How to Start an LLC in South Dakota (February 2024 Update)

Meow Technologies, Inc.

Meow Technologies, Inc.

From Mount Rushmore to the Missouri River, South Dakota is filled with natural beauty and opportunity. As an entrepreneur, forming a South Dakota limited liability company (LLC) allows you to tap into that potential while limiting personal liability.

Getting an LLC up and running here is easier than you may think if you follow some key steps. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process, from reserving your business name all the way to submitting important annual filings. Read on to learn exactly what it takes to form an LLC in South Dakota.

Choosing and Reserving Your SD LLC’s Perfect Name

The first order of business when starting a South Dakota LLC is to decide on a name. This may seem simple, but there are a few legal requirements to keep in mind:

  • The name must contain words like “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company,” or abbreviations like “L.L.C.” You can also abbreviate “limited” as “ltd.” and “company” as “co.”
  • Your LLC’s name cannot be the same as any other business registered in the state. You’ll need to perform a name search via the Secretary of State’s website before settling on something.
  • Certain restricted words like “bank,” “university,” or “fire department” cannot typically be used unless you obtain special permissions.

Once you’ve brainstormed some ideas that meet South Dakota’s naming rules, you can double-check availability by reserving the name for up to 120 days. Simply file an Application for Reservation of Name with the Secretary of State’s office along with the $25 fee.

Another important consideration is to make sure the domain name and/or social media handles match the LLC name you want to use. Registering a domain now even if you don’t plan on having a website yet is wise to lock in branding and prevent confusion down the road.

Appointing a Registered Agent for Official Business Communications

Before submitting your formal LLC paperwork, you must designate a registered agent on record with the state. This is the person or company responsible for accepting legal communications and official documents on the LLC’s behalf.

The registered agent requirements per South Dakota law are straightforward:

  • They must have a physical street address in South Dakota where documents can be served. A P.O. box does not qualify.
  • They need to be available at said address during normal business hours to receive things like lawsuit notices in person when necessary.
  • After accepting items like summons or tax documents, the agent must then promptly forward those materials to the appropriate LLC members or managers.

You can choose a trusted friend or family member to save costs. However, hiring a professional registered agent service lends peace of mind since they safeguard your home address from public listings. It also guarantees someone official is keeping tabs on important mail if you’re away or unable to receive it for whatever reason.

Preparing and Submitting Your Articles of Organization

To legally establish your LLC, the South Dakota Secretary of State requires submitting Articles of Organization. Colloquially known as “filing your articles,” this crucial step isn’t as scary as it sounds.

You can either fill out a simple online form through their business filing portal or print the articles form to mail in with a small fee. Just make sure you have the required details handy, mainly:

  • Your LLC’s official name
  • The initial street address where your LLC will be based
  • Your registered agent’s name and contact information
  • The organizer’s name (the person actually submitting the articles)
  • Whether your LLC will be member-managed or appoint outside managers
  • If utilizing managers, their names and addresses

That’s the bare minimum information needed. You can also optionally include things like the LLC’s purpose, duration, and additional provisions. Double-check everything before submitting to avoid headaches from amendments down the road!

Crafting an Operating Agreement to Govern Your SD LLC

With your articles filed, you might think the hard part is over—but not so fast! You still need an operating agreement to officially organize and manage the inner workings of your South Dakota LLC.

While not legally required, having this documented agreement between members is non-negotiable for all practical purposes. Specifically, it establishes important rules and procedures for:

  • Determining each member’s ownership percentage based on their contributions
  • Divvying up profits or losses
  • Procedures for adding or removing members
  • Voting rights for major business decisions
  • Steps and conditions for dissolving the LLC altogether

You’re essentially creating a manual on how you’ll handle finances, operations, disputes, changes in membership, and even shutting down if needed. Get your operating agreement drafted early on to prevent issues down the road.

Obtaining an EIN for Tax and Bank Account Purposes

The Employer Identification Number (EIN) is how both state and federal agencies identify your business for tax and legal matters.

You can easily get your unique 9-digit EIN in a few minutes by applying directly on the IRS website. While only compulsory for South Dakota LLCs with employees or special tax status, you’ll still need an EIN for crucial steps like opening a business bank account.

It also helps maintain the separation of your company’s tax obligations from your personal finances. For these reasons, don’t skip obtaining an EIN even if you’re a single-member LLC without workers!

Additional Steps to Keep Your SD LLC Compliant

Congratulations, your LLC is officially registered and ready to start doing business! But the work doesn’t stop here—you still need to take care of a few housekeeping matters to keep things running smoothly:

Open a Business Bank Account ASAP

Commingling personal and business funds is a huge legal liability, so open dedicated LLC banking accounts right away.

