Why Create a Washington LLC?
The state of Washington Department of Revenue offers over 50 tax incentive programs for businesses, provided your LLC meets specific criteria. For example, if you start a business that provides international services, you may qualify for a tax credit of up to $3000 for every employment position you fill with employees from the Community Empowerment Zone (CEZ) or designated International Services District. If the employment position is maintained, an additional $3000 credit can be taken in each of the four following years.
For most entrepreneurs wanting to start a business, creating a Washington limited liability company (LLC) is the fastest and easiest way. An LLC is an ideal business entity for startups and small to medium-sized businesses, giving you access to the advantages and protections that larger Washington corporations benefit from, but with simplified rules and regulations.
The benefits of starting a Washington LLC:
Protect your personal assets from your business liability and debts
Simple to create, manage, regulate, administer and stay in compliance
Easily file your taxes and discover potential advantages for tax treatment
Low filing fee ($180)
Learn more about the benefits of an LLC business structure.
In this guide, you’ll find all the information you need on naming your LLC, getting a Registered Agent, the fees you’ll need to pay, Washington business taxes and much more. We’ll also cover how you'll interact with the Washington Secretary of State (SOS), what you'll need to register and file your Washington LLC.
How to Form an LLC in Washington Yourself in 6 Steps
Step 1 - Complete a Washington LLC Search and Choose a Unique Business Name
Step 2 - Provide an Official Business Address for Your LLC
Step 3 - Assign a Registered Agent
Step 4 - File Your Articles of Organization with the Washington Secretary of State
Step 5 - Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service
Step 6 - Create an Operating Agreement
Complete a Washington LLC Search and Choose a Unique Business Name
You’ll need a distinctive and original name for your LLC that’s not used by any other business in the state. If you’re having trouble coming up with a name, try using Incfile’s Business Name Generator to brainstorm ideas. You'll need to follow a few naming rules, which you can read about in detail on the Washington Business Names page.
Once you’ve chosen a name, you’ll need to make sure it’s available in Washington. To find out whether another company in the state is using your chosen business name, use our tool to do a business name search. You can also carry out a name search on the Washington Secretary of State online database.
Provide an Official Business Address for Your LLC
Every Limited Liability Company (LLC) conducting business in the state of Washington must have a designated street address, whether it’s an office building, a home, or any other physical location. The address can be outside the state of Washington, but it cannot be a P.O. Box.
Assign a Registered Agent
Someone who receives official legal and tax correspondence and is responsible for filing reports with the Washington Secretary of State is called a Registered Agent. Every LLC in Washington is required to have a Registered Agent.
This position can be filled by you, another manager in your business or a dedicated Registered Agent service. If your Washington Registered Agent is a person, they must have a physical street address and reside in Washington and must be present during business hours to receive important documents on behalf of your company. In Washington, you are required to appoint your Registered Agent when you file your Articles of Organization and formally create your business.
All of Incfile’s packages include Registered Agent service. It’s free for the first year and just $119 per year after that. You can also log in to our dashboard and easily view any document we've received on your behalf.
File Your Articles of Organization with the Washington Secretary of State
Once you've gathered all the information for your Washington LLC, you’ll need to file a form with the Washington SOS or register an account, complete it online and pay an additional $20 online filing fee.
Your Articles of Organization can be filed online for an additional online filing fee of $20 with the Washington Secretary of State Corporations and Charities Division, you can mail them to the Office of the Secretary of State, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf. The Washington LLC filing fee is $180.
File by Mail
Washington Secretary of State
Corporations and Charities Division
801 Capitol Way S
Olympia, WA 98501-1226
You only need to file your Articles of Organization once, but every year after, you must file an annual report. The fee for this, set by the Washington SOS, is $60. Incfile can either remind you to do it, or we can do it for you.
What are the fees and requirements to form a business in Washington?
Last day of anniversary month of organization or qualification
Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service
You’ll 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. An EIN is also required to open a business bank account. You can obtain one directly from the IRS, or Incfile can get one for you as part of the Washington LLC formation process.
Create an Operating Agreement
An LLC Operating Agreement details how decisions will be made, how the business is divided among members and what will happen if a member leaves the company. Think of it as a kind of “instruction manual” that explains the inner workings of your business.
Some states require that a company have this document in place. You're not legally required to have a Washington LLC Operating Agreement, but it’s a good idea to have one nonetheless.
Other Washington LLC Types
Different from professional corporations, Professional Limited Liability Companies (PLLCs) typically have licensing requirements applicable to certain fields, such as law and medicine.
In order to form a Washington PLLC, you need to:
- have the state license for each professional who will be a member of the PLLC
- check with the state licensing board for your profession to see if its prior approval is required (and, obtain the necessary documentation showing that approval)
- file a certificate of formation with the Washington Secretary of State (SOS).
If your business is already operating in another state and expanding to Washington—or vice versa—you’ll need to form a Foreign LLC.
Learn more about Washington Foreign LLC registration.
Helpful Resources from the State of Washington
More Information in This Guide
You’ll find plenty more insight and guidance on the other pages of this guide, including:
How to search the Washington business registry and find the right name. Includes information on naming rules, trade names, reserving a Washington LLC name and more.
How to appoint, change and search for Registered Agents. Also includes the rules they’re required to follow.
How to understand the various fees you’ll need to pay and the state and federal requirements you’ll need to meet. Includes details of Employer Identification Numbers (EINs), state and federal business licenses, annual reports and more.
How to understand the various taxes you will need to pay to the state and federal governments. Includes details of state taxes such as sales and income, and federal taxes such as income and self-employment.