Do you want to form an LLC business anonymously? There are plenty of legitimate reasons you may not want your personal name associated tied to a business. Some individuals don’t want to be hassled by marketers calling and emailing for business services like tax help or advertising services. Others may not want disgruntled customers being able to figure out where you live. These are just a couple examples of legitimate concerns.

Fortunately for LLC owners who wish to remain anonymous, personal information doesn’t be part of any public record. But if you want personal details to remain private, you’ll need to form your LLC in Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming. These are the only states where this is possible. But don’t worry, you won’t need to live in any of these states to create a business entity here.

In this article, I share dig into the pros and cons of filing an LLC anonymously in different states that allow it, explain why entrepreneurs choose this structure, and outline the best low-cost options for forming an LLC with this structure. Ready to start your LLC? Click on the links below to jump straight to the topic most important to you.

Why would anyone want to form an LLC anonymously?

There are a number of good reasons for wanting to remain anonymous when you form your LLC. You’ll typically want to give your personal privacy high priority if you’ve already been a victim of identity theft or a stalker. Anonymous ownership in an LLC is an effective method of preventing someone from using your personal information against you when you start a business.

Another reason for separating yourself from your business is if it could negatively impact you in some way. Registering an LLC anonymously provides a certain measure of protection, but it isn’t completely private. For example, a number of parties must know your actual identity, including the IRS, your banks, the LLC’s registered agent and its organizer. Any of these parties could be legally compelled to disclose your name in a legal proceeding.

The U.S. federal government became much stricter about tracking who owns businesses and finances after 9/11. While it’s possible to keep your name out of public records when you form an LLC, the IRS and financial institutions you do business with still need to know that you’re the owner. It’s therefore vital to disclose your ownership status with the federal government in a straightforward manner.

For example, banks normally require you to disclose your home address when you open a checking account. You need to provide the address where you actually live, rather than a mailing address or the address of your registered service agent. Fortunately for LLC owners who wish to remain anonymous, this information doesn’t become part of any public record.

How To Form an Anonymous LLC in a State That Allows It

The only states that currently allow you to register an LLC anonymously are Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming. The most important differences with forming an LLC in these states include the process of naming the LLC, since it can’t include any part of your name.

Choosing a registered agent and filing the formation documents with the state also requires more care when you’re trying to remain anonymous. In addition, states that allow you to form an LLC anonymously don’t require you to file an operating agreement as other states do, although you should still develop one for your own use.

personal details

Keep personal details private.

Delaware

1. Name the LLC.

Delaware Code 18-102 regulates the naming of LLCs in that state. The LLC’s name must be completely distinguishable from all other LLC names on record with Delaware’s Department of State. The name must also include terminology to indicate its business type, such as “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC.” Furthermore, the name can’t and contain terms that imply some other business type.

Delaware allows you to reserve a proposed name for your LLC before you formed it. You can do this online or by submitting and Application for Reservation to the following address:

Delaware Division of Corporations

401 Federal Street – Suite 4

Dover, DE 19901

Fax: (302) 739-3812.

The fee for the name reservation is $75, regardless of the filing method.

2. Choose a Registered Agent.

The Delaware Division of Corporations explains that a registered agent’s job is to accept communications that are directed to the legal entity for which it is a registered agent. It must then forward those communications to that entity. A registered agent is a legal requirement for an LLC in Delaware, as described in Delaware Code 18-104, although the agent doesn’t need to be located in Delaware.

3. File the formation documents with the state.

The Delaware Department of State requires you to file the LLC’s Certificate of Formation on paper. You can print this form from the Department of State’s website, fill it out and submit it to the Delaware Division of Corporation, along with a filing memo. The filing fee for the Certificate of Formation is $90, payable by check, credit card or debit card.

Nevada

1. Name the LLC.

Nevada prohibits you from using a person’s name for your LLC. Like other states, the LLC’s name must also contain language indicating that it’s an LLC. The Secretary of State maintains a list of words that you can’t include in the LLC’s name. This office also makes the final decision as to whether or not to allow a name, so wait for approval before using it. The Business Entity Search on the state website can assist you with the naming process.

