How to Start an LLC in South Dakota: Easy Steps to Follow

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    Establishing a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in South Dakota is a simple procedure that grants entrepreneurs a versatile and protective business framework.

    To establish an LLC in the state, prospective business proprietors must adhere to a series of measures. These measures encompass the selection of an exclusive and compliant business name, designation of a registered agent, submission of the Articles of Organization to the South Dakota Secretary of State, and formulation of an operating agreement that delineates the internal operations of the LLC.

    A comprehensive comprehension of regulatory prerequisites, taxation, and compliance responsibilities specific to South Dakota is paramount for ensuring a seamless formation process for the LLC. This knowledge lays down a firm groundwork for this novel entrepreneurial endeavor.

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    Starting an LLC in South Dakota Step-By-Step

    If you’re interested in starting a business in South Dakota that offers both simplicity in paperwork and protection against personal liability, choosing to form an LLC could be the perfect solution. Establishing an LLC in South Dakota can be a smooth and efficient process by following our comprehensive guide and implementing the suggested strategies.

    By adequately preparing yourself, setting up an LLC in South Dakota entails completing a few uncomplicated forms. You can better understand the process by familiarizing yourself with these steps, and all the necessary forms are conveniently accessible on either the South Dakota Secretary of State website or the IRS website.

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    1. Selecting a Name for Your South Dakota LLC

    The first step in establishing your business is to choose a name that meets specific criteria for your LLC. It must be distinct from other business names registered in the state, and you can confirm its availability by conducting an online search specifically for South Dakota LLCs.

    To ensure uniqueness, consider exploring variations of the name you have chosen. It’s important that your business name clearly shows that it’s an LLC by including either the full phrase “Limited Liability Company” or the abbreviation “LLC.” For brevity, you may use abbreviations such as “Ltd.” and “Co.” for “limited” and “company,” respectively. Similarly, you may punctuate or shorten “LLC” to “LC.”

    If you’re not yet ready to proceed with completing all of the necessary paperwork for your LLC, there’s an option to reserve your chosen name for future use. This can be done by submitting an application for reservation of name (LLC) through the secretary of state’s website or via mail. There’s a filing fee of $25 associated with this process, which ensures that your selected name will be secured for a period of 120 days.

    2. Identify a Registered Agent

    It’s crucial to ensure that the government can contact you once your business is up and running. Each business needs to appoint a “registered agent,” who serves as a point of contact with a physical address within the state where legal documents can be delivered during regular business hours. Many companies offer this service for a reasonable annual fee, and South Dakota provides a useful list of registered agents you can choose from, or you can explore options online.

    While you can choose to be your own registered agent, privacy becomes a concern for South Dakota LLCs. Acting as your own agent exposes your physical address and contact information on publicly accessible platforms, making you vulnerable to potential spam and scams. Many individuals prefer to redirect their important mail through commercial addresses, which act as a filter for unnecessary correspondence.

    Registered agents can be either “commercial,” meaning you’ve hired a company for the service, or “non-commercial,” indicating that your registered agent isn’t providing the service as part of a business. It’s essential to select a reliable agent, and commercial registered agents (CRAs) are listed with the state and have a designated CRA number.

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    3. Submit Your Certificate of Organization

    The Articles of Organization is the official document that grants legal status to your LLC. This document provides detailed information about your business to the state authorities.

    In South Dakota, the Articles of Organization require specific information, including the name of the LLC, its purpose, primary business location, and details about the registered agent. For non-commercial agents, their address must be provided; for commercial agents, their CRA number is required. 

    Contact information for each LLC organizer should be included in this document. Other details include the duration of the LLC and whether it will be managed by its members or designated managers/management team. The existence of equity owners and any other relevant information must also be disclosed.

    To submit your Articles of Organization in South Dakota, you have two options: online submission through the Secretary of State’s website or mailing a physical form to their office at 500 East Capitol Avenue in Pierre.

    For online submissions, there’s a filing fee of $150; for mail submissions, it increases slightly to $165.

    Although amendments can be made to these articles if needed later on, it’s important to note that they come with additional costs and time commitments. To ensure accuracy right from the start, it may be beneficial to seek help from an experienced formation company during the filing process.

    4. Establish an Operating Agreement

    Although not legally required, the creation of an operating agreement holds immense importance for the sustainability and endurance of your business. This document carries legal significance among all LLC members, providing a framework to establish policies and procedures within legal boundaries. Typically, such agreements address various aspects, including:

    • Details outlined in your articles of organization
    • Member identification
    • Member and manager responsibilities
    • Business structure and management team setup
    • Voting procedures
    • Member contributions
    • Profit and loss allocation
    • Preferred tax status
    • Meeting protocols
    • Membership interest procedures
    • Dissolution processes
    • Inclusion of a severability clause

    Before finalizing the agreement with all members’ signatures, it’s prudent to have a legal or business expert review it. This preemptive step can prevent confusion and potential legal conflicts in the future. Collective endorsement of operating agreements by all members fosters a shared understanding and alignment from the outset.

