How to Start an LLC in Pennsylvania

L L C members happy after starting an L L C

LLCs are the most popular structure for small businesses in Pennsylvania. That's because starting and running a limited liability company (LLC) is very simple and offers important benefits.

LLCs can protect your personal assets (car, house, savings) if something happens to your business. LLCs also offer credibility and options to save on taxes.

It’s easy to form an LLC in Pennsylvania online yourself. Just follow these steps:

  1. Name Your LLC
  2. Choose A Registered Agent
  3. File PA Certificate of Organization
  4. Create an Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN

Or, you can use an online LLC service to form an LLC:

four point seven out of five stars ZenBusiness ($39 + State Fees)

Three out of Five Stars LegalZoom ($149 + State Fees)

Starting an LLC in PA is Easy

You can start a Pennsylvania LLC online yourself by registering the Certificate of Organization with the PA Department of State. The cost to create an LLC in Pennsylvania is $125.

Follow our free How to Form an LLC in Pennsylvania guide below to get started.

Steps to form an L L C in Pennsylvania

Step 1: Create A Name For Your Pennsylvania LLC

Before you register your LLC, you'll need to come up with a name. Your business name needs to be catchy for branding purposes and legitimate for legal purposes.

We go into depth on this topic in our LLC naming guide. We’ll go over the basics below.

Naming Your LLC

First, brainstorm some possibilities. Use our LLC name generator to get the ideas flowing.

Next, make sure your name meets Pennsylvania guidelines:

  • it contains the words limited liability company, limited company, or LLC or L.L.C.
  • it doesn't contain the words bank, engineer, pharmacy, or doctor, or imply that the business is an insurance company
  • it's distinguishable from any other entity or trade name (DBA) registered in Pennsylvania.
  • full list of Pennsylvania naming guidelines

Next, do a Pennsylvania LLC name search with the Department of State to find out if your name is available in Pennsylvania.

If your business name is available and meets guidelines, you’ll be able to register it when you file your Pennsylvania Certificiate of Organization with the Department of State.

Is the URL available? Before you commit 100% to a name, check to see if there’s a good web domain available.

We recommend buying your domain right away because even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it will be soon.

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Step 2: Choose Your Pennsylvania Registered Office

When you file your Certificate of Organization, you'll need to list a registered agent, known as a registered office in Pennsylvania.

A registered office is the address where there will be someone present to accept legal documents like service of process and tax notices for your LLC.

Your registered office can be the address of your business, the address of an individual that has agreed to accept service of process for your LLC, or the address of a registered agent service.

Here are a few things to think about before you decide to use your own address or a colleagues address:

  • A person will need to be available during normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide
  • If you run your business from home, you’ll have to make your personal address public
  • You could be served with a lawsuit in front of your family or coworkers

Recommended: Most registered agent services offer a year of registered agent service free when you form an LLC with them. 

Step 3: File A PA Certificate of Organization

It’s time to officially form your LLC by filing your Certificate of Organization and with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

You can file online with the Department of State or fill out a hard copy of the Certificate of Organization and docketing statement and mail it in. The filing fee is $125.

Recommended: Now is a good time to decide if your LLC will be member-managed vs manager-managed.

You'll need to know the following information to complete the form:

  1. Entity Name
  2. Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
  3. Organizers
  4. Effective Date
  5. Business Purpose (for restricted professional companies only)
  6. Description of Business Activity
  7. Employer Identification Number (EIN)

For more detailed help with completing the form, visit our Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization guide.

Mail Your Certificate of Organization:

If you choose to mail in a hard copy, send the Certificate of Organization, docketing statement, and payment (payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) to:

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105

How long does it take to get an LLC approved? The LLC processing time is 2 to 3 days.

Step 4: Create A PA LLC Operating Agreement

Creating a Pennsylvania LLC operating agreement is the only way to legally lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having this document in place will give you something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises. 

Even single-member LLCs benefit from having an operating agreement.

Your operating agreement should outline the following:

  • Each member’s responsibilities
  • How new members will be admitted
  • How existing members may transfer or terminate their membership
  • How profits and dividends will be distributed

You can add as many provisions as you want, as long as they don't conflict with Pennsylvania business law. Take a look at our What is an Operating Agreement guide to learn more.

Download a template or create a custom Free Operating Agreement using our tool.

Step 5: Get An EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a Social Security number (SSN) for your company. The IRS and the state of Pennsylvania will use this number to track your business activity.

Your EIN will come in handy when it’s time to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File Federal and State taxes
  • Hire employees

The best way to get an EIN for your LLC in Pennsylvania is by using the free online application on the IRS website.

Read our Get an EIN guide for instructions.

Steps After Forming an LLC

After forming your LLC, it's important to:

Need Help Forming an LLC?

Read our Best LLC Services review to learn more about pricing and packages.

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