Forming an LLC is a common way to protect your personal assets when you start an Amazon FBA business.

But do you need an LLC for Amazon FBA? 

In short: no, you don’t “need” one.

You can start selling on Amazon under your name as a sole proprietor and adjust your structure in time.

However, there are a few things you should consider before making this decision.

In this article, we’ll explore those decision factors so you can choose what’s best for you.

Note: We are not attorneys or accountants, and Brand Builder University is not qualified to give you legal counsel. If you want business structure related legal advice, please contact a professional.

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What is an LLC?

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a type of business structure that provides limited liability to its owners.

This means that the LLC members are not personally responsible for any debts or legal action taken against the company, the LLC structure itself is.

An LLC structure can be a good option for Amazon sellers who want to protect their personal assets.

NOTE

Forming an LLC does not necessarily provide complete protection. There are other factors to consider, such as state laws and how you operate your business.

What is a Sole Proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is one of the simplest and most common type of business structures in which one person owns all the rights to an unincorporated business.

When you’re a sole proprietor, you’re your own boss, so not only do you take responsibility for your actions – but if any legal action happens that involves your online business or name – it’s just as if it was done by you personally.

This provides you with less legal protection and presents a risk to your personal assets which is the major driver behind most Amazon sellers’ choice to form an LLC.

What are the benefits of forming an LLC?

Forming an LLC can offer several advantages for Amazon sellers:

  1. Limited Liability: One of the key benefits is limited liability protection. If legal issues or debts arise within the business, the LLC structure helps protect the personal assets of the owners from being at risk.
  2. Credibility: Having an LLC can add credibility to your Amazon seller profile. It shows customers and suppliers that you’re a legitimate business entity, potentially increasing trust and sales.
  3. Tax Flexibility: LLCs offer flexibility in how they’re taxed. Sellers can choose to be taxed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporation, or C corporation (if eligible), allowing for potential tax savings or benefits based on their specific situation.
  4. Separation of Personal and Business Assets: By operating through an LLC, personal assets are separate from business assets. This separation can protect personal belongings, like homes or cars, in case the business faces financial issues.
  5. Ease of Management: LLCs have fewer formalities and paperwork requirements compared to corporations. This simplifies operations and administrative tasks, making it easier for Amazon sellers to focus on their business.
  6. Brand Protection: Registering an LLC can help protect your brand name within the state where it’s registered. This prevents others in that state from using the same or a similar name for their businesses.
  7. Access to Business Resources: Some resources, like business loans, might be more accessible to LLCs than to individual sellers. This can help with business growth and expansion.
  8. Ability to Scale: If you plan to expand your Amazon business, having an LLC structure provides a more scalable platform for growth compared to being a sole proprietorship.
llc pros

Remember though, while an LLC offers numerous benefits, the specifics can vary depending on individual circumstances.

It’s always a good idea to consult with a legal or tax professional to determine the best structure for your Amazon business.

Are there any disadvantages to forming an LLC?

While forming an LLC offers several advantages, there are also some potential disadvantages for Amazon sellers:

  1. Costs: Setting up and maintaining an LLC involves fees, such as filing fees, annual report fees, and potential attorney or accountant fees. These costs can be higher compared to operating as a sole proprietorship.
  2. Complexity: Although an LLC is less complex than some other business structures like corporations, it still requires adherence to certain formalities, record-keeping, and compliance with state regulations. This administrative burden might be more than what some individual sellers want to manage.
  3. Tax Implications: While LLCs offer tax flexibility, the taxation can sometimes be more complex. Depending on the chosen tax structure, LLC owners might face additional paperwork or tax obligations.
  4. Limited Liability Limitations: While an LLC protects personal assets in most cases, there are situations where personal liability protection may not apply, such as in cases of personal guarantees on loans or if the LLC is not operated properly, potentially exposing owners to personal liability.
  5. Difficulty in Raising Capital: Compared to corporations, LLCs might face more challenges in raising capital through the sale of stocks because they cannot issue stock. This might limit the avenues available for raising funds for business expansion.
  6. Perception: In some cases, customers or suppliers might prefer to deal with corporations rather than LLCs due to perceived stability or credibility.
  7. Exit Strategy Limitations: Selling an LLC or transferring ownership can sometimes be more complex than with other business structures, potentially limiting exit strategies.
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How do you set up an LLC for an Amazon business?

