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315 E. 5th Street, STE 202, Waterloo, IA 50703 | (515) 661-5509
by Iowa Registered Agent LLC

Certificate of Authority for Iowa Foreign LLC

If you’re planning on expanding your business into Iowa, you’ll need to complete the foreign registration process. “Foreign” in this case just means your LLC was first established outside of Iowa. All foreign LLCs that want to do business in Iowa must submit a Foreign Registration Statement along with the $100 filing fee. Foreign LLCs will also need to submit a Certificate of Good Standing from their domestic (home) state and provide an Iowa registered agent name and address. What follows is a how-to guide for filing everything on your own. Or, spend your time running your business and let us do the work for you!

Get My Iowa Foreign LLC today! $149 + state fees

Do I need to foreign register my LLC in Iowa?

Like most states, Iowa state does not list out what “doing business in Iowa” is exactly. They prefer to explain what does NOT constitute doing business in the state in §489.905 of the Uniform LLC Act. However, if you are selling products or performing services that qualify for Iowa sales taxes, you will need to foreign register with the Iowa Secretary of State. If you have any doubts at all about meeting the requirements for foreign registration, contact a business lawyer to make sure! If you know you need to foreign register your LLC into Iowa, our how-to guide is below.

What do I need to complete my LLC foreign registration application?

There are a variety of ways you can submit the Iowa LLC Statement of Foreign Registration application: by mail, in person or online. This guide will walk you through the online filing process and the information you need to complete the filing. But first, there are a few things you need to do to complete the LLC foreign registration application no matter how you choose to file it.

Choose an Iowa Registered Agent

Yes, Iowa requires that you always have a registered agent with an Iowa physical address for your LLC on state record. The agent you appoint will need to be available at their Iowa address to receive your state and legal mail during all business hours. Hiring a friend or family member, or being your own agent, is an option. But, this can be difficult to do yourself if you are new to Iowa. Also, a friend or family member may not be home all the time to receive your mail.

A popular alternative is to hire a registered agent service because they guarantee that your mail will be received reliably and securely. Our service, for example, uploads a scanned copy of your mail to your secure online account the same day it is received! We also provide a filing service that can prepare and submit the state filings your LLC needs. Your business mail and state filing confirmations saved in one convenient location!

In addition, you would be able to use our registered agent address on state record to maintain your privacy. Why deal with tons of junk mail and risk getting visited by solicitors if you don’t have to?

Get Iowa Registered Agent Service today!  $49 per year

Order a Certificate of Good Standing

Before Iowa will approve your foreign registration statement, they need proof that your LLC is a legitimate business. A Certificate of Good Standing from your domestic state is the proof they need. This certificate needs to be dated within 90 days of submitting your foreign registration statement.

Usually, the secretary of state’s office issues Certificates of Good Standing, also called Certificates of Existence. Check in with your local state’s office to check on processing time and cost, as both vary from state to state.

Check Your Business Name Availability

Just because you own your business name in your home state, doesn’t mean it can’t be used in other states like Iowa! To help prevent an application rejection due to a business name conflict, search for your LLC name in the Iowa Business Entities Search tool. If your LLC name doesn’t pop up, you should be in the clear! If the same or too similar a name is found, you may need to operate in Iowa under an alternate name.

In this situation, there is no additional fee or application that needs to be submitted if you need to choose an alternate name in Iowa. You simply choose an alternate name, search for that name to make sure it’s available, then add it to line 1A of the foreign registration statement application.

If your original company name IS available, but does not include an entity identifier (LLC, Limited Liability Company, etc.), you will need to fill in line 1A with your company name plus the entity identifier. Iowa state LLC naming code §489.112 states that this is a requirement for all LLC types.

Filing the Iowa LLC Statement of Foreign Registration Application

To submit this filing online, you’ll first need to create an account with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Fast Track Filing system. Once you get logged in, click on the blue “File a Business Document” button. Then choose the “Register a Foreign (not Iowa) limited liability company” link to complete this application. The information you’ll need is below:

  • Name of Your LLC (exactly as it appears on your Certificate of Good Standing)
  • Alternate LLC Name (only needed if your original name is not available, or does not include an entity suffix like LLC, or L.L.C., Limited Liability Company, etc)
  • Expiration Date (“perpetual” is the most common choice)
  • Domestic State (home state where your LLC was first formed)
  • Effective Date (only required if you want a specific date to begin in Iowa)
  • Upload Your Certificate of Existence (aka: Good Standing- upload a .pdf digital copy)
  • Does Your LLC Hold an Interest in Agricultural Land in Iowa? (answer yes or no)
  • Registered Agent Info (name, Iowa physical address, mailing address & email address)
  • LLC Principal Physical & Mailing Address (can be in Iowa or out of state, can also be your registered agent address to protect your privacy!)
  • Authorized Person Signature (check the box confirming you are an authorized person and type in your full legal name to sign. This information will be public record.)

