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Last updated August 26, 2021

Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization

In this lesson, we will walk you through filing your Certificate of Organization with the state. This is the document that officially forms your Iowa LLC.

Iowa LLC Secretary of State Business Services
(Iowa Secretary of State, Business Services Building)

The State of Iowa does not provide an official Certificate of Organization. Instead, they accept any Certificate of Organization as long as it meets the requirements of the Iowa LLC Act Chapter 489, Section 201.

We’ve provided a Certificate of Organization (PDF) form you can use that meets these requirements.

After completing your Certificate of Organization, you can submit it to the Iowa Secretary of State by mail or online.

Iowa LLC cost

The cost to form an LLC in Iowa is $50. This one-time fee is the same for both mail and online filings.

Note: The Certificate of Organization fee is commonly referred to as the “LLC filing fee”. They are the same thing.

Iowa LLC approval time

By mail: If you submit your Certificate of Organization by mail, it will take 3-4 weeks to be approved. This accounts for 7-14 business days for processing time, plus the transit time to and from the state.

Online: If you submit your Certificate of Organization online, it will be approved in 1-2 days.

Recommendation: We recommend the online filing because it has a faster approval time.

Note: Filing times may take longer due to the current global situation and government delays. For the most up-to-date LLC processing times, check how long does it take to get an LLC in Iowa.

Before proceeding with this lesson, make sure you’ve read Iowa LLC name search and Iowa Registered Agent.

Need to save time? Hire a professional to form your LLC in Iowa:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)

Certificate of Organization Iowa (Step-by-step)

Overview:

  • Regardless of whether you file by mail or online, you’ll need to complete the Certificate of Organization paper form.
  • You can complete the form by hand or on your computer.
  • Once the form is complete, you can either mail it to the state, or scan it and upload it online.

Download our free Iowa Certificate of Organization form:
Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization (PDF)
Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization (Word)

Effective date

The LLC Effective Date is the date your LLC officially goes into existence. Think of this as the day your LLC is “born”.

  • If you want your LLC to go into existence on the date it’s approved by the Secretary of State, leave this blank.
  • If you want your LLC to go into existence on a future date, enter that date here. This date can’t be more than 90 days ahead. And you can’t back-date your filing at all.

Most people leave this section blank unless they are forming their LLC at the end of the year.

Matt Horwitz, founder of LLC University®

Pro tip: If you’re forming your LLC later in the year (October, November, or December) and you don’t need your LLC open right away, we recommend using January 1st of next year as your effective date. This can save you money on taxes and your first Iowa LLC Biennial Report (by delaying its due date).

Expiration date (Perpetual)

If you want your Iowa LLC to automatically shut down (dissolve) on a future date, enter that date here.

Otherwise, leave this blank to give your LLC a Perpetual existence. This means your LLC won’t automatically shut down on a future date. Instead, it will remain open until you file paperwork to dissolve it.

Tip: Most people prefer their LLC to have a perpetual existence and they leave this section blank.

Article 1. LLC Name

Enter your Iowa LLC name exactly as you would like it. Include your preferred capitalization, punctuation (commas, periods, etc.), and the designator (the ending).

Remember, Iowa allows the following designators at the end of your LLC name:

  • LC
  • L.C.
  • LLC (most common)
  • L.L.C.
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Limited Liability Company

Tip: Your LLC name can use a comma or you can leave it out. For example, “Alice’s Wonderful Landscapes LLC” and “Alice’s Wonderful Landscapes, LLC” are both acceptable.

Important: Make sure your LLC name appears twice. Once in Article 1 and again at the top of the form.

Article 2. Registered Agent and Registered Office

In this section, enter your Registered Agent’s name and address.

Article 3. Principal Business Office

Enter your Iowa LLC’s Principal Office Address.

What is a Principal Office Address?
It’s where the primary business activities take place and/or where your LLC records are kept. This address must be a street address. It can’t be a PO Box.

Your Iowa LLC’s Principal Office Address can be:

  • located in Iowa
  • located in any state
  • located in any country
  • a home address
  • an office address
  • a virtual office address or mailbox rental
  • the address of your Iowa Registered Agent (if your Registered Agent allows it)

Note: If you hire Northwest Registered Agent, you can use their address for your LLC’s Principal Office Address.

