It's important to complete a Washington State LLC search before you begin to form your LLC in the state of Washington. This ensures the name for your LLC is available for use in Washington state. If the name is available for your LLC, you may continue to the next step of forming your LLC, which includes completing the Certificate of Formation.

What to Consider Before Choosing Your LLC Name

There are a few requirements for naming your LLC in the state of Washington:

  • The abbreviations “LLC” or “L.L.C.” must be used following your registered state of Washington LLC name, with LLC being the most common choice. 
  • A state of Washington LLC is not considered a corporation. Therefore, your name can't use “incorporated,” “corporation,” nor use the abbreviations “corp.” or “inc.”
  • Your preferred LLC name must be unique and distinguishable from other businesses registered in the state of Washington.
  • Differences in grammar or identifiers at the end of the name, known as designators, aren't distinguishable. 
  • A name can be reserved for 180 days by filing a Name Reservation with the Washington Secretary of State. This must be filed by mail and include a fee of $30.

Washington LLC Name Search 

Begin the following steps to form an LLC in Washington:

1. Search your desired name and check its availability. The online function is useful for:

  • Searching general information
  • Purchasing documents for your business
  • Checking the availability of a business name before registration.

2. Go to the Washington Corporations Search page and enter your proposed LLC name in the “Organization Name” box. Click the Search button. 

  • Make sure the default option is “name starts with” before you begin the search.
  • Leave out the designator and punctuation. Capitalization isn't important.

3. To ensure your name is truly unique, be general in your search. You'll find everything that may be too similar. You could even just enter the first word or part of the first word.

4. Your list will come up from the contents of your search containing the business names and business status. Click on the name to see the public details. You can also purchase documents for the entity. In addition, you can search by a unified business identifier, a UBI, which can help you narrow your search.

5. The advanced search function allows you to narrow down your search by several different parameters: 

  • Organization type
  • Organization name
  • Category
  • Active or inactive
  • Owner's or governing person's name
  • Registered agent name
  • City
  • ZIP code
  • Date of incorporation

If your results display names that are distinguishable from yours, that means you name is available.

6. If your search doesn't return any results, that means your name is unique and available. If your results show names that are too similar to yours, the name is unavailable, and you'll need a new name.

7. If you're not entirely sure that your name is unique, don't send in your filing. There is a nonrefundable fee of $180. If you need assistance to check your name, contact the Washington Secretary of State.

8. Don't apply for your Federal Tax ID Number, or your EIN, until your name is approved.

9. Wait to purchase things like business cards, letterhead, a domain name, signs, or marketing supplies until the state approves your LLC name.

Washington Secretary of State Contact Information

If you have any questions about your LLC name search, contact the Washington Secretary of State at 360-725-0377. The office staff is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It can be slow when calling in. Therefore, it's best to call as soon as they open to get faster service.

You can also contact the state using a live chat or email at corps@sos.wa.gov.

How to Form an LLC in Washington

To form an LLC in Washington, complete the following steps:

  1. Choose your LLC name
  2. File a Certificate of Formation
  3. Appoint your registered agent 
  4. Prepare your operating agreement
  5. Follow tax and regulatory requirements
  6. File your annual report.

File a Certificate of Formation

To form your state of Washington LLC, you must file a Certificate of Formation with the Washington Secretary of State. Your Certificate of Formation must include:

  • LLC name and address
  • Name, signature, and address of the registered agent
  • Effective date of formation
  • Whether its term is perpetual or limited
  • Whether it will be member- or manager-managed

The Certificate of Formation can be filed online or by mail. You must include the $180 fee for filing by mail and $200 for filing online. It generally takes two or three business days to process your request.

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