The first Starbucks was started by two teachers and a writer in 1971 at Pike Place Market, located in Seattle, Washington. Any city that starts a coffee revolution and quenches our obsession is pretty awesome in our book! Are you planning on starting your business in Washington State too? If so, we've got all the information you'll need to get your company up and running, including how to apply for the right business licenses for your industry.
How to Start a Business in Washington State
Washington has some specific advantages that other states lack. One of the biggest benefits is that individuals don't have to file personal income tax returns with the state. The second appealing feature is that the first $43,000 of revenue is tax-free for small businesses. But in order to reap these rewards, you first have to register your business entity with the Washington Secretary of State.
Filing Your Business Entity
To start a business in the State of Washington, you'll need to complete the following tasks:
- Determine which business entity is best for your business plan.
- Use the Washington Secretary of State's corporation search tool to ensure your business name is unique and that no one else is using it.
- Decide how many shares you want to issue. Usually shares are limited to corporations — but in Washington, even LLCs need to divide their business into shares. If you are the sole member or owner of your company, you'll write down "one share."
- Appoint a Registered Agent. If you are the sole member or owner, you can write down your name. You can also use a Registered Agent service, which is included free for one year if you form your company with Incfile.
- Complete an Initial Report. This will require information including your Registered Agent's address, your office location, nature of the business, and (for LLCs) a list of the members or managers of your company, which are called "Governors."
You can submit your form online and receive confirmation within three days or send your form in by mail, but it could take up to three weeks to get confirmation.
Filing for a Washington State Business License
After you file your business entity, you'll get a Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number, which is like a tax registration number or business license number. You'll need to have this before you're able to apply for a business license. In Washington, it's important to note that you'll file your business entity with the secretary of state, but licensing is through a separate department — the Washington State Department of Licensing. You'll need a license to practice in specific industries such as cosmetology, home inspection, real estate, security and more.
Obviously, these industries vary greatly, so there are different requirements listed on the website based on the training needed. For example, engineers and home inspectors need to take an exam to show they meet the experience and training requirements needed to be competent in these fields. Anyone offering funeral services (such as transportation or preparation of the deceased) needs to be licensed in Washington as a funeral director and have at least one funeral director employee who will be in service at each location.
You can submit your business license application online or through the mail. These licenses are non-transferable, and renewal times vary by industry. For instance, architects need to renew their license every two years, while employment agency licenses expire every year.
Filing for a City of Seattle Business License
Every business in Seattle is required to have a Seattle business license, and they'll need to file a business license tax return in addition to filing with the state. You can file for a business license by going to the City of Seattle's website and submitting your forms online. You'll need to provide the following information:
- Legal name of your business
- Business entity type
- An estimate of your annual projected revenue
- The names and addresses of the owners/members of your company
- The date in which you plan to start your business in Seattle
- Main location address
- Business description
- Your six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. This is a number provided by the federal government to track statistics for each industry. You can find your code here.
The Easiest Way to File for a Business Entity and Business License
Choosing the right business entity can be a confusing and overwhelming decision. Not only does the type of entity dictate which forms you fill out and submit, but they have different requirements and tax ramifications. Moreover, researching whether you have to file a business license with the state and city that you conduct business in can feel like another hurdle you have to jump over.
At Incfile, we know this process is complicated — that's why we have our team of business experts ready to help you make the best decisions for your business. Just tell us about your business, and we'll advise you on which business entity best suits your current needs.
We also offer a Business License Research Package for only $99. Our amazing team will gather information on all the business licenses and permits that apply to your unique business at the federal, state, county and municipal level. We'll consolidate these forms for you, and we'll guide you through the process of filling them out and submitting them. Incfile takes the guesswork out of choosing a business entity and finding applicable licenses, so you can have the peace of mind to focus on getting your business up and running. Contact us today to get started!