2. Choose a Registered Agent.

The Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 86.231 requires all LLC’s in that state to have a registered agent. That agent must also have a physical address, so it’s especially important not to list yourself as the registered agent for your own LLC in Nevada if you wish to remain anonymous. NRS 77.400 describes the duties of the registered agent to receive and forward communications on behalf of the LLC.

3. File the formation documents with the state.

Nevada provides a number of filing options for an LLC’s Articles of Organization, including online, mail, fax and email. The documentation must include a Customer Order Form, and also an ePayment Checklist if you’re paying by credit or debit card. The filing fee is $75 regardless of the file you.

Business owners in Nevada are encouraged to file online, as these filings are processed immediately. You can do this on Silverflume at https://www.nvsilverflume.gov/, which is Nevada’s online business portal. You can also print an application form, fill it out and mail it to the following address:

Secretary of State

New Filings Division

202 North Carson Street

Carson City NV 89701-4201

A filing that needs to be expedited should be mailed to:

Secretary of State – Las Vegas

North Las Vegas City Hall

2250 North Las Vegas Blvd, 4th Floor

North Las Vegas, NV 89030

The fax number is (775) 684-5725, which requires an ePayment Checklist. The email address for submitting LLC filings to is newfilings@sos.nv.gov.

New Mexico

1. Name the LLC.

New Mexico’s rules for naming an LLC requires to be indistinguishable from every other business name registered or reserved with the Secretary of State. It also must contain the term “limited liability company” or its equivalents, including abbreviations. The Business Search on the Secretary of State’s website can tell you whether a particular name is available. However, the Secretary of State makes the final decision about whether the name you selected is sufficiently distinguishable from all other business names.

2. Choose a Registered Agent.

Nevada’s LLC Act requires an LLC to maintain a registered office in that state, although Nevada does not need to be the LLC’s principal place of business. A registered agent in Nevada must also provide service of process for the LLC.

3. File the formation documents with the state.

Nevada requires you to file Articles of Organization for your LLC online on the Secretary of State’s online filing portal located at https://portal.sos.state.nm.us/BFS/online/Account. Once you create an account and login, you’ll see the Corporations tab on your dashboard. Select the “Domestic (NM) LLC Formation” option under that tab and follow the instructions to register your anonymous LLC. Your application should be reviewed within one to three business days.

Wyoming

1. Name the LLC.

Section 17-29-108 of the Wyoming LLC Act describes the requirements for naming LLCs. Like other states, Wyoming requires the name to clearly indicate that the business is an LLC. Furthermore, it can’t contain any words prohibited by the Secretary of State in Wyoming, nor can it be misleading about the type of business it is.

The Secretary of State also maintains a database on its website to confirm the availability of the name you selected, although that office still makes the final decision about whether the name is sufficiently distinguishable from those that have already been registered.

2. Choose a Registered Agent.

The Secretary of State in Wyoming requires all business entities filed in that state to have a registered agent. This party must maintain an office in Wyoming, although the LLC itself doesn’t need to conduct business there.

3. File the formation documents with the state.

Wyoming allows you to file Articles of Organization online, mail or hand delivery, with a base filing fee of $100 payable by card or check for either method. Online applications are processed immediately, but they incur an additional fee of $2. You can also mail or deliver your application and payment to the Wyoming Secretary of State at the following address:

Wyoming Secretary of State

2020 Carey Avenue, Suite 700

Cheyenne, WY 82002-0020

This method requires three to five business days to process once it’s received.

How To Form an Anonymous LLC in a State That Doesn’t Allow It

You can also increase your privacy as an LLC owner if you’re in a state that doesn’t allow complete anonymity, although it requires more effort. Some states only require a few details about you, but others want considerably more information. The method of making your ownership in an LLC more private involves forming a single-member LLC in Wyoming and another one in your home state. This approach requires you to use an LLC formation service or a business attorney.

options to form llc

Options to form an LLC.

The value of this method in protecting your privacy is highly subject to change, since state governments are still working out the details of regulating LLCs. This is particularly true with respect to the reporting of financial information like annual reports and franchise tax reports. Consulting with a business attorney is essential for ensuring your LLC remains compliant while still providing you with as much privacy as possible.

1. Form a single-member LLC in Wyoming.

This step uses an LLC formation service, which will also be the LLC’s registrar. The formation service should list its own physical address as your LLC’s registered agent address, You can then transfer ownership of your business to the LLC, allowing it to serve as a shell for the LLC you’ll form in your home state.

