Washington LLC: How to Form an LLC in Washington

Washington LLC

Starting a new business in Washington? You should form an LLC to make sure that while you grow your business, your personal assets remain safe and protected. With the help of an LLC, you will gain credibility with potential clients and investors. Moreover, you will be able to ensure the safety of your personal belongings.

Want to learn more about forming an LLC in Washington? You will find tons of information online that will take a lot of your time to sift through. Moreover, it is possible that the information will not even be credible. 

To save your time and energy and provide you with authentic information, we have put together this comprehensive Washington LLC guide.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Quick Summary

Recommended

ZenBusiness

$49

★★★★★

For the best overall value, ZenBusiness is our recommended LLC formation service. Great price of $49 (plus state fees) and everything you need to start your business.

IncFile

$0

★★★★★

For the cheapest LLC formation service and great customer support. You can get your LLC formed for free (plus state fees).

As a new business owner, we know that you are going to be short on time. If you don’t want to read the detailed review, we are here with quick highlights for forming your LLC in Washington. Just keep the following step in mind and you will be good to go!

  1. Business LLC Name
  2. Appoint Registered Agent
  3. File the Articles of Organization
  4. Create a Business Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN
  6. File Your Annual Report

You can definitely form an LLC in Washington yourself. However, we recommend that you don’t do so. Why? Well, it is a technical process that is not only time-consuming but it is likely that you will make some errors while filing the documents and will have to repeat the process.

Therefore, we suggest that you leave the work in the hands of trained professionals who know what they are doing. There are plenty of LLC incorporation services out in the market, and we have chosen the top two for your perusal that will take care of all your needs.

  • ZenBusiness is our top recommendation. If you are searching for wholesome, affordable services for highly-trained and courteous individuals, you don’t have to look further than ZenBusiness. 
  • IncFile is the best choice for business owners on a strict budget. If you are looking for professional services but can’t spare the expense, you should choose the free LLC incorporation that IncFile offers!

What is an LLC

Before we check out the steps of LLC formation in Washington, knowing what an LLC is and what its benefits are is important. A Limited Liability Company is a type of business entity that has the flexibility of a sole proprietorship and the personal limited liability offered by a corporation.

When you run a business, there is always a potential risk of legal issues. To save you from any financial losses in case such an issue arises, you need to create an LLC so you and your personal belongings will have an umbrella of protection no matter what happens. 

Form an LLC in Washington

To start an LLC in Washington, you have to file the Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State of Washington. You will have to pay a filing fee worth $200 and you can file the documents online or via traditional mail. 

Follow the steps that we have listed below to get your LLC in Washington up and running smoothly and efficiently!

Washington LLC Name

The name of your LLC is your identity. It is the first impression of your business on potential customers as well as investors. Your name should reflect your company’s ideology and the services you will provide.

Therefore, you have to give plenty of thought to the name you select for your company. 

  • Name Availability Search. Once you have selected a unique name that is perfect for your business, you will have to ensure that the name is not being used by some other company in the state. 

You can search the Washington State’s LLC database to check for availability. If you file your documents and the name is not available, your documents will be rejected. Since the filing fee is non-refundable, this is not something that you should do. 

Make sure that you hire a professional LLC formation service to ensure that no mistakes or errors occur, saving your time as well as your hard-earned money!

  • LLC Name Rules and Regulations. Once you have selected an LLC name, you need to make sure that you follow the rules given by the state law. As per the law, your LLC name should end with a designator such as LLC, L.L.C., Limited Liability Company, etc.

You can’t use any other designator, especially one that will insinuate that your LLC is a different kind of business entity, such as Corporation, Inc., etc. 

  • LLC Name Reservation. Have come with an amazing name for your LLC but are not ready to file the legal documents yet? Don’t make the mistake of not reserving your name. 

As long as your LLC is not formed, the name you chose is up for grabs and anyone can choose that name for their company. To prevent that, you should file for an LLC name reservation by submitting an application and paying the reservation fee. The reservation fee is $30. 

The name will be reserved for 180 days. You can change your LLC’s name after you have formed your LLC. However, you will have to update the IRS and the Department of Revenue, change your bank account name, etc. 

Therefore, it is better that you spend some time beforehand and come up with a solid LLC name. Moreover, we suggest that you check if the business name that you have selected is available as a web domain or not. 

Even if you are not going to form a website immediately, it will be good to know that the web domain is available so that you cash in the digital opportunities when the time comes.

