Starting an LLC in Washington State is a great way to protect your personal assets and gain credibility with customers and suppliers. Plus, LLCs are relatively easy and inexpensive to set up and maintain. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to start your own LLC in Washington State.
Before we dive in, here’s a really good explanation video on starting an LLC in Washington for those who prefer a video guide.
Benefits of starting an LLC in Washington
There are many benefits to starting your LLC in Washington. As expert start-up guides will advise you, it has the advantage of limited liability protection for its members. It’s more compact than a Corporation or S Corporation.
Limited Liability Protection
One of the most significant benefits of starting your Washington business as an LLC is that it offers limited liability protection, which means that if a lawsuit arises from a customer or client for something you did while operating your business – it won’t follow you home. Rather than the people who own it, the business itself is liable for paying out any damages.
Your personal assets, such as your car or house, are separated from your Washington business assets and aren’t at risk of being taken away if someone sues your business for something you did wrong. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses as LLCs because of this benefit.
An LLC in Washington has the choice of being taxed as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation. It’s a good deal for start-ups since they don’t have to worry about finding an accountant or anything like that just yet.
Note: Single-Member LLCs are treated as Sole Proprietorships by default.
Minutes of meetings not required
Lastly, one of the benefits of starting your LLC in Washington is that no minutes are required for meetings. People don’t have to travel for monthly meetings or anything like that. They need to follow the operating agreement, which doesn’t take too many hours out of the day.
Washington LLC Rules & Requirements
This is a quick summary of the most important rules and requirements that this article will go through in-depth.
To apply for permission to form an LLC in Washington, the company must have a in Washington. Your LLC’s name must include “Limited Liability Company,” or their abbreviation, “LLC.” It can’t be something that resembles another already existing business. Ensure you as a business owner keep accurate records and reports of your business transactions.
Best Washington LLC Formation Services
If you’re thinking about starting your LLC in Washington, it’s a good idea to use a professional service that can handle the process for you. These services will ensure you get all the necessary paperwork filed correctly and timely so that you don’t have to worry about anything going wrong with your business registration.
Finding the Best LLC Formation Services in Washington
Choosing the best LLC formation services in Washington is an essential first step for anyone looking to start their own. Here are some of the most critical factors you’ll want to consider:
- Customer service/communication
- Integration with accounting software (if necessary)
These factors will help you narrow down your list of potential providers to find the one that provides you with the professional service you need at an affordable price. We have reviewed some of Washington’s best LLC formation services here: Best LLC Formation Services.
As mentioned above, it’s usually recommended that if you’re unfamiliar with this kind of thing, then you should consider allowing LLC formation service providers to help you start your own business here in Washington. These services will ensure that you comply with state law and all the rules and requirements. If anything goes wrong, they’ll have your back so that you don’t have to worry about it.
However, if you’re looking to do it on your own, then you can continue reading our guide on how to start an LLC in the state of Washington.
The following is a step-by-step guide of what you can expect when forming an LLC in Washington:
5 Steps to Starting an LLC in Washington
- Name your Washington LLC
- Choose your Washington Registered Agent
- File your Washington LLC Certificate of Formation
- Create your Washington LLC Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN for your Washington LLC
Step 1: Name your Washington LLC
Choosing your name can be one of the most challenging parts of starting your Washington LLC. You’ll have to choose a name that’s not already in use by another Washington LLC or restricted by the state.
The rules for naming your Washington limited liability company are as follows:
- Your name cannot mislead people into thinking the Washington LLC was set up by the government or is a federal government agency.
- The name can’t be too similar to another Washington company’s
- Your name has to end with an LLC designator (LLC, LTD., etc.)
- You may need to fill out additional paperwork if you want to use certain words in your Washington LLC name, including bank, trust, trustee, incorporated, Inc., and corporation.
- If you want to see if a specific LLC name is available, you can run a business name search on the Business Entity Search page of the Washington state website.
☞ Search Washington Business Database
After choosing the perfect name for your new Washington business, you can also secure a good domain name. A domain name is also helpful if you want a business email address @yourllc.com.We recommend using Namecheap to register your domain. They have great prices, fast service, and an easy-to-use website.
☞ Check if your domain name is available
Step 2: Choose your Washington Registered Agent
Before you form your LLC in Washington, you’ll need to appoint a registered agent with a physical street address in the state of Washington. This person or entity would be responsible for receiving essential documents on your behalf if anything happened that would require that sort of thing (lawsuits, etc.). You can name yourself as your Washington registered agent, but that isn’t advisable because you would not be able to claim any anonymity.
What is a Registered Agent?