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    5. Obtain State and Federal Identification Numbers

    Engaging in business activities within a state typically entails meeting certain annual filing responsibilities. You’ll be required to obtain identification numbers from both the state and federal authorities.

    Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

    Begin by acquiring your federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), which can be obtained at no cost through the official website of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This distinct identifier is crucial for fulfilling obligations related to employment and various taxes, and it may also be required for specific endeavors, like initiating a business bank account. 

    Although South Dakota doesn’t enforce the requirement of an EIN for single-member LLCs without staff members, obtain one in order to prevent using your Social Security number for business-related matters.

    South Dakota State ID Number

    After completing the process of submitting your articles of organization, you will be provided with a state ID number. This number is essential for filing your annual report for your South Dakota LLC. The specific taxes that you’re required to pay will depend on the type of business you have. 

    It’s important to note that South Dakota doesn’t impose corporate income tax or personal income tax. However, certain businesses, such as retail establishments, may still be subject to other taxes like sales tax.

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    6. Annual LLC Reporting

    To adhere to the regulations set forth by state laws, submit the annual report for your LLC on a yearly basis, precisely at the beginning of your LLC’s formation anniversary month. You can conveniently access the necessary form online via the company’s business portal. 

    Once logged in, proceed with submitting the report annually as required. Do take note that there’s a fee of $50 associated with filing this report electronically. Alternatively, if you prefer, you have the option to submit a paper report for a fee of $65.

    Rectifying Filing Errors

    To correct any errors found in the Articles of Organization, you can rectify them by filling out an Application for Amended Articles of Organization. This particular form is submitted to the Secretary of State and carries a processing fee of $60. It’s a concise one-page document that includes essential identifying information about the company and also has a section dedicated to outlining the required amendments for the LLC.

    Dissolving Your South Dakota LLC

    In order to terminate a South Dakota LLC, you must fill out the Articles of Termination and pay a $10 processing fee. After dissolution, close any bank accounts associated with the company and inform the IRS about the termination of the business.

    7. South Dakota Business Permits and Licensing

    In order to run your LLC effectively, comply with the regulations set by the federal, state, and local governments. The fees and requirements for obtaining licenses and permits will differ based on the particular type of business license that’s needed.

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    8. South Dakota LLC Tax Filing Obligations

    In order to maintain the favorable status of your company, remain up-to-date with the tax obligations for your South Dakota LLC.

    Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or multiple types of taxes.

    Sales Tax

    If you’re engaged in the sale of tangible goods, acquire a seller’s permit from the official website of the South Dakota Department of Revenue.

    The sales tax rate in South Dakota is currently 4.5%, and there may be an additional local sales tax rate that doesn’t exceed 2%.

    Employer Taxes

    To ensure compliance, South Dakota LLCs with employees must register for unemployment insurance tax. In the state of South Dakota, this tax is referred to as Reemployment Assistance Tax. The business registration process can be completed online through the Department of Labor and Regulation website.

    Income Tax


    South Dakota doesn’t impose a personal income tax. However, report your federal income tax by using either Form 1065 for multi-member LLCs or Form 1040 Schedule C for single-member LLCs.

    Hiring Employees

    If incorporating employees into your South Dakota LLC is on your agenda, ensure legal adherence by adhering to these guidelines:

    • Confirm the eligibility of new employees to work in the US
    • Report newly hired individuals to the state as required
    • Offer workers’ compensation insurance to employees
    • Deduct employee taxes accordingly
    • Clearly display workplace compliance posters in your workspace

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    9. Review the Insurance Options Available for Businesses in South Dakota

    Unanticipated setbacks can cause significant repercussions for a fledgling enterprise, regardless of its location, be it South Dakota or elsewhere. While Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) offer a degree of personal asset protection, it’s advisable to explore the option of purchasing insurance to safeguard your business and its assets. Common insurance options in South Dakota comprise:

    • Workers’ compensation: Though not obligatory under South Dakota law, state authorities strongly advise employers to secure workers’ comp coverage to address employee injuries or illnesses sustained during work.
    • General liability insurance: This form of insurance provides comprehensive coverage for your business, handling legal actions stemming from accidents, injuries, or negligence.
    • Commercial property insurance: This insurance aids in replacing commercial property lost or damaged during regular business activities, covering expenses associated with incidents like fire, weather damage, or theft.
    • Professional liability insurance: Geared towards businesses offering professional services with a heightened risk of malpractice claims, such as those in law, accounting, or real estate, this insurance shields against claims related to competence.
    • Cyber liability insurance: With the prevalence of data breaches and ransomware threats posing risks to customers, business operations, and reputation, cyber liability insurance proves invaluable. It aids in notifying customers about an attack, compensating them in case of a claim, and covering costs for credit monitoring for affected customers.