Signature of LLC Organizer

Related article: LLC Organizer vs Member

The LLC Organizer is the person who signs and submits your filing to the state.

Most people filing their own LLC are also the Organizer. If this is the case:

  • Enter today’s date
  • Sign and print your name
  • Enter the title “Organizer” after your printed name

For example, the Name and Title line would read “Boris Badenov, Organizer”.

Submit your Certificate of Organization to the State

You can submit your Certificate of Organization to the state by mail or online.

We provide step-by-step instructions for both methods below.

Tip: If you need your LLC approved faster, we recommend the online filing. However, if you’re not tech-comfortable, you can file by mail.

Submit Certificate of Organization by Mail

Prepare Payment: Prepare a check or money order for $50, made payable to the “Secretary of State”.

Mail Documents: Mail your completed Certificate of Organization along with your $50 filing fee to:

Secretary of State
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319

Submit Certificate of Organization Online (using FastTrack)

Before you begin, scan your signed and completed Certificate of Organization onto your computer and save in PDF format.

For the most part, you will be entering the same information from your completed Certificate of Organization.

Create a “FastTrack” Account

  1. Visit the FastTrack Account Creation page.
  2. Enter your contact information and click “Sign up”.
    • Username/Email: Just enter your email address. This will be used as your username.
  3. Open your email inbox, and click the link from the state to confirm your account.
  4. You can now sign in to FastTrack.

(Tip: We use 1Password to save all of our passwords. You might like it, too.)

Login and get started:

  1. Go to Welcome to FastTrack Filing.
  2. Enter your username and password, then click “Login”.
    • Your username is your email address.
  3. Click “Business Filings” at the top of the screen.
  4. Click “File a document“.
  5. Click “Form an Iowa Limited Liability Company“.

Chapter:
From the drop down menu, select “Code 489 Domestic Limited Liability Company“.

Name of Entity:
Enter your LLC name exactly as you have it on your Certificate of Organization.

If you enter a name that is not available, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a new LLC name altogether. And then you will need to change the name on your printed Certificate of Organization.

Effective Date & Time:
If this section is blank in your Certificate of Organization, then you will need to choose today’s date. This means your LLC will go into existence on the date it’s approved by the Secretary of State.

If you entered a future date in your Certificate of Organization, then select the same date from the calendar.

The time doesn’t matter, but you need to select something. Just choose any time you’d like.

Remember, you can’t back date your filing at all (even if the calendar looks like you can).

Expiration:
If you didn’t enter an expiration date on your Certificate of Organization, check the box for “Perpetual” here. Otherwise, select your LLC expiration date using the calendar.

Certificate of Organization upload:
Upload your signed and completed Certificate of Organization. Make sure it’s in PDF format.

Does the LLC hold an interest in agricultural land in Iowa?
If your LLC will own land used for agricultural purposes, select “Yes“. If not, select “No“.

Registered Agent:
In this section, you’ll enter your Registered Agent information again.

  • If you, a friend, or family member will be your Registered Agent, enter the name, address, and email for that person.
  • If you hired a Commercial Registered Agent, type the name of the company. Then, you can select them from the dropdown list and it will autofill the contact information.

Payment & Review:
Click “Review and Pay“. Review your filing for accuracy and check for any typos. If all looks good, click “Submit to File“. If you need to make any changes, click the “Back to Form” button.

Next, click “Setup Payment Method” and enter your payment information. Then submit your filing to the state.

Congratulations! Your Iowa LLC has been filed for processing.

Iowa LLC Approval and Processing Time

Mail filings: Your LLC will be approved in 3-4 weeks. This accounts for 7-14 business days for processing time, plus the transit time to and from the state. Your approval documents will be mailed (via USPS) to your Registered Agent’s address.

Online filings: If you submit your filing during regular business hours, your LLC will be approved the same-day. If you submit your filing outside of regular business hours, your LLC will be approved the next day. Either way, you’ll get an email from the state when your LLC approval documents are ready for download.

