How to Apply for an LLC in Vermont

Updated on January 22, 2024

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Vermont can be a great way to formally structure your small business. An LLC offers liability protection and tax flexibility for business owners while being easier to set up and maintain than a corporation. Vermont has business-friendly policies and relatively low costs for forming an LLC, making it an attractive state to establish your company in. In this article, we’ll walk through the key steps you need to take to start an LLC in Vermont, including choosing a business name and structure, filing paperwork with the Secretary of State, creating an operating agreement, obtaining licenses and permits, and more. Following this simple guide will help ensure your new Vermont LLC is properly set up for success.

Understanding LLCs

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a business structure that combines aspects of partnerships and corporations. LLCs provide liability protection like a corporation, so the owner’s personal assets are generally protected from business debts and claims. However, LLCs also have the management flexibility and pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship.

Some key things to know about LLCs:

  • LLCs limit personal liability for business debts and claims
  • Profits and losses can pass through to the owners’ personal tax returns
  • LLCs have fewer regulations and reporting requirements than corporations
  • LLCs allow for flexible management and ownership structures

Forming an LLC establishes business structure early on and sets up liability protection, which can give business owners more confidence to take calculated risks and support growth down the road.

Choosing a Name for Your LLC

When starting an LLC in Vermont, an important early step is choosing the right name. Here are some tips for picking an LLC name:

  • Make sure your desired name is available by checking the Vermont Secretary of State business database. If the name you want is taken, you’ll have to select a different one.
  • Choose a name that reflects your brand and communicates what your business does. Using relevant keywords can support your SEO efforts down the road.
  • You must include an LLC designation in the business name, like “Woodworking, LLC” or “Vermont Woodworking Company, LLC.” This indicates to customers and stakeholders that you are a limited liability company.

The right LLC name sets the tone for your new Vermont business. Take the time to pick something meaningful and memorable. The Secretary of State website has more tips on crafting an appropriate LLC name.

Selecting a Registered Agent

When starting an LLC in Vermont, you must designate a registered agent. This agent receives important legal and tax documents on behalf of your LLC. Consider the following when selecting your registered agent:

  • They must have a physical street address in Vermont, not just a P.O. Box
  • They should be available at that address during normal business hours
  • Using a third-party registered agent service can save you time handling documents and legal notices
  • Fees typically range from $50 to $150 per year for a registered agent service
  • You can designate yourself as the registered agent if you want to save money, but you must be based in Vermont

Do your research to find a reliable registered agent that meets Vermont’s requirements. This is an important decision to keep your LLC compliant and operating smoothly.

Filing Your LLC Paperwork

Once you have chosen a business name and registered your LLC with the Vermont Secretary of State, there are a few more steps to complete your LLC paperwork.

  • File your LLC operating agreement. This document outlines the ownership structure, member responsibilities, profit/loss distribution, and other governance details. While not required in Vermont, having an operating agreement is considered best practice.
  • Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number will be used to open business bank accounts and file taxes.
  • Set up accounting procedures. Decide if you will handle accounting yourself or work with an accountant. Choose an accounting system to track income, expenses, tax deductions, and manage other financial records.
  • Comply with Vermont licensing and permit requirements for your industry. Certain businesses may need to register for specific state or municipal licenses before legally operating in Vermont.

Be sure to maintain accurate paperwork and stay up-to-date on all legal filings. This will keep your LLC compliant as you start operating your Vermont-based business.

Drafting an LLC Operating Agreement

After officially forming your LLC with the Vermont Secretary of State, the next important legal document to create is an operating agreement. Here are some tips for drafting an effective LLC operating agreement in Vermont:

  • Specify financial and management details – Clearly outline the ownership percentages of each member, how profits and losses will be divided, member responsibilities, voting procedures, and other financial/operational details.
  • Define member roles – If there are multiple members, define their specific roles, responsibilities, and titles within the management structure.
  • Address membership changes – Include provisions for what happens when a member wants to leave the LLC, sells their interest, dies, or needs to be dissociated.
  • Select a registered agent (RA) – Appoint a registered agent on file with the state who can receive important legal documents on behalf of the LLC.
  • Make it official – Make sure the operating agreement is dated and signed by all initial members to make it legally binding.

While not legally required, having an operating agreement is highly recommended for Vermont LLCs to keep business operations organized and align member expectations. Use online templates from sites like Rocket Lawyer as a guide when drafting your custom agreement.

Be sure to consult a local business attorney before finalizing your operating agreement to ensure it complies with Vermont’s regulations and suits your specific business needs.

