It is relatively easy for people to search for your business online. The certificate of formation, a document required when filing for a Virginia LLC, are public records. In this document, you are asked to list the owners. In some states, you don’t have to list your information and can instead avoid releasing your personal information to the public. The following information may be helpful to owners who desire more security from prying eyes.
What is an Anonymous LLC?
An Anonymous LLC is a limited liability company whose owners are not publicly identified by the state. An Anonymous LLC is created by being careful where and how an LLC is formed. Some states require managers to be listed, but a nominee manager may often be used. Nevertheless, even if you are in a state that allows you to withhold member information, a registered agent and Organizer are always listed. You may select a registered agent or organizer that is either a third-party service or a person following your state's regulations. Make sure you do not put yourself if you want to retain privacy as you will be required to provide your name and address. In Virginia, you can change your registered agent to someone else through the Clerk’s Information System. They have a how-to guide available on the State Corporation Commission site.
Business owners may consider forming an anonymous LLC if they prefer to keep their business participation private.
How does an Anonymous LLC Works?
The basic information requested when registering as an LLC includes the name of the officers and directors, LLC manager names, and your business address. However, some states allow you to withhold your name and instead provide a law firm, temporary owner, or nominee. Another benefit is that you don't have to update your LLC documentation if ownership of your company changes.
Some states allow you to file directly for an anonymous LLC within the state. The states that allow this include Wyoming, Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico. Choose one of these states if you want to file for an anonymous LLC in one state only.
Alternatively, if you live in a state that does not allow the filing of an anonymous LLC, you can use a double LLC/Holding company setup. For instance, if an owner must be listed, then make the owner an anonymous company from another state. Another way you can maintain privacy when you are in a state that does not allow withholding information is by creating two LLCs and following the steps below. You may want to consult an anonymous LLC business attorney for assistance with this process.
- Select an executor and registered agent other than yourself.
- File to establish LLC one and the initial report. List LLC two as the member as you are required to list one member in the certificate of formation.
- File for LLC two and put LLC one as the member.
- You will then file two annual renewals with the same information.
Why would someone create an anonymous LLC?
An Anonymous LLC provides all of the benefits of a regular LLC, with the additional use of keeping your information private on the Internet. Filing for an anonymous LLC keeps your home address from readily available to the public. It will also keep others, including friends, neighbors, and strangers, from knowing what you own from owning an LLC. So, in summary, this is a way to protect this information while still establishing an LLC.
What are the benefits of anonymous LLCs?
There are many potential advantages to opening an anonymous LLC. These benefits include privacy protection, confidentiality, harassment prevention, and safety.
- As mentioned above, Anonymous LLCs allow you to keep your name and address away from the public eye. You can avoid association with any negative fallout from your LLC.
- You can keep your personal life and work separate. This protects your financial status from prying eyes from anyone you may not want to have your information.
- You can avoid media and mass marketing campaigns to your emails by providing a 3rd party address that can filter through these messages for you.
- Filing for an anonymous LLC prevents potentially dangerous individuals, such as stalkers and criminals, from gaining access to your information for use in a predatory or malicious way.
What are the steps to forming an Anonymous LLC?
In States that allow the formation of an anonymous LLC, including Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico, the general steps are similar.
Step 1: Name your LLC
The rules surrounding what you can name your LLC can vary from state to state. However, some basic rules include the following.
- Must be completely distinguishable from other LLC names on record in the State you are applying
- Include terminology to indicate your business type, such as “limited liability company,” “L.L.C.”, or “LLC”
- The name can’t contain terms that imply a different business type
Step 2: Select a Registered Agent
A registered agent is an individual or business entity that processes your tax and legal documents on your behalf. They make sure that you maintain compliance with regulations for your business.
The agent must also have a physical address within the state you are filing. You will put your registered agent’s address down and withhold your own. Do not list yourself as the registered agent because then you will have to provide your address anyways. This is the only unique step for establishing an anonymous LLC compared to filing for a regular LLC.
Step 3: File the formation documents with your state
Most states provide many options for filing your LLC’s Articles of organization. This can include online, mail, fax, and email. Make sure to include your filing fee.
The filing process is not too complicated in states that allow anonymous LLCs. It is only slightly different than obtaining a regular LLC. You only have the added step of finding a third party to stand in as your registered agent.
Is an Anonymous LLC Right for You?
Deciding whether you should file for an anonymous LLC depends on how much you desire your information to remain private. Some forms, such as your bank and IRS, can still list your legal name. However, filing for an anonymous LLC makes it more challenging for the layperson to find out your real identity. Some businesses that may benefit from an anonymous LLC include landlords who don’t want to be bothered by angry tenants and celebrities who don’t want to be harassed by the media or stalkers.
Do I need a Lawyer:?
It is not necessary to hire a lawyer. However, an attorney can be helpful when setting up and maintaining an anonymous LLC. They can act as your registered agent, help navigate the rules and regulations specific to your state, and respond to concerns promptly and professionally. This can increase efficiency and make errors less likely with the aid of experts. If someone is trying to harass or solicit your business, a business lawyer can also handle this matter with less conflict. With the defense of an attorney, they may move forward with less disruption to your business. It is also helpful to have a lawyer if you desire an anonymous LLC but are located in a state that requires you to list an owner’s information, as previously mentioned.