How to Start an LLC in Washington State: If you’re interested in setting up a Washington State LLC, you’ve come to the right place. Having an LLC not only protects your personal assets but also is less complicated than other business structures. Washington laws make it easy to establish your LLC in Washington. On this page, You’ll find all the steps that must be taken to ensure that your Washington State LLC has been correctly established. We recommend you read the whole article very carefully word by word, don’t miss anything 🙂
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
- How to Start an LLC in Washington State
- After Starting Your Washington LLC
- Washington State Foreign LLC
- Washington LLC Formation Review
How to Start an LLC in Washington State
An LLC or a Limited Liability Company is a hybrid business entity combining a corporation’s characteristics with a partnership or sole proprietorship. It separates your personal assets from your business assets, thus giving you personal asset protection.
If you wish to start an LLC in Washington State, mainly you have to file your Certificate of Formation with the State and pay a filing fee of $200 (online and $180 by mail). There are some more steps to follow to get your LLC established in Washington. The following steps explain everything you need to create your LLC in Washington in 2022. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Decide a Name for Your Washington State LLC
The very first step while forming an LLC in Washington is to give a proper name to your LLC. Before you name your business, you must know that the name should be easy to remember, available in the state, and follows all the LLC naming guidelines.
Washington State LLC Naming Guidelines
There are a few specific requirements all the LLCs in Washington State have to follow while naming their Company. Some of the most important requirements are as follows:
- Your business name should be available and no other existing business in Washington can have the same name. Perform a name search from the below-mentioned source to be sure your name isn’t taken already.
- “Limited Liability Company”, “Limited Liability Co.”, “LLC”, and “L.L.C.” – any one of these has to be used as a suffix in your business name.
- You cannot use any name for your business that is confusing or misleading. Terms such as “Treasury”, “State Department”, “FBI”, “CIA”, etc. shouldn’t be included.
- Terms like “Bank“, “University“, “Attorney“, “Doctor“, etc can be added only after the additional requirements by Washington State Government are fulfilled.
- (Optional) It’s better to name your business something for which your desired domain is available.
|Important Links –||Submit Offline Form to –|
|Washington State Business Entity Search – Online Name Search|
Name Reservation Form – PDF
Name Availability Standards – Guidelines
Washington State LLC Name Search – Instructions
|Secretary of State|
801 Capitol Way S
P.O. Box 40234
Olympia, Washington 98504-0234
Reserve Business Name for Future
If you do not wish to file your LLC right now but want to hold the name you have decided then you can reserve your LLC name for 180 days. To keep the name, you have to file a name reservation application and pay $30 to reserve your name with the Washington State Secretary of State. By paying $50 you can expedited the process.
Doing Business As (DBA) or Trade Name
Once you have a legal name for your LLC, you can register it. However, it is not mandatory. You can, instead, use DBA, Fictitious Name, or Trade Name. In that case, you must register your name with the Washington State Secretary of State by submitting an Application to Register Trade Name in Washington State along with the filing fee of $24.
Recommended: You can do name search, get company logo, business domain, website, emails, and a lot more in one place by hiring a professional service. We recommend using –
Tailor Brands – ($49 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Tailor Brands offer DIY website templates and incredible logo designs. If you plan to get a website then it is wise to have a “.com” domain for your business but these days you can also use other TLDs like “.company”, “.xyz” etc. With Tailor Brands, you can get everything you need at an affordable price.
It is not legally mandatory to use the word LLC in your domain name or email. If you want you can use it. However, it is recommended not to use LLC in the domain name. A domain name should be short and easy to remember.
Step 2: Assign a Registered Agent in Washington State
The second step to forming a Washington State LLC is to appoint a Registered Agent. A registered agent is a person or business entity that will act or work on your LLC’s behalf. This person or business will receive important tax forms, legal documents, all notices of lawsuits, and other official government correspondence in Washington State. Hence, hiring a competent Washington Registered Agent for your LLC is necessary.
Make sure your registered agent is a resident of Washington or has a physical street address. Their business address or the principal address should be in Washington. Most LLC formation companies also provide registered agent services. Below are two great LLC setup services, even if you buy their cheapest plan (normally $49/year) you also get registered agent service and other services at a reasonable price.
These LLC formation services are recommended registered agent services as they are authorized to conduct business in Washington State. Some LLC formation services offer standalone Washington State registered agent services. You can purchase only Registered Agent services from them without purchasing any other LLC formation services.
A person who is above 18 years of age and has a physical address in the state of Washington State can be a Registered Agent. A Registered Agent can be an independent person or can be a business entity. One who is responsible for handling all the legal documents.