For more information, take a look at our article on the key benefits of business checking accounts.

Consider Insurance Needs

While LLC status affords personal asset protection, you still need adequate commercial insurance coverage for potential issues down the line. Price compare plans but don’t wait to get insured.

Stay on Top of Annual Reporting

South Dakota requires all LLCs to submit annual reports at the end of your original filing month to confirm operating details and contacts. Missing the $50 filing leads to fees and potential dissolution if delinquent too long.

Lean On Available Business Resources

For hiring, licensing, grants, workspace assistance and more specialized help, check out South Dakota’s small business development centers and workforce service agencies.

Determine the Best Tax Status Strategy

By default, South Dakota LLCs utilize pass-through taxation but can file as S-corps or C-corps instead depending on which saves more. Consult a tax pro to map out the optimal route.

And that wraps up the steps for starting a compliant LLC in South Dakota from square one! While the filing process seems lengthy on paper, the state provides ample resources and support to simplify formal business registration. Plus the tax perks and friendly business laws here make it a tempting place to plant roots as an entrepreneur.

Hopefully this guide gave you clarity and confidence to get your South Dakota LLC up and running. But don’t hesitate to connect with an attorney or small business service for personalized help—they can provide assistance with filings, operating agreements, licensing, and more to give your new endeavor the best shot at success!


Meow Technologies is a financial technology company, not a bank or FDIC-depository insured institution. Likewise, Meow Technologies is not an investment adviser and none of the information presented herein should be relied upon as financial advice or a recommendation to make any financial decision nor should it be considered to be tax or legal advice. The information is the opinion of Meow Technologies for educational purposes and may not be suitable for all companies. Products, like the one described herein, are offered through Meow Technologies and are not advisory services which are only offered through Meow Advisory, LLC.** The FDICs deposit insurance coverage only protects against the failure of an FDIC-insured bank.**

Get started with Meow in under 10 minutes

*Disclaimer: Meow Advisory LLC is a registered investment adviser. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply any level of skill or training.
For accounts opened through Atomic Brokerage LLC: Meow Advisory LLC has an engagement with Atomic Brokerage LLC (“Atomic Brokerage”), a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC , to bring you the opportunity to open a brokerage account. Brokerage services for customers of Meow Advisory LLC are provided by Atomic Brokerage. For more details about Atomic Brokerage, please see the Form CRS, General Disclosures, and the Privacy Policy. Check the background of Atomic Brokerage on FINRA’s BrokerCheck.
For subadvisory services for accounts opened through Atomic Invest LLC: Meow Advisory LLC has an engagement with Atomic Invest, LLC (“Atomic Invest”), an SEC-registered investment adviser, to bring you the opportunity to open an investment advisory account. Investment advisory services are provided by Atomic Invest. Companies which are engaged by Atomic Invest receive compensation of 0% to 0.85% annualized, payable monthly, based upon assets under management for each referred client who establishes an account with Atomic Invest (i.e., exact payment will differ). Atomic Invest also shares a percentage of compensation received from margin interest and free cash interest earned by customers with Meow Advisory LLC. Meow Advisory LLC is not a client of Atomic Invest, but our engagement with Atomic invest gives us an incentive to refer you to Atomic Invest instead of another investment adviser. This conflict of interest affects our ability to provide you with unbiased, objective information about the services of Atomic Invest. This could mean that the services of another investment adviser with whom we are not engaged could be more appropriate for you than Atomic invest. Advisory services through Atomic Invest are designed to assist clients in achieving a favorable outcome in their investment portfolio. They are not intended to provide tax advice or financial planning with respect to every aspect of a client’s financial situation and do not include investments that clients may hold outside of Atomic Invest. For more details about Atomic Invest, please see the Form CRS, Form ADV Part 2A, the Privacy Policy, and other disclosures. Brokerage services for Atomic Invest are provided by Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC (“PAS”), a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC.
Neither Atomic Invest nor Atomic Brokerage, nor any of their affiliates, is a bank. Investments in securities are Not FDIC insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Before investing, consider your investment objectives and the fees and expenses charged by Atomic Brokerage and/or Atomic Invest.
See the Legal Section within the Meow website for additional agreements.

U.K. Gilt pricing quoted net of fees. ~5% U.K. Gilt yield is sourced from Investing.com December 2023 6-month United Kingdom 6-Month Bond Yield. ~5% Treasury Bill yield is sourced from treasurydirect.gov December 2023 12-week U.S. Treasury Bill auction.

**Disclaimer: Meow Technologies is a financial technology company, not a depository, bank or credit union, and your account at Meow is not, itself, an FDIC-insured product.

Meow currently partners with three banking providers. Banking services are provided by Third Coast Bank SSB; Member FDIC, Grasshopper Bank, N.A; Member FDIC, and FirstBank, a Tennessee corporation; Member FDIC.

