Starting an LLC in Washington State FAQs
Why Start an LLC in Washington State?
If you’re in Washington State, or planning to move your business to Washington, there are many great reasons for starting an LLC in Washington State. Washington boasts over 50 tax incentive programs, created to boost the formation and preservation of new jobs. Washington State LLCs are relatively easy to set up and manage, allow for personal asset protection, and have a low filing fee. The State of Washington can be an attractive business destination.
(image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seal_of_Washington)
An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a type of private limited company in the United States, which is any type of business entity in private ownership. This means the company is owned by its founders and management and is therefore not beholden to shareholders. So what are the benefits of starting an LLC in Washington State?
Compared to other business structures, LLCs have a relatively flexible, low-cost, simple structure that offers personal liability protection and tax benefits. See our ultimate guide for How to Start an LLC for a comprehensive breakdown of the advantages of LLCs and how they compare to other types of business structures.
If you’ve ever considered how to get an LLC in Washington State, rest at ease. Our simple and holistic guide for how to start an LLC in Washington State provides all the important steps, requirements, state fees and costs you’ll need during the LLC setup process.
What are the Steps to Starting an LLC in Washington State?
Forming an LLC in Washington can be a smooth process. There are 8 simple steps for how to start an LLC in Washington State. Some steps are legally required while others are not compulsory, but come highly recommended:
Step 1: Name Your Washington State LLC
The first step to forming an LLC in Washington is to come up with a name that is not only distinct and memorable, but also one that is available and adheres to Washington naming rules. Your LLC’s name cannot have the same name as an existing business in Washington. You can see if the name you’ve selected is available by doing an online Washington LLC search in the Corporations & Charities Filing System (CCFS).
If your name is available the primary cost to start a Washington State LLC is the $200 fee to file the Certificate of Formation online ($180 by mail) with the Washington Secretary of State, and is normally processed in 2 business days.
(image source: https://www.sos.wa.gov/corporations-charities/business-entities/limited-liability-companies-llc-online-and-paper-registrations)
Once you’ve established that your name is available, there are a few naming requirements for LLCs in Washington:
- The name of your business must include the words: “limited liability company,” the words “limited liability” and abbreviation “Co.,” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or “LLC”; and may not contain any of the following words or phrases: “Cooperative,” “partnership,” “corporation,” “incorporated,” or the abbreviations “Corp.,” “Ltd.,” or “Inc.,” or “LP,” “L.P.,” “LLP,” “L.L.P.,” “LLLP,” “L.L.L.P,” or any words or phrases prohibited by any statute of this state.
- Your LLC’s name must be different from an existing business in the state.
- Review the Washington State Legislature webpage to view more details on name requirements for LLCs. This comprehensive list details which terms require additional documentation and licensing in order to include them in your LLC name. For example, certain words, including bank, lawyer, attorney, and credit union, may require additional documentation and licensure paperwork.
Step 2: Designate a Registered Agent
If you want to form an LLC in Washington, you’ll need a registered agent. A Registered Agent acts as an intermediary for receiving official legal documents and passing them on to the LLC owner. All LLCs in the U.S. are legally required to designate a Registered Agent.
In Washington, your LLC’s Registered Agent must be a person with a physical Washington State address at which the agent is available for service of process. The Registered Agent you choose may be an individual or a business. The Registered Agent will be privy to any notices, the annual reports, and the service of process on behalf of all the organizations they represent. The agent may provide a PO Box address in addition to a physical address for receiving notice.
Step 3: File Certificate of Formation for Washington LLCs
Once you have a name, a Registered Agent, and a Washington mailing address, the next step to setting up an LLC in Washington is to submit the official formation document, also known as Articles of Organization. In order to complete Articles of Organization, you must submit the name and address of the LLC and length of existence (if not perpetual). You will also be asked for the name and address of the registered agent as well as the purpose for which the LLC was formed. All forms are to be signed by the person forming the LLC.
There is a $200 online filing fee ($180 by mail) for domestic applications. If it’s accepted, you’ll receive a certificate of formal registration. See our Articles of Organization LLC Template to make sure you don’t miss anything.
If you already have a registered LLC in another state and want to do business in Washington, you will need to register as a foreign LLC in Washington online or by mail with a $180 fee.
Step 4: Receive a Certificate From the State
The next step for how to start an LLC in Washington is receiving the certificate of formation. After your Washington LLC application has been filed and approved, the state will send you a certificate that formally confirms the existence of your LLC.
It typically takes 12-14 business days to receive your certificate. It will take 70-72 business days if you filed a non-expedited document. If you filed online, it will take 10-15 business days to receive your certificate. These turnaround times can vary greatly based on workload, staffing, and resources; up-to-the-minute information can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.
Once you have your certificate, your LLC will be able to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN), a business bank account, and a business credit card. Officially registering your LLC in Washington also gives you the ability to obtain any necessary permits or licenses to run your business.
Step 5: Create an Operating Agreement
The next step for how to start an LLC in New Jersey is receiving the certificate of formation, which formally confirms the existence of your LLC in New Jersey. The state will mail this certificate to the New Jersey mailing address you provided within 7-10 working days of receiving your Articles of Organization.
(image source: https://eforms.com/operating-agreements/wa/)
Step 6: Get an Employer Identification Number
The next step for how to create an LLC in Washington is getting your tax ID number. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will assign you an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in order to identify your LLC for taxes.
An EIN, sometimes referred to as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN), in nine digits and enables an LLC to file and manage taxes at the state and federal level, open a business bank account, and hire employees. You can obtain an EIN for free via the IRS online portal.
Step 7: File an LLC Franchise Tax and Public Information Report
Now that you know how to file an LLC in Washington, you need to know how to maintain it. Within 120 days after registering with the state it is required in the state of Washington that all corporations, nonprofits, LLCs, LPs, LLPs, and LLLPs file a Washington Annual Report.
Each year, these reports must be filed with the Washington Secretary of State, Corporations & Charities Division, either online or by paper with a $10 filing fee. The filing processing time for online is immediate and 10-12 business days by mail.
NOTE: Filing Errors
Doing your due diligence and thoroughly researching how to set up an LLC in Washington can ensure a smooth set up process, although errors can occur. In these instances, if you register an LLC in Washington, and then discover a mistake in your filings, you should correct it as soon as possible by filing a Statement of Correction.
What are the Costs of Starting an LLC in Washington State?
How much is an LLC in Washington altogether? The cost to start an LLC in Washington is relatively low compared to other states. Here are the typical expected costs to register an LLC in Washington:
- Business Name Reservation filing fee: $30
- Certificate of Formation filing fee: $180 ($200 if online)
- Washington Annual Report: $10
Does Collective Help with Starting an LLC in Washington State?
Yes! You have the steps above on how to start an LLC in Washington State, but if all of the lists and paperwork sound somewhat overwhelming, you can always consider having Collective do all most of these formalities for you. Collective offers a smarter, more affordable way to get your LLC set up and running by providing services that manage your LLC formation, monthly bookkeeping, accounting, taxes, and more.
Start your Washington State LLC with Collective and find out how much you could save.