Obtaining Tax Identification Numbers

One of the key steps in forming an LLC in Vermont is obtaining tax identification numbers from the appropriate government agencies. This includes getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and registering with the Vermont Department of Taxes to obtain a Vermont tax account number. Here’s an overview of this process:

  • Apply for an EIN from the IRS online or by completing Form SS-4. This unique number identifies your business for federal tax purposes.
  • Register with the Vermont Department of Taxes to get a state tax account number. This can be done by completing the online registration form.
  • Include your EIN and state tax ID number on all tax filings and other government documents for your new Vermont LLC.

Properly obtaining these tax IDs lays the groundwork for staying compliant with state and federal tax obligations as an LLC.

Pros and Cons of Starting an LLC in California

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Vermont offers both advantages and potential drawbacks. On the positive side, forming an LLC can provide several benefits:

  • Limited personal liability – LLC owners typically cannot be held personally liable for company debts and legal liabilities.
  • Tax flexibility – LLCs allow you to choose how your business is taxed.
  • Credibility – Forming an official LLC can make your company seem more legitimate to customers.

However, there are also a few potential downsides to consider:

  • Increased legal/tax requirements – LLCs require more recordkeeping, paperwork, fees, and compliance rules compared to sole proprietorships.
  • Lower privacy – Your LLC’s formation documents become public record when you register with the state.

Weighing the pros and cons carefully will help you decide if a Vermont LLC is the right choice for your new business.

Cost Considerations

When starting an LLC in Vermont, there are several costs to consider. The filing fee to register an LLC is $100, and there is a $20 fee per LLC member over one person. You may also need to pay sales and use tax depending on your type of business. Additionally, you may incur legal and accounting costs as you establish your LLC.

Other costs that may apply include:

  • Business license or permit fees
  • Zoning and land use fees if you purchase or rent commercial property
  • Insurance costs such as general liability insurance
  • Costs to build out office space if needed

When budgeting to start your Vermont LLC, be sure to factor in all initial registration and setup costs as well as early operational expenses you may incur in the first year. Planning ahead for these costs can help your business launch smoothly.

Economical LLC Formation Options

When starting an LLC in Vermont, it’s important to be cost-conscious and utilize economical formation options. Here are some tips to save money when forming your Vermont LLC:

  • Use an online service like LegalZoom or Incfile. These services charge $79 – $99 plus state fees to form your LLC, saving you lawyer fees.
  • File yourself using the Vermont Secretary of State’s website. You’ll only have to pay the $100 state filing fee.
  • Use clerical services like Vermont Registered Agent that charge lower yearly fees for LLC services compared to lawyers or accountants.
  • Consider DIY operating agreements from sites like Rocket Lawyer. Pre-made templates cost much below custom lawyer agreements.

Exploring economical online services, clerical services, templates and state resources can save hundreds over using lawyers and accountants when starting your Vermont LLC. Balancing cost and quality is key – but know that deals exist!

Pre-Formation Steps

Before officially forming your LLC in Vermont, you’ll need to take a few key steps to prepare. Here are the main pre-formation tasks:

  • Choose a business name – Select a name for your LLC that is distinguishable from other businesses in Vermont. Check the Vermont business database to ensure your desired name is available.
  • File for an EIN – Even if you don’t plan to hire employees yet, you should obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for tax and banking purposes. Apply online.
  • Make a business plan – Draft a comprehensive business plan that outlines your company’s objectives, target market, operations, and financial projections. This will help guide important startup decisions.
  • Arrange financing – Determine if you need small business loans or investments to sufficiently fund your LLC’s launch and first year of operations. Having capital in place is key.

Completing these key pre-filing steps will ensure you have all the necessary pieces in place to smoothly establish your Vermont LLC. The formation process itself can then proceed more efficiently.

Comparing Business Entity Types

When starting a business in Vermont, you have several options for structuring your company. Some of the most common business structures include sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs). Here is a comparison of some key factors to consider when choosing an entity type:

  • Formation Requirements – Sole proprietorships have virtually no formal requirements, while corporations and LLCs require filing articles of incorporation/organization. Partnerships require a partnership agreement.
  • Liability Protection – Sole proprietors and partnerships offer no personal liability protection, while LLC members and corporate shareholders have limited personal liability.
  • Taxes – Sole proprietors pay personal income tax on business profits. Partnerships pass profits to partners. Corporations pay corporate income tax. LLCs can choose how they are taxed.
  • Costs and Complexity – Sole proprietorships have essentially no costs to form and operate, while corporations and LLCs have more startup and maintenance costs and legal/tax compliance complexity.

Many small business owners choose LLCs because they provide personal liability protection like a corporation while allowing taxation flexibility like a partnership. However, consult an attorney and accountant to determine the best structure for your specific business needs. The Vermont Secretary of State website has more details on starting an LLC in the state.

After Filing Your LLC

Once you have filed your Articles of Organization and paid the filing fee to the Vermont Secretary of State, there are a few more steps you need to take to properly set up your LLC.