  • LLC Trade Name. You have the option to use a name other than the legal name that is registered in the Certificate of Formation. You can use a DBA – doing business as – name. To do so, you have to register the trade name with the Department of Revenue in Washington.

Selecting a Registered Agent

The next step you have to do is select a registered agent for your company. Don’t know what a registered agent is? We will tell you. A registered agent is a person or company that will receive any legal mail and LLC ‘s notices from the Washington Secretary of State. 

The registered agent needs to have a physical street address in Washington and you can’t simply use a P.O. Box. When it comes to choosing registered agents, you have three options. 

  • Become your own Registered Agent
  • Select a friend, a colleague, or family member as your Registered Agent
  • Hire a professional and expert Registered Agent

If you become your own registered agent or ask your family members, friends, etc. to act as your registered agent, you won’t have to pay any fee or charge. You will simply have to provide their personal information such as names, addresses, etc. and you will be good to go.

However, there is a huge catch. All the information that you provide will become a part of the public records and you can say goodbye to your privacy! Moreover, it is likely that you will forget important deadlines or misplace essential documentation that will negatively affect your company. 

Therefore, we recommend that you hire a professional registered agent such as Northwest Registered Agent that will take care of all your needs. Not will your information remain safe and private, you will also never have to worry about missing important deadlines. 

Northwest Registered Agent locally scans all the documents they receive and ensures you get the physical mail ASAP as well!

Filing your Articles of Organization

The next and most important step is filing the articles of the organization. To file the documents for LLC formation in LLC, you have to pay a one-time processing fee worth $200 if you file online or $180 if you file via mail. 

You can form your LLC by filing the documents online or via traditional mail. The online filing has a quick turnaround time and includes the required initial report with no additional charges. If you file via mail, you will have to submit the initial report separately and pay an additional fee as well. 

The approval time for online filing is 2 to 3 business days. Once your LLC is formed, the Secretary of State will send you a Certificate of Formation, a Congratulations Letter, and another document approving your initial report.

You will have to provide the following information while filing your articles of organization.

  • LLC Business Name. You have to provide the business name that you previously selected. Moreover, you can select a period of duration for your LLC. If you want your LLC to exist indefinitely, you should select the option “perpetual duration”. 

In case you want your LLC to stop existing after a certain period, you should mention the end date.

  • Effective Date. Moreover, you also have to mention the “effective date”. The effective date is the date from which your LLC will come into existence. Most people choose the date of filing as the effective date. 

However, if you want to choose some other date, you can mention an effective date within 90 days of the filing.

  • Registered Agent. The next thing that you have to mention is the name and address of the registered agent you chose. Moreover, you have to mention the official address of your business in Washington. 

If you want to keep your address private, you can use the address of the registered agent as your Principal Office’s address.

  • Return Address. You can provide the return address as well but it is optional. Your filing details will be sent to the office of your registered agent. However, if you want to send the documents somewhere else, you can do so. 

Just keep in mind that the information you provide in the articles of the organization is public.

  • Washington LLC Executor. You have to provide details about your Washington LLC Executor. An executor is the person who signs & submits your documents. They will have to provide their number, address, and name. 

If you want to keep all this information off the records, you should hire a professional LLC formation service who will act as your executor.

  • Governor. If you are filing online, you will be required to provide the name of one governor – the person who has decision-making authority and position in your LLC (probably a member or manager).
  • Nature of Business. You will also have to specify the nature of your business as well. If you don’t want to give out too much information, you can simply select the option “any lawful purpose” from the drop-down menu.

Create a Business Operating Agreement

A business operating agreement is a document in which the LLC members spell out the rules and regulations under which the LLC will conduct its daily operations. Whether you have a single-member LLC or a multi-member LLC, we recommend that you create an operating agreement for your Washington LLC. 

The operating agreement will also contain information about the profits/losses, the payment of the taxes, management, and ownership of the LLC, etc. It is basically an internal document that helps to ensure that you and your LLC are considered separate entities in the eyes of the law. 

You don’t have to send a copy of the business operating agreement to the State.

Getting Your Federal Tax ID

Once your LLC is approved by the state, you have to get an EIN. The EIN is the federal tax ID for your business which you will use to file your taxes, hire employees for the LLC, open a business bank account, and a lot more. 

You can apply for an EIN online and you will get one without paying any fee. However, we recommend that you let a professional LLC formation get an EIN for you since it is a slightly technical matter, and you can’t afford to make any mistakes.

