As we’ve seen in other articles, starting a dropshipping business is not difficult at all. Of course, like in all business models, it’s necessary to consider certain key points to do things right and pave your way to success. Legal aspects are, of course, part of these key points.

Due to the low risk and low initial investment costs that dropshipping offers, it’s normal to wonder where the catch is or if it will be completely legal. It is at this point that you may have doubts about whether a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is necessary to start your dropshipping venture will undoubtedly arise.

What is an LLC? How does it influence dropshipping? What are the pros and cons? How do I apply one to my business? These might seem like many questions, but it’s quite simple: join us to learn everything you need to know about LLCs in dropshipping.

Key Takeaways

LLCs provide liability protection for members, shielding personal assets from business-related liabilities.

Setting up an LLC for dropshipping involves selecting a unique business name, filing articles of organization, appointing a registered agent, drafting an operating agreement, obtaining an EIN, and ensuring compliance with tax obligations.

While sole proprietorships offer simplicity, they lack the liability protection afforded by LLCs.

While an LLC offers advantages, its necessity depends on business characteristics and individual preferences. Seeking legal advice is recommended.

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What Is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping operates on a low-risk model, allowing us to sell products without manufacturing or holding inventory. Instead, when a product is sold, we purchase it from a third-party supplier who ships it directly to the customer.

As dropshippers, we serve as our customers’ sole point of contact. After receiving orders, we then procure the products from the supplier. This means we only spend money once we’ve earned it, requiring minimal initial capital investment to start as a dropshipping store owner.

Essentially, dropshipping involves three basic steps:

  • Step 1: Customer orders an item on our online store. 
  • Step 2: We forward the order details to our supplier.
  • Step 3: Our supplier ships the product to our customer, and we keep the profit between the source and the selling price. 

How Dropshipping Works

In short, starting a dropshipping business from anywhere in the world is possible with a good internet connection. Anyone can start this business without wasting too much money or time by learning the basics and incorporating automation tools like the ones we offer at AutoDS.

What Is An LLC?

What Is An LLC

An LLC, which stands for Limited Liability Company, is a legal business structure that combines the flexibility of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability protection of a corporation. In an LLC, members are not personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities. If someone sues the LLC or it goes into debt, the member’s personal assets, like their homes or savings, are typically protected

Additionally, LLCs offer flexibility in terms of management structure and taxation, allowing members to choose how they want the company to be taxed.

As dropshippers, we can choose to use an LLC since it provides us with certain benefits that can be advantageous for our business, like limited liability protection for the owners and flexibility in management and taxation. However, whether or not you choose to use an LLC will depend on various factors, including the specific legal and tax considerations in your country, your goals, or individual preferences.

But let’s delve into the details of applying for an LLC on your dropshipping business, its advantages and disadvantages, and everything else you need to know!

How Much Does An LLC Cost For Dropshipping?

LLC For Dropshipping Cost

The cost of establishing an LLC for dropshipping can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the state where you are forming the LLC, your dropshipping business structure, and other services you may require.

Generally, the filing fee is the primary cost, which typically ranges from $50 to $500, but it can be higher in certain states. Additionally, some jurisdictions may require annual fees, franchise taxes, or other charges. 

Aside from state fees, other costs may be involved in setting up an LLC for dropshipping. We’re talking about legal fees for drafting and filling the necessary paperwork, accounting fees for setting up financial records, and the cost of obtaining an employer identification number from the IRS. 

In summary, the cost of forming an LLC for dropshipping typically spans from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, contingent upon the intricacy of the state and business structure. 

Beginner’s Tip: It’s crucial to weigh the potential benefits of an LLC against the associated costs when determining its suitability for your business.

LLC VS Sole Proprietorship 

One of the most frequent questions on this topic is what distinguishes an LLC from a sole proprietorship. Of course, each has its characteristics and implications. Here, we share the main differences between the two:

LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship

Besides these main differences, we have to consider continuity and transferability. An LLC can have perpetual existence because it can continue to operate even if one or more members leave the business. In exchange, a sole proprietorship is tied to the individual owner, implying that the business ceases to exist upon the death or withdrawal of the owner. Transferring ownership interests in a sole proprietorship is generally more challenging than an LLC. 

Overall, the main difference between these two types of proprietorship revolves around taxation, formalities, liability, and continuity. An LLC offers greater liability protection and flexibility, which involves more administrative requirements than a sole proprietorship. This is simpler but offers less protection for the owner’s personal assets.

When Is An LLC Not Necessary For A Dropshipping Business?

There are some circumstances in which an LLC may not be necessary:

Low Risk

If your dropshipping business involves minimal risk or liability, and you are comfortable assuming personal responsibility for any potential debts or legal issues, you may opt not to form an LLC. 

Limited Assets

If you have few personal assets at risk or your dropshipping business operates on a small scale with low revenue, the added expense and administrative burden of forming an LLC may outweigh the benefits of liability protection.

Short-Term Venture 

Maybe you are just testing the dropshipping model as a short-term or experimental venture. In this case, establishing an LLC might be unnecessary. You may choose to operate as a sole proprietorship initially and search for an LLC as your business grows. 

Tax Considerations 

Depending on the tax laws in a specific jurisdiction and your individual financial situation, the tax advantages of an LLC may not be significant. In such cases, you might opt for a different business model or delay forming an LLC until the business reaches a certain revenue threshold. 

Remember that we are speaking in broad strokes to give you a brief overview of the implications of applying an LLC to your dropshipping business. However, in this case, and in any decisions that involve money and laws, we recommend seeking legal advice to operate with confidence and security.

Pros & Cons Of Having An LLC

Pros And Cons Of Having An LLC

We like to share information so that the final decision is yours. While things are important to know in all businesses, we believe using personal judgment when taking these initiatives is important. That’s why we provide you with a list of the main advantages and disadvantages of having an LLC in your dropshipping business. Knowing them will help you decide if you need an LLC for dropshipping.

