(7 Simple Steps)
To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in Washington, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a free Business Entity Search through the state, and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.
Keep in mind your name must contain words like “Corporation”, “Incorporated”, “Company”, or “Limited”. Abbreviations like “Corp.”, “Inc.”, “Co.” or “Ltd.” are also acceptable. If needed, you can file a Name Reservation form with the Sec. of State that’s good for 180 days.
Filing Fee: $30
Your Washington Registered Agent is a sort of legal representative of your brand, but not in a lawyer or attorney-sense. It’s their job to officially receive/process important business documents like state filings, legal notices, tax forms, and so forth. This is why they have to be either a WA resident individual or a registered business entity and be reliable during all regular business days/hours.
That said, you can hire 3rd party professional and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a registered agent free of charge when you incorporate with IncFile or Incorporate.com. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.
For your corporation to be formed, file Articles of Incorporation with the Washington Secretary of State’s Corps & Charities Div. It declares the basics of your brand for the public record including:
Filing Fee: $180 by mail, or $200 by Filing Online
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.
Appoint at least 1 initial Director who among other things will oversee the Washington corporation until the first shareholder meeting where new directors will be voted in. Prepare an “Incorporator Statement” with complete names and addresses of each director and keep it in your records book. Once elected, an initial meeting should:
Ideally, during your first shareholder meeting you spent some time going over where to bank and set up your corporation’s financial foundation. With so many different banks and credit unions (local, state, national) with tons of different fee structures, incentives, kickbacks, and other business services this shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The other issue is to make sure corporate accounts aren’t connected or mixed with any accounts of any other kinds. It should be a dedicated and separate account for easy financial tracking and tax purposes synced with your accounting software.
To ensure that you will not face penalties, fines, and fees when starting a business in Washington, you need to completely fulfill your business taxes and licenses obligations to the state. To get started, see the resources below: