Forming an LLC in Washington State

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

When you start a business, one of the first decisions that you'll make is to determine what type of business organization is best for your company. If you've elected to form an LLC, then you need to make sure that you've taken all the necessary steps to create the company. This article provides the details of forming an LLC in Washington state, including a link to LLC forms and relevant statutes.

Forms for Washington LLC Formation

Forming an LLC requires filing the right documents required for your state. You can get the forms you'll need to start a Washington LLC with FindLaw's do-it-yourself Washington LLC Formation Package.

General LLC Attributes

An LLC is a business type that contains owners (members) who have limited liability against the company's court judgments and debts. It provides similar tax advantages to a partnership.

Professional LLCs

Washington recognizes PLLCs, which is a special version of the LLC created by professionals providing specific professional services, such as dentists, CPAs, physicians, and other services named by statute.

Overview of Forming an LLC in Washington State

Forming an LLC requires completing different tasks, but the specific duties vary according to jurisdiction. Therefore, it's important to understand the laws of your chosen state. See the chart below for an overview of forming an LLC in Washington.

Statutes

Washington Revised Code Chapter 25:15:

Name the LLC

Washington law requires that the LLC name must: contain one of the following terms:

  • "Limited Liability Company";
  • "Limited Liability Co.";
  • "LLC"; or
  • "L.L.C."

In addition, the name must be distinguishable from the names of other registered Washington businesses.

Name Search

You can search the Washington Secretary of State Business Name Database to check for name conflicts.

Reserve Your Name

You may reserve your name for 180 days by filing a name reservation with the Washington Secretary of State and paying the applicable fee. You can file the request by regular mail only.

Select a Registered Agent

Every Washington LLC must have a registered agent for service of process if the LLC is sued. The agent must have a physical street address in Washington and may be a Washington resident or corporation or LLC authorized to do business in Washington.


File Articles of Organization

You must file the Articles of Formation along with filing fees with the Washington Secretary of State. The articles must include the following:

  • The LLC's name and address;
  • The registered agent's name, address, and signature;
  • The effective date of formation;
  • Whether the term of existence is perpetual or limited; and
  • Whether the LLC is member-managed or manager-member.

You may file the Articles online or via regular mail.

Create an Operating Agreement

Although Washington doesn't require them, it's wise to create an operating agreement.

Comply with Tax and Regulatory Requirements

The Department of Revenue

If your business is required to collect sales tax, or it has $12,000 or more in revenue, then you must register with the Washington Department of Revenue.

IRS Employer Identification Number

If your LLC has more than one member, then you must apply for an (EIN), or Employer Identification Number.

Determine Necessary Business Licenses/Permits

Washington State requires virtually all businesses to have a state business license. You may also have to obtain local business licenses.

Check the State of Washington Business Licensing Service for more information.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Foreign LLCs

All LLC's organized outside of Washington state must register with the Washington Secretary of State. Foreign LLC's must appoint a registered agent for service of process, who is either a Washington resident, or a business entity authorized to do business in the state.

Annual Renewal

After you have formed your Washington LLC, you must file an annual renewal/report (along with a filing fee) as part of the maintenance of the LLC. The first renewal is due within 120 days of the date you filed to create the LLC. The Secretary of State sends notice of the due date of subsequent renewals approximately 45 days before the report is due.

Forming an LLC in Washington: Related Resources

Forming a Washington LLC? Connect with an Attorney

Forming an LLC in Washington state is generally a seamless process that you can accomplish when you have the right forms. However, you may need additional help if you have complex formation issues or need assistance with an operating agreement. Connect with an experienced Washington attorney today to start your business on solid ground.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.