Pros Of Having An LLC On Your Dropshipping Business

Limited Liability Protection 

As we see before, as a member, you are not personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the business. This protects your personal assets from business-related lawsuits or debts.

Tax Flexibility

LLCs have flexibility in how they can be taxed, allowing you to choose the tax treatment that best suits your situation, such as pass-through taxation or electing to be taxed as a corporation.


Operating as an LLC signifies that your business is established as a formal legal entity, which shows professionalism and legitimacy to customers, suppliers, and potential partners. It demonstrates that you take your business seriously. Also, the limited liability protection assures customers and partners that their interests are protected and that it’s a key aspect of guaranteeing confidence.

Perpetual Existence

As mentioned, an LL can still operate even if one or more members leave the business or pass away. This implies that it continues working if new members join in too, providing stability and continuity for the business. 

Management Flexibility

If you form an LLC, you can choose how you want the business to be managed, whether by the members or appointed managers. This flexibility allows for a balance between direct involvement in operations and delegating management responsibilities to appointed individuals, depending on the size and complexity of the business and the members’ expertise. 

Cons Of Having An LLC On Your Dropshipping Business

Administrative Requirements 

LLCs have more administrative requirements than simpler business structures, such as filling formation documents with the state, drafting an operating agreement, and complying with ongoing reporting.


Forming and maintaining an LLC involves costs such as filing, annual, and legal fees, which can be higher than other business structures like sole proprietorships or partnerships.


Yes, LLCs offer tax flexibility, but they may face additional taxes or complexities depending on the chosen tax treatment, potentially resulting in higher tax burdens than other structures.


This type of structure can be more complex to set up and manage compared to a sole proprietorship, especially for individuals with limited experience or resources. If you are a beginner, don’t be desperate! Find help and resources in our eCommerce dropshipping blog.

Probably, you are thinking, “Well, someone can tell me if I need an LLC for dropshipping or not?” but what we are trying to explain here is that whether you need an LLC for dropshipping or not will depend a lot of the type of business that you re managing and its specific circumstances.

Steps To Set Up An LLC For A Dropshipping Store

Steps To Set Up LLC

Having reviewed the previous points, let’s suppose you’ve decided that you need an LLC for your dropshipping. What comes next? In fact, it’s quite simple. Here are the main steps to follow:

1. Research The Requirements 

It may sound obvious, but you should research the specific requirements for setting up an LLC in your state before everything else. Each jurisdiction has its laws and regulations governing LLC formation and operation. For this first step, we strongly recommend investigating procedures and consulting with a legal professional or a business advisor familiar with the laws and regulations in your country. 

2. Choose A Name 

To attract customers, you must select a unique and memorable name for your dropshipping business. Ensure the name is available to avoid using a name that another company has already used. 

Beginner’s Tip: An original branding of your business makes it unique and helps you differentiate from the competition.

3. File Articles Of Organization

Prepare and file articles on the organization with the Secretary of State or a similar state agency. This type of document is necessary to establish your LLC officially. They often include information such as the LLC’s name, business address, registered agent, and management structure.

4. Appoint A Registered Agent

Designate a registered agent for your LLC. We mean a person or entity authorized to manage legal documents and official correspondence on behalf of the LLC. The registered agent must have a physical address in the state where the LLC is formed.

5. Create An Operating Agreement. 

Draft an operating agreement that outlines the ownership and management structure of the LLC, as well as the rights and responsibilities of the members. This is usually essential for defining the internal workings of the LLC and prevents disputes among the members.

6. Obtain An EIN 

The Employer Identification Number is a unique identifier assigned to your LLC for tax purposes. You need it to open a business bank account, file taxes, and hire employees if necessary. 

7. Comply With Tax Requirements 

Ensure compliance with your LLC’s federal, state, and local tax requirements. That includes sales tax, income tax, and any other applicable taxes.

Frequently Asked Question

Do I Need An LLC For My Dropshipping Business If I’m The Only Owner?

It depends on your situation. If you’re working alone, you don’t have to make an LLC, but it can protect you from personal liabilities and offer other advantages. But if you don’t have many assets to protect or if your business is low-risk, you might not need an LLC. 

Can I Convert My Sole Proprietorship Dropshipping Business To An LLC Later On?

Absolutely! You can change your dropshipping business from a sole proprietorship to an LLC later. You’ll need to fill out forms and get any licenses you need from the state. But before you do anything, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer or accountant to ensure it’s the right move for you.

Is It Possible To Operate A Dropshipping Business Without An LLC And Still Have Personal Liability Protection?

No, running a dropshipping business without an LLC doesn’t protect you from personal liability. In a sole proprietorship, you’re personally responsible for any debts or legal problems your business has. But with an LLC, you’re shielded from personal liability.


In summary, if you’re starting a dropshipping business, or any kind of business for that matter, it’s always best to cover all bases, especially those that could cause problems affecting your budget or the legality of your store.

At this point, having an LLC is a great alternative. While, as we saw earlier, it has its pros and cons, it’s always better to invest a little more time and paperwork if the result is that your business is more protected against issues.

Whether or not you need an LLC for your dropshipping business depends on the characteristics of your business and your personal criteria. Having reviewed in which situations it’s beneficial to have an LLC and in which it’s not so necessary, and how to form an LLC if you choose, we believe you now have some tools to draw your own conclusions and work towards your goals.

In these matters, we always recommend seeking legal advice from professionals. If you need help with your online store or further guidance, don’t hesitate to visit our website, where you can find automated tools and valuable information to improve your dropshipping business every day.

To further delve into the world of dropshipping, we suggest checking out the following articles: