An LLC in Washington allows you to register with the Department of Revenue. This is a requirement for almost every business. If you plan to hire employees or to pay taxes, you will need to secure a Washington business license (WBL) with the state.

The good thing about this process is that your Washington business license will not only register you to the state but also the city in which you plan to operate. Once you have secured your license, you may also be eligible for minor work permits, unemployment insurance, and even trade names.

Steps to Starting an LLC in Washington

There are several in-depth steps to starting an LLC in Washington:

  1. Set a name for your company. This should also include your business identifier (i.e., LLC). You will not be able to use a name that is already registered. Be sure to check the secretary of state's website to search for your desired name and to make sure it is available.
  2. File a certificate of formation. This will go to the secretary of state, accompanied by a fee of $180 for paper filings or $200 if you are filing online. Even though online filings come with a higher price tag, you may want to consider it. Online processing can take anywhere from two to five business days, whereas paper filings are allowed up to 25 business days. This certificate will legally establish your LLC in Washington. In this certificate, you will include basic information, including your company name, the official business address, and the registered agent.
  3. Appoint a registered agent. This person will accept all official documents on behalf of the company, including official notifications, services of process, and any other pertinent legal documents. A registered agent's official mailing address must be within the state of Washington.
  4. Construct an operating agreement. Although this is an internal document, not to be filed with the state, it is a very important document regardless. It outlines the ownership and the management of your company. This is the time to appoint initial members, set their membership contributions, as well as their ownership share. Your operating agreement will also outline the responsibilities for the members of management and indicate how any administrative procedures will be addressed.
  5. Officially apply for your Washington business license. Just remember, despite its name, a Washington business license is not actually a license. Rather, it is a registration with the Department of Revenue. There is no way around it. This is a requirement for nearly every business in the state that plans to hire employees and pay taxes. Your Washington business license is also separate from other licenses and permits that other industries will require. Other licenses may be sought out by the WA Business Licensing Service.
  6. File for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This can be done through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and it will be necessary to become a legal entity and to pay taxes.
  7. File an initial report. This will go through the secretary of state, and it is due within 120 days of your formation. From then on, you will file an annual report every year with the state. It will be due on the last day of the month that you officially registered. Failure to remain in good standing with the secretary of state can lead to the dissolution of your company.
  8. Establish a corporate book and a seal. Make things official by creating a professional-looking corporate book, as well as a high-quality corporate seal.

Once you have formed your LLC online, you can start accessing the Initial Report page on the secretary of state's website. Simply use your application ID and your Unified Business Identifier (UBI) given to you when you filed the initial report. Here, you will have access to several important documents, including your Apostille, the certified copies of good standing, and the certified copies of your certificate of formation.

Sections of the Washington Certificate of Formation

Within your Washington Certificate of Formation, you will find the following sections:

  1. The name of your LLC
  2. The address of your official place of business
  3. Your effective date of formation
  4. Your tenure.

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