There are a few different options when it comes to starting a business in Washington DC. From a legal perspective, there are three main types of Washington DC for-profit business entities: LLCs, S Corporations or C Corporations. For many entrepreneurs, we believe an LLC provides the right ratio of liability protection and ease of administration.
In order to form an LLC in the district of Washington DC, there are some minimum requirements you must meet. These are a completed set of Articles of Organization, a business name and a fee you pay to the District of Columbia Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (DLCP), Corporations Division. We recommend taking some other steps before formally starting your LLC:
- Research your target market to make sure there’s a demand for the products and services you provide.
- Read industry guides to give you a starting point in your niche.
- Create a comprehensive business plan that defines the most important aspects of your Washington DC business.
- Write an Operating Agreement that covers how you will run your LLC.
After you’ve created your Washington DC LLC, you will also need to review your business license requirements, understand ongoing filing needs, set up a separate business bank account and get an accountant.
In Washington DC, you register a business by completing and filing your Articles of Organization with the Washington DC Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. You will need to gather information about your business, fill out the form and send it to the DLCP along with your filing fee. This will formally create your LLC in Washington DC.
You can file your Articles of Organization on the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection website or mail it in. Alternatively, Incfile can guide you through every step of the process by getting details from you and filing the form on your behalf — for free! There’s no additional charge for our basic LLC filing service, so all you need to do is pay the District of Columbia filing fee.
At the time of writing the fee charged by the Washington DC Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection is $99. You can always check the latest Washington DC filing fees here. You can also pay an additional $50 or $100 for expedited filing through Incfile, which will create your LLC faster. The amount of the expedited fee is dependent on how quickly you want your filing processed. Some LLC filing services do charge you extra to prepare and submit your filing documents, but at Incfile, we do this for free — so you only pay the district fee.
Once you’ve gathered all of your information together and filed your Articles of Organization (or had Incfile do it for you), it can take up to a week for the Washington DC DLCP to legally create your LLC. If you pay an additional $50 or $100 expedited fee, your LLC can be formed in as little as 3 days or the same day respectively.
There are a few ways to register your Washington DD LLC name.
- If you’re creating a new business and your business name is unique in Washington DC and meets state naming rules, you simply include it in your Articles of Organization.
- If you want to change the legal name of your business, file a Certificate of Amendment with the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection.
- If you just want to do business under a different name, file Trade Name Registration paperwork with the Washington DC DLCP, or we can do that on your behalf.
If you want to prevent people from using your business name across the U.S., you can file a trademark for the name. We can help.
In other states, the formal documents that you file to form a corporation or LLC might be known as Articles of Incorporation. In Washington DC, this document is called your Articles of Organization, and it performs the same functions as the Articles of Incorporation.
Yes, the District of Columbia allows the formation of Series LLC within the district. A Series LLC is a special type of LLC where you create one “overall” business and then have individual, series LLCs within it, each counted as separate legal entities.
To form a Series LLC, simply fill out the Certificate of Series Designation for Domestic LLC form and file it with the DLCP. The fee charged by the DLCP for a Series LLC designation is $220.
If you wish to change your Washington DC Registered Agent you can do so by filing the Statement of Change page from the Registered Agent Combined Form with the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. Here at Incfile, we provide a free Washington DC Registered Agent service for the first year if you file through us. If you’ve been using a different Registered Agent and want to switch to us, we’ll file the Statement of Change on your behalf.
If you need to know the Registered Agent of a specific Washington DC business, you can perform a Washington DC Registered Agent search within the district's business database.
As an LLC, any business profits you earn will be reported on your personal 1040 filing and reported and taxed as “pass-through” income. You will typically need to pay:
- Self-employment or payroll tax on all business profits
- Federal income tax on profits after you meet your tax-free allowance
- Sales tax for selling taxable products and services
Washington DC charges a 6 percent state sales and use tax on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods. You will also need to pay sales tax if you provide a taxable service. You can find a full list of taxable services here.
You will need to register as a sales tax vendor with the Washington DC Office of Tax and Revenue. You can complete this process online.
The base rate for Washington DC sales tax is 6 percent, and there may be additional sales tax depending on your region. Once you know your overall sales tax amount, calculate the value of all your taxable products and services. Then, multiply that by your sales tax rate to understand how much you will need to pay.
Once your LLC’s sales tax application is approved, you will receive a notice with instructions on how often you must file a sales tax return and pay sales taxes. Returns and payments may be due monthly, quarterly or annually.
In most states, unincorporated businesses (such as LLCs) are not subject to franchise taxes unless they've elected to be treated as a C Corp for tax purposes. This is not the case in Washington DC, however, where LLCs are required to pay Unicorporated Business Franchise Tax for the privilege of doing business within the District of Columbia.
If you're opening a business and intend to operate that business within the District of Columbia, chances are you'll need a business license of some type in order to do so. The types of business licenses you need will vary depending on your type of business, industry, location and various other factors. We can research the types of business licenses you might need for you.