Yes, you can be your own registered agent if you are a resident of the state of Washington State and you are above 18 years of age. To become a registered agent you must have the authority to conduct any type of business in Washington State.
Registered Agent Consent Application
In Washington State, there is no separate Consent Letter to be produced to the Secretary of State. At the time of change of Registered Agent (or the name or address), the new Registered Agent has to sign the consent letter. It comes with the Application form to Change the Registered Agent. There is no filing fee to be paid for it. For more information on the same, read our guide on Washington State Registered Agent.
Step 3: File Certificate of Formation in Washington State
The third and most important step in forming a Washington State LLC is to file the Certificate of Formation. This Washington State Certificate of Formation is a legal document needed to officially register your business with the Secretary of State. It costs $200 (online and $180 by mail) to file your formation certificate in Washington State. (Read more on LLC cost in Washington State).
The Certificate of Formation includes details like the name of the LLC, registered agent’s name, address, employees’ details, and structure of the company (member-managed or manager-managed). Before hiring employees in Washington State LLC, one should know about the rules and regulations thoroughly. Also if you are expanding your existing business (an LLC) to Washington State then you need to register as a Washington State Foreign LLC.
How to File Online
Go to the Secretary of State Online Service. You will get the online service page. If you are already a subscriber then click on the “log in to Subscribe Account” option and log in with your credentials. If you’re not subscribed, then you can directly start filing your LLC by clicking on the “Online Filing” button below. Read more about the Washington State Certificate of Formation for online registration.
How to File by Mail
If you prefer filing real-life forms for your Washington State LLC registration, then you can download Domestic LLC Formation Form. Read the form thoroughly, fill it out, and mail it to the following address,
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 40234
Secretary of State
801 Capitol Way S
Olympia, WA 98501
Processing Time: It takes no time (immediately) to get a Washington State LLC if you file it online. For the mail filing, it takes 5 to 7 business days to get an LLC. By paying an additional fee, it can be expedited.
Recommended: Online LLC Formation service can provide all these documents in lesser days along with lifetime customer support and 100% accuracy. We recommend using –
Tailor Brands – ($49 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Step 4: Create Your Washington State LLC Operating Agreement
Moving on to the fourth step, filing your operating agreement. An operating agreement is a document that legally outlines the proprietorship and operating procedures of your LLC. This document is vital as it ensures that all business owners are on the same page regarding how they operate, thus reducing future conflicts.
When it comes to filing a Washington State LLC Operating Agreement, the state does not require you to have a comprehensive operating agreement, but it is ideal to have one that contains all the details of your business operation. Like Washington State, there are other states that do not have a mandatory rule to file operating agreements. But, this document would be useful if you decide to dissolve Washington State LLC later. Hence, having an operating agreement may not be necessary but it is definitely ideal.
Recommended: You can get operating agreement templates at only $29 with TailorBrands. You don’t need to worry about drafting it as they will take care of it on your behalf. We recommend using –
Tailor Brands – ($49 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Step 5: Filing a Washington State LLC EIN
The Employer Identification Number or, simply, the E.I.N. is a nine-digit number given by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make it easier to identify the type of business for tax purposes and taxes in general. The EIN is necessary for any active business or any form of business for that matter.
EIN is needed when the LLC hires employees. Hiring employees in Washington State LLC requires following specific rules and regulations. On the other side, EIN for Washington State foreign LLC should be obtained if your LLC is based in other states.
To obtain EIN (aka FEIN) one has to fill up a form (Online or by mail) and submit it to the IRS. Enter details of your LLC, and finally complete the form and send it to the address given. You can also get an EIN Assistant who can help you with the process.
Mail to: Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN Operation, Cincinnati, OH 45999
Fax: (855) 641-6935 | Fee: Free
Recommended: This hassle will be reduced when you hire an LLC formation service. They take care of obtaining EIN and all other things for your LLC. We recommend using –
Tailor Brands – ($49 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Note: You don’t need a Social Security number when getting an EIN. You can proceed to fill out I.R.S. Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. You must then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Agents or employees will help you with that.
Congratulation, you are now done with all the necessary steps to form your Washington State LLC. If you do it yourself it should take you a long time to properly understand and do all the steps.
However, if you use TailorBrands it should take fewer hours and you always have live chat with expert support for any help you need.
After Starting Your Washington LLC
After forming your LLC, there are still some things that you will need. Take note of the following:
- Get a company business bank account
- File Washington State business permits & licenses
- Get general liability insurance and professional liability insurance with coverage for employees
- File a Washington State LLC annual report or biennial report
This page has provided you with steps to LLC formation and filing processes. You now have to remember upcoming filing deadlines and filing fees or filing costs, including fees for late filings to make sure your LLC is up-to-date.
