Welcome to the Start a Business guide to entity registration in Wisconsin. This webpage has been created to provide business representatives with a better understanding of the Department of Financial Institutions’ filing requirements. An online filing system is available through which the majority of business applications can be submitted. Within our tutorials, we have also provided downloadable PDFs of the registration documents required when filing by mail. The information found below will provide you with a general overview of the various available filings and we encourage you to explore the links found throughout to gain access to our more in-depth tutorials.
Start an Entity
Search for a Name
The Business Entity Search function found on the Department of Financial Institutions’ website offers filers the ability to gain access to their business information, update their registered office or purchase official certification. Individuals in the process of registering a new entity will find this useful when attempting to check the availability of a business name. Regardless of the reason for your search, everything you need to know can be found within the tutorial linked at the beginning of this paragraph.
How to File in Wisconsin
Step 1- The first step we recommend when registering a business is to ensure that the chosen entity name is indeed available for use. Performing a Business Entity Search prior to registration is a great way to ensure that this is the case. You may also find filing a Name Reservation useful as it will grant 60 or 120 days (depending on the entity type) in which the rights of a name will be secured.
Step 2- You will now be able to begin the actual registration process. The tutorials linked below contain more detailed instructions of the filing procedures for each entity type. Click on the link that correlates to the nature of your business to learn more about the exact requirements.
- Domestic Profit Corporation
- Domestic Statutory Close Corporation
- Domestic Service Corporation
- Domestic Non-Stock Corporation
- Foreign Profit Corporation
- Foreign Non-Stock Corporation
- Domestic Limited Partnership
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership
- Foreign Limited Partnership
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership
Step 3- After submitting the requisite information, a filing fee will need to be prepared in order for your registration to be accepted by the Department of Financial Institutions (fees listed below). Online corporation and LLC fees can be payed by credit card. Those filing by mail must attach a check made out to the Department of Financial Institutions and have it mailed to the address below. Foreign businesses should be aware that they will be required to include with their filings a certificate of good standing or similar document from their initial jurisdiction of formation.
State of WI Dept. of Financial Institutions
Milwaukee WI 53293-0348
- Domestic Profit Corporation- $100
- Domestic Statutory Close Corporation- $100
- Domestic Service Corporation- $100
- Domestic Non-Stock Corporation- $35
- Foreign Profit Corporation- $100 plus $3 for every $1,000 of capital exceeding $60,000
- Foreign Non-Stock Corporation- $45
Limited Liability Company
- Domestic Limited Liability Company- $130 Online – $170 Paper
- Foreign Limited Liability Company- $100
- Domestic Limited Partnership- $70
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership- $100
- Foreign Limited Partnership- $75
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership- $100
Business filers in Wisconsin are not required to file a name reservation with the Department of Financial Institutions, however, it is highly advisable that they do when additional time is required to prepare for registration. Reserving will allow your business to secure the rights to an operating name and ensure that no other entity is able to use it while your affairs are being organized. The filing fee and term of reservation for profit corporations and LLCs is $15 for 120 days, non-stock corporation’s reservations cost $10 for 120 days and those for limited partnerships cost $10 and will last 60 days. More information can be found in our in-depth tutorial.
Certificate of Status
A Certificate of Status (a.k.a. certificate of good standing) is a document used most often by entities that are looking to expand their business into jurisdictions outside of their own. Foreign authorities will generally demand certification of this nature in order to ascertain the legitimacy of the registering entity. Requesting a certificate is simple and can be accomplished online using your business ID number. If you are unsure of your business ID, performing a Business Entity Search will provide you with that information. Purchasing this type of certification will require a filing fee of $10. A detailed tutorial on the acquisition process can be found here.
It is highly advisable for representatives of newly formed businesses to draft an agreement between the managing members. This legal document can be used to detail the manner in which the business should be organized as it will relay the exact relationship between the members of the entity and the entity itself. Filing an agreement in not required by law, though we highly recommend that you consider incorporating one into your business structure. Click on the link below that is associated with your entity type to download our free templates in MS Word and PDF formats.
Employer Identification Number
Once you’ve registered your domestic entity, and acceptance of formation has been received from the Department of Financial Institutions, you will most likely be required to obtain an Employer Identification Number. The IRS uses this unique number to identify entities for tax reporting purposes. Once obtained, your business will be legally permitted to request loans, register for bank accounts, hire employees, and perform a number of other transactions. For more information regarding the application process, review our tutorial on the Online and paper filing procedures.