Washington State LLC – How to Start an LLC in WA [5 Easy Steps]

Forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) in Washington is easy and affordable. The following are few procedural steps on how to start an LLC in Washington. LLCs can be formed in two ways, domestic and/or foreign. If you are planning to set up an LLC in states other than Washington, visit How to Start an LLC.

Washington LLC

How to Start a Washington LLC

Suppose you want to become a business owner and you’re planning to invest in a profitable and legitimate business or maybe about to set up your business in Washington. In that case, forming an LLC in Washington is the simplest option for you. LLCs are better as it reduces the personal liability for company or business debt.

An LLC or a Limited Liability Company a hybrid business entity combining a corporation’s characteristics with a partnership or sole proprietorship. This section gives you a simple multi-step process on How to Start an LLC in Washington to hop on your business with ease.

Step 1: Decide a Name for Your LLC

name llc

If you are to start an LLC in Washington, the first thing you do is decide on a business or company name, and how to name your LLC may be tricky. Thus, you have the option to choose a name that complies with the Washington business naming requirements. It must also be easily searchable for potential clients. Here is a step-by-step guide to follow when naming your Washington LLC. 

Why do you need a proper business name?

If you want your LLC to have special identification, your company name is essential. However, many people face lots of issues by avoiding focus on choosing a business name for their LLC business formation filings.

Because of this, here are some of the major benefits of choosing the best LLC corporate names.

  • To help establish a company’s presence in the market, a proper business entity type will help you. This also creates a new identity that will resemble your LLC.
  • After you’ve properly chosen the name for your LLC, you will have no problems finishing the registration process.
  • You can only get the EIN number when you have your name registration certificate with you.
What are the requirements when deciding a name for your LLC? 

name search is vital to make sure your business’ name is unique. Check the availability of your name with Business Entity Search on the Washington Secretary of State’s website. Reserve the name by completing the Name Reservation Request Form for Domestic Entities.  

  • Don’t include words that could confuse people about your company. Words like ‘treasury, state department.’
  • You should also avoid restricted words like ‘bank, attorney, university,’ because they may require a lawyer and more paperwork.
  • As for a business website and your URL name, check if your name is still available for domain use with NameCheap.
Reserve a business domain

Even if you don’t have plans to set up a website today, it will help if you buy a domain to avoid others from using your name for their website, so do visit NameCheap for your domain name and Kinsta for web hosting.

If you have decided on your URL name and have reserved it, now you need a business email service. You can set up a professional email account with Google GSuite.  

Step 2: Assign a Registered Agent in Washington

get registered agent

A registered agent, or business entity, is a person that will act or work on your behalf. This person or business will receive significant tax forms, legal forms, government filings, a notice of lawsuits, and other official government correspondence in Washington. Choosing Washington-registered agents for your LLC is required. 

Make sure your registered agent is a resident of Washington. It could also be a business. Here are the recommended agents and employees for you:

LLC Service

Our Rating & Pricing

Top Features

Learn More


$49 + State Fees

  • 1st year free agent service

  • Multiple options available

  • CPA assessment records


$299 + State Fees

  • Fast service

  • Resource center

  • Flat Rate for all services

$399 + State Fees

  • 1st year free agent service

  • Digital storage

  • Different types of plans

These five LLC formation services are recommended agents’ registered services as they are authorized to conduct business in Washington. Compare them to check the best yet cheapest option for you. Besides, they can guarantee you professional service because they have been in the business for years. 

Step 3: File Certificate of Formation in Washington

A Certificate of Name Reservation is needed to file a Certificate of Formation, as other states call it. You need to make reports of this certificate with the Washington Secretary of State, which costs up to $200 to file. You may file them online or by mail. 

This Certificate of Formation is a legal document needed to form your business officially. It will indicate details about your LLC in Washington, like if it is a member-managed or managers-managed

Before you start filings, you must already have your LLC name and registered agents or employees. You will attach a copy of your Name Reservation Certificate along with a list of the services that your Washington LLC will offer.

How to File Online

Go to the Secretary of State Online Service. Select “non-subscriber.” Fill out the online form. The website will alert you if your county does not support online filings after selecting your principal county.