Cost of Washington State LLC
Forming an LLC in Washington State is no doubt more cost-effective than other structures of a business. There are some fees and charges one has to bear to form a Washington State LLC. LLCs have pass-through taxation. Hence, your Washington State LLC won’t bring you a massive tax burden. Here are some of the fees and taxes are needed to be paid while forming an LLC in Washington State,
|Fees/Tax||Amount to be Paid|
|Name Reservation Fee||$30|
|Name Reservation Fee (Expedited)||$50|
|Certificate of Formation Fee||$200 (online and $180 by mail)|
|LLC Annual Fee||$60|
In Washington State, an LLC name reservation is not mandatory. You can register your LLC name at the time of registering your LLC. If you wish to hold the name for some time without registering your LLC, then you can do that online. Your LLC name will be reserved for 180 days without registering your LLC. It can be done by paying $30
In Washington State, an Annual Report has to be produced every year. It costs $60. Also, the State of Washington State requires LLCs to pay a Sales Tax of 6.5%. Read our guide on LLC costs in Washington State for more information.
Washington State Foreign LLC
If you are interested in forming a Foreign LLC in Washington State then you need to file the Certificate of Foreign LLC to the Washington State Secretary of State. Foreign LLCs allow you to operate your business in more than one state. Along with the Certificate of Foreign LLC, you need to submit some more documents like the Certificate of Good Standing, etc. to the Washington State SOS to form your foreign LLC in Washington State. To know more in detail, check out our guide on Washington State Foreign LLC.
Reasons to Start an LLC in Washington State
Washington is one of the major business states in the United States. Biggies like Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, and such have their companies in Washington State. With a GDP of $440 Billion, the state has around 250,000 companies’ headquarters. Also, the state offers a massive reduction in tax liabilities along with multiple business funding options. If you’re planning to start Washington State LLC, then the state has many advantages to offer.
Best Environment for the start-ups
For any startup, it is necessary to have a business-friendly environment in the state. Washington State, having so many big companies, has the perfect environment for an LLC to start. Export hub, innovation, creativity, low-cost, and massive tax and loan incentives make it easier for the new LLCs.
Foreign Trade Zones
Places like Seattle, Greys Harbor, Tacoma, and Vancouver are considered foreign trade zones in Washington state. Any LLC that operates in these places will be eligible to enjoy the benefits of FTZ. Job creation, development of the area, and improvement in industrial activities will bring tax benefits to these areas.
Opportunity Zone Program
139 places are considered Opportunity Zone in Washington state. Businesses that are operating in these places will get tax incentives and loan facilities. Further, the LLCs can invest the capital in these areas to better understand difficult and poor places.
Sales & Use Tax Exemptions
Like many other neighboring states, Washington State also has tax exemptions. There are some industries where an entrepreneur can enjoy sales and use tax exemptions. Read more on Washington’s classification of LLC tax. They are as follows-
- Producing alcohol fuel, biodiesel
- Manufacturing parts of machinery, industrial equipment
- Manufacturing airplanes
- Manufacturing farm machinery, parts, and equipment
- Manufacturing livestock nutrient management equipment
Profit Distribution is flexible
Along with massive tax benefits and incentives, LLCs can benefit from the LLC structure in Washington. According to the LLC structure, the profit distribution is remarkably flexible. Unlike the partnership, the profit in LLC will be distributed as per the contribution of members instead of equal or 50-50 distribution.
No matter your business form, there are always banks for small businesses to grant loans and incentives to save more while starting limited liability businesses in Washington state.
Best Businesses in Washington
If a business person is willing to form an LLC in Washington, it is important for them to gain complete knowledge. It is common that many businesses are flourishing in Washington, but there are only a few which are contributing hugely to the GDP of the state. Here is the list of those top businesses.
Aerospace and Its Construction
There are many aerospace companies established in the state, out of which the top ones are Airbus, Blue origin, and Embraer. The aerospace business is generating around $66 billion every year in which the activities included are:-
- Airline companies
- Machine dealing
- Aerospace training brands
Information technology businesses
When it comes to Washington various software development firms are rising in the state since the year 1980. Headquarters of more than 500 companies in the state, out of which Facebook and Google are the master players along with Amazon. These three companies alone are giving employment to 8000 people in the state.
The contribution that is made by the IT businesses in the state is around $37 billion, with 230,000 people working with them. If we look at the latest trends, then the gaming industry is also booming.
The trading businesses have helped in generating employment for around 33,000 people in the state. The contribution of the trade business is around 13.8% to the state GDP in which there are exporting of electronics, machinery, and food studs. There are some licensed trade-ins also, which include motor vehicles, snowmobiles, boats, etc. If you look at the number of companies established, then there are around 12,000 currently active companies in the state.
