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How to File a Certificate of Formation in Alabama

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Edited by:

Reviewed by: Daniel Javor

Published on June 15, 2022

Updated on October 5, 2022

How to File a Certificate of Formation in Alabama

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How to File a Certificate of Formation in Alabama

In Alabama, as in most states, the primary step in creating a limited liability company (LLC) is to file a  certificate of formation with the state. This is an absolutely crucial document that helps define your business, so it’s important to do it correctly.

An LLC is a business entity that offers liability protection for owners, as well as pass-through taxation, much like a sole proprietorship. 

What is a Certificate of Formation?

The certificate of formation is a legal document you need to file with the state to form your LLC and officially become a legal entity. It will specify details about your company and establish your LLC as a registered business entity in Alabama. 

The document is similar to the articles of incorporation you would file to form a corporation instead of an LLC. 

view of alabama downtown
Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock.com

How to File the Alabama Certificate of Formation

In Alabama, the process to file a certificate of formation is quite simple. The crucial first step is gathering the required information about your new LLC, before proceeding with the filing itself. 

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to create your new business entity: 

  1. Gather the required information about your business. 
    • Name of Business
    • Name of registered agent
    • Registered office address
    • Mailing address (if different from office address)
    • Type of LLC
    • Effective date
  2. Visit the Alabama Secretary of State website 

Find the certificate of formation form here. It’s easiest to fill out the form online and file immediately, but you can also download the form, fill it out and mail it in. 

Alabama Certificate of Formation Form

If you choose to mail in your documentation, you’ll need to complete and mail a Name Reservation Request before you file your certificate of formation. If you choose to file online, you can complete both of these steps at the same time.

  1. Filling out the Certificate of Formation Document

On the first screen of the online application, input your contact information and address, then click the “continue” button at the bottom.

Alabama Secretary of State online application for Certificate of Formation

On the next screen, enter the name you are requesting for your LLC. If you have an existing name, enter the ID number in the appropriate field. Click “continue”.

On the next screen, choose the type of reservation (domestic or foreign). Then choose “LLC” from the “entity” list and enter the legal name. Click “continue”.

If your LLC name is available, you’ll move to the next screen where you can choose to file a name reservation only or file the formation data. If you choose “File Formation Data”, you will be brought to a screen where you’ll complete all the appropriate information required for your official certificate. Once all information is entered, you’ll have the opportunity to do a final review before submitting. 

When filling out your certificate of formation, be sure to double-check that all the information is accurate and up-to-date. Maybe you’ve just moved, or use your middle initial in official documents, such as with your bank account. If you get it wrong now, changing it later can be a real pain. So accuracy is crucial. 

  • File Certificate of Formation – The final step in the process is to submit payment through the website’s payment screen or mail in all documentation. The filing fee in Alabama is $200. If you include a name reservation, the fee is $25. If you file online, there’s an additional $11 processing fee. Your LLC should be officially formed within 7-10 business days from filing. 
Certificate of Formation Filing Fee in Alabama

Keep in mind, many budding entrepreneurs do not have time for all the paperwork required to create a business entity. Many choose to hire an experienced professional or a service such as ZenBusiness to take care of all  official filings. This frees you up to focus on growing your business. 

Next Step – Creating an Operating Agreement

In Alabama, an LLC operating agreement is not required, but it is highly recommended. 

An operating agreement is an important legal document that details who owns the business and provides essential information pertaining to member duties. It establishes the financial relationship between members and the basics of the working relationships between those members and the managers who oversee daily operations. 

The operating agreement is not filed with the state, but instead remains private. 

The operating agreement should clearly define:

  • The percentage of each member’s interests in the LLC
  • How profits and losses will be allocated to each member
  • Each member’s rights and responsibilities
  • The management structure and management roles of members
  • The voting rights of each member
  • Rules for meetings and voting
  • What happens when a member sells their interest, becomes disabled, or dies

If the LLC has a board of directors, the operating agreement will also include the role and responsibilities of the board members and how they are compensated. An LLC operating agreement provides legal and financial recourse for a number of situations. If conflicts arise between LLC owners pertaining to any of the above issues, the operating agreement will provide clarity. 

The specific language of the operating agreement lays out exactly how such conflicts will be resolved, how the business is structured, the dynamics of operations, and more. 

Though certain states have default rules on the books that address issues that could arise between LLC members, your LLC operating agreement would override these default laws and give you greater control.  

Creating an operating agreement is free if you just draw it up yourself. Alternatively, you can pay around $100 for guidance from an online business advisory like MyCorporation. This is an extremely important document, so it’s recommended that you hire a professional service or an attorney. If you choose to use an attorney, the price will be around $500 for a single-member LLC and $2,500 for a multi-member LLC. 

Alabama Secretary of State Department Contact Info

The Alabama Secretary of State Department website can be found here.

The mailing address for the department is:

Alabama Secretary of State Business Services
P.O. Box 5616
Montgomery, Alabama 36103

You can reach them by phone at 334-242-5324.

The Bottom Line

In Alabama, it’s relatively easy to create an LLC, but you do need to jump through a few hoops. You now have all the information you need to officially create your new business and begin your entrepreneurial journey in the Yellowhammer state.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need an attorney to file a certificate of formation in Alabama?

You do not need an attorney to file articles of organization in Alabama. You can file online yourself, or you can use a business formation service. ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service will enable you to form your LLC in just a few minutes.

How do I amend my LLC certificate of formation?

To amend your LLC certificate of formation, you’ll need to complete and submit a Certificate of Amendment. The filing fee is $100.

How do I get a copy of my certificate of formation in Alabama?

You can request a certified copy on the Alabama Secretary of State website. The fee is $10 plus $3 per page.