  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number will be used for tax purposes instead of your Social Security number.
  • Create an operating agreement. This document outlines the ownership structure, member responsibilities, distribution of profits and losses, etc.
  • Set up accounting procedures and business licenses with your city or town clerk’s office if required.
  • Open a dedicated business bank account using your EIN to keep your personal and business finances separate.
  • Understand any specific business and licensing requirements for your particular industry in Vermont.

Additionally, you must file an annual report with the Vermont Secretary of State to maintain your LLC status. Keep careful records of all financial transactions, tax documents, membership changes, meeting minutes, and operating agreements. Consulting with accounting and legal professionals can help keep your LLC compliant.

Business Licenses and Permits

When starting an LLC in Vermont, you may need to obtain certain business licenses and permits depending on your industry and location. Some common licenses and permits include:

  • Business license – Most cities and towns in Vermont require a general business license to operate. Fees are typically under $100 annually.
  • Sales tax permit – If selling taxable goods or services, you need a Vermont sales tax permit. This allows you to collect and remit sales tax.
  • Zoning permits – If running your LLC from a commercial location, you may need zoning permits and approvals from the city or town.
  • Health department permits – Food-related businesses need health permits for things like restaurants, catering, food manufacturing, etc.

Be sure to research the specific regulatory requirements for your industry in the city/town where your Vermont LLC will be located. The Vermont Secretary of State website also provides useful licensing and permitting information.

Growth Considerations for Your LLC

As your Vermont LLC grows, there are some key things to consider. You may need to bring on additional members or employees, so be sure to have an operating agreement in place that outlines ownership stakes, responsibilities, salaries and more. You’ll also need to stay on top of your tax obligations, make estimated tax payments if required, and file any additional local or state licenses needed.

At some point, you may outgrow Vermont and want to expand into other states. This would require registering your LLC in those new states as either a foreign LLC, or creating a new LLC entity for that state. Be strategic in your growth – choose states where your target customers are concentrated, or that have business-friendly tax incentives to support your continued expansion.

As your company grows, also make sure to scale your operations, technology, staffing and cash flow management appropriately. Work with professionals like lawyers, accountants and consultants to ensure your LLC continues operating legally and efficiently.

Additional Resources

When starting your Vermont LLC, you may need help along the way. Luckily, there are plenty of useful resources with more information. The Vermont Secretary of State’s website provides official state guidance on all aspects of forming an LLC. For legal advice, consider contacting a local business attorney. Additionally, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a comprehensive guide on choosing a business structure that compares LLCs to other options.

Check out the table below for more helpful resources:

Vermont Secretary of State state website on starting a business in Vermont, including LLC formation
Vermont Bar Association to find a local business attorney for legal advice


Starting an LLC in Vermont provides numerous benefits for small business owners, such as personal asset protection, tax flexibility, and credibility with customers. By following the key steps outlined in this article, you can officially form your Vermont LLC. First, choose a unique business name and register it with the Vermont Secretary of State. Then, file your Articles of Organization and pay the required fee to establish your LLC. Don’t forget critical next steps like obtaining an EIN from the IRS, creating an operating agreement, and complying with licensing and permit regulations for your industry in Vermont. Finally, make sure you understand ongoing requirements for LLCs in terms of taxes and annual reporting.

Forming an LLC establishes your new business on a legal footing and also provides liability protections not available for sole proprietors. By planning carefully and completing all required steps to start a Vermont LLC, you can set your business up for future growth and success.


What are the requirements to form an LLC in Vermont?

To form an LLC in Vermont, you need at least one member, articles of organization, an operating agreement, a registered agent, and to file paperwork with the Secretary of State. You also need to get an EIN from the IRS if you plan to hire employees or open a business bank account.

How much does it cost to start an LLC in Vermont?

The filing fee to form an LLC in Vermont is $100. You may also need to pay a fee to register your LLC name and pay your registered agent. Overall costs are typically between $200-$500.

What are the steps to form an LLC in Vermont?

The basic steps are:

  1. Choose an available business name
  2. Appoint a registered agent
  3. File articles of organization with the Secretary of State
  4. Create an operating agreement
  5. Get an EIN from the IRS if needed
  6. Comply with licensing and permit requirements

Does Vermont have any specific compliance requirements for LLCs?

Yes, Vermont requires LLCs to file an annual report and pay a $75 fee to maintain active status. LLCs must also follow state regulations for their industry, collect and pay taxes, and adhere to labor laws regarding employees.

How long does it take to form an LLC in Vermont?

It typically takes 1-2 weeks to form an LLC in Vermont if you complete the process correctly. The Secretary of State processes filings within 5-7 business days. Getting an EIN and licenses/permits can add time.

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