How to Start an LLC in Washington by Michael H. Cohen, Esq.

How to Start an LLC in Washington

Find out how to start an LLC in Washington, including what forms are needed, how to file the paperwork, how long it takes, and more.

by Michael H. Cohen, Esq.
updated August 11, 2017 · 4 min read

LLCs in Washington are affordable and easy to form. As with other states, the State of Washington has some specific requirements that are idiosyncratic.

Interested parties must register with the Secretary of State by filing the necessary forms, paying the necessary fees and meeting all naming and formation requirements.

Overall, here are some of the essential requirements for forming an LLC in Washington:

Registration. People who want to start a Washington LLC must file a Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State. The form must include pertinent information such as the name and address of the LLC, name and address of the resident agent, the date of dissolution (if any), a statement identifying the type of management and by whom (i.e. member-managed or manager-managed), the address of the principal place of business of the LLC and the name and address of the organizers. Do not forget to include the filing fee, which varies slightly based on whether you file it by mail or online.

Forms and fees. All LLCs are required to submit a Certificate of Formation and pay the filing fee. The service may be expedited for an additional fee. All forms and fees must be done with the Secretary of State. Only checks or money orders are accepted for paper filings. Online payments are done by credit card.

Timeline. Generally, it takes between two to three business days to process the forms, but processing may be expedited for additional costs.

Naming requirements. There are LLC naming requirements in Washington. The LLC name must be distinguishable from other LLCs, must be approved by state agencies and must include certain words in order to qualify and be approved by the Secretary of State. You may opt to have a preferred name checked for availability.

Formation requirements. All LLCs in Washington are required to have a unified business identifier number (UBI), sometimes referred to as a tax registration number, which is a nine-digit number that permits entities to conduct business in the State of Washington. Upon starting a business, the owner must apply for a UBI with the Business Licensing Service for a small fee.

An LLC with more than one member is also strongly advised to have a limited liability operating agreement among its members.

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Starting an LLC in Washington

Before you begin the registration process for a Washington LLC, it’s important to know what an LLC is and whether or not it is a viable business structure for your company, so be certain to read up on the definition and benefits of an LLC.

Here are some tips for helping you put together what you need to begin the registration process with the Washington Secretary of State:

1. Decide on a name for your business. You can choose any name as long as it ends with “Limited Liability Company,” “Ltd. Liability Co.,” or any variant of its abbreviation—e.g., LLC or L.L.C.

A name may be reserved for up to 180 days from the time the name reservation request is filed.

2. Assign an agent for service of process. This is also referred to as the resident agent.

3. Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. If there are two or more members in your LLC, your company will need to obtain an EIN from the IRS, for tax purposes.

4. Get your unified business identification number from the Business Licensing Office. A UBI is required in the State of Washington in order to conduct business. There is a small fee to file your application.

5. Create an operating agreement. If your LLC has more than one member, make sure you have a limited liability company operating agreement. Although not required by the Washington Secretary of State when you file your LLC documents, the LLC operating agreement must be submitted when filing for your Washington tax license.

6. Familiarize yourself with the LLC’s continuing legal obligations. As noted, the LLC must file a Statement of Information. It must also maintain internal books and records, including the LLC’s operating agreement, that are open to inspection by the Secretary of State.

Filing an LLC and Taxes

Following are the forms and fees that are required when starting an LLC in Washington:

1. Forms. First, you need to fill out the Certificate of Formation. You must include the following information/fees:

  • a) LLC name that meets state requirements and its registered address

  • b) Name and address of its registered agent

  • c) Address of the principal place of business of the LLC

  • d) Dissolution date, if applicable

  • e) A statement identifying whether the LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed

  • f) The names and addresses of the organizers of the Certificate of Formation

  • g) Payment of the necessary fees

2. Limited liability company operating agreement. Although not required in the State of Washington, it is highly advisable to have an operating agreement among members. This should be kept on file by the resident agent.

3. Taxes. LLCs in Washington are treated as corporations, limited liability partnerships or single-member LLCs and are subject to federal income tax classifications. Depending on the type of taxation you opt to have for your LLC, you will have different federal tax responsibilities.

LegalZoom provides LLC formation and filing services, including providing a registered agent in Washington.

Ready to start your LLC? START AN LLC ONLINE NOW
Michael H. Cohen, Esq.

About the Author

Michael H. Cohen, Esq.

Healthcare and FDA lawyer Michael H. Cohen is Founder & President of the Michael H. Cohen Law Group. The Michael H. Cohe… Read more