District of Columbia Filing Fees

What are the Business Filing Fees in the District of Columbia?

Starting a business in the District of Columbia means paying a variety of government filing fees. We’ve compiled the most common ones here so that you’ll know what to expect.


Starting your own business is an exciting time, but can also be a stressful one. Part of running a successful business means keeping up with and paying all required fees even after formation is done. Whether you’re starting a corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), or any other business entity in Washington D.C., paying the right filing fees on time is a critical part of staying legally compliant.

If this sounds overwhelming, we are here to help. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what kinds of fees a Washington D.C. business might face and how we can help.

Step 1: Pay your District of Columbia business’s initial filing fees

When you form a business entity that must be registered with the D.C. government, you’re required to pay initial filing fees. In D.C., a corporation’s initial filing fee for its Articles of Incorporation is based upon the authorized capital of the company, which must be at minimum $1,000.

In D.C., the regulatory body that governs business registration and compliance requirements is the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Corporations Division, often shortened to DRCA. For more specific and up-to-date information on initial filing fees, head over to the DRCA’s “Corporations Division Fees – Business Corporation” page.

LLCs and most other registered business entities will pay a flat filing fee, unlike corporations. Paperwork can be filed and fees paid online, in person, or by mail. It usually takes the DCRA about three weeks to turn around corporate registration. Expedited services are available, with a three-day turnaround for an additional fee. Anyone filing paperwork in person at the D.C. Business License Center must pay expedited fees.

If speed matters to you, check out our Expedited Filing Service and see how we can make it easy.

Step 2: Reserve your District of Columbia business’s name 

In the District of Columbia, you can reserve a name for your business for 60 days. You can also extend that reservation for 60 days if needed. Reserving a business name isn’t required, but it does prevent anyone else from claiming it if you’re not ready to officially form your new business.

To make the process even simpler, take advantage of our Name Reservation Service.

Step 3: Reserve a “doing business as” name in the District of Columbia

Registration of a trade name, often known as a DBA (for “doing business as”) name in most states, is not required in Washington D.C. This is a business name that is different from your business’s true name, the one that is officially registered with the District of Columbia. However, they do allow you to register a trade name that’s different from your legal company name should you choose to do so. This is a good option if your business’s registered name doesn’t quite convey the products or services you want to offer.

For more information on how DBAs work, head on over to our dedicated page to learn more.

Step 4: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

You will likely need an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, to hire employees, open a business bank account, and file tax returns for your business. EINs are issued by the IRS. An application for an EIN is free, but if you want to save yourself the hassle, we can take care of getting your EIN for a small fee.

Step 5: Draft an operating agreement, corporate bylaws, or partnership agreement for your District of Columbia business

All D.C. business owners should consider drafting and adopting a governing document, known as an operating agreement for LLCs and bylaws for corporations. In D.C., all corporations must have bylaws. Other business entities should have the corresponding documentation, but it’s not required.

These important documents are legally binding agreements that outline how the business is run, how to solve conflicts between parties within the business, and the rights and responsibilities of each member/owner/director, and more, depending on your business entity’s structure.

If you have an LLC and don’t know how to start drafting an operating agreement, you can use our LLC operating agreement template to help you get started.

Step 6: Apply for your District of Columbia business’s necessary licenses and permits

Most businesses in the District of Columbia must have a Basic Business License to operate. Businesses that require the license include:

  • Beauty and grooming services
  • Elevator operators
  • Independent salespeople
  • Employment services
  • Entertainment services
  • Businesses selling flammable products
  • Restaurants and other food services
  • Retail shops and other general sales and services
  • Health care services
  • Hotels and other lodgings
  • Rental housing
  • All regulated businesses

Fees for licenses vary depending on the type of business.

D.C. also requires businesses applying for a Basic Business License to produce a Certificate of Occupancy, showing that the business’s premises are being used legally. Home-based businesses must produce a comparable Home Occupation Permit.

The research needed to confirm that you have the licenses and permits your business requires can be complex and difficult. Make it easy on yourself by using our Business License Report to get a list of the permits and licenses that apply to your business.

Step 7: Pay registration fees for out-of-state businesses

Companies that were founded outside the District of Columbia are considered foreign (out-of-state) when they want to do business inside D.C. Foreign companies must register with the DCRA to obtain a foreign registration statement, for a cost of around $225 for either a corporation or an LLC.

D.C. also requires all foreign companies doing business in the District to produce a Certificate of Good Standing from their home states. This certificate confirms that your company has met all requirements and paid all fees and taxes within its home state. Your home state determines the fees for this document.

Step 8: Check the District of Columbia biennial report requirements and fees

The District of Columbia requires corporations and LLCs to file biennial reports with the DCRA Corporations Division to remain in good standing, and the report must be accompanied by the appropriate fee.

Because this report is so important, check out how our Annual Report Service can help you keep track of important filing deadlines.

Step 9: Keep your District of Columbia business legally compliant

The District of Columbia requires you to report any amendments you make to your corporation’s Articles of Incorporation or your LLC’s Certificate of Organization. These amendments may cover issues regarding a change in your company’s registered agent, change of business name, or location, and change of contact information. The filing fee for LLCs amending their Certificate of Organization will require a fee of around $200.

Corporations making amendments that do not increase or decrease their number of shares pay the same as an LLC; however, if corporations make amendments that do increase shares, the fee depends on the number of shares involved. The sliding scale is the same as that used for the initial filing fee.

If staying legally compliant feels overwhelming, we can help with our Worry-Free Compliance Service, which helps your business stay on top of compliance issues. This includes two amendments per year, but you can also opt for our Amendment Filing Service to handle individual changes.

Let us help keep your Washington D.C. business stay on the right track

Staying in compliance with District of Columbia requirements can eat up a lot of time, and can cause unnecessary stress. The good news is that we are here to help. You can save time and avoid costly mistakes by using our Worry-Free Compliance Service as well as our full slate of formation and compliance tools and services. Let us take care of the paperwork while you focus on your business.

District of Columbia Filing Fees FAQ

  • Are there penalties for paying my fees late in the District of Columbia?

    Yes. Corporations and LLCs must pay late fee if they file their biennial reports or any other requried documents late.

  • Who receives the fees for forming my District of Columbia business?

    Filing fees for forming a DC business are paid to the regulatory body that governs business registration and compliance requirements is the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Corporations Division, often shortened to DRCA. For more specific and up-to-date information on initial filing fees, head over to the DRCA’s “Corporations Division Fees – Business Corporation” page..

  • What is usually the biggest fee I will pay when I form my District of Columbia business?

    If you form a corporation with shares worth more than $1 million, the largest fee paid is about $1,750.

  • What payment methods can I use to pay my LLC or corporation filing fees to the District of Columbia government?

    You must pay by credit card if filing online. If you are mailing your fees or paying in person, you may use checks or money orders.

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