How to Start an LLC in Washington State: If you’re looking to start a Washington State LLC, you’ve come to the right page. Setting up an LLC is easy and cost-effective. To form an LLC, you must follow a few steps that include naming your LLC, hiring a registered agent, filing your formation documents, doing the operating agreement, and finally obtaining the EIN. You can easily set up your LLC at a very low cost in Washington State. Though, you must pay the mandatory state filing fee. These fees and charges can be tax deductible, making the LLC formation cost almost negligible.
On this page, You’ll find all the steps that must be taken to ensure that your Washington State LLC has been correctly formed. 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 (aka 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. For an LLC, members’ personal assets are not affected by business debts. However, in some cases, if the LLC is sued for business debts, courts might pierce the corporate veil and use the owner’s personal assets to meet their corporate liabilities.
If you wish to start an LLC in Washington State, you must file your Certificate of Formation with the State and pay a filing fee of $200 (online and $180 by mail). While it’s the most important step, it’s not the only one. There are 4 other crucial steps to follow to get your LLC formed in Washington. Below are all 5 steps that explain everything you need to do to start a Washington State LLC in 2023. Let’s get started! You can always hire a professional LLC formation service in Washington State to set up your LLC instead of doing it alone; a Pro service will ensure everything is done properly.
Step 1: Decide a Name for Your Washington State LLC
The first step while forming a limited liability company in Washington state 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 must 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. ZenBusiness offers unlimited business name searches without any hassle.
- “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 on, then you can reserve your LLC name for 180 days. To keep the name, you must file a name reservation application and pay $30 to reserve your name with the Washington State Secretary of State. By paying $50, you can expedite 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, business domain, website, emails, and a lot more in one place by hiring a professional service. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 for LLC Formation)
Apart from LLC formation, ZenBusiness offers customized website templates and business emails at a very reasonable price. 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 “.io”, “.company”, “.xyz,” etc. Here you can get everything you need for your business in one dashboard.
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 an LLC in Washington State is to appoint a Registered Agent. A registered agent is a person or business entity working 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 State or has a physical street address. This address will be used as the principal address of your LLC to receive any legal documents. Most LLC formation companies also provide registered agent services. Below are two great LLC formation services; even if you buy their cheapest plan (normally $0), you also get registered agent service and other services at a very reasonable price.
These two are our top recommendations for registered agent service, as they are competent and authorized to conduct business in Washington State. Some LLC formation services also offer standalone Washington State registered agent services. You can purchase only Registered Agent services without purchasing any other LLC formation services. This standalone service might become handy if you are doing it yourself and don’t want to disclose your home address or you don’t want to pierce the corporate veil.
A person 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 is responsible for handling all the legal documents on the LLCs behalf.
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.
There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t be your own registered agent. The address of the registered agent is used to communicate with the SOS or for any legal activities. If you are your own registered agent, you might have to upload your personal address to the public forum. Besides, the registered agent must be at the address during business hours. It won’t be easy for you as you also have to take care of other things in your LLC. Hence, it is wiser to appoint a separate entity as your registered agent.
If an LLC is sued in Washington State, in some cases, courts might decide to lift the corporate veil, which means the owners of the LLC will be personally liable for their business debts. They might have to forgo their personal assets to repay their business debts. This is called piercing the corporate veil, where personal and business assets are not separated anymore. Your personal assets can be protected if you have enough capital and all your LLC documents are properly filed.
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 that is required to register your business with the Washington State Secretary of State. It costs $200 (online and $180 by mail) to file your formation certificate in Washington State.
The Certificate of Formation includes details like the name of the LLC, the registered agent’s name, address, employees’ details, and the company’s structure (member-managed or manager-managed). Before hiring employees in Washington State LLC, one should know the rules and regulations thoroughly. Also, if you are expanding your existing business (an LLC) in other states to Washington State, you must 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: Normally, it takes around 7 business days (approx) to get your LLC formed in Washington State. The processing time for online filing might be a little faster than offline filing. With an additional cost, you can get expedited filing as well. However, the document processing time can be changed due to various factors.
Recommended: Online LLC Formation service can provide all these documents way faster than usual time with lifetime customer support and 100% accuracy. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Every LLC owner has to pay the filing fees to register their business in Washington State. This fee is mandatory but also tax deductible. If you’re doing it yourself (filing on your own), it will not cost you any additional service fee. However, it is not feasible to do that as the DIY process might be delayed, complicated, and messy, especially if you’re a novice entrepreneur. Hence, it is recommended to get professional guidance to get your LLC formed in Washington State.