Washington LLC Business Report

If you have an LLC in Washington, or you are running a foreign LLC with authorization to do business in Washington, you have to file a report annually with the Secretary of the State. You have to file an initial report within 120 days of forming your LLC.

After that, you have to file the annual report on the date specified by the State. You will get a renewal notice via your registered agent approximately 45 days before the due date of the annual report.

The filing fee for the initial report as well as the annual reports is $60. If you file the annual report late, you have to pay a fine of $25. 

LLC in Washington – Final Word

It takes a lot of effort to set up your business and make it a huge success. To make sure that nothing stands in the way of you achieving your goals, dreams, and aspirations, you need to form an LLC.

No matter what the financial situation of your business is, an LLC in Washington will ensure that your personal belongings stay out of harm’s way. Follow the above-mentioned ways to form your LLC in Washington and you will get your LLC up and running quickly.

A better option than going the DIY-route for LLC formation is hiring a professional LLC incorporation service. Instead of wasting your precious time trying to make sense of legal documents, why not hire an expert to take care of all the documentation while you can focus on running your business successfully?

There are several good quality LLC incorporation services available in the market. However, we recommend ZenBusiness and IncFile since they have affordable rates and quality services.

  • ZenBusiness is the perfect choice for those entrepreneurs who are searching for affordable services. The staff at ZenBusiness is professional, friendly, and courteous and takes care of all your needs!
  • IncFile is the best option for young business owners who are searching for a professional service that offers the lowest possible rates. You will be happy to know that IncFile offers a free starter business package and forms your LLC free of cost!

Here’s to you having a successful LLC in Washington!

LLC in Washington – Frequently Asked Questions

Your LLC operating agreement should explain how your business will act in all major situations from allocating profits/losses to the dissolution of the business. Operating agreements should cover the following details at least:

  • Initial Investments
  • Profit/Loss Distribution
  • Voting Rights
  • Management Structure
  • Transfer of membership interest
  • Dissolution of LLC

To open your business bank account in Washington, you need the following documents.

  • Copy of the Certificate of LLC Formation
  • Business Operating Agreement
  • EIN
  • Banking Resolution ( If you have a multi-member LLC)

Within 120 days of the formation of your LLC, you need to file an initial report. You have to provide details such as the names and addresses of the LLC’s managers/members, etc. If you file the initial report with the Articles of Organization, you will have to pay no filing fee. If filed separately, it will cost you $10.

Without an LLC, your personal assets and business assets are one in the same thing. If your company gets sued, your home, car, and other personal belongings are at risk as well. However, if you form an LLC, the risk will be limited to your business assets only.

If you choose an LLC name that is not unique, your LLC filing will get rejected and your filing fee will not be refunded as well. Therefore, it is important that you do a thorough search to ensure that the LLC name is unique and distinct. 

You can go through the Washington state’s LLC database or leave this important task in the hands of professionals from a quality LLC incorporation company such as ZenBusiness or IncFile.

The major cost of forming an LLC in Washington is the filing fee. If you file the documents online, you have to pay $200. If you file via traditional mail, you will have to pay $180. If you want to reserve your LLC name, the name reservation fee is $30. 

If you want expedited filing, you can do so by paying $50. The annual renewal fee in Washington is $60. The cheapest option is to file on your own. However, it is not cheap in terms of time and energy.

Therefore, we recommend that you use the basic package offered by ZenBusiness at a very affordable rate and let them take care of all your business needs while you focus on your company’s growth.

Yes, a foreign LLC can do business in Washington. All foreign LLCs need to register with the Secretary of State first.  The filing fee for a foreign LLC is the same as regular filing, i.e. $180 for filing via mail and $200 for filing online. 

Yes, you can form a professional LLC in Washington. However, you will need the required license/permit both from the state government and the local government. Once you do that, the process of forming a PLLC is the same as an LLC.

Cite/Link to This Article

  • Stewart, Suzy. "Washington LLC: How to Form an LLC in Washington". One Brick Court. Accessed on March 6, 2021. https://onebrickcourt.com/washington-llc/.

  • Stewart, Suzy. "Washington LLC: How to Form an LLC in Washington". One Brick Court, https://onebrickcourt.com/washington-llc/. Accessed 6 March, 2021.

  • Stewart, Suzy. Washington LLC: How to Form an LLC in Washington. One Brick Court. Retrieved from https://onebrickcourt.com/washington-llc/.