Washington Filing Fees

What are the Business Filing Fees in Washington?

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

FILE YOUR BUSINESS

Starting a business requires more than just a great idea, although that shouldn’t discourage you from making your dream a reality. It’s important to take into account all components of forming a business, and that includes paying all required filing fees for starting and operating your company. Washington business filing fees are required for most business entities, which include corporations and limited liability companies (LLC). If you need to form your company, use our LLC Formation or Corporation Formation Service.

Finding and keeping track of all the fees your business needs can seem overwhelming, but we are here to help. Let’s take a look at what kinds of fees you might encounter as a Washington business owner, when and how to pay them, and which of our tools and services can make this process easier.

Step 1: Pay your Washington business’s initial filing fees

Washington formation fees are due at the time you register your business with the Secretary of State. Each business entity needs to file a different formation document, and the corresponding fees will also differ. 

You can file these documents online, in person, via postal mail, or fax. Washington filing fees have options for standard and expedited filing. Consider our Expedited Filing Service to get the ball rolling quickly. 

Step 2: Reserve your Washington business’s name

Reserving your name can be a really important step in the business formation process. Reserving your name as early as possible can help make sure you get the name you want without a competitor swooping in and grabbing it. Washington business name reservations can only be filed by mail and extend for 180 days. Make sure to adhere to all state guidelines for business names. We can do this for you with our Business Name Reservation service which also includes checking to make sure your name is available. 

Step 3: Reserve a “doing business as” name in Washington

DBA stands for “doing business as.” A DBA is any registered name that a business operates under that isn’t its legal business name. In Washington, this is called a “trade name.” It’s commonly used for sole proprietors who would otherwise have to use their actual name as the name of their business. Other business entities may use a DBA to distinguish different branches of the business. You can register your Washington trade name with our DBA Reservation Service. There is an application fee and a trade name fee. 

Step 4: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) 

An EIN is a unique nine-digit number issued by the IRS to businesses for tax purposes. You’ll need an EIN to apply for a business license, open a bank account, and file taxes. Though this number can be obtained for free from the IRS, you still have to go through the steps to get it.

We can do it for you with our EIN Service if you would like us to take that task off of your plate. 

Step 5: Draft an operating agreement, corporate bylaws, or partnership agreement for your Washington business

Though these documents don’t need to be filed with the Secretary of State, they’re extremely important to your business. Each business entity has a different type of document drafted to detail the business operations. Depending on the type of business entity this may include shareholder dividends, member or manager responsibilities, daily operations, dispute resolution, voting rights, ownership transfers, and more.

  • Corporations create bylaws
  • Limited liability companies use operating agreements 
  • Limited partnerships and Limited liability partnerships use partnership agreements

There are no filing fees associated with these documents. But it’s important that they contain as much information about how you wish your company to run as possible. Bigger companies may choose to have an attorney draft this document to make sure that they cover all of the important bases. If you are just starting up your Washington LLC, you might consider using our Operating Agreement Template to guide you. 

Step 6: Apply for your Washington business’s necessary licenses and permits

Most businesses will need some sort of licenses or permits to operate. This is even true for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Washington requires a general business license for all businesses in the state. The Washington business filing fee for a general business license depends on where you do business. 

Other licenses and permits are dependent upon your industry, activities, and the business location. An architect needs very different licenses and permits from a chiropractor. Check with local administrations at all levels to ensure you have all the required licenses. If that seems like a lot of work (which it is) consider using our Business License Report. We work with a partner who uses all of your relevant business information to determine what licenses and permits you need to have to be compliant. 

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

Businesses formed out-of-state but conducting business in Washington are considered “foreign” entities. There are four steps a foreign entity must complete before it starts conducting business in Washington:

  • File a Foreign Registration Statement with the Secretary of State
  • File a Certificate of Existence (often called a Certificate of Good Standing) with the Washington Secretary of State
  • File a Business License Application with the Washington Department of Revenue
  • File an annual report with the Washington Secretary of State

All of these require Washington business filing fees, with the exception of the Certificate of Existence.  

Step 8: Check Washington’s annual report requirements and fees

Washington businesses must file an Annual Report (also called an Annual Renewal) every year. The first Annual Report is due 120 days after you file your formation documents and the subsequent date is determined by the Secretary of State. File the report online and pay all Washington business filing fees and transaction fees. Failure to submit an Annual Report may result in the inability to obtain a Certificate of Existence, penalties, fees, and ultimately dissolution of the business. Keeping up with all of the documents you need to file can be stressful, especially while you are trying to run a business. We can help you stay organized with our Annual Report Service

Step 9: Keep your Washington business legally compliant

From time to time, things change. What may have been perfect at the start of your business may not be what you need now. Changes to your basic business information such as your name, shareholders, registered agent, address, and more must be filed with the state. This paperwork usually includes a fee and may require multiple documents depending on what amendments you are making. 

We understand how confusing it can be to have to file all this ongoing paperwork to stay compliant. Consider using our Worry-Free Compliance Service to stay on top of everything and take some of the stress out of the administrative side of your business. This service includes two amendments annually, you only pay the filing fee. 

We’re here to help your Washington business thrive

We get it. All of this is a lot to juggle. That is why we offer formation and compliance tools that can make your life as an entrepreneur a little easier. Check out our wide range of services that are structured to help your business grow and succeed with fewer grey hairs and more peace of mind. 

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.

FAQs

  • What happens if I can’t pay my fees to the Washington government?

    Failing to pay your Washington business filing fees may result in fines, penalties, and ultimately dissolution of your business.

  • Who receives the fees for forming my Washington business?

    The Washington Secretary of State will receive most fees.

  • What is usually the biggest fee I will pay when I form my Washington business?

    Fees vary depending on form and business type. Initial filing fees are often the most expensive.

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

    Cash, check, money orders, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are all acceptable forms of payment.

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