Why Form a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?


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How to Start an LLC in Washington DC

The center of political power in the U.S., Washington DC is a thriving city with an extremely active business community. You don’t need to be directly involved in politics to start a business in DC, however, as there are plenty of opportunities in other areas.

If you want to start your own business in Washington DC, one of the best ways to do so is by forming an LLC. Limited liability companies (LLCs) are a business entity designed for startups and small- and medium-sized businesses. DC LLCs give you many of the protections and advantages of larger corporations without all the rules, regulations and compliance issues common to larger business entities.

Briefly, the benefits of starting a Washington DC LLC include:

  • Separating and limiting your personal liability from your business liability and debts
  • Quick and simple filing, management, compliance, regulation and administration of your Washington DC LLC
  • Easy tax filing and potential advantages for tax treatment

Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure here.

Form a Washington DC LLC in Six Quick Steps

This guide has plenty of information on how to form your Washington DC LLC, but you can break down the basics of forming a business in DC into just a few simple steps.

STEP 1: Gather Information for Your Members

First, you need to gather basic information about your LLC, including the names and addresses of the managers or members. The LLC members are typically the people who own and run the business. They are also the ones who can take profits out of the business to pay themselves.

STEP 2: Search for and Choose a Unique Business Name for Your Washington DC LLC

You will need a distinctive and original name for your Washington DC LLC that’s not used by any other business in DC. To find out if another company is using your chosen business name, carry out a Washington DC business entity name search on the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs website.

There are a few rules you’ll need to follow when choosing an LLC name. You can find out more in our guide to searching for and naming your Washington DC LLC.

Learn about Washington DC LLC business naming rules.

STEP 3: Provide an Official Address for Your DC LLC

Every Washington DC LLC must have a designated street address. That could be your home address (if you’re running the company from your residence), your company’s office building or any physical address of your preference.

STEP 4: Assign a Registered Agent for Your Washington DC LLC

Every LLC must have a “Registered Agent.” This is an official position; the Registered Agent is someone who receives official legal and tax correspondence and has responsibility for filing reports with the Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

This position can be filled by you, another manager in the business or a dedicated Registered Agent service. Your Registered Agent must have a physical street address in Washington DC and must be present to receive important documents for your company during business hours.

At Incfile, all of our packages include a Washington DC Registered Agent service that is free for the first year and just $119 per year afterward. We also have a dashboard where you can log in and easily view any document your Registered Agent has received on your behalf.

Learn more about Washington DC Registered Agents.

STEP 5: Get an Employee Identification Number (EIN) From the Internal Revenue Service

You will need an EIN to identify your business to the IRS. You use this number when filing and paying taxes or when submitting payroll information and payments for your employees. You can obtain one directly from the IRS, or we can get one for you as part of the Washington DC LLC business formation process.

STEP 6: File Articles of Organization With the Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Once you've gathered all the information for your Washington DC LLC, you’ll need to file a formal document with the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. This document is known as your “Articles of Organization,” and filing the document creates your Washington DC LLC. Here’s what is typically included:

  • Your business name and address
  • Details of your Registered Agent
  • Names of managers or members of the LLC at the time of filing
  • Addresses of managers or members of the LLC at the time of filing
  • Purpose of your business
  • Name of the incorporator

You can file your Washington DC LLC Articles of Organization online, mail in a form or have Incfile do it on your behalf. There is a fee to file and start an LLC in Washington DC. You only need to file your Articles of Organization once. 

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Review Information From the Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

In most states, LLC formation and registration is handled by the Secretary of State. In the Commonwealth of Washington DC, businesses are administered by the DC State Corporation Commission. They have plenty of information on forming and registering a business in Washington DC.

These are all the basic steps for forming an LLC in Washington DC. You’ll find other useful information below.

Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for forming and running your LLC

Washington DC Department of Employment Services for DC employers and hiring

Washington DC Office of Tax and Revenue for taxes

Form a Professional Washington DC LLC

Some regions, including Washington DC, allow certain occupations to form “Professional LLCs.” These types of businesses typically have special requirements and licensing. The DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs says that “professionals—such as lawyers, architects, accountants, engineers and doctors, etc.—shall register Professional LLC (PLLC).”

Form a Foreign LLC in Washington DC

If your business is already operating in another state and expanding to Washington DC, you’ll need to form a foreign LLC.

More information on Washington DC filing and licensing requirements here

What to Do After Setting up Your Washington DC LLC

Want to know your next steps after creating a new LLC in Washington DC? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide to understanding your ongoing requirements, setting up new bank accounts, protecting your business name, getting accounting in place and more. 

Detailed Information for Your Washington DC LLC

You’ll find plenty more insight and guidance on the other pages of this guide, including:

Naming Your Washington DC LLC

How to search the Washington DC business registry of the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and find the right name. Includes information on naming rules, fictitious names, reserving a Washington DC LLC name and more.

Washington DC Registered Agents for Your LLC

How to appoint a Washington DC Registered Agent to your new LLC or change to a different Registered Agent. Includes information on Registered Agent rules and searching for Washington DC Registered Agents.

Fees and Requirements for Your Washington DC LLC

How to understand the various fees you’ll need to pay and the requirements you’ll need to meet for both federal and Washington DC rules. Includes details of Employee Identification Numbers (EINs), Washington DC and federal business licenses, Washington DC Annual Reports and more.

Federal, State, Sales and Other Taxes for Your Washington DC LLC

How to understand the various taxes you will need to pay to the federal and Washington DC government. Includes details of federal taxes like income and self-employment, and Washington DC taxes like sales tax and income tax.

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What are the fees and requirements to form a business in Washington Dc?

Filing Time and Price

The state charges this amount to file a new business entity. This fee goes directly to the Secretary of State.

State Fee State Filing Time Expedited Filing Time
$220 3 Weeks 4 Business Days

Compliance Requirements

This report is mandatory and must be filed within the specified time frame in order for the entity to remain in good standing with the state. Failure to file this report can lead to the company being revoked or administratively dissolved.

Annual Report

Frequency: Biennially

Due Date: April 1st

Note: Starts with year after incorporation or qualification; then each second year thereafter.

Filing Fee: $300

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