By opening a Maximum Checking account through Meow and if you choose to receive banking services provided by Grasshopper Bank, N.A, you deposit your funds into a deposit account at Grasshopper Bank, N.A. which sweeps those funds into deposit accounts across a network of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”)-insured banks, for up to the current standard maximum deposit insurance amount (“SMDIA”) of $250,000 per eligible depositor, per destination institution, for each ownership capacity or category, subject to applicable terms and conditions, including Grasshopper's ICS Deposit Placement Agreement. Grasshopper Bank, N.A. uses a third-party vendor and agent to help administer this sweep process. Visit https://www.intrafi.com/network-banks/ for a list of the banks and savings associations with which we/Grasshopper, N.A. have a business relationship for the placement of deposits at destination institutions, and into which your deposits may be placed (subject to applicable terms with you, and any opt-outs by Grasshopper, N.A. or you). The current maximum deposit insurance amount for your funds is up to $125 million in FDIC insurance through the sweep network of Grasshopper Bank, N.A, subject to change at any time with notice from Meow and/or pursuant to applicable law. Terms and restrictions apply. Subject to applicable rate sheet. Interest rate on checking products quoted in Annual Percentage Yield (APY). Interest rates and yields are effective as per the date on the applicable rate sheet. See applicable terms and restrictions and refer to the applicable rate sheets for additional information.

By opening a Maximum Checking account through Meow and if you choose to receive banking services provided by Third Coast Bank SSB, you deposit your funds into a deposit account at Third Coast Bank SSB. If you also hold funds in a sweep program with Third Coast Bank SSB, Third Coast Bank SSB sweeps those funds into deposit accounts across a network of FDIC-insured banks, for up to the current SMDIA of $250,000 per eligible depositor, per receiving bank, for each ownership capacity or category, including any other balances you may hold at that receiving bank directly or indirectly through other intermediaries, including broker-dealers. Third Coast Bank SSB uses a third-party vendor and agent to help administer this sweep process. Visit Third Coast Bank SSB for a list of the banks and savings associations with which we/Third Coast Bank SSB have a business relationship for the placement of deposits at receiving banks, and into which your deposits may be placed (subject to applicable terms with you, and any opt-outs by Third Coast Bank or you). The current maximum deposit insurance amount for your funds is up to $50 Million in FDIC insurance through the sweep network of Third Coast Bank, subject to change at any time with notice from Meow and/or pursuant to applicable law. Terms and restrictions apply. Subject to applicable rate sheet. Interest rate on checking products quoted in Annual Percentage Yield (APY). Interest rates and yields are effective as per the date on the applicable rate sheet. See applicable terms and conditions and refer to the applicable rate sheet for additional information.

By opening a Maximum Checking account through Meow and if you choose to receive banking services provided by FirstBank, a Tennessee corporation, you deposit your funds into a deposit account at FirstBank, which sweeps those funds into deposit accounts across a network of FDIC-insured banks, for up to the current SMDIA of $250,000 per eligible depositor, per destination institution, for each ownership capacity or category, subject to applicable terms and conditions, including FirstBank's ICS Deposit Placement Agreement. FirstBank uses a third-party vendor and agent to help administer this sweep process. Visit IntraFi for a list of the banks and savings associations with which FirstBank has a business relationship for the placement of deposits at destination institutions, and into which your deposits may be placed (subject to applicable terms with you, and any opt-outs by FirstBank or you). The current maximum deposit insurance amount for your funds is up to $125 million in FDIC insurance through the sweep network of FirstBank, subject to change at any time with notice from Meow and/or pursuant to applicable law. Terms and restrictions apply. Subject to applicable rate sheet. Interest rate on checking products quoted in Annual Percentage Yield (APY). Interest rates and yields are effective as per the date on the applicable rate sheet. See applicable terms and restrictions and refer to the applicable rate sheet for additional information.

***FDIC insurance coverage is only available to protect you against the failure of an FDIC-insured bank that holds your deposits (and does not protect you against the failure of Meow or other third party). Your account with Meow and all services provided to you are subject to the Meow Terms of Service (“Account Agreements”) and other applicable terms and no other representations or warranties, express or implied, are provided to you except as expressly set forth in those written Account Agreements. If you have any questions regarding your account, please contact team@meow.com.

FirstBank Funds Availability Notice

FirstBanks general policy is to allow you to withdraw funds deposited in your account on the first business day after the day we receive your deposit. Funds from electronic deposits will be available on the day we receive the deposit. In some cases, we may delay your ability to withdraw funds beyond the first business day. Then, the funds will generally be available by the SECOND business day after the day of deposit.