Starting a company

How To Form A Corporation In Michigan

Key Highlights 

  • Understand the process you have to undergo to form an corporation in Michigan 
  • Get to know the various types of business structures you can choose
  • Learn the steps to register your company in Michigan 
  • Understand the fees and the expenses involved in Michigan company formation 
  • Learn how to create effective bylaws and the aspects that needs to be included in the same
  • Get valuable resources where you can get more information about Michigan corporation formation

From picking a name to submitting your papers to the state, we'll take you through the process of forming a corporation in Michigan. 

Understanding Michigan Corporation Formation

If you're planning to form a corporation in Michigan, there are several legal requirements you'll need to fulfill. Here's a rundown of the critical steps you'll need to take:

Choose a name

Your corporation's name must be unique and not already used by another Michigan business entity. You can check the name availability using the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' online database. Further, your business name must contain the words "Corporation," "Incorporated," "Company," or "Limited," or a contraction of one of these words.

Appoint a registered agent

Your corporation must have a registered agent in Michigan who can receive legal documents and official correspondence on your behalf.

File articles of incorporation

To officially start your corporation, you should file articles of incorporation with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. This document includes information such as your corporation's name, purpose, registered agent, and the number of shares authorized.

Draft rules

Your corporation needs bylaws to describe how it will be run, including the duties of directors and officials, how meetings will be conducted, and how voting will work.

Licenses and Permits

Obtain any extra licenses and permissions required by the state or municipal government. This depends on the type of your company.

Register for taxes

You'll need to register your company for both federal and state taxes, including sales tax, employment tax, and income tax.

Hold a first meeting

After establishing your company, the board of directors must convene for the first time to approve rules, choose officials, and conduct other significant business.

Steps involved in Michigan corporation formation

  • The Michigan corporation  formation process typically involves several key steps. First, you'll need to choose a unique name for your corporation and appoint a registered agent in Michigan. 
  • Next, you'll need to file articles of incorporation with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which will officially establish your corporation as a legal entity. 
  • You'll also need to draft bylaws, obtain necessary Michigan business licenses and permits, and register for taxes. 
  • Finally, you'll need to hold an initial board of directors meeting to elect officers and adopt bylaws.

By following these steps, you can successfully form a corporation in Michigan and begin operating your business.

Documents that need to be filed with the state

  1. Articles of Incorporation: This legal document that creates your corporation specifies its name, objectives, listed representative, and the total number of authorized shares.
  1. Certificate of Assumed Name: You must submit a Certificate of Assumed Name if your company will conduct business using a name other than its legal name.
  2. Annual Report: To maintain your company in good standing, you must submit an Annual Report to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs each year.
  3. EIN: To acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your company, use IRS Form SS-4.
  4. Rules: Even though they are not submitted to the state, your organization must draft regulations that specify how it will be run.

Choosing a Business Name and Structure

Importance of choosing a memorable business name

Making a decent first impression is crucial because it's frequently the first thing prospective customers will see or learn about your business.

  • Creating a powerful business identity: A memorable name can help you do this and help you stand out from the crowd.
  • Legal defense: Selecting a distinctive name can shield your company from copyright violation and legal wrangling.
  • Marketing and advertising: A memorable moniker can help market and promote your company more effectively.
  • Online visibility: A distinctive name can help consumers discover your company online and on social media.

Different types of business structures available in Michigan

The most accessible type of business organization is a sole proprietorship, in which one person owns and runs the company. The proprietor is solely in charge of the company and is liable for its obligations.

  • Partnership: A partnership is a company held and run by two or more people. The partners are equally liable for the partnership's obligations, liabilities, earnings, and losses.
  • LLC: A limited liability company (LLC) blends a corporation's and a partnership's advantages to create a flexible business framework. Owners, also called members, are exempt from being personally liable for the obligations and responsibilities of the business.
  • Corporation: A corporation is a business with its own formal identity apart from its proprietors. The owners or shareholders do not directly owe the bills and obligations of the company. This more complex company organization needs legal paperwork and processes.
  • Nonprofit company: A nonprofit company is a legal entity with a public advantage (charitable, educational, etc.) in mind. Nonprofit companies must abide by specific laws and rules but are exempt from some fees and restrictions.
  • Cooperative: A cooperative is a company held and run by its members, who also participate in its profits and democratically decide how it is run.

Registering Your Corporation with the State

How to register your corporation with the state of Michigan

To create your company with the state of Michigan, follow these simple steps:

  1. Ensure your company name is available and complies with state criteria before registering.
  2. Pick a corporate structure: Choose the appropriate company form for your Michigan corporation, such as an LLC or corporation.
  3. Articles of incorporation: Submit your articles of incorporation to the Secretary of State for Michigan. This document contains basic details about your organization, including the company's name, location, and proprietors' identities.
  4. A registered agent is a person or organization chosen to receive legal papers on the corporation's behalf. An authorized representative must be named when submitting your articles of organization.
  5. All required licenses and permits: Depending on the sort of company you run, you might need extra licenses or permits to conduct business in Michigan lawfully.
  6. Obtain a business identity number (EIN) from the IRS. This particular number is needed for tax reasons.
  7. Register with the Department of Revenue: All corporations in Michigan must register with the Department of Revenue for tax purposes.
  8. File annual reports: Corporations in Michigan must file a yearly report with the Secretary of State and pay a fee.