How to File by Mail

If you prefer filing real-life forms for your Washington LLC registration, then you can download the Washington Limited Company Certificate of Formation. Read the form thoroughly and fill it out. It will have to fill, among others,  your name, city, state, zip code, and signature. 

Step 4: Create Your Washington LLC Operating Agreement

create operating agreement

An operating agreement is a document that legally outlines the proprietorship and operating procedures of your LLC This document is vital as it ensures that all business owners are on the same page regarding how they operate, thus reducing future conflicts. 

Starting an LLC in Washington does not require you to have an operating agreement, but it is ideal to have one that contains all your details of business operation.

Step 5: Filing a Washington LLC EIN

The Employer Identification Number or, simply, the E.I.N. is a nine-digit number given by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make it easier to identify types of business for tax purposes. It is like a Social Security number dedicated to a business. 

It is also called a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or a Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN). You will need this number for tax filing and to determine tax classification options.

Mail to:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax: (855) 641-6935

Fee: Free

After Starting your Washington LLC 

After forming your LLC, there are still some things that you will need. Take note of the following:

  • Get a company business account
  • File Washington business permits & licenses
  • Get liability for business insurance with coverage for employees
  • File a Washington LLC annual report or biennial report
  • Already existing LLCs that wish to operate in Washington must register as a foreign Washington LLC.  

This page has provided you with steps to LLC formation and filing processes. You now have to remember upcoming filing deadlines and filing fees or filing costs, including fees for late filings to make sure your LLC is up-to-date.  

Why an LLC in Washington

Washington is one of the major business states in the United States. Biggies like Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, and such have their companies in Washington State. With a GDP of $440 Billion, the state has around 250,000 companies’ headquarters. Also, the state offers a massive reduction in tax liabilities along with multiple business funding options. If you’re planning to start Washington State LLC, then the state has many advantages to offer. 

Best Environment for the start-ups

For any startup, it is necessary to have a business-friendly environment in the state. Washington, having so many big companies, has the perfect environment for an LLC to start. Export hub, innovation, creativity, low-cost, and massive tax and loan incentives make it easier for the new LLCs. 

Foreign Trade Zones

Places like Seattle, Greys Harbor, Tacoma, and Vancouver are considered foreign trade zones in Washington state. Any LLC that operates in these places will be eligible to enjoy the benefits of FTZ. Job creation, development of the area, improvement in industrial activities will bring tax benefits in these areas. 

Opportunity Zone Program

139 places are considered Opportunity Zone in Washington. Businesses that are operating in these places will get tax incentives and loan facilities. Further, the LLCs can invest the capital in these areas to better understand difficult and poor places. 

Sales & Use Tax Exemptions

Like many other neighboring states, Washington State also has tax exemptions. There are some industries where an entrepreneur can enjoy sales and use tax exemptions. They are as follows- 

  • Producing alcohol fuel, biodiesel
  • Manufacturing parts of machinery, industrial equipment
  • Manufacturing airplanes
  • Manufacturing farm machinery, parts, and equipment
  • Manufacturing livestock nutrient management equipment

Profit Distribution is flexible

Along with massive tax benefits and incentives, LLCs can benefit from the LLC structure in Washington. According to the LLC structure, the profit distribution is remarkably flexible. Unlike the partnership, the profit in LLC will be distributed as per the contribution of members instead of equal or 50-50 distribution. 

No matter your business form, there’s always banks for small business to grant loans and incentives to save more while starting limited liability business in Washington. 

Best Businesses in Washington

If a business person is willing to form an LLC in Washington, it is important for them to gain complete knowledge. It is common that many businesses are flourishing in Washington, but there are only a few which are contributing hugely to the GDP of the state. Here is the list of those top businesses.

Aerospace and Its Construction

There are many aerospace companies established in the state, out of which the top ones are Airbus, Blue origin, and Embraer. The aerospace business is generating around $66 billion every year in which the activities included are:-

  • Airline companies
  • Machine dealing
  • Aerospace training brands

Information technology businesses

When it comes to Washington various software development firms are rising in the state since the year 1980. Headquarters of more than 500 companies in the state, out of which Facebook and Google are the master players along with Amazon. These three companies alone are giving employment to 8000 people in the state.