Setting up an LLC for an Amazon business involves several steps:

1. Choose a state

Decide where you want to form your LLC.

Typically, sellers choose the state where they operate their business or where they reside.

It’s worth considering though that some states might offer more favorable tax or legal conditions.

2. Choose a name

Select a unique name for your LLC that complies with the rules of the state where you’re registering. Ensure the name is available and not already in use by another business entity.

PRO TIP

Your LLC name doesn’t need to be catchy. Most buyers will only ever notice your actual brand name which can be different to your legal entity name.

3. File Articles of Organization

Prepare and file the Articles of Organization (sometimes called Certificate of Formation or similar) with the Secretary of State or relevant state agency.

This document officially creates your LLC and includes details like the LLC’s name, address, registered agent, and purpose.

4. Appoint a Registered Agent

Most states require LLCs to have a registered agent, which is a person or entity designated to receive legal documents and official correspondence on behalf of the LLC.

5. Obtain an EIN

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.

This number is like a social security number for your business and is necessary for tax purposes, hiring employees, and opening a business bank account.

6. File necessary state and local permits or licenses

Depending on your business type and location, you may need specific permits or licenses to operate legally.

Check with your local and state authorities to ensure compliance.

7. Open a business bank account

To keep your personal and business finances separate, open a business bank account in the name of your LLC.

8. Comply with ongoing requirements

Most states have ongoing requirements such as annual reports or fees. Stay compliant with these obligations to maintain your LLC’s good standing.

9. Update Amazon account information

If you created an Amazon seller account before forming your LLC, make sure you update your account information to reflect the new legal entity.

This might involve providing updated tax information or business details.

infographic showing the process of setting up an LLC for Amazon FBA

Can I form an LLC by myself?

While you certainly can carry out all these steps yourself, we would highly recommend using a specialist to carry out the process for you.

Using a specialist LLC formation service can offer several benefits for Amazon sellers:

  1. Expertise and Guidance: Formation services understand the legal requirements and procedures for setting up an LLC. They can guide you through the process and ensure all necessary steps are taken.
  2. Time-Saving: A formation service streamlines the paperwork and legal process, saving you time and allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.
  3. Compliance and Accuracy: These services ensure that your paperwork is filled out correctly and filed according to state regulations, reducing the chances of errors or omissions that could lead to compliance issues later on.
  4. Registered Agent Services: Many formation services include registered agent services, which are essential for receiving legal documents and official correspondence on behalf of your LLC.
  5. Customization and Additional Services: Some formation services offer additional services like drafting an operating agreement or obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.

What is the best LLC formation service?

There are a number of LLC formation services to explore, but our Brand Builder University community has had good experiences with:

How much does forming an LLC cost?

The cost of forming an LLC can vary based on several factors, including the state where you’re forming the LLC, whether you’re using a formation service or an attorney, and any additional services you might need.

Here’s a breakdown of typical expenses:

  1. State Fees: Every state charges a fee to file the Articles of Organization or similar formation document. Fees range from around $50 to $500, depending on the state. Some states might also have annual or biennial renewal fees.
  2. Registered Agent Fees: If you choose to use a registered agent service, there will be an additional cost.
  3. Legal or Formation Service Fees: Hiring an attorney or using an online formation service typically incurs additional costs. Online formation services might charge anywhere from $50 to $500 or more, depending on the services offered. However, ZenBusiness offers a free ‘Starter’ plan.

Overall, the total cost of forming an LLC can range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars, depending on the factors mentioned above.

It’s essential to research the fees in your state and consider the specific needs of your business before budgeting for LLC formation.

When is the right time to form an LLC for Amazon FBA?

Deciding when to form an LLC as an Amazon seller depends on various factors, including the stage of your business, your level of risk tolerance, and your long-term plans.

Here are some considerations:

  1. Business Growth: If your Amazon business is growing, you might consider a formal business structure sooner rather than later. An LLC provides liability protection, shielding your personal assets from business debts or legal issues.
  2. Risk Assessment: Evaluate the level of risk associated with your business. If you’re dealing with high-value products, facing potential liability issues, or foresee growth that could expose you to more risk, forming an LLC earlier could be prudent.
  3. Legal Requirements: Some sellers prefer to start as sole proprietors due to simplicity and lower initial costs. However, as the business grows, forming an LLC becomes necessary to protect personal assets and comply with legal obligations.
  4. Brand Development: If you’re building a brand on Amazon and plan for long-term growth, an LLC can add credibility and brand protection. It helps establish your business as a separate legal entity, potentially enhancing trust among customers and suppliers.
  5. Tax Considerations: Assess the tax implications of forming an LLC. While an LLC offers flexibility in taxation, it’s essential to understand how it will impact your business and personal tax situation.
  6. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Consider the costs associated with forming and maintaining an LLC versus the potential benefits in terms of liability protection, credibility, and long-term growth. If the benefits outweigh the costs, it might be the right time to form an LLC.

