How to form an LLC in Washington

Update: January 2, 2024

By: Tom Macken

Start an LLC in Washington state

Seattle. The Space Needle. Starbucks and the Seahawks. Washington is known for many things including its superb mountain ranges and also as a place where businesses of all shapes and sizes set up. 

Numerous budding entrepreneurs choose Washington to launch their LLC and tap into the state‚Äôs tech, real estate and aerospace economy. To find out how to setup your Washington LLC, read our guide below.


1. Name Your Washington LLC
2. Select a Registered Agent
3. File your Certificate of Formation
4. Receive a Certificate From the State
5. Create an Operating Agreement
6. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
7. File Annual Renewals
Costs and Next Steps

In addition to its many other advantages, a limited liability corporation (LLC) provides small enterprises with protection from legal responsibility and favorable tax treatment. 

Follow these easy steps to get your limited liability company (LLC) operating in the state of Washington after you’ve decided that an LLC is the most suitable form of business organization for your requirements.

Note: You have the option of forming the LLC personally or through a business creation service.

1. Naming of your Washington LLC

It is essential that you be aware that the name of your company must adhere to all of the federal and state laws and regulations. The state of Washington mandates that the name of your limited liability company be:

  • You are required to have the word “limited liability corporation” or one of its acronyms included in the name of your business (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • You are not allowed to use any terms in your company’s name that might lead to confusion with a public entity (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Words that are considered restricted, such as “bank,” “attorney,” and “university,” may need extra documentation and the incorporation of a licensed professional as a member of your limited liability company (LLC).

Do a name search for an LLC in the state of Washington using the Washington Corporations and Charities Filing System to be sure the name you choose isn’t already in use.

2. Washington Registered Agent Service

In the state of Washington, limited liability companies are required to choose an agent who may accept legal documents on their behalf. If the limited liability company (LLC) is taken to court, this refers to a person or company that has agreed to accept service of process on its behalf.

The Registered Agent may either be a resident of the state of Washington or a business entity that is permitted to conduct operations in the state. An actual street address in the state of Washington is required of the Registered Agent.

What does it mean to have a Registered Agent?

A Registered Agent is a person or business entity that is responsible for receiving important tax forms, legal documents, notice of lawsuits, and official correspondence from the government on behalf of your company. 

This can include tax forms, legal documents, notice of lawsuits, and official correspondence. Consider the role of your registered agent as that of the point of contact for your company with the state.

Who qualifies for the role of Registered Agent?

A Registered Agent must either be an individual who lives in the state of Washington on a permanent basis or a company that is permitted to carry out business in the state of Washington, such as a Registered Agent service. 

You also have the option of selecting anybody who works for the organization, including yourself.

3. Submit a copy of your company’s Certificate of Formation.

In order to legally do business in the state of Washington, a limited liability company (LLC) must first submit the formation paperwork required to them. At this time, the charge to create an LLC via electronic filing is $200.

This is the paperwork that officially recognizes your limited liability company (LLC) as a valid legal entity in the state of Washington.

What information should be included on a Certificate of Formation?

When completing the Certificate of Formation for your Washington LLC, you are required to give the following information:

  • The name and address of the registered agent: This is the individual or company that will be responsible for receiving legal papers on behalf of the business, being accessible during normal business hours, and other similar responsibilities.
  • The contact information and main office address: You will be required to supply a phone number as well as an email address for your company. Both the street address of your company and its postal address, if they are different, must be included.
  • You will have the opportunity to choose whether the lifetime of your business is eternal, whether it will terminate after a certain amount of years, or whether it will terminate on a particular day.
  • The effective date of business operations: When your company officially starts to exist as a separate entity. You have the option of selecting the date of registration or an alternative date; however, the date you choose cannot be more than ninety days removed from the day you filed. It also cannot occur before the day the claim was filed.
  • Executor: The state of Washington mandates that every company must have at least one executor. An individual who organizes the limited liability company (LLC) and signs the Certificate of Formation is referred to as an executor. It is forbidden for a legal entity to serve as its own executor.
  • Governor: Additionally, the state of Washington mandates that every company must have at least one governor. A person or entity that is included on an organization’s annual report is called a governor. A governor in an LLC is often either a member or a manager.
  • The nature of the company: You are free to be particular, but a remark that is more generic will do the trick.
  • A return address for submission: This is the email and physical address where you would want any further communication about your application to be sent.

Online Submission of Your Certificate of Organization 

While the online filing of documents is preferred by the Washington Secretary of State, paper forms are still accepted for an additional cost. After acceptance, your limited liability company will be assigned a Unified Business Identifier by the state of Washington (UBI).

You are going to need that number when interacting with other state authorities, so be sure that you maintain a note of it somewhere safe. You are obliged to submit an Initial Report within the first 120 days of founding a limited liability company in the state of Washington. This report serves as the initial annual report that your LLC will file each year.

4. Obtain a Certificate From Washington State

After the formation paperwork of the LLC has been submitted and authorized, the state will send you a certificate that proves the LLC’s official existence in response to a written request for a copy together with the appropriate amount of postage.