The contribution that is made by the IT businesses in the state is around $37 billion, with 230,000 people working with them. If we look at the latest trends, then the gaming industry is also booming.


The trading businesses have helped in generating employment for around 33,000 people in the state. The contribution of the trade business is around 13.8% to the state GDP in which there are exporting of electronics, machinery, and food studs. There are some licensed trade-ins also, which include motor vehicles, snowmobiles, boats, etc. If you look at the number of companies established, then there are around 12,000 currently active companies in the state.

Some of the top small investment businesses that are working well in the state are:-

  • Laundry and dry cleaning
  • Daycare services
  • Restaurants
  • Business consultancy 

Washington LLC Formation Review

Time needed: 30 minutes.

Just to recap, here are the easy steps again when forming an LLC in Washington. Click on the steps in this list to read the full detail.

  1. Name your Washington LLC

    The first thing you must do is to choose a company name, which should include the phrase “limited liability company,” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
    name llc

  2. Choose a registered agent

    In Washington, it is mandatory to select a registered agent for your LLC. You can check out our list of our 5 Best LLC Services in the United States.
    get registered agent

  3. File a formation certificate

    Filing a formation certificate is necessary when forming an LLC. Depending on the state, it could be called any of the following: Certificate of Formation, Articles of Organization, or Certificate of Organization.
    file formation certificate

  4. Create operating agreement

    An operating agreement is not a strict requirement but something encouraged when you start an LLC.
    create operating agreement

  5. Get an EIN

    The Employer Identification Number (EIN), also called  Federal Tax Identification Number, serves to identify a business entity like a social security number but for a company.
    get an ein


What is the difference between ‘domestic LLC’ and ‘foreign LLC’?

A “domestic LLC” is one that conducts business in a state where it was formed. Meanwhile, a “foreign LLC” is an existing LLC that extended business to another state.

What do I need for Domestic and Foreign LLCs?

For Domestic LLCs, it is vital to have a Certificate of Name Reservation and Certificate of Formation. For the foreign LLCs, you must have a Certificate of Good Standing.

Is the cost to form an LLC the same across states?

The cost to form an LLC varies per state.

Does an LLC need to use a DBA?

Seldom do L.L.C.s use D.B.A. or a ‘Doing Business As’ name nor a fictitious business name. However, if you want to have one, you make read more about DBAs here

Why are operating agreements important?

This document is vital as it ensures that all business owners are on the same page regarding how they operate, thus reducing future conflicts.

Is there anything else I should keep in mind when naming my LLC?

>Your name should have “L.L.C. or LLC” or the phrase “limited liability the business.” 
>Do not include words that could create confusion between your LLC and any government business. 
>Words like ‘bank, attorney, university’ are restricted as well. 
>Lastly, your name should distinguish from other limited liability corporations, limited partnerships, or registered limited liability partnerships.

Where can I file my LLC name?

Typically, you can file your LLC name online or by mail. Check with the state where you will set up your LLC name. Take note that the fees for business names may also vary per state.  

How can I know if my URL name is available?

As for a website and your URL name, check if your name is still available for URL use with NameCheap to see if your name is available as a web domain. Even if you don’t have plans to set up a website today, it will help if you buy a URL. Buying it can help to prevent others from getting your name; check out WPEngine, Kinsta, and GoDaddy for hosting and building your website. 

Can I mail the LLC Certificate of Formation to the Secretary of State?

No. Never mail these documents or payments to the Secretary of State directly. 

Why do I need an EIN?

The reason you might need an E.I.N. is that it would help for three reasons:
>Opening a business bank account
>Filing and managing federal and state taxes
>Hiring employees or agents

How do I get an EIN when I do not have a Social Security number?

You are not required a Social Security number when getting an EIN You can proceed to fill out I.R.S. Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. You must then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Agents or employees will help you with that.

I already have an EIN for a sole proprietorship; what now? 

Note that an LLC is different from a sole proprietorship. If you already have an EIN for your sole proprietorship, the IRS will require you to get a new one when your convert to an LLC. 

Do foreign applicants need an SSN to get an EIN?

International EIN applicants do not need an SSN to get an EIN.

What is an IRS?

The IRS is the one that will issue your EIN. You can request an EIN from the IRS ONLINE or download the FORM, fill it out, and send it by mail or fax.

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