A Washington registered agent is an individual or business entity that agrees to accept the service of process on behalf of a Limited Liability Company.
When you create a Limited Liability Company in Washington, the State of Washington requires that this registered agent be appointed for your LLC to become effective. The Washington Secretary of State’s Office will not file your Certificate of Formation unless you designate a registered agent on your application form.
Who can be a Registered Agent in Washington?
For a registered agent, you can select a person or an organization. The individual can be a Washington resident, a Washington corporation, or a non-Washington corporation with a business presence in Washington.
You can also use a Washington registered agent service to appoint a registered agent and obtain a business address. Services such as Zenbusiness and Northwest Registered Agent offer this service as a feature of some of their packages when you register a Washington company with them.
What does a Registered Agent in Washington do?
A registered agent in Washington is available during normal business hours to accept important documents and notices on behalf of your LLC. These can be official court papers such as lawsuits or service of process documents that will require the registered agent’s signature.
A registered agent is not responsible for the management of your Washington LLC, nor are they required to do anything with the documents once they are received at their business address except for filing them under Washington law.
Step 3: File your Washington LLC Certificate of Formation
You’ve chosen your Washington name and appointed a registered agent, and now it’s time to create your LLC and become a recognized legal entity.
Before filing, you will need to decide between a member-managed and manager-managed LLC. The members run a member-managed LLC, while a designated manager runs a manager-managed LLC.
To start an LLC in Washington, you’ll need to file your Certificate of Formation with the Washington Secretary of State, which can be done online. The online filing fee is $200, and a person must file this with authority to do so on behalf of the Washington LLC.
File your Washington LLC Certificate of Formation Online
You’ll need the following documents to submit your papers:
- The official name of your Washington LLC
- A brief description of the purpose of your Washington LLC
- Your Washington LLC’s street address
- Your Washington registered agent’s name and address
- The signature of your registered agent
- Your LLC’s authorized person’s signature
- Your return address
You can submit your Certificate of Formation through Washington’s online business filing system.
☞ File your Washington LLC Certificate of Formation Online
File your Washington LLC Certificate of Formation by Mail
If you choose not to file online, you can also mail your Certificate of Formation to the Secretary of State. The filing fee is $180 and a person must sign the formation documents with authority to do so on behalf of your Washington LLC. You’ll need the download the filing form and mail it.
☞ Download your Washington LLC Certificate of Formation Filing Form
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 40234
Step 4: Create your Washington LLC Operating Agreement
After filing your Washington LLC Certificate of Formation, you will want to create an Operating Agreement.
An operating agreement is an internal document that sets out the internal rules of your Washington LLC. These rules address issues such as how LLC owners will spend the money, whether voting takes place within your business, what happens if someone wants to sell their interest in the company etc.
Washington does not require an LLC to have an operating agreement, but it is recommended that you create one. An operating agreement ensures that all members know and understand their roles within the company. If they ever need to take legal action, they will show a court of law that the company functions as more than just an unincorporated association.
This operating agreement should be thorough but concise, outlining everything you want to include regarding the membership responsibilities of your Washington LLC, so there are no misunderstandings down the line.
The operating agreement will also be necessary when you open a business bank account in Washington.
Step 5: Get an EIN for your Washington LLC
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a unique number that the IRS issues to businesses for tax purposes. An EIN is like your business’s social security number. You can use it to file state or federal-level tax returns and financial statements with different government agencies or open a business bank account.
An EIN is required for several reasons. First, as mentioned above, it is needed to open a business bank account for your Washington LLC. You will also need an EIN to hire employees, as it is used on employment tax forms. Finally, an EIN is often required when filing your business taxes.
After you receive your EIN, you will be informed of your Washington LLC’s various tax classification options.
Applying for an EIN is a straightforward process. You can do it online at the IRS website. Alternatively, you may download and complete form SS-4 and then mail it to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Applying for an EIN for your business is free of charge.
Washington LLC Processing Time
Online filings usually take 2-3 business days for the state of Washington to process your Certificate of Formation and approve your LLC.
If you choose to file by mail, the processing time is approximately 7-10 business days.
Washington LLC Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to start an LLC in Washington?
The online filing fee is $200, and the mail filing fee is $180 in Washington.
How do I set up an LLC in Washington?
Step 1: Choose a name for your Washington LLC
Step 2: Choose a Washington Registered Agent
Step 3: File the Certificate of Formation
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
Step 5: Get an EIN
Is there an annual fee for LLC in Washington?
The annual filing fee is $60 in the state of Washington.
How long does it take to start an LLC in Washington?
It takes 7-10 business days to start an LLC in Washington when filing by mail and 2-3 business days when filing online.