With this certificate, the limited liability company will be able to apply for and get an Employer Identification Number (EIN), as well as acquire business permits and open business bank accounts such as Bluevine or Novo bank.

5. Draw out a Contract for Business Operations

Even while establishing a detailed LLC operating agreement is not a legally required step for founding a limited liability company in the state of Washington, it is highly suggested for all new limited liability firms to do so.

The following items should be included in the operating agreement:

  • Describe the business structure of the limited liability company.
  • Determine the specific duties and commitments that each member of the limited liability company (LLC) has, and lay out the operational structure of the LLC.

In the absence of an operating agreement that outlines the specific obligations of its members, a limited liability corporation (LLC) may face significant legal and practical issues.

6. Obtain a tax EIN number

A federal employer identification number, commonly known as a tax ID number, will be required of many limited liability companies (LLCs). An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number that identifies your company to the Internal Revenue Service. 

You need an EIN in order to pay federal employer taxes, open a bank account (in most situations), or recruit staff.

On the IRS website, which is accessible without charge, you may check to see whether you need an EIN and submit an application for one online. 

Single-member limited liability companies, which are an exemption to the rule that most firms are required to acquire an EIN, may instead use the owner’s Social Security number.

Business Licenses

Your limited liability company (LLC) could be required to get both a Washington state business license and a municipal business permit, depending on the sector of the economy in which it operates and the location of its headquarters. 

If you sell things in the state of Washington, you could be required to pay sales tax and have a license to collect sales tax.

7. Register Annual Renewals

In the state of Washington, limited liability companies (LLCs) and international LLCs that are permitted to do business inside the state are required to submit an annual report to the Secretary of State. This is sometimes referred to as an annual renewal. You have one hundred and twenty days from the day you submitted the paperwork to start your limited liability company to submit the first annual report.

The Secretary of State establishes the due dates for subsequent annual reports, which must be submitted by those dates. About forty-five days before the Annual Report is due, the Secretary of State will mail a renewal notification to the registered agent of the limited liability company (LLC).

Both the Initial Report and the Annual Report may be submitted via the website or through the mail. The cost of submitting both the Initial Report and the Annual Report is sixty dollars. More information on how to submit annual reports for an LLC may be found here.

Fees and follow ups


The filing fee for the Certificate of Formation is $180 if it is submitted by mail to the Washington Secretary of State and $200 if it is submitted online. You may reserve a name for your limited liability company for a fee of $30, with an additional fee of $50 for expedited processing.

LLCs registered in the state of Washington are required, on an annual basis, to submit an Annual Renewal and pay a cost of $60 to do so.

Follow ups

When you register a limited liability company (LLC), you establish a legal basis upon which to operate your firm. Companies should make it a priority to maintain their limited liability company in compliance with state regulations and in an active position on the state’s website.

In the state of Washington, a limited liability company (LLC) is obliged to submit an annual report on the anniversary of the day it was incorporated. 

There is a possibility that the LLC may need to make tax payments on a quarterly basis. In addition to this, you need to have a registered agent for your company.

In addition, having a registered limited liability company enables you to perform the following:

  • Obtain any permissions or licenses required to run your company, such as those issued by the health department, the zoning department, the department of home occupations, the department of professional licensing, and others. Some states need a seller’s permission to conduct sales
  • Register your company with the department of revenue in your state.
  • Open a bank account for your new business.
  • Create a credit card account for your company.
  • Invest in insurance coverage for your company.
  • Create a trademark to protect both your company’s name and its logo.

Solo LLC setup or using a pro services firm?

To establish a limited liability company (LLC), you are not required by law to consult a lawyer. The majority of states enable the establishment of LLCs via the process of registering the business entity on the website of the secretary of state and with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

If you are not acquainted with the process of forming an LLC, your best bet may be to hire a professional LLC provider so that you can be certain that the creation will go smoothly and quickly.

When entrepreneurs start a new firm, they may save startup costs and save valuable time by utilizing a professional agency that specializes in company forms. 

They can take care of the things that you may not have time to think about for a price ranging from $50 to over $500, and some examples of such things are as follows:

  • Developing an operating agreement for an LLC that details your company’s key info and putting it into writing (required in some states).
  • Putting together articles of incorporation that identify the management of the LLC, the registration agent, and the date the company was formed.
  • Taking up the role of registered agent for your firm.
  • Keeping careful records in the event that there are investigations or litigation.
  • Payment of filing fees and registration with the appropriate parties.
  • Registering the name of your firm and ensuring that the name you choose for your limited liability company is accessible.
  • Finishing up and turning in all of the necessary legal and formation documentation.


What is the annual fee to form a limited liability company in Washington?

In Washington State, creating an LLC costs $180 to $300, not including company licenses, permits, and insurance.

What do I need to start an LLC in the state of Washington?

You will need the registration fee, a name for your limited liability company (LLC), a Registered Agent, a Certificate of Formation, an Operating Agreement, and an EIN number from the IRS in order to start an LLC in the state of Washington.

Are business licenses needed for LLC’s in the state of Washington?

In the state of Washington, owners of limited liability companies (LLCs) that do business outside of the state are required to get a state business license.

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