Registering a business in PA is the process of having your business officially recognized and authorized to operate in the state of Pennsylvania. This is a simple yet multi-step process that involves forming your company and then making sure it has the correct registration to operate in the state.

Forming an LLC in Pennsylvania

Forming an LLC, or limited liability company, in Pennsylvania, is a six-step process, the steps of which are as follows:

  1. Choose a name. An LLC’s name in Pennsylvania must have the term “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited,” or “Company,” or some variation thereof in it. It cannot have terms like “Secret Service,” “Treasury,” or “FBI” in it. It must also be original; not a duplicate of any other name. Availability of LLC names can be checked through Pennsylvania’s business name database. The filing fee is $70.
  2. Choose a registered agent. A registered agent accepts and serves legal papers on behalf of the LLC, and every LLC in Pennsylvania must have one. A registered agent can be either an individual or a business, but they must be either a resident of Pennsylvania or a business authorized to operate in the state.
  3. File the Certificate of Organization. The Certificate of Organization officially registers your LLC with the state. It must include the address and name of the LLC, the LLC’s organizers, and the LLC’s registered agent; the LLC’s management type (member-managed or manager managed); and whether professional services will be provided. A New Entity Docket Statement must also be included, which contains information pertaining to tax reporting. The fee for filing both documents is $125.
  4. Create an operating agreement. The operating agreement outlines the procedures for operation and ownership of your LLC. It is an internal document that may cover topics such as the internal organization of the LLC or ownership transfer procedures, and as such, there is no filing requirement for it in Pennsylvania. In fact, there is no requirement that a Pennsylvania LLC have one, but it is highly recommended nonetheless.
  5. Comply with tax and regulatory requirements. Depending on your LLC’s type, additional requirements may need to be met. For example, if your LLC is single-member with employees or multi-member, it must obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, which is necessary for state and federal tax filings.
  6. File annual registration. This applies to foreign (out-of-state) and professional LLCs (PLLCs) only. They must file the Certificate of Annual Registration with the Department of State, and this must be done by the 15th of April. The filing fee is $520 for each LLC member.

Acquiring Business Licenses and Permits in Pennsylvania

After the above steps have been completed, some businesses may begin operation, while others may not. They will have to obtain additional business licenses and/or permits due to the type of business they are running or the local government requirements. Different licenses and permits will be issued by different agencies, but most can be applied for by filing Form PA-100, Pennsylvania Enterprise Registration, with the Secretary of State.

To find out what licenses may be required of your business, the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are two useful resources. It is also advised that you check with your county, city, or township to see what their requirements are, if any.

A few business situations that will require special authorization from the state include:

  • Operating a PLLC. If you wish to operate your LLC as a licensed professional, such as a lawyer, doctor, or accountant (and thus have a PLLC), you will need to obtain a license to do so from the state. The Pennsylvania Department of State website has a section for professional licensing that lists the state regulator board’s contact information, as well as general information pertaining to the state’s regulatory boards.
  • Registering a Fictitious or Assumed Business Name. Some businesses may choose to operate under a name different from their registered name. If so, in Pennsylvania they must register that name with the Department of State, as well as provide the public with notice that their operating name differs from their registered name.
  • Registering a Service Mark or Trademark. Service marks and trademarks are used to distinguish and protect specific products, services, or even businesses from competitor’s usage. As well as being registered on the federal level, they can also be registered on the state level. To do so, a registration form and filing fee must be filed with the Department of State.

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