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Articles of incorporation template

To form a corporation, you need to submit an “articles of incorporation” document to the state in which the business will be registered. While the content of this document varies immensely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, you will always need to include basic information such as your corporation’s name, purpose, and the number of shares that may be issued. 


To make things simple, you can use SignEasy’s free articles of incorporation template, which has been drafted in a way that is easy for government agencies to process when registering your corporation. That being said, don't forget to check with a local legal representative to verify whether any state-specific provisions need to be added.

How to file your articles of incorporation template

  1. Identify a unique name for your corporation.
  2. Figure out your tax structure. Some businesses benefit from registering as S corporations and others as C corporations
  3. Download and fill out the articles of incorporation template.
  4. Upload it to SignEasy.
  5. Electronically send it to your company’s incorporator to sign the document.
  6. Submit the signed articles of incorporation application to the Secretary of State in the state where you want to register your business. 
  7. Pay the incorporation application fee.


Once the government body approves your application, you will receive a Certificate of Incorporation or an approval stamp on your articles of incorporation application.

That’s it – your corporation is legally registered! Once you open a bank account and secure essential business licenses or permits, you may start running the business.

What should an articles of incorporation template include?

Your incorporation articles, also known as “articles of association” or “corporate charter,” need to be filed with your local governing body. 

The articles of incorporation template that you use should have the following elements:


  1.  Name of your new corporation 

In this section, state the name that you intend to assign to your corporation. The corporation name is usually suffixed with the likes of Company (Co.), Corporation (Corp.), or Incorporated (Inc.).

This is how your business will be referred to from the day of its inception, so be sure to put some thought into selecting an appropriate name. Also, make sure you have a unique name that does not conflict with an existing copyright. 

  1. Purpose

Some states only require you to state a generic purpose – “Any lawful act or activity” is the commonly used legal terminology. Using general terminology enables you to change your stated purpose anytime in the future without having to spend time and money on amending the articles of incorporation. 


However, some states are very specific about mentioning the exact activity that your business will be performing. Be sure to consult with your legal representative before drafting this clause.


  1. Registered office

Here, you will state the location of your registered office, or the address at which the Secretary of State can communicate with you about important matters. 


Also mention the name of your registered agent, or the person authorized to receive all tax and legal documents on your business’s behalf.


  1. Duration

This section outlines how long your company intends to remain operational. The most common duration is for all of time, or ‘perpetually,’ unless the company is dissolved by the state or company’s board of directors. 

  1. Initial board of directors

Include the names and physical addresses of the directors who are present during the formation of the corporation. More directors can be added during the first annual shareholder meeting, at which time their details can be added to the bylaws document.

6. Authorized shares

How many shares are you authorizing to shareholders? The answer belongs in this section. Most SMBs decide to only issue one class of shares, which means each shareholder is treated the same when it comes to voting and other purposes.

7. Incorporator

You will need to mention and name the address of the individual or company that is filing the Certificate of Incorporation. This doesn't need to be a shareholder or director.


8. Fiscal year

Here, you want to mention when your corporation will close its books for accounting and tax purposes. 

 

11. Execution


At this stage, the incorporator will need to sign the articles of incorporation application using an eSignature tool like SignEasy.


Note: Check with your legal counsel to verify whether your local state government accepts electronically signed documents. 

Additional provisions

  • Transfer restrictions
  • Shareholders’ rights to purchase shares
  • Corporation’s right to purchase its own shares

Bylaws vs articles of incorporation

Most people tend to confuse these two documents, since both contribute to forming the legal backbone of a business. 


Here are the ways in which they differ from each other:


Bylaws

Is an internal document

Cannot easily be made into a templates, as the way each corporation operates is very unique

No fee needs to be paid for filing corporate bylaws

Outlines how the company needs to run, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the directors and other business agents

Doesn't require you to submit applications to any state agency, but must be maintained at your primary location of doing business

Mentions how many stocks can be issued/the value of stock owned by the business, along with the voting rights of each shareholder

Can be implemented with a simple vote by the shareholders and directors, where the majority accept the amendment to the bylaws. No amendment fee needs to be paid here

Articles of incorporation

Is made publicly available

Has fairly standardized fill-in-the-blank template

Requires the incorporator to pay a fee for filing of the articles of incorporation

Requires you to legally conduct your business within a particular state

Requires that you submit an application to the department of state or the Secretary of State

Needs to mention the number of stock options that the organization is allowed to issue, alongwith the value of each stock

Can be implemented by filing the application with the Secretary or the Department of State. An amendment fee needs to be paid to the government


Why does your business need articles of incorporation?

  • Shifts the business’s financial and legal obligations from the individual to the corporation
  • Offers proof that you are running a credible business, which makes it easier to secure loans from lenders
  • Provides the opportunity to lower your tax rate in some states
  • Informs the state of the purpose of your business
  • Enables you to sell stock or shares to raise capital

How can SignEasy help with articles of incorporation template?

Now that you are familiar with the clauses in an articles of incorporation document, you should also figure out the best way to get them signed without having to deal with printers, scanners and courier agents. 


As one of the best eSignature apps on the market, here is how SignEasy helps businesses increase their efficiency and cut down on hard-copy paperwork every day.

  1. Templates: To save you time and effort, upload templates of commonly used documents (like contracts, NDAs, timesheets, invoices, etc.) to SignEasy, then make edits and sign the document within minutes.
  2. Signing on the go: No matter where in the world you’re located, the SignEasy app allows you to sign and send your articles of incorporation document for signature with just a few clicks. 
  3. Save on cloud: Instead of cluttering up your office with physical copies of a document, SignEasy lets you securely store all signed paperwork on the cloud.
  4. Keep costs low: Especially when your business is just starting out, you’ll need a way to implement digital-forward solutions without breaking the bank. The good news is, SignEasy has some incredibly affordable plans, starting at just $8/month.


Sign up for a 14-day free trial here, so you can sign and share your articles of incorporation application for free!

Articles of incorporation template FAQs

How do I write articles of incorporation?

  1. Corporation’s full name 
  2. Principal place of business
  3. Purpose of corporation
  4. Details of registered agent
  5. Incorporator details
  6. Fiscal year
  7. Authorized shares
  8. Initial board of directors
  9. Duration
  10. Incorporator’s eSignature


Do articles of incorporation expire?

The articles of incorporation agreement does not expire. Typically, the articles of incorporation have a clause called “duration,” in which you may state that the duration of the corporation is perpetual.  


Are bylaws the same as articles of incorporation?

Bylaws are lengthy internal documents that outline how the business must operate. On the other hand, articles of incorporation are short documents that give legal status to your corporation. The latter needs to be filed with a state government entity.


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