How to Register an LLC in Washington: A Step-by-Step Guide

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By: Michaela Dale Updated on: June 13, 2024

Washington boasts a business-friendly tax structure making it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs. If you’re looking to start a limited liability company (LLC) in the Evergreen State, you’re in the right place. This guide outlines the six key steps to register an LLC in Washington

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Washington LLC Quick Facts 

  • To register an LLC in Washington, you must file a Certificate of Formation.
  • The filing fee to start an LLC in Washington is $180-$200. 
  • All Washington LLCs are required to appoint a registered agent.
  • To maintain your Washington LLC, you must file an Annual Report.

6 Steps to Forming an LLC in Washington

To start an LLC in Washington, you must complete six steps we’ve outlined below. 

To register an LLC in Washington, follow these six steps:

  1. Name Your Washington LLC
  2. Designate a Registered Agent
  3. File a Certificate of Formation
  4. Create an Operating Agreement 
  5. Obtain an EIN and Handle Taxes
  6. File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report

Step 1: Name Your Washington LLC 

To start, you need to decide on a name for your Washington LLC. 

There are a few basic rules you need to follow to name an LLC in Washington:  

  • Include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation 
  • Be unique and distinguishable from any other business entity in the state 
  • Cannot include terms that are affiliated with another business structure such as “corporation” 

For the full list of naming requirements for Washington LLCs, visit the state’s official guidelines

To ensure your business name is unique, you will need to complete a name search through the Washington Corporations and Charities Filing System.

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Step 2: Designate a Registered Agent

To register an LLC in Washington, you will need to select a registered agent for your company. A registered agent in Washington is an individual or business entity that is designated to receive legal documents, official notices, and other important mail on behalf of the LLC.

When selecting a registered agent for your Washington LLC, keep in mind the following requirements:

  • Must have a physical address in Washington where they can be reached during normal business hours
  • Cannot be the LLC itself, but can be a member of the LLC, an employee, or a professional registered agent service
  • Must be available to receive legal documents and notices on behalf of the LLC

Who Is Eligible to Serve as a Registered Agent in Washington?

A registered agent can be an individual such as the LLC owner, an employee of the business, a family member, or a friend. Alternatively, an LLC can choose to use a professional registered agent service instead.

Step 3: File a Certification of Formation

To register your LLC in Washington, the next step is to file a Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State. You can complete this filing online or by submitting this form by mail. 

The filing fee is $200 if filed online, and $180 if filed by mail.

Make sure you have the following details prepared before filing:

  • Your LLC’s name and address 
  • Your LLC’s period of duration 
  • Whether your registered agent is a commercial agent 
  • Registered agent’s name and address

Additional filings to be included with your Certificate of Formation: 

  • If you choose to use a commercial registered agent, you must also submit a Commercial Agent Listing Statement with your formation documents. 
  • If you file your documents by mail, you will need to include an Initial Report. You have up to 120 days to complete this filing, however, it will incur a fee of $10 if by mail and $30 if submitted online. 

Quick Note: If your business is already established in another state, you will need to register as a Washington foreign LLC. This can be done by submitting a Foreign For-Profit Business Entity Registration online or by mail along with a $180 fee if done by mail or a $200 fee if completed online. 

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement 

In Washington, creating and maintaining an operating agreement for your LLC is highly recommended but not required. An operating agreement is a crucial document that outlines the internal procedures and ownership details of your company. 

This document helps ensure that all LLC members are on the same page and can help prevent conflicts down the line. While Washington state does not require you to file your operating agreement with the state, it is important to keep an updated version on file for your LLC.

Step 5: Obtain an EIN and Handle Taxes 

After completing the necessary paperwork and filing your Certificate of Formation with the Washington Secretary of State, the next step in registering an LLC in Washington is to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes. 

An EIN is required for tax reporting, hiring employees, and opening a business bank account. 

You can obtain your EIN for free by visiting the IRS website

In addition to obtaining an EIN, it is important to identify any additional tax obligations your business may have. You can do so by visiting the Washington Department of Revenue website for more information on state tax requirements.

Step 6: File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report 

All LLC owners are required to submit a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

New LLCs must file this report within 90 days of formation, ensuring timely compliance with federal regulations. Existing LLCs are required to complete the filing between January 1st, 2024, and January 1st, 2025.

Failure to file the Statement of Information for Ownership within the specified timeframe can result in a fine of $500 per day.

Fortunately, you can file this report online for free through the FinCEN website

Next Steps

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  • Identify and obtain any licenses and permits that may be required federally or by the state of Washington. Visit the Department of Revenue website for more information on business licensing in the state. 
  • File an Annual Report with the Washington Secretary of State to maintain your LLC’s good standing. You can do this online or by mail
  • Consider obtaining business insurance to protect your LLC from unforeseen risks and liabilities. NEXT Insurance makes securing business insurance fast and affordable. 

Additional Tips for Success 

  • Build a strong network: Connecting with other entrepreneurs, mentors, and industry leaders can provide valuable support and open up new opportunities for your LLC.
  • Stay compliant: Washington has specific reporting and fee requirements that you must adhere to in order to keep your LLC in good standing with the state.
  • Plan for the future: It’s important to set goals and milestones for your LLC to ensure long-term success and growth in Washington.

Conclusion

To successfully establish your LLC in Washington, it is important to understand the steps involved in the registration process. By following these steps diligently, you can ensure that your business is set up for success in the state of Washington.