Some of the top small investment businesses that are working well in the state are:-
- Laundry and dry cleaning
- Daycare services
- Business consultancy
Washington LLC Formation Review
Time needed: 5 minutes.
Just to recap, here are the easy steps again when forming an LLC in Washington State. Click on the steps in this list to read the full detail.
- Name your Washington State LLC
The first thing you must do is to choose a company name, which should be unique, easy to find, and available in the state.
- Choose a Registered Agent
In Washington, it is mandatory to select a registered agent for your LLC. Get a professional Registered Agent from LLC formation services like NorthWest Registered Agent to get things done hassle-free.
- File a Formation Certificate
Filing a formation certificate is necessary when forming an LLC in Washington. Depending on the state, it could be called any of the following: Certificate of Formation, Articles of Organization, or Certificate of Organization.
- Create an Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is not a strict requirement in Washington State but something encouraged when you start an LLC to avoid future conflicts.
- Get an EIN
The Employer Identification Number (EIN), also called Federal Tax Identification Number, serves to identify a business entity like a social security number but for a company.
How Fast Can I Form an LLC in Washington
Washington LLC formation can be completed within 5 to 7 business days, when filed via mail. In case of online filing, it is processed within a day immediately after the payment is received.
How fast can I form an LLC in Washington? Well, it depends on several factors. First of all, you need an EIN to begin business in Washington. You can obtain an EIN free of charge from the state, and the processing time is only a couple of business days for online filings. The state of Washington will then process your certificate of formation and approve your LLC. After that, you’ll have to wait for the state to process your first annual report, and it takes around seven to ten business days.
Next, you need to choose a name for your LLC. You can’t just use any name, though. An LLC must choose a name that will best suit its business. An effective name must be one that is easily recognizable and memorable to customers. Washington requires that LLCs use a registered agent. The agency can help you choose a name for your LLC. If your LLC is to conduct business under a different name, you must register a trade name or “doing business as” name with the state’s Department of Revenue. There is a fee for trade name registration, and the fee is $5 for each name.
In order to accept payments and pay for business expenses, you must establish a business bank account for your LLC. Every bank has its own requirements, but in general, you can transfer an existing business bank account to an LLC in Washington. You should open a business bank account separate from your personal finances. This is a good idea for several reasons. It will help you keep your personal finances separate from your business, simplify your bookkeeping, and protect your assets.
How Fast Can I Form an LLC in Washington? The answer depends on the type of business. If you’re starting a small-business in Washington, you may want to hire an attorney. A legal professional will charge you several hundred dollars. But if you have the money, it may be worth it. A legal professional can take a few days. Afterward, you need to choose a registered agent for your business, which will cost about $75-150 a year. Once you’re done, you’ll have to file your annual business and occupation tax.
While forming an LLC in Washington requires you to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), you will also need to obtain a business license. An EIN is like a Social Security number, but dedicated to business taxes. You will need this if you want to work with other businesses. The state DOR offers a Business Licensing Wizard tool to help you get your EIN.
If you plan to expand an existing business, you should consider using an operating agreement before forming an LLC in Washington. An Operating Agreement details the members’ roles and responsibilities. You’ll also need this document to open a business bank account in Washington. And, if you’re going to expand internationally, you should also get a Foreign LLC. You may also want to consider forming a Foreign LLC to expand your business.
If you are a resident of Washington, then you can file your LLC by yourself. However, it is always worth having a professional than doing it yourself to handle legal complexities, paperwork, and other documentation.
Apart from the formation fee of $200 (domestic LLC) and $200 (foreign LLC), LLC costs in Washington include $60 for Annual Reports every year. LLCs are liable to pay sales tax of 6.5% every year.
It takes no time (immediately) to get a Washington State LLC if you file it online. For the mail filing, it takes 5 to 7 business days to get an LLC. If you hire a professional LLC service, then it might take less than that. We recommend Tailor Brands which has impeccable turnaround time.
Every year all the LLCs have to submit an Annual Report and pay $60 to the Washington Secretary of State and renew the LLC. It is mandatory to renew your LLC every year.
Generally, for the LLCs, it is a default tax structure. Once you will obtain the EIN, you will get the various tax structure options to select. Sometimes LLCs choose S Corp to reduce federal tax burdens. Read more on the Washington Classification of LLC Tax.
LLCs are easier to establish than other business structures. Small businesses, especially start-ups can easily start their LLCs in Washington at a bare minimum cost. LLCs have a ‘pass-through taxation’ advantage for which they are excluded from certain taxes. The formation of limited liability companies requires much lesser documents and legal processes. Share your queries with us, and leave a comment below.