How to Form a Pennsylvania LLC

How to Use this Guide

To form an LLC 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 LLC formation.
  • Rocket Lawyer ($99 + state fee) for LLC formation & optional attorney advice.
  • Harbor Compliance ($399 + state fee) for top-to-bottom LLC formation & 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 YOUR LLC NAME

Choose a Business Name

The first step is making sure the brand name you want is unique, not misleading, doesn’t contain any restricted wording and isn’t too similar to any other registered name. 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 that the LLC name must contain the words “Limited Liability Company” or abbreviations like “LLC” or “L.L.C.” Information about an optional reservation of name that’s good for 120 days and fees for the service can be found here: Form DSCB:15-208.

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

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

Note: In PA you can name yourself as agent for service of process.

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

STEP 3) FILE CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLC

In order to legally conduct business through your LLC, you must file a Certificate of Organization (Form DSCB:15-8821) and the New Entity Docketing Statement (Form DSCB:15-134A). The essential information for a Certificate of Organization is:

  • Complete LLC name,
  • Complete name, street address of registered agent and,
  • An organizer’s signature.

The Certificate of Organization template on the Business Formation webpage maintained by the state of PA requests additional information, some of which is mandatory according to the Instructions.

LLC Filing Fee: $125

STEP 4) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

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.

Note: The IRS and Pennsylvania will allow a single-member LLC with no employees to use the individual member’s social security number instead of an EIN.

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

STEP 5) 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 many perks banks and lending institutions are offering these days.

There are a fair number of perks, 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 Certificate of Organization; some require additional documents such as a business license from the local city/county or an operating agreement. If interested, check out this Business Checking Accounts breakdown from some of the bigger mainstream banks for starters.

Note: Never, ever use LLC accounts for personal finances.

STEP 6) DRAFT AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Create an Operating Agreement

This is a formal contractual agreement between all owners, called “members,” of a company that outlines financial and management responsibilities. It’s not mandatory or required by law, but, whenever possible, one should be in place to protect all parties, including the brand. And, yes, even solopreneurs should have one.

To get started, consider checking out a free online Operating Agreement templates which you can customize yourself.

STEP 7) COVER ALL LLC TAXES & LICENSING/PERMITS

Small Business Taxes

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 will be determined by a number of variables including your type of business, whether you work with the public, location, etc.

Step 7 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.

You might also want to bookmark the Pittsburgh district office of the Small Business Administration and state’s SBDC page as well because they’re likely going to be go-to sources if you need help. If you’re going to need customized help, consider professional Business License Research packages that quickly source documents and provide filing instructions.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

Use one of these reliable LLC filing services & have all paperwork handled on your behalf. Each service offers a different level of features and pricing but all take care of LLC formation. 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 LLC formation

Read Review
Rocket Lawyer
  • Pricing Starts at
    $99

  • 10,000+ Businesses Formed

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

Read Review
Harbor Compliance
  • Pricing Starts at
    $399

  • 10,000+ Businesses Formed

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

Read Review

Note that this article on how to form an LLC 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 when forming a Pennsylvania LLC or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional. We recommend JGW INcounsel.