2. Get an EIN for the LLC in Wyoming.

The next step is to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC in Wyoming, which you can get for free from the IRS. The EIN allows you to open a bank account for this LLC, so you can transfer money between the LLCs. Bring the LLC formation documents with you when you open this account, since the bank will probably want to verify that you’re the owner of the LLC. It’s important for this LLC to have only one member with this approach, since the other members will know that it’s just a shell.

3. Form the LLC in your home state.

The next step is to form an LLC in your home state with an LLC formation service, just like you did with the LLC in Wyoming. List your Wyoming LLC as the manager or officer of the one in your home state, depending on the term your state uses. This step make your Wyoming LLC the owner of the LLC in your state rather than yourself. This arrangement allows you to keep your name out the public record in your home state, while still providing the documentation needed to establish your legitimacy as the owner of both LLCs.

4. Get an EIN for the LLC in your home state.

Acquire an EIN for your home state LLC, so you can open a bank account for it. As with the LLC in Wyoming, you’ll probably need to verify your ownership of the LLC with your bank.

Best LLC Services to Form an Anonymous LLC

An LLC formation service costs significantly less than hiring an attorney to help you form your LLC anonymously. Based on our review of LLC service companies, Northwest Registered Agent is the best for ensuring privacy.

They’re more expensive than other formation services because they locally scan every document they receive on your behalf. Northwest also has one of the highest ratings for customer service, which is particularly important for complex cases like anonymous formation.

llc formation options

LLC formation options with Northwest Registered Agent.

The Bottom Line

You can directly form an anonymous LLC if you live in Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico or Wyoming. You can also do so indirectly in the other states that don’t allow LLC owners to remain anonymous. Click here to read the review with our top choice for private LLC formation. 

In addition, it’s important to remember that anonymity only refers to information in the public record, as financial institutions in the government still need to know who owns the LLC. You should discuss your plans with a qualified business attorney, even if you don’t use one to actually form the LLC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an LLC a good option for an anonymous business?

An LLC is a sensible choice for starting a business anonymously, provided you understand that the primary purpose of this process is to prevent someone from finding your name in the public records for your state. However, you can lose your anonymity through other means such as family members.

Related Reading: My Legit ZenBusiness LLC Review (37 out of 40)

What are the disadvantages of an anonymous LLC?

The primary disadvantage of forming an anonymous LLC is that you may expend significant time and expense without accomplishing your goal. Anonymity won’t allow you to avoid paying taxes, nor will it protect you from lawsuits beyond that of a public LLC.

Do you need an LLC to be anonymous?

The best reasons for forming an LLC anonymously include the desire to avoid becoming a victim of identify theft, especially if you’re already at high risk. A business that’s likely to be politically or socially controversial is also a sound reason to make it more difficult to identify you as the owner of your company.

Anonymous Sole Proprietorship vs. LLC

Sole proprietors do business under their own name, so it may not be as anonymous as an LLC. On the other hand, an LLC’s existence must be public knowledge, whereas you don’t need to publicize the fact that you have a business if you’re a sole proprietor.

Single Member vs. Multiple Member LLC

LLCs with multiple members make it more difficult to maintain anonymity than an LLC with only one member, simply because there are more people who know who its members are.

What is an LLC?

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business structure that reduces the owners’ liability. It shares characteristics with other structures including sole proprietorships, general partnerships and corporations. An LLC is particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs because it’s usually taxed like a sole proprietorship, meaning the owners declare profits and losses on their personal income tax returns.

However, an LLC can also be taxed like a corporation, although this option is rare. It also has other similarities to a corporation with respect to financial responsibilities, especially the fact that an LLC owner generally isn’t personally responsible for the business’s financial obligations. As a result, an LLC owner’s personal assets aren’t at risk if someone sues the LLC.

An LLC is a highly popular business structure due to the many legal protections it provides for business owners while also improving the credibility of a new business. Business owners often want to form an LLC anonymously for a variety of reasons. The difficulty of accomplishing this goal varies greatly by state, as only a few states allow LLC owners to be completely anonymous. However, there are ways to increase your privacy in other states.