Starting an LLC in Washington State
Washington State is a region located in the far northwest of the continental U.S. Over half of the state’s population lives in and around the Seattle area. The state combines centers of business and industry with beautiful landscapes and welcoming people.
For most business owners, the fastest and easiest way to start a business in Washington is by creating a Washington LLC. A limited liability company (LLC) is a type of business entity that’s ideal for startups and small- to medium-sized businesses. You get the advantages and protections of larger Washington corporations, but with much simpler rules and regulations.
Briefly, the benefits of starting a Washington 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 LLC
- Easy tax filing and potential advantages for your tax treatment
Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure here.
How to Start a Washington State LLC in Six Quick Steps
We’ve got lots of useful information on starting a business in WA. On this page, you’ll find the basic steps of how to form a Washington LLC, with more in-depth content throughout the rest of our guide.
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: Choose a Unique Business Name
You will need a distinctive and original name for your LLC that’s not used by any other business in WA. To find out if another company is using your chosen business name, carry out a business entity name search on the WA Secretary of State 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 naming your Washington LLC.
Learn about Washington LLC business naming rules.
STEP 3: Provide an Official Address for Your LLC
Every Washington 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. The address must be inside the state of Washington, but it cannot be a P.O. Box.
STEP 4: Assign a Registered Agent For Your Washington 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 Secretary of State.
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 and must be present to receive important documents for your company during business hours.
At Incfile, all of our packages include a Washington 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 Registered Agents.
STEP 5: Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service
You will need an EIN to identify your business with 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 LLC business formation process.
STEP 6: File Articles of Organization with the Washington Secretary of State
Once you've gathered all the information for your LLC, you’ll need to file a formal document with the WA Secretary of State. This document is known as your “Articles of Organization,” and filing the document creates your Washington 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
- Name of the incorporator
You can file your Washington 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, but you only need to file your Articles of Organization once.
Form Your LLC Now
Additional Information from the Washington Secretary of State
The Secretary of State has plenty of other information on forming and running a business in Washington. You’ll find other useful information below.
Special Types of Washington LLCs
A regular Washington LLC is suitable for most business needs, but you also have a few other options to incorporate a special type of LLC.
Professional LLCs in Washington
Some states, including Washington, allow certain occupations to form “Professional LLCs.” These types of businesses typically have special requirements and licensing. Here are the occupations that the WA Secretary of State allows to form professional LLCs:
- Osteopathic physicians and surgeons
- Social workers
- Land surveyors
Foreign LLCs Doing Business in Washington
If your business is already operating in another state and expanding to Washington, you’ll need to form a foreign LLC.
More information on Washington filing and licensing requirements here.
What to Do After Forming Your Washington LLC
Want to know your next steps after creating a new LLC in Washington? 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.
More Information About Washington LLCs
You’ll find plenty more insight and guidance on the other pages of this guide, including:
How to search the Washington business registry of the Secretary of State and find the right name. Includes information on naming rules, fictitious names, reserving a Washington LLC name and more.
How to appoint a Registered Agent to your new LLC or change to a different Registered Agent. Includes information on Registered Agent rules and searching forWashington Registered Agents.
How to understand the various fees you’ll need to pay and the requirements you’ll need to meet for both federal and Washington rules. Includes details of Employer Identification Numbers (EINs), Washington and federal business licenses, annual reports and more.
How to understand the various taxes you will need to pay to the federal and Washington government. Includes details of federal taxes like income and self-employment, and Washington taxes like sales tax and income tax.