Iowa LLC approval documents:
After your Iowa LLC is approved, you will receive a:

  • Receipt
  • Acknowledgment Letter
  • Certificate of Organization (stamped and approved)

Here is what your LLC approval will look like:

Iowa LLC Approval Documents by Mail

Note: You’ll use your approved Certificate of Organization, Acknowledgment Letter, and Federal Tax ID Number to open a business bank account for LLC.

Next Step: LLC Operating Agreement

Once you file your Iowa Certificate of Organization, and it’s approved by the state, you can then proceed to the next lesson: Iowa LLC Operating Agreement.

Iowa Secretary of State Contact Info

If you have any questions, you can contact the Iowa Secretary of State at 515-281-5204.

Tip: Don’t call around lunch time. There are longer hold times.

Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Matt Horwitz has been the leading expert on LLC education for the past decade. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC that other companies weren't offering. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
 
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.

23 comments on “Iowa Filing Forms”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. I cannot believe you provide this start-up guide for free. It’s exactly what I needed. I’m trying to get my business up and running as I recently lost my job. I cannot afford to pay someone else. But when I’m in a position, I will pay you forward!!!! Thank you.

    • Hey Tricia!! Thank you so much for the kind words! Comments like this make my day! Thank you for paying us forward, and we’re here if you need anything else. Best wishes with your business!

  2. Thank you so much for this! The amount of useful information you provide is awesome!

    • Thank you for the kind words Megan. You are welcome!

  3. Amazing work and perfectly thorough. Thank you so much for all you’ve done. It was perfect.

    • Thanks so much for the comment Steven. Much appreciated!

  4. Thank you for this amazing free step-by-step guide on how to form a LLC. It was very easy to follow and navigate. I will definitely share this with my clients.

    • You’re very welcome Jared. Thanks for the awesome comment and helping us reach more people :)

  5. Thanks so much for this step by step. I was wondering when you start an LLC with two corporations who signs the certificate of organization?

    • Hi Lalisa, when you “start an LLC with” do you mean that the 2 existing Corporations are members of the LLC? If so, you’ll have an authorized representative sign on behalf of both Corporations in the LLC’s Operating Agreement. Anyone person or company can be the Organizer of the LLC. Once the LLC is approved, have the Organizer sign a Statement of LLC Organizer, which will appoint (“hand off”) the LLC to the 2 Corporations.

  6. Very helpful website with easy to follow instructions,thanks a ton for making this process easier for me.

    • You’re very welcome Jane! Thanks for your nice comment :)

  7. Legal says that I have to be at address during business hours. What if I want to transport cars to auctions with DOT registration. I cannot be in two places at one time. How about independent truckers, how is this handled?
    Ed

  8. Is it faster if I actually go down to the SOS? I want to buy a house in the LLC’s name and i need it to be quicker than the 3-4 weeks :(

    • Hi Jennifer, yes, walk-in filings are always faster. I believe they can be same-day in Iowa, however, we don’t cover walk-in filings since most of our readers do not file this way. I recommend calling the Secretary of State just to check on instructions and location for drop off. Hope that helps.

  9. Can you and a family member both be listed as registered agents?

    • Hi Julie, no. Only one person’s name (or company name) can be used for the Registered Agent. Hope that helps.

  10. Hello Matt,

    Thank you so much for this website. I still have a question about Submit your Certificate of Organization Online. When I click “File Type”, there are no one is “Certificate of Organization”. I just saw “Registered agent change”, “Fictitious name filing”, “Amendment”, “Name reservation” and “Other”. Which one should I select?

    Thank you

  11. Hi Matt,

    I just submitted my completed and signed application for Certificate of Organization for my Transport LLC business in the State of Iowa as a member. If I want to add members (Owners), when/how do I go about that? Or should the other members have signed the Certificate of Organization as well?

    Sincerely,
    Scott

    • Hi Scott, you’d need to amend the Operating Agreement. If you’ve obtained an EIN for your LLC with one member, the IRS is taxing your LLC like a Sole Proprietorship. If you add more members, you’ll need to change your tax classification to Partnership. We recommend hiring an attorney to add or remove LLC members. Hope that helps.

      • Hi Matt,

        Thank you so much for the advice and the very quick response!
        You are a fantastic resource!

        Sincerely,

        Scott

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