How to Start an LLC in Washington

Last Updated on February 4, 2022

Cost to Form a Washington LLC

To form a Limited Liability Company in Washington, file the Certificate of Formation with the Washington Secretary of State.  The LLC filing fee is $180 by mail and $200 online.

Approval for the LLC is typically around two weeks when filing by mail and 2-3 business days when filing online.

Steps to Form a Washington LLC

The steps for filing online or by mail are largely the same.  The screenshots show how to file online.

Step 1: Create an Account

Begin by creating a new user account on the Washington Secretary of State’s website. If you prefer to fill out and mail the application, download the Certificate of Formation Form.

How to Form an LLC in Washington

After verifying your email address, log in to your account and select “Create or Register a Business” in the left menu.

Next, assuming you are forming your first LLC for a business that will be located in Washington State, select “I would like to form a Washington State business.”

A new selection will appear where you can select the business type “WA Limited Liability Company.”

Create a Business in Washington State

Step 2: Defer Initial Report

Every LLC is required to file an Annual Report, and the first one is named the Initial Report.  The Initial Report is due within 120 days of the LLC being approved.

The Secretary of State’s office provides an option to delay the filing for up to 120 days; however, you are best served to file it along with the Certificate of Formation.  Choosing to delay the Initial Report, there will be an additional $30 filing fee.

Step 3: UBI Number

UBI stands for “Unified Business Identifier” and is a unique identification number for entities in the state of Washington.  Most filers wouldn’t have filed for this number already and would choose “No.”

Step 4: Select a Business Name

The first question is whether you already have a name reserved.  If so, you can select “Yes” and include the business name registration number.  Otherwise, click “No.”  You do not have to reserve a name before forming the LLC.

Enter the name you want for the LLC.  The name of the LLC has to differ from other entity names registered with the Secretary of State.  You should run a Washington LLC business name search before going through the filing process to ensure the one you want is available.

The LLC’s name must also include a designator at the end of the business name and describes what type of business entity it is. Only the following words or abbreviations can be used as a designator:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Liability
  • L.L.C.
  • LLC

Enter the name along with the designator you would like to use in the “Submit a name for review” field and then click on “Look Up.”  A list of names will be displayed.  If the name you want is open, a message will appear that says it is your name available.

If the name you want to use is not available, a message will show up as “Not Available.”

Register a Name for Washington LLC

Step 5: Registered Agent

A Registered Agent in Washington must be identified before forming an LLC.  The Registered Agent can either be a resident of Washington (Non-Commercial Registered Agent) or a Registered Agent Service (Commercial Registered Agent).  The agent must have a physical address in the state (PO Boxes are not allowed) and act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc., on behalf of the LLC.

The registered agent must also provide consent that they are the agent for this LLC.  If you are the Registered Agent, select the button stating “I am the Registered Agent”  Your contact information will prefill the Registered Agent contact information.  If another party is the Registered Agent, select “I am not the Registered Agent”  Be sure to have a signed consent form on file should the Secretary of State request it.

Washington LLC Registered Agent

Regardless of whether the Registered Agent is an individual or entity, be sure to fill out the name, email, street address, and mailing address.

WA Registered Agent Address

Step 6: Certificate of Formation

If you have already filled out the Certificate of Formation, it can be uploaded.  Most filers have not and will select “No” and continue filling out the fields to complete it.

Step 7: Other Provisions

Most filers will skip this section unless they have additional rules for the operation of the LLC.

Step 8: Principal Office

Street Address – In this section, enter the phone number and an email for the principal office.  This does not have to be an official business email.   Next, enter the street address, city, state, and zip code of the initial principal office.  This address can be the LLC’s physical address, or it can be the address where the business records are stored.  You may not use a PO Box for the designated office.

Address Confidentiality Program – If you are a part of the Washington Address Confidentiality Program, you can check this box.

Mailing Address – If the mailing address and street address are the same, click on the “Same as Street Address” box.  If mail should go to a different address than the street address, enter that address here.

Principal Office Washington LLC

Step 9: Duration

In this section, you can indicate how long the LLC will remain in existence.  Most LLCs will choose a Perpetual duration; however, some businesses (usually investment-related) will have a specific closure date.

WA LLC Duration

Step 10: Effective Date

If you want the LLC to start as soon as possible, “Date of Filing.”  If you want the LLC to start later, enter a date less than 90 days in the future. 

Washington LLC Effective Date

Step 11: Executor

An LLC Executor (known as an Organizer in most states) is someone involved with the formation of the Certificate of Formation.  The Executor may or may not become a member, such as a mentor, attorney, or accountant, but any of the initial members can be listed as an executor.  At least one person must be listed as an Executor.

If you are the Executor, check the box that says “I am an Executor,” which will auto-fill the name and address information.  If, not enter that information in the following fields.

Washington LLC Executor

Step 12: Governors

Governors refer to how the LLC is managed.  Governors are LC Members or Managers and are typically going to be individuals.

At least one governor needs to be listed.  Some filers will want to leave out most of the governors to protect their privacy.  The downside is that it may be difficult to obtain signing authority from the bank for any governors that are not listed.

WA LLC Governor

Step 13: Nature of the Business

Here you are asked to provide some basic information about what the business does.  Open the drop-down menu to look at the basic categories.  If your business isn’t listed in any category, you can provide your own information in the box.

If you want to keep the business purpose more open-ended or not disclose what your business does, you can select  “Any Lawful Purpose” from the drop-down menu.

Washington LLC Business Purpose

Step 14: Return Address for This Filing

Enter an email and mailing address for the Secretary of State to send the Certificate of Organization

Step 15: Upload Additional Documents

If you have additional documents to upload, select “Yes,” otherwise select “No,” and continue.

Step 16: Email Opt-In

If you wish to receive all notifications from the Secretary of State for the LLC, like Annual Report reminders, check the box.

Step 17: Authorized Person

A person who is authorized to sign on behalf of the LLC must acknowledge they are an authorized person, and they agree that the information included in the Certificate of Formation is correct.

Step 18: Review

Review that all the information is correct.  If there are no corrections, click “Add to Cart.”

Step 19: Pay and File

Pay and file the Certificate of Formation.

When filing online, assuming there are no errors, the LLC will be approved in approximately 2-3 days.

If mailing, expect the filing to take up to 2 weeks.  Mail the form and payment to the following address:
Secretary of State
Corporation Division
801 Capitol Way S,
PO Box 40234
Olympia, WA 98504