How to Start a Washington LLC
Washington LLC Formation – Basics & Helpful Information
This article is meant to be a general overview of the Washington LLC formation process; including information about how to start a Washington LLC and other basic issues related to Washington LLCs.
Washington Filing Fees
The Washington filing fee for the Certificate of Formation (to create an Washington LLC) is $200 to file online and $180 to file the paper version of the Certificate of Formation.See full fee schedule →
Washington Filing Time
Regular processing time generally takes 5-25 business days. Online filings are processed in 2 business days.
Washington Annual Compliance Requirements
Washington Limited Liability Companies must file an annual report each year to stay in good standing with the Washington Secretary of State. The cost to file the Washington annual report is $71.File Washington Annual Report Online →
An initial annual report is due within 120 days of forming an LLC. In each subsequent year, a renewal report is due annually by the end of the month in which the LLC was formed.
Form an LLC in Washington
You can use this checklist to help guide you through the process of forming a Washington LLC:
Step 1: Decide on a Business Name
The first step in creating an LLC in Washington is naming your business. You’ll need to check with the Washington Secretary of State to make sure the name you’ve chosen is available. You can do this online via the Washington Business Search.
It is also highly recommended that you check the US Patent and Trademark Office to see if someone has a federal trademark of the business name you want (the Washington Secretary of State will not check other state’s databases or the federal trademark database). You can click here to have a comprehensive name availability search performed for you.
Your LLC name must contain the words “limited liability company” or “limited company” or the abbreviations “L.L.C”, “L.C.”, “LLC”, or “LC”.
Washington Trade Names
A trade name is similar to a “doing business as” (DBA) name. Although a trade name is not legally required, it is a wise business practice. The filing fee is $5. Washington trade names are only applicable in Washington and are not substitutes for a national trademark filing.See more info on Washington Trade Names →
Step 2: Register your LLC with the State
Washington Articles of Organization
Your Washington LLC is formed by signing and filing the Certificate of Formation with the Washington Secretary of State. You can also e-file the Washington Certificate of Formation. The Secretary of State staff will examine the articles for statutory compliance and will either approve the articles for filing or reject the articles with instructions on how to resubmit the document.
Washington Registered Agent Information
Washington requires that the LLC have a Registered Agent (same as a Statutory Agent in other states), which is an individual or a business entity the LLC appoints for the purpose of accepting service of process (lawsuit papers or legal documents) for the LLC. An LLC cannot be its own Registered Agent, but the LLC can appoint one of its members as the Registered Agent. Washington law requires that the Registered Agent have a permanent, physical address on the records of the Washington Secretary of State at all times. The Registered Agent must accept the appointment in writing.Read more about Registered Agents →
Step 3: Create and Sign the LLC’s Governing Document
The governing document for an LLC is called the “company agreement” or sometimes the “operating agreement”. The company agreement is to an LLC like a partnership agreement is to a partnership (or bylaws to a corporation). The company agreement governs the internal operation of the LLC and is typically a private document that is kept in the company book and the principal place of business (it is NOT filed with the state). The company agreement can address many issues, some of the more common concepts found within a company agreement are:
- Limitations on the members liabilities
- The level of consent needed to take various actions (i.e. simple majority required to add new members)
- The percentage of the LLC that each member owns
- How profits and losses are allocated between the members (typically based on ownership percentages)
- Limitations on transferability
- What each member is contributing to the LLC and what happens is such contributions are not made.
- The authority of the members, officers, managers, committees, etc.
- How meetings are conducted
One of the reasons we recommend using an LLC formation company like IncFile is that they can provide you with a company agreement in connection with their LLC formation services.
Step 4: Get an EIN
After you form an LLC in Washington, you can get the EIN. There are a few different ways to get an EIN:
- Apply Online Yourself: The IRS has an online EIN Application you can use to get an EIN. The turn around time on the EIN using this method is only a few minutes.
- Use Form SS-4: You can get an EIN the old fashion way by completing Form SS-4 and mailing or faxing into the IRS. How long does it take to get the EIN this way? According to the IRS: if you mail in Form SS-4, it will take 4-5 weeks to get your EIN. If you fax in Form SS-4 you should have the EIN back in a week if you provide a fax number or 2 weeks if you don’t have a fax number.
- Have a Third-Party Obtain: All of the LLC formation companies have the ability to get the EIN for you. The EIN obtainment charge varies by company, but it is generally between $50 and $100. If you get one of the higher priced packages, they will sometimes throw in the EIN for free.
Step 5: Get Licenses and Permits
After you create your new Washington LLC, you’ll need to determine if your business/profession requires any licenses or permits to conduct business.Read more about Washington Licensing and Permitting →
Registering a Foreign LLC in Washington
If you have a non-Washington LLC (aka Foreign LLC) and you are doing business in Washington, you may need to register the Foreign LLC in Washington. Each state has a different definition of “doing business”. In Washington, the kinds of activities that would not constitute “doing business” are outlined in the Revised Code of Washington Annotated, Section 23.50.400.
The filing fee for the Application for Registration of a Foreign LLC in Washington is $200.
Helpful Tips & Information
Use an LLC formation service like IncFile to help you form an LLC in Washington. IncFile has free LLC formation packages (you only pay the state filing fee).
Washington Secretary of State
Washington Certificate of Formation (Paper Form)
Washington Certificate of Formation (Online Filing)
Washington Trade Name Registration
Washington Business Licenses
Online EIN Application (for the LLC’s Federal Tax ID)
USPTO (Federal) Trademark Search