Applying for a Washington State LLC license is straightforward when the correct steps are followed. The business must first be named before anything else can happen. Research must be done to make sure no other companies have the desired name. It should also be a name that potential clients can easily search. The name must include the words "Limited Liability Corporation," "L.L.C.," or "LLC." If restricted words such as "university," "bank," or "attorney" are used, extra paperwork will be required. A licensed individual may also need to be part of the LLC, such as a lawyer or doctor.

Steps to Start an LLC in Washington State

Some names are not allowed at all, as they would confuse the general public with a state or federal agency. This includes the Secret Service, FBI, and Treasury. A search can be done on the State of Washington's website to see if the name is available. The company should also check that the limited liability company's name is available so the domain name can be reserved. This should be done even if the owner doesn't intend to start a website anytime soon. It's better to have it so no one else gets it in the future.

A registered agent will need to be chosen to be in charge of receiving and sending legal papers on the LLC's behalf. This includes state filings and service of process of legal action in case the LLC is sued. They must either be a Washington State resident or a corporation that has been authorized to do business in the state. Someone in the LLC can also elect themselves as the registered agent, but the company itself can't be the registered agent.

There is a non-refundable fee of $180 to file the Certificate of Formation through the mail. If this is filed online, it will be more expensive, with a $230 expedited fee. Either a Certificate of Formation or Articles of Incorporation will need to be filed. The following details should be included on this:

  • Address and PO box for main office
  • Company name
  • Duration of LLC
  • Type of management
  • Name, mailing address, and physical address of registered agent
  • Registered agent's signature
  • Name, phone numbers, addresses, and signatures of all signers

After this is filed, it will take three days for it to be processed if it was filed online. If sent in the mail, it can take up to three weeks to get confirmation. An email will be sent by the Secretary of State to confirm that the business was formed and what the UBI number for the business is.

Key Steps After Forming a Business

An essential first step when starting an LLC is to open a bank account that will be used exclusively for the business. The owner's personal assets should never be combined with this so they will have personal asset protection. This will make filing taxes and accounting easier. The company should also get a business credit card so it can build credit and make it easy to separate the personal and business expenses.

The LLC will need to be registered for Washington State Tax. Most businesses in the state must pay the Business & Occupation Tax with the Washington State Department of Revenue. If there are employees in the company, they'll need to be registered for Unemployment Insurance Tax. Companies selling services or taxable goods in the state of Washington must register for Washington Sales Tax as well.

Even if the business hasn't officially opened to the public yet, they'll need to get their accounting in order. Having an accounting system that's well-managed from the beginning will make it easier to file the yearly taxes and track business income, expenses, and bills. There are many software programs that can make tracking simpler and will automatically sync activity from the bank. They will also match all transactions to any bills, orders, or invoices so accounting is simple.

The LLC must also get the proper permits and licenses to comply with state, local, and federal government rules. For example, any restaurants will need building permits, health permits, and signage permits.

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