The total payment due will appear at the bottom and should say $100. Click the “Review & Pay” button to pay with credit or debit card. The state should have your application processed in 7-10 business days. They will email you when your Foreign Registration Statement is ready to download from your state account.

Our Quick & Easy Foreign LLC Filing Service

Like the idea of finding all the business information you need in one account under one password and one username? Then hire us to file your foreign LLC application and serve as your registered agent. Everything your LLC needs in one easy-to-use account!

Here are the details of our foreign LLC filing service:

  • $49 for 1 year of Iowa registered agent service
  • $100 Iowa state foreign LLC filing fee
  • $100 our filing fee
  • FREE LLC Operating Agreement (optional)
  • FREE encrypted online client portal to store all your Iowa business documents, mail & manage services
  • FREE Annual Report reminder service
  • Total = $249

The only missing expense is for your Certificate of Good Standing. The cost varies from state to state, but is usually under $50. We can order this certificate for you for just the state fee. If you already have a copy dated within 90 days, we can remove the fee for it from your order and use the copy you have!

Hire Us to File Your Iowa Foreign LLC $149 + state fees

Does Iowa require a Biennial Report?

Yes, Iowa requires all LLCs to file a Biennial Report between January 1st and April 1st every odd numbered year. The year you form or register your LLC does not count. So, if your LLC start date is March 1st, 2025, your first Biennial Report would not be due until 2027. If your LLC date is in the year 2024, your first Biennial Report will be due by April 1st, 2025.

The cost to file this report depends on how you file it. If you file a hardcopy by mail, the cost is $45 and takes 7-14 business days to process. If you file it online, the cost is only $30 (and it gets processed right away)! Since you must visit the Iowa Fast Track Filing system to file either way, it’s worth it to submit it online.

If you miss your filing submission deadline, Iowa does not charge a late fee. However, they may cancel your foreign registration if it is more than 60 days late. If you choose to hire us as your Iowa registered agent, you’ll never miss a filing deadline with our free LLC report reminder service. Even if you choose to file it yourself, you can still take advantage of our reminders and use our address to protect your privacy on this filing!

FAQ Section

If you have more questions, check out the most asked questions and answers below. Still need more information? We want to hear from you! Give us a call during business hours at (515) 661-5509 to speak to an Iowa business expert.

Is my LLC information private in Iowa?

Iowa does not ask you to list member names on state record. So, in that way, yes, it is private. However, any LLC filing you submit to the state, and therefore the information you place on those filings, will be available to the public. Through the Iowa Business Entities Search site, anyone can view and download any filing a business submits to the state.

How do I file my LLC Biennial Report by mail?

In order to download and print out a blank copy of the Biennial Report, you will need to visit the Iowa Fast Track Filing system website. From there, you can either login to your account to download it, or there’s a link to download it if you don’t have or want to create an account:

To submit by mail:

Print out the hardcopy report, and include a check or money order for $45 made out to the Iowa Secretary of State. Mail it all off to:

Iowa Secretary of State
Business Services
First Floor, Lucas Building
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319

Where can I see a list of Iowa foreign LLC filings?

You can visit the Iowa Secretary of State Business Entity Forms & Fees page to see a list of all the filings you can make for your foreign LLC. This page also supplies information on how to file and fees.

What if I need to close my business in Iowa?

To close your foreign LLC in Iowa, you will need to file a Statement of Withdrawal to the Iowa Secretary of State. The cost is only $10 and can be submitted by mail, in person, or online using the Fast Track Filing system. Iowa does not require a tax clearance letter to accompany your Statement of Withdrawal.

If filed by mail, processing could take up to a couple weeks. Online filings are processed within 3 days.

Do I need a business license in Iowa?

Iowa business licensing depends on what industry your LLC practices. To make sure your business has all the professional, occupational, or state licensing it needs, check in with the Iowa Source Link website on Business Licensing & Permits.

If your business has Iowa employees, or sells products and services in Iowa, you may be required to collect Iowa Sales Tax. If so, you will need to register with the Department of Revenue. Check out their Sales & Use Tax Guide and their Permits & Filing Requirements guide for more information.

How do I contact the Iowa Secretary of State?

The Iowa Secretary of State office contact information is below:

Physical & Mailing Address First Floor, Lucas Building
321 E. 12th St.
Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone Number 515-281-5204
Email address
Fax Number 515-242-5953