, you will receive a notification if another business has chosen the same name.

Iowa LLC Operating Agreement ($0+)

While not mandatory, it’s good practice for LLCs to have an operating agreement.

This document defines the roles and responsibilities of the members or managers in your LLC and will help prevent and solve any business disputes that may arise later on.

While you can opt to hire an online service or business attorney to draft this document for you (which typically costs at least a few hundred dollars), it’s actually quite straightforward to do it yourself at no extra cost.

It’s also important to note that this doesn’t actually need to be filed with the Iowa Secretary of State — it’s purely an internal document.

Additional Iowa LLC Formation Costs

On top of the more common fees outlined above, there are a number of additional formation costs that LLCs in Iowa may encounter depending on their circumstances.

We’ve summarized some of these additional costs below:

Expedited Iowa LLC Filing

The Iowa Secretary of State offers expedited services to accommodate business owners who need their LLC filings processed quickly.

Two options are available:

  • Two-Day Service: For a $50 fee, your filing will be processed within two business days
  • Five-Day Service: For an extra $15, this service guarantees processing within five business days

Preclearance Services

If you need to verify that your documents comply with all applicable state requirements before filing your formation documents, you can do this via the Secretary of State’s Preclearance Services:

  • Same-day service: For a $250 fee, your documents will be pre-reviewed on the same day
  • Two-day service: At twice the amount of the filing fee, your documents will be pre-reviewed within two business days
  • Three-day service: By paying an additional amount equal to your filing fee, your documents will be reviewed within three business days

Local Business Licenses

In order to comply with the local-level regulations of your city and county, your business may be required to obtain some local business licenses.

While very few municipalities impose a general licensing requirement for businesses operating within their limits, your LLC might need a municipal license if it’s involved in certain activities.

For example, an LLC operating as a mobile food vendor in the city of Des Moines would need to acquire a Mobile Food Vendor license from the city and pay an annual fee of $570.

Certificate of Existence

A Iowa Certificate of Existence is a document often required to open a business bank account, or by lenders in order to check that your LLC is properly registered and legally authorized to conduct business with the state.

To obtain a Certificate of Existence, you will need to visit the Secretary of State’s website and use their database to locate your business entity.

If your business is eligible, you will be provided with an option to print the certificate directly.

This service costs $5.

Certified Copies of Business Documents

You may need certified copies of your business documents if you’re dealing with financial institutions, regulatory bodies, or are involved in legal proceedings.

Copies of your business documents can be obtained directly from the Secretary of State at a cost of $1 per page. For the copy to be certified, an additional $5 fee is required.

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Cost to Maintain an LLC in Iowa

In addition to the cost of forming an LLC in Minnesota, there are also several ongoing costs you’ll be responsible for paying each year.

We’ve outlined these recurring costs associated with maintaining an Iowa LLC below.

Biennial Report Fee

In Iowa, all LLCs are required to file a Biennial Report with the Secretary of State; this is meant to ensure that state’s business records are up-to-date and accurate.

The filing year for your biennial report is determined by your business structure, with LLCs having to file in odd-numbered years.

This report can be submitted in one of two ways:

  • Through Fast Track Filing: If you choose to file online, you will be subject to a reduced $30 fee
  • By Paper Submission: If you opt for the traditional paper submission, the fee will be $45.

Note: For detailed requirements and to understand the contents needed for your biennial report, you can refer to the Iowa Code Section 489.209.

Registered Agent Maintenance

If you decide to take advantage of a professional registered agent in order to handle your legal documents, you’ll be required to pay an annual fee in return for their services. This fee commonly ranges between $45 and $300 depending on the provider and features you select.

While you’re not required to use a professional service, it’s highly recommended.

Taxes

In addition to the federal taxes your LLC is required to pay regardless of the state it’s based in, there are a variety of state-specific taxes in Iowa you need to be aware of, including:

  • Sales tax
  • Employment taxes
  • Business privilege taxes
  • Property taxes

Additionally, there are various local taxes your LLC may need to pay depending on the municipality or county it’s based in, such as:

  • Sales and use taxes
  • Property tax

Iowa vs Other States

Iowa’s approach to business filings and maintenance requirements offers a blend of efficiency and accessibility.

This is particularly evident in the state’s effort to keep filing fees reasonable — with an effective annual cost for LLCs at just $15.

In contrast, states like Delaware impose a $300 annual filing fee on businesses, a figure that is over 20 times higher than Iowa’s cost.

Having said that, it’s important to understand that the best state to form your LLC will generally be the one in which you plan to primarily operate your business from.

This is because this makes it far easier to stay legally compliant on a number of levels, including taxation, licensing, and filing requirements, as you’ll only need to deal with one state’s set of rules.

LLC Cost in Iowa FAQ

How much does an LLC cost in Iowa?

Starting an LLC in Iowa requires a minimum filing fee of $50 for the Certificate of Organization with the Secretary of State. Additionally, if LLC members opt for a professional service, they will also need to cover the applicable Iowa registered agent fee.

How to start your own business in Iowa?

Starting your own business in Iowa begins with selecting the right structure, such as an LLC, sole proprietorship, or corporation, depending on your business needs. For more information, you can have a look at our How to Start an LLC in Iowa guide.

What is a Certificate of Organization Iowa?

If you’re a business owner preparing to establish an LLC, you’ll need to submit your formation documents (i.e., the Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization.) with the State Business Services Division alongside a $50 processing fee. Unlike other states, Iowa does not provide a standard form, and so you will be required to create this document yourself (or file online).

How to start an LLC in Iowa?

To establish an Iowa business, prospective LLC owners will need to draft and file the Certificate of Organization — which includes the LLC’s registered agent details and core information — and submit it to the Iowa Department of State. For additional details, please refer to our How Much Does it Cost to Start an LLC article.

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