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 that helps in taking future business decisions, especially if you decide to dissolve Washington State LLC later. Hence, having an operating agreement may not be necessary, but it is surely ideal.
Recommended: You can get a professionally made operating agreement for very less cost with ZenBusiness. You don’t need to worry about drafting it as they will take care of it on your behalf. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
The operating agreement draft can be created for free if you don’t hire a professional. However, there is an advantage to appointing a proficient person/service. You will get a businesslike quality operating agreement at a very cheap fee, which will help you in the future. Hiring a professional service means you can sleep well at night 🙂
Step 5: Filing a Washington State LLC EIN
The Employer Identification Number (aka EIN) 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.
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 must 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 to 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 –
ZenBusiness – ($0 + 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.
Congratulations, you are now done with all the necessary steps to form your Limited Liability Company in Washington State. If you do it yourself, it should take you a long time to understand and do all the steps properly.
However, if you use ZenBusiness, it should be way faster. You will always have a live chat option and phone support with experts for any help you need. Their worry-free service will make things easier for you.
After Starting Your Washington LLC
After forming your LLC, there are still some things that you will need. The most important thing is to separate your business and personal assets. LLCs have limited liability protection that protects your personal assets from business liability. This is called a corporate veil. However, the corporate veil can be lifted or pierced by the court if the LLC is sued. In that case, the owners of the LLC become personally liable for their corporate debts. A few things like appointing a legit registered agent, having enough capital, and filing all the major documents with the state can save the LLCs from being pierced into the corporate veil.
Apart from that, there are a few things you need to take note of,
- 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
LLCs can be formed by spending very less price. Apart from the mandatory state filing fees, you don’t have to bear additional service charges if you do it yourself. Following are the fees and taxes LLCs in Washington State must pay to register and run a business in the state. Forming an LLC is no doubt cost-effective compared to other business structures. However, the fees and charges (tax-deductible) that you must pay to the state, such as name reservation fee, name filing fee, LLC filing fee, and Franchise Tax & Sales Tax (If applicable). Here are the main fees and taxes you must pay while forming your limited liability company 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 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.
The speed at which you can form an LLC in Washington ultimately depends on various factors, ensuring that you approach the process with realistic expectations. Firstly, one must understand the applicable Washington State laws and regulations surrounding the establishment of an LLC, as complying with these legalities is crucial for a seamless and legal formation.
One vital consideration in forming an LLC in Washington is the completion and submission of the necessary paperwork. This paperwork includes the Articles of Organization, which must be filed with the Washington Secretary of State’s office, and the accompanying filing fee. It’s important to meticulously fill out these paperwork to avoid any unnecessary delays or complications that could elongate the processing time.
Once the paperwork has been submitted, the Washington Secretary of State’s office starts the review process, during which they verify the accuracy of the information provided. Patience is essential during this period, as the processing time may vary depending on numerous factors, such as the current workload, staffing, and efficiency of the office.
Although the specific processing times may vary, it’s generally expected that the review and approval process to form an LLC in Washington will take a few weeks. Having knowledge of this timeline can assist individuals in managing their expectations and planning their business activities accordingly.
Furthermore, it’s worth highlighting that opting for a business formation service or a professional forward-thinking provides advantages in terms of efficiency and accuracy. Such services can assist individuals in navigating the paperwork requirements and expedite the entire process. By entrusting the formation to company formations specialists, entrepreneurs can save valuable time and energy, ensuring that their LLC is established in a timely manner.
However, those wishing to form an LLC rapidly must also consider factors beyond the filing process. Post-formation obligations, such as obtaining the necessary licenses and permits, acquiring tax identification numbers, and setting up appropriate business bank accounts, can also influence the overall timeline.
While expediting the formation process may be desirable, entrepreneurs should give careful consideration to various legal and logistical factors. Rushing through the process should not come at the expense of ensuring compliance with regulations or adequately addressing other aspects critical to the successful establishment and running of an LLC.
In conclusion, the timeline for forming an LLC in Washington State encompasses various stages of work, including paperwork completion, submission, review, and additional post-formation obligations. Though it can be tempting to seek immediate results, maintaining realistic expectations and adhering to proper legal procedures is vital. By considering advice from professionals, individuals can navigate the intricate process more expertly to form their LLC, thereby setting a solid foundation for their business’s future success.
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 TailorBrands 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.