Fees associated with registering a corporation

  • Charge: In Michigan, incorporating a company requires a registration charge of $60. This payment covers the expense of completing your articles of incorporation and should be made to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
  • The charge for name reservation: You must pay LARA a cost of $10 to secure a name for your company before you organize.
  • Certificate of good standing: You might need to get a certificate of good standing from the state where the foreign company is already established if you're filing it in another state. While the cost differs from state to state, it is $10 in Michigan. Once your company is established, you must submit an annual report to LARA every year. $25 is the cost for this.
  • Fee for the registered agent: Corporations must have a registered agent in Michigan with an actual location. You can also employ a registered agent service for an annual fee from $100 to $300.

Timeline for registering your corporation with the state

You should plan the procedure to establish your corporation with the state of Michigan, taking several weeks. Creating and submitting your articles of organization to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is the first stage (LARA). 

LARA usually reviews and approves filings within 7–10 working days of receiving them. Following approval, you must print a notification of your incorporation in a neighbourhood publication for three weeks straight. Finally, before starting a business, you must submit your original report with LARA and acquire any required licenses or permits. Depending on the intricacy of your company and any delays in the review or approval process, all of these processes could take a few weeks to a few months.

Drafting Corporate Bylaws

Bylaws ensure that the company is set up and conducts business in a straightforward, uniform, and lawful manner. They also offer a framework for handling problems that might come up during company activities and for resolving disputes. Overall, having well-written bylaws can support accountability and openness while assisting the company in operating efficiently.

Guide how to create effective bylaws

  • Several essential stages are required to create successful Michigan corporate bylaws. First, ensure your rules comply with all applicable state laws regulating corporations. 
  • Next, list the important topics that the rules should cover, such as the duties of officials and directors, how meetings should be conducted, and how decisions are made. 
  • Create simple, understandable wording that is straightforward to follow. 
  • Last, make sure the bylaws are consistently examined and updated to represent any modifications to the corporation's activities or alterations to legal requirements. 

To ensure that the bylaws are thorough, functional, and compliant with all pertinent laws and regulations, it is also crucial to solicit feedback from all parties and confer with legal and financial experts.

Key provisions that should be included in corporate bylaws

Essential clauses in Michigan corporate bylaws should cover topics like the organization's mission and objectives, the duties of its officers and directors, how meetings are conducted, and decisions are made, how bylaws are amended, and how officers and directors are chosen.

The corporation's financial policies, such as the processes for handling funds, borrowing money, and allocating earnings, should also be outlined in the bylaws. Policies regarding conflicts of interest, indemnification terms, and case resolution processes are a few additional crucial stipulations that may be present. It's vital to seek legal and financial advice to ensure the rules are thorough, functional, and compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.

Obtaining Necessary Licenses and Permits

  • All companies in Michigan must file with the state, even if they do not require additional licenses or permits.
  • Professional licenses: To practice their occupation, some people, including doctors, attorneys, and accountants, must hold a state license.
  • Environmental Permits: The state or federal government may require you to acquire environmental permits if your business conducts operations that could hurt the environment, such as manufacturing or building.
  • Zoning and Land Use Permits: The local government may require you to apply for zoning and land use permits if you intend to run your company in a particular area.
  • Sales Tax Permit: The state of Michigan may require you to acquire a sales tax permit if your business offers products or services there.

How to obtain licenses and permits

Find out the requirements for your company and industry in Michigan before applying for licenses and permits. Contact the appropriate state or local government offices to receive applications and details on the licensing procedure. A test, documentation of training, or expertise may be needed for some licenses. Be prepared to pay any required expenses and provide comprehensive information about your company. To prevent fees or penalties, it's crucial to ensure all licenses and permits are acquired and current.

Resources for further information

Several resources are available if you're looking for further information on registering a corporation in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) website is an excellent place to start. They have detailed information on the registration process, fees, and filing requirements. You can also consult with an attorney or business advisor for guidance. The Michigan Small Business Development Center also offers free resources and counseling for entrepreneurs and small business owners.


The company establishment procedure entails several stages, including submitting your articles of incorporation, disseminating a notification of incorporation, and securing any required licenses or permits. Consult with a business adviser and use the resources the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Michigan Small Business Development Center offer to ensure a seamless and effective registration process. You can confidently incorporate in Michigan and begin growing your company with the appropriate planning and direction.

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