How to Form a Pennsylvania Corporation

How to Use this Guide

To form a Corporation in Pennsylvania, use the step-by-step guide below or hire a professional service to do it for you:

  • IncFile ($49 + state fee) for basic & quick incorporation.
  • Rocket Lawyer ($99 + state fee) for incorporation & optional attorney advice.
  • Harbor Compliance ($499 + state fee) for top-to-bottom incorporation & compliance.
John G. Webb, III
This Guide is Attorney Approved

John G. Webb, III is a licensed Pennsylvania business attorney for growing businesses.

If you'd like a legal advisor on your side, set up a free consultation.

Step 1) Verify & Secure Brand Name

Choose a Business Name

The first step is ensuring the brand name you want is unique, not misleading, doesn’t contain any restricted wording and isn’t too similar to any other name registered in Pennsylvania. To check, conduct a Business Entity Search through the Sec. of State, as well as a quick trademark search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

Keep in mind your corporation’s name should contain the words ‘’Incorporated,” “Corporation,” ’‘Company,” or “‘Limited.” Abbreviations of these words are also acceptable. You might consider a Name Reservation that’s good for 120 days by filing Form DSCB:15-208 with the Pennsylvania Dept. of State.

Filing Fee: $70

Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentThe next step is appointing a Pennsylvania Registered Agent to receive and help to handle/process all official documents like state filings, tax forms, legal notices, etc. To be considered the agent must be a PA resident or a registered business entity with a physical street address in PA, not a P.O. Box, authorized by the Sec. of State.

Note: You can name yourself as agent for service of process.

You can also hire an outside professional service that charges as much as $160 a year, or get a qualified/certified agent for free by registering your corporation through a filing service like IncFile.

Step 3) File Articles Of Incorporation

Register an LLC

In order to legally conduct business through your corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State of Pennsylvania. The essential information is:

  • Name of the corporation and address;
  • Corporate purpose;
  • Full name and complete address of registered agent;
  • Number of shares that the corporation is authorized to issue;
  • The number of directors constituting the first board;
  • The names and addresses of the initial directors;
  • Full name and complete address of the incorporators.

The online Articles of Incorporation template on the Business Formation webpage maintained by the Secretary of State allows additional information to be included, such as limitation of liability for officers and directors, and corporate duration.

Filing Fee: $125

Publication of notice of filing the Articles of Incorporation is also required. For details, see these Articles of Incorporation Instructions.

Step 4) Get A Corporate Records Book

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

Think of this as the hard copy record book where all critical corporate documents are kept like the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, meeting minutes, stock certificate ledger, stock certificates, stock certificate stubs, stock transfer documents, etc. It’s the ultimate company binder! They’re very common and while not necessary having one is highly-recommended for all serious business entities.

You can find them at nearby office supply stores or on Amazon, but we’re huge fans of Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books/binders you can brand for as little as $99.

Step 5) Have Directors Meet, Discuss Bylaws & Issue Stock

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

At least one director must be named in the Articles of Incorporation who, among other things, will oversee the corporation until the first shareholder meeting where new Directors will be voted in. Initial Director(s) hold a meeting (or sign a unanimous consent) to:

  • Appoint officers,
  • Discuss/create Corporate Bylaws,
  • Authorize signors for a bank account(s),
  • Approve the issuance of stock, sign certificate(s) and record stock issuance,
  • Agree on a corporate seal and adopt official stock certificate form,
  • (Optional) approve S-Corp status,
  • Sign Minutes of Meeting/Consent,
  • Add signed Minutes/Consent, Bylaws and Certificate of Incorporation to Corporate Records Book.

Note: To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all stockholders have signed it.

Step 6) Get an EIN for Your Corporation

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is required if you want a smooth tax season, to be able to set up a business bank account, legally hire employees, and so forth.

Most business activity is tracked using this number so it’s not optional by any means. Thankfully you can easily get you EIN free of charge through the IRS Website. It’s quick and easy. Make sure to save the PDF document and/or number when the IRS website gives you that option because once you click “submit” you can’t go back and must wait 2-3 weeks for the paper copy!

Step 7) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank Account

There are two primary reasons to open unique business bank accounts. The first of which has everything to do with the perks different banks/credit unions offer (local, state, national) with tons of different fee structures, incentives, kickbacks, and other business services. There are a fair number so be sure and check around.

The second has to do with making your finances easier by syncing the single account with an accounting software and adding a huge layer of protection by being separated from any other business/personal accounts. Call ahead at your chosen bank. Most banks require the EIN document from the IRS and the Articles of Incorporation; some require additional documents such as a business license from the local city/county or the corporation’s Bylaws.

Step 8) Handle Taxation & Licensing/Permits

Business Licenses

Obviously, getting situated with state and federal taxes isn’t optional. These days it can be much simpler, though, with help. How many licenses you’ll need and how many fees and things will be determined by a number of variables including your type of business, whether you work with the public, location, etc.

Step 8 is where it really helps to work with a professional or buckle down and do the research yourself. Licenses, permits and business taxes need to be taken care of. To get started, bookmark the Pittsburgh Small Business Administration office and the state’s SBDC page. Also, consider using a professional business license service that take care of the legwork for you.

Need Help Incorporating?

Use one of these reliable incorporation services & have all paperwork handled on your behalf. Each service offers a different level of features and pricing but all take care of incorporation. No matter which you choose, you’ll be in good hands.

IncFile
  • Pricing Starts at
    $49

  • 100,000+ Businesses Formed

  • Perfect for:
    Anyone starting a business on a budget and need quick incorporation

Visit Website
Rocket Lawyer
  • Pricing Starts at
    $99

  • 10,000+ Businesses Formed

  • Perfect for:
    Anyone wanting the choice between basic incorporation or a suite of online legal services

Visit Website
Harbor Compliance
  • Pricing Starts at
    $499

  • 10,000+ Businesses Formed

  • Perfect for:
    Anyone wanting top-to-bottom Corporation formation and ongoing compliance

Visit Website

Note that this guide to incorporating in Pennsylvania isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form a Pennsylvania Corporation or business in general, please consult with an accredited professional. We recommend JGW INcounsel/John G. Webb, III, Esq.