How to File Articles of Incorporation in Washington

Discover the strategic advantages of filing your Articles of Incorporation in Washington, a state known for its business-friendly environment, and explore our comprehensive guide below to navigate the incorporation process seamlessly, ensuring your business sets a solid foundation for success.

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Completing and filing Washington Articles of Incorporation is one of the first steps you’ll take to form a corporation in Washington. Doing so fulfills state requirements for operating a corporation, but it provides several benefits, too. For starters, it serves to limit the liability of your directors, officers, and shareholders. It also adds credibility to your business.

You’ll be submitting these Articles of Incorporation to the Washington Secretary of State, Corporations and Charities Division. When filing the articles, keep in mind that all information entered becomes public record.

Completing the Articles of Incorporation Form

The Articles of Incorporation form can be completed by mail, fax, in-person, or online.

1. Unified Business Identifier (UBI)

For businesses that have already filed with another state agency, they may already have a UBI number. If this is the case, you can enter it here. If not, simply select “no” and your corporation is assigned one once your filing is complete.

2. Business Name

You’ll need to provide your corporation’s name for review. Your name must be unique, and you can search Washington’s business name database to see whether yours is taken or reserved. If you’re concerned about the availability of your corporation’s name, you can use ZenBusiness’s name reservation service. We can help you claim it and provide reservation details to enter on your form.

Be sure to also specify the designator of your corporation; the name must include the word “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” or “Limited,” or one of the following abbreviations: “Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Co.,” or “Ltd.” If one isn’t selected, it will default to Incorporated.

3. Period of Duration

For this section, you’ll select the appropriate duration for the life of your corporation. You can specify a specific date or a number of years. If you don’t select an option, it will default to perpetual.

4. Effective Date

You can select an effective date for the registration of your corporation of up to 90 days from the date of filing. If “Date of Filing” is selected, it will be from the date your Articles of Incorporation are approved by the Secretary of State (SOS).

5. Registered Agent

All formal business entities in Washington are required by law to designate a registered agent when submitting the Articles of Incorporation. The agent must sign in consent of the articles, along with their printed name and date.

A registered agent is the individual or business registered to receive legal documents and notices on behalf of your corporation. They need to have a physical address, phone number, and email address on record with the SOS. The registered agent is also required to have a physical address within the state of Washington and be present during standard business hours. Because of this, many businesses use a commercial Registered Agent for their corporation. If you’d like help to set one up for your business, take a look at ZenBusiness’s Registered Agent services.

6. Corporate Shares

This section determines the kind and number of shares that your corporation is authorized to issue. You need to have at least one share authorized, and if you don’t provide a selection, common stock is issued.

7. Return Address For This Filing

This section is optional. If provided, this is where you’ll receive the confirmation for your filing. This confirmation is also sent to your Registered Agent’s address.

8. Incorporator Information

Lastly, you’ll need to include a list of your incorporators. The list needs to include the names, addresses, and signatures of each one, and an additional list can be provided if need be.

Your business will also need to submit an initial report, though this can be submitted at a later time for an extra filing fee.

Foreign (out-of-state) entities that are filing Articles of Incorporation will need to file additional forms, including the Foreign Entity Registration form.

Submitting the Articles of Incorporation Form

Once your Articles of Incorporation are complete, submit it to the Washington Secretary of State along with an initial report. If onet isn’t included, you’ll need to pay an additional filing fee.

Turnaround times for processing can vary depending on your specific submission and the time of year. For those seeking quicker processing, there’s an expedited service for a fee.

Once your Articles of Incorporation are approved, it’s time to focus on keeping your business in good standing. Try our Worry Free Compliance service to help make sure you don’t miss any important filing dates.


Once your Articles of Incorporation are submitted and processed successfully, your business is officially recognized as a corporation by the state of Washington. You’ll now be able to take advantage of all the benefits that come along with incorporation. If you’re looking for a little assistance in the process, ZenBusiness can help you complete your articles with our business formation plans.

Washington Articles of Incorporation FAQs

  • Check the Washington Secretary of State website to see the most current information on fees and methods of payment available.

  • Processing time depends on a variety of factors but can take up to a few business days for non-expedited service.

  • Articles of Incorporation are processed and approved by the Washington Secretary of State.

  • Washington’s Articles of Incorporation are governed by Title 23B, Chapter 23B.02, Section 23B.02.020.

  • You don’t need an attorney to file your business’s Articles of Incorporation. That said, an attorney or another business service may be useful in the incorporation process.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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