How to Create an LLC in Washington

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How to Form an LLC in Washington State:
5 Simple Steps to Get Started
According to the IRS, each state may use different regulations around forming an LLC, and you should check with your state if you’re interested in starting a Limited Liability Company. To simplify the process of forming an LLC in the state of Washington, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to detail each step of the process and answer any questions you may have.

Step 1
Name Your Washington LLC

Your first consideration when choosing a name for your LLC is that it be unique from any other business in the state of Washington. You can quickly and easily check your company’s potential name options at the Washington Secretary of State business name database. For a $30 fee you can also reserve a company name for 180 days. To do so, you’ll need to submit the Name Reservation form by mail.

In order to comply with Washington state law, your company’s name must contain some form of the term “Limited Liability Company.” This can appear in several different formats from the whole phrase written out to one of these abbreviations: “Limited Liability Co.,” “L.L.C.,” and “LLC.”

Step 2
Appoint a Registered Agent in Washington

The state of Washington requires that any LLC have a registered agent for service of process. This means your LLC must have an entity that agrees to physically accept any legal papers on the company’s behalf should it be sued.

The registered agent does not have to be an individual person and can be any resident of the state of Washington or a business entity authorized to do business in Washington so long as the agent has a physical street address within the state.

Step 3
File Washington Certificate of Formation
To officially create your LLC in the state of Washington, you’ll need to file a Certificate of Formation with the office of the Secretary of State. This can be done online at the Washington Secretary of State webpage with a $200 fee or by mail with a $180 fee. To complete this form you will need to know the following:
  1. The final name and address of your LLC
  2. The name, address, and signature of the company’s registered agent
  3. The date formation becomes effective as well as whether the existence of the LLC is perpetual or for a predetermined duration

Step 4
Create an Operating Agreement

You may want to consider preparing an operating agreement for your LLC. Though not required by the state, an operating agreement will set the guidelines for success for your company. This does not need to be filed with the state, but it can go a long way toward ensuring your company’s success.

Step 5
Apply for an Employer ID Number (EIN)

An IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN) is required of your LLC unless it is a single-member LLC with no employees. Obtaining an EIN is as easy as completing the application on the IRS website.

It’s likely your company will need to register with the Washington Department of Revenue. Your LLC will need to register if it meets any of the following conditions: your business is required to collect retail sales tax; your gross income is $12,000 per year or more; you are a buyer or processor of specialty wood products; or your business is required to pay any other taxes or fees to the Department of Revenue. Because Washington state imposes a business and occupation tax as opposed to income tax on individuals or businesses, be prepared for your company’s tax requirements. The Department of Revenue has a good guide here.

If your LLC will be selling a physical product, you’ll need to register for a sellers permit through the Washington Department of Revenue website. This will allow you to collect sales tax on taxable sales. Additionally, if you have employees, you’ll need to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax on the Washington State Department of Revenue website. Everyone you hire must be reported to the state.

Other Considerations
Foreign LLCs and Business Licenses
Foreign LLCs

If yours is a foreign LLC, also referred to as an out-of-state LLC, wanting to do business in the state of Washington, you’ll need to follow all the steps outlined above with a few key differences.

The main difference is that the form required to make your LLC legal to operate is referred to as a Foreign Registration Statement.

You can file paperwork by printing the form on the Washington Secretary of State web page and mailing it in. The filing fee is $180. Additionally, your application should include a certificate of good standing from your home state dated no more than 60 days prior to filing.

Business Licenses

Some industries will require you to secure federal, state, and/or local licenses to legally operate in the state of Washington.

You must file your Business License Application with the Department of Revenue to be recognized as a Washington business. You can get federal licenses and check with the State of Washington Business Licensing Guide on the appropriate licensing for your business.

Since business licenses are issued at all levels of government, you should do careful research to find out what licenses you need. You can also hire or use a professional service to do it for you.

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