Articles of Incorporation Template

File the correct documents with the state to establish your corporation's existence. Go through the process with our specialized advice and Articles of Incorporation template as a reliable foundation.

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Last Update June 12th, 2024

Also Known As

Certificate of Incorporation

Corporate Charter

Business Incorporation Papers

Company Constitution

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What Are Articles of Incorporation

Articles of Incorporation are legal documents filed with the state to establish a corporation's existence formally.

These documents serve as the starting point for a corporation, defining its:

  • Name
  • Structure
  • Purpose

The documents also outline the rights and responsibilities of the incorporators and directors.

Filing the Articles of Incorporation for an LLC or other type of corporation is an important step.

Using these documents can take your business idea and turn it into a legally recognized entity with the structure needed to accomplish its goals effectively.

Depending on your state or the legal text involved, Articles of Incorporation may also be known by other names, such as:

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Corporate Charter
  • Business Incorporation Papers
  • Articles of Organization (commonly used for LLCs, but sometimes conflated)
  • Company Constitution

Use our Articles of Incorporation template as a reliable foundation to make the process of drafting and filing this essential document easier.

Pros and Cons of Incorporating a Business

When incorporating a business, knowing its benefits and drawbacks is always a good idea.

Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons to consider when drawing up your business Articles of Incorporation:

Pros Cons
Protects personal assets from business debts. More paperwork and formalities.
Easier to attract investment through stock sales. Fees for incorporation and ongoing compliance.
Continues independent of ownership changes. Subject to more stringent state and federal rules.
Potential for tax advantages and deductions. Possible for C corporations due to corporate profits being taxed twice.

Keep in mind, that these types of pros and cons will also vary depending on your location.

If you are in one of the best states for incorporation, you can enjoy the benefits much more than in other locations.

Articles of Incorporation Example

Reviewing completed documents is a great way to begin preparing your own legal forms.

Study the sample Articles of Incorporation below to better understand how to structure your documents.

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articles of incorporation sample

Elements to Include in Articles of Incorporation

When drafting your Articles of Incorporation, you must include all the necessary terms and elements.

Here are the most important elements that should be included in creating your documents:

  • Governing state laws: The state’s laws that will govern the document
  • Corporation’s name: The corporation’s full legal name (ensure it’s not taken)
  • Directors’ information: Names and addresses of the initial directors
  • Officers’ information: Names and addresses of the initial officers
  • Incorporator’s information: Name and address of the incorporator
  • Duration: Length of time the corporation will exist (“perpetual” or a specific term)
  • Principal place of business: The street address of the primary business location
  • Registered agent: The name and address of the initial registered agent
  • Business purpose: The primary purpose of the corporation
  • Authorized capital: Total number of authorized shares, type of stock, and par value.
  • Execution date: The date the agreement is executed
  • Incorporator’s signature: Signature of the incorporator

These elements collectively define the corporation's legal and operational framework; adding these can help make sure you meet state requirements

How to Create Articles of Incorporation

Creating Articles of Incorporation is a process that lays the legal groundwork for your corporation if done correctly.

Follow these steps to help you draft your Articles of Incorporation:

Determine the incorporation state: Decide the state where your corporation will be legally registered.

Name your corporation: Choose a unique and unregistered name that complies with your state’s naming requirements, typically including a corporate suffix such as “Inc.”

Appoint a registered agent: Designate a registered agent who will receive legal documents on behalf of the corporation.

State the corporate purpose: Define your corporation's purpose. While some states accept a general purpose statement, others may require specific details.

Detail the share structure: Specify the number and types of shares the corporation is authorized to issue.

List the initial directors and officers: Provide the names and addresses of the people who will serve as your corporation’s initial directors and officers and their roles.

Identify the “incorporator”: Name the person responsible for signing and filing the Articles of Incorporation. This person can be an officer, director, or an authorized third party.

Add extra provisions: Include any other necessary provisions that govern the corporation’s operations.

File with the state: Submit your completed Articles of Incorporation to the appropriate state authority, typically the Secretary of State's office, along with the required filing fee.

You can draft your Articles of Incorporation using our template. Once you customize it, it’s recommended to have a legal professional approve it to verify that it is legally compliant.

How to File Articles of Incorporation

While incorporating your company, you may still ask yourself, “Where should Articles of Incorporation be filed?”

Remember, filing your Articles of Incorporation is a crucial step in legally establishing your business.

Here’s how to do it efficiently:

  1. Prepare and review: Ensure your Articles of Incorporation are complete and include all required details, such as the corporation's name, purpose, and share structure.
  2. File with the state: Submit the document to your state's Secretary of State office, which can typically be done online, by mail, or in person.
  3. Receive confirmation: Await the issuance of a Certificate of Incorporation or an approval stamp on your Articles, confirming your corporation's legal registration.
  4. Finalize setup: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), open a corporate bank account, and secure any necessary licenses or permits to start operations.

Also, keep in mind that you will typically need to pay a filing fee. The amount will vary depending on the state; for example, in New York, the fee is $125.

How to Find Articles of Incorporation Online

You may want to find another business’ Articles of Incorporation to add or keep that entity as a client or partner.

To know where to find Articles of Incorporation online, visit the Secretary of State’s website for the state in which the corporation is registered.

Most states provide a business entity search tool. You can enter a corporation’s name to access its registration details and view or download the Articles of Incorporation.

This service is typically free, though some states may charge a fee for official copies.

Other Business Documents

There are other business documents that are useful for setting up and running a company.

Some documents, similar to Articles of Incorporation, include:

Articles of Incorporation FAQs

Understanding all the different elements and functions of Articles of Incorporation is key to using them correctly.

For example, knowing how to amend Articles of Incorporation or dealing with corporate bylaws can be a major help.

To help you with this, check out the answers to some common questions below.

How Do I Get a Copy of Articles of Incorporation?

To draft your own copy of your Articles of Incorporation, you can download our Articles of Incorporation template to use as a foundation.

Once filled out, make sure you file it with the correct state agency.

It's highly recommended to have the document reviewed by a legal professional before submitting it.

This helps you confirm that all required details are correctly included and compliant with state laws.

What is the Difference Between a Certificate of Incorporation vs. Articles of Incorporation?

The Articles of Incorporation are documents filed with the state to legally establish a corporation, detailing its structure, purpose, and compliance requirements.

On the other hand, a Certificate of Incorporation is issued by the state upon the successful filing of the Articles of Incorporation, serving as official proof that the corporation legally exists.

To sum it up, Articles of Incorporation establish the corporation, while the Certificate confirms its legal status.

Are Corporate Bylaws the Same as Articles of Incorporation?

No, corporate bylaws are not the same as Articles of Incorporation.

Corporate bylaws are internal documents that outline the rules and procedures for the corporation’s governance and day-to-day management.

They cover elements such as shareholder meetings, officer duties, and voting processes.

Articles of Incorporation are documents that are filed with the state.

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articles of incorporation sample

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