Forming an LLC in Washington State
Register your LLC with the Washington Secretary of StateYou can do so online or by mail. The cost is currently $180 + $20 for online filing. Go to the Washington Secretary of State's website (link below) to file online or to obtain an application for mailing.
When registering your LLC you will need to submit a name for review, submit your contact information; file a Certificate of Formation; and list registered agents and members. You may also file an initial annual report (you must do so within 120 days of filing your Certificate of Formation).
You should also consider registering your business name as a state or federal trademark.
File a business license application with the Department of LicensingYou can do so online, by mail, or in person. The cost is currently $19. Go to Washington's Department of Licensing website (link below) for more information or to file online.
Obtain relevant city licensureDepending on where you will conduct business you may need to also obtain additional local licensing. When filing your business license application, if you do not see your relevant city or county on the city licensure list (link below), you should contact your county or city clerk's office to determine if there are licensing requirements.
You can obtain a license for the city of Seattle by filing online (link below).
Get your federal Employee Identification Number (EIN) and determine other obligations1. You must obtain an EIN, and can do so online. 2. An LLC can elect to be treated in various ways for taxation purposes. Consider consulting a tax advisor to determine what will work best with your current business and future goals. 3. In addition to federal taxes, you will need to pay relevant Washington taxes (see link below). 4. Depending on the type of business, you may also need to obtain special licensing (see link below). 5. If you have employees, you will need to obtain worker's compensation insurance (see link below).
Draft an operating agreementWashington does not require an operating agreement, but an operating agreement is highly advisable if your LLC will have more than one member. An operating agreement can and should, among other things, dictate how your company will be run, how the members will contribute, how and when the members will receive profits, and when and how the members will part ways, if need be.
Know when to hire an attorneyAlthough in many circumstances it is straightforward and easy to form your own business entity, if you have a complicated business structure or have more than one member it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney for assistance in forming your LLC and drafting an operating agreement.
Stay in complianceDon't forget to stay in compliance with relevant laws and requirements.
RCW 25.15.135 requires that the LLC keep certain documents in its principal place of business.
In addition to paying your LLC's taxes on a timely basis, you will also need to renew your license and file an annual report each year.
Additional resources provided by the author
- Register your LLC online with the Washington Secretary of State
- File your business license application on the Department of Licensing website
- Business license application city licensure list
- Obtain a license for the city of Seattle by filing online
- Obtain your EIN
- Washington taxes
- Special licenses
- RCW 25.15.135