In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Some—like me when I started in 2017—start as sole proprietors and transition to an LLC as their business evolves.

However, this can be a bit of an admin headache, so most new sellers tend to form an LLC right from the start for liability protection and credibility.

As always, the most sensible solution is to consult with legal and financial professionals to assess your specific situation and determine the optimal time to form an LLC for your Amazon business.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. You can register a business in your home country and sell on any Amazon marketplace in the world.

Yes, there are a number of steps you will need to take, but you are free to change or dissolve your LLC at any time.

You don’t need a business license to sell on Amazon, but you may need other licenses depending on what you’re selling. For example, if you’re selling food items, you’ll need a food license. If you’re selling products that require a special permit (like firearms), you’ll need that permit to sell them. You can check the requirements for your specific product on the Amazon Seller Central page.

Also, if you’re planning to sell with the wholesale business model, most wholesalers and distributors ask for a business license to show you are a legitimate business entity, but this isn’t a requirement for private label sellers.

If you are selling on Amazon then yes, you are most likely to need a sales tax permit so you can collect sales tax and then pay sales tax – referred to as pass-through taxation, and differs from income tax. Where you will be required to register for a permit and remit sales tax will depend on where you have what is called ‘nexus’.

Nexus relates to where you have a physical presence – brick and mortar, warehousing, or even storing stock at an FBA warehouse. The good thing is, once you’re set up with Amazon, they now collect and remit the sales tax on your behalf in most states. You will still be required to report on your sales tax and we would highly recommend speaking to an expert on this topic.

When forming a limited liability company you’ll need to register for an EIN – an Employer Identification Number – with the IRS. This is similar to your social security number but for your business. This is a simple process on the IRS website and is also completely free.

The “best” state to form an LLC depends on various factors, including your specific business needs, tax considerations, legal requirements, and the nature of your business operations. However, a few states tend to be popular choices for forming LLCs due to their business-friendly environments:

1. Delaware: Delaware is known for its business-friendly laws, established legal precedents, and a specialized court, the Court of Chancery, that handles business disputes. Many large corporations choose Delaware due to its well-developed business laws.

2. Nevada: Nevada is another popular choice due to its lack of state corporate income tax, no personal income tax, and strong privacy protection laws. It also offers favorable asset protection and minimal reporting requirements.

3. Wyoming: Wyoming is known for its low fees, minimal regulations, and strong privacy protections. It’s considered one of the most business-friendly states due to its simple LLC formation process and low operating costs.

While these states are often cited for their advantages, the “best” state for forming an LLC ultimately depends on your specific business needs, such as where you conduct business, the nature of your operations, tax considerations, legal protections, and the costs associated with formation and maintenance.

Consulting with legal and financial professionals who understand the laws and tax implications in different states can help you determine the most suitable state for forming your LLC based on your unique circumstances.

Yes. If you registered as a sole proprietorship and then form an LLC later on, you can update your settings in your Amazon seller account to reflect this. Just be aware that any changes made in your profile may trigger a fresh set of verifications, so be sure to have identification and proof of address ready to go.

Conclusion: Do you need an LLC for Amazon FBA?

Ultimately, whether you choose to form an LLC for Amazon depends on your specific business situation.

If you want to give an Amazon FBA business a try as just a hobby, you can start selling as a sole proprietor and as you progress to a successful Amazon seller adjust your structure accordingly.

But, if you’re committed to the process an LLC may well be your best option long term to keep your new business protected.

You can follow the steps in this guide to form an LLC yourself, or use one of our recommended LLC formation services:

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Ben this is shiv can you help me setup my account for amazon FBA. I already have account but I am stuck somewhere it’s asking upload authorisation latter .I don’t know about anything. I want you to setup my whole account. Please let me know what is your fees.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Shiv, unfortunately this isn’t a service we offer. If you need some guidance I’m happy for you to reach out to us via email (in the footer) or if you want more regular coaching and support check out BBU Pro.

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