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    10. Market your LLC

    Effectively promote your LLC by engaging potential customers and fostering repeat business. Crafting a comprehensive marketing strategy for your South Dakota-based LLC could involve the following elements:

    • Advertising and Promotion: Develop and distribute advertisements independently or through an agency. While traditional paid advertising may seem somewhat antiquated, it can still yield significant results in raising awareness about your new business.
    • Social Media Engagement: Establish and sustain a robust online presence across major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Consistently generate and share content that authentically reflects your brand identity, enhancing visibility within South Dakota and beyond.
    • Public Relations: Cultivate strong relationships with media outlets, both locally in South Dakota and nationally, to secure coverage for your brand and attract organic attention to your business.
    • Customer Retention: Leverage your marketing materials, digital resources (such as an online store), and social media platforms to cultivate enduring relationships with customers. This approach can convert them into loyal repeat patrons and encourage them to advocate for your business among their networks.

    Conducting thorough market research is crucial for understanding your LLC’s target customer demographic.

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    Laws Governing South Dakota LLCs

    It’s imperative to have a thorough understanding of the legal structure that applies to your company. South Dakota is one of the 20 states that have implemented the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act, which is a standardized set of laws developed by a national authority. 

    The South Dakota Limited Liability Company Act combines all relevant provisions into a single document, providing comprehensive guidance for businesses operating in the state.

    If your operating agreement doesn’t provide specific guidelines, default laws will apply. For instance, unless stated otherwise, an LLC manager must seek consent from all members for the following actions:

    • Selling the majority or entirety of the LLC’s assets outside the ordinary course of business.
    • Merging with another company or transitioning to a different business structure.
    • Acting on behalf of the LLC outside the ordinary course of business.
    • Making amendments to the operating agreement.

    In situations where obtaining unanimous consent is challenging, especially with many members, your operating agreement can specify that only a two-thirds majority of the membership needs to agree to enable the mentioned changes, thus preventing significant delays in necessary modifications.

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    Options for Establishing an LLC in South Dakota

    To establish an LLC in South Dakota, determine the optimal approach for forming your Limited Liability Company.


    Entrepreneurs with limited funds may find the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach helpful when starting their Limited Liability Company (LLC), thanks to the wealth of information provided in this guide and on the official website of the South Dakota Secretary of State. It’s workable to navigate through the procedures for uncomplicated and straightforward LLCs.

    Using an LLC Formation Service

    Online LLC services have expertise in handling all the essential paperwork required for forming an LLC. Entrepreneurs in South Dakota, particularly those who are pressed for time, may find it worthwhile to invest in an LLC service despite the relatively low cost. These services offer a range of beneficial features such as guaranteed acceptance by the state, help with EIN application, registered agent services, and support with creating an operating agreement.

    These services often allow customization so that you can select the one that aligns perfectly with your individual requirements.

    Streamline administrative complexities by selecting ZenBusiness as your preferred solution. This organization prioritizes the accurate formation of businesses and timely submission of essential paperwork to the appropriate state governmental agency. 

    Although there are fees associated with utilizing ZenBusiness services, many clients view it as a cost-efficient option.

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    Northwest Registered Agent logo

    When embarking on a business venture, individuals are often confronted with the complexities of state-mandated paperwork, which can be particularly daunting for inexperienced entrepreneurs.

    Northwest Registered Agent offers comprehensive business services aimed at aiding these individuals in navigating through this process. Their expertise lies in guiding business owners to acquire the documents, ensuring accurate completion and timely submission to the relevant government agency.

    Aside from facilitating the establishment of an LLC, Northwest also provides a range of supplementary services that prove invaluable to new business proprietors. This includes registered agent services, which have proven highly helpful in numerous instances.

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    Bizee logo

    Bizee provides a comprehensive library of resources to assist novice entrepreneurs in determining the most suitable form of business for their needs. Bizee offers support with the preparation and filing of important documents, thereby simplifying processes related to registered agents, articles of organization, and EIN. 

    With a solid reputation and favorable feedback from online users, the company has established itself as a trusted source in its field.

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    How to Start an LLC in South Dakota – Frequently Asked Questions