How to Start an LLC in Washington State

L L C members happy after starting an L L C in Washington

LLCs are the most popular structure for small businesses in Washington State. 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 Washington online yourself. Just follow these steps:

  1. Name Your LLC
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. File the WA Certificate of Formation
  4. Create an LLC 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 Washington State is Easy

You can start a Washington State LLC online by filing the Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State. The cost to set up an LLC in Washington State is $180 by mail or $200 online.

Follow our How to Start an LLC in Washington State guide below to get started.

Steps to form an L L C in Washington

Step 1: Create A Name For Your Washington State 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 Washington guidelines:

  • it contains the words limited liability company, limited company, LLC, or L.L.C.
  • it doesn't contain words bank, banking, banker, trust, cooperative, any combination of the words industrial and loan, any combination of any two or more of the words building, savings, loan, home, association, or society
  • it's distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in Washington State
  • full list of Washington naming guidelines

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

If your business name is available and meets guidelines, you’ll be able to register it when you file your Washington Certificate of Formation with the Secretary 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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Once you register a domain name for your LLC, consider setting up a business phone system to establish credibility and enhance your customer service. Nextiva provides a plethora of useful features and a quick, easy setup. Try Nextiva.

Step 2: Appoint A Washington LLC Registered Agent

When you file your Certificate of Formation, you'll need to list a registered agent.

A registered agent's job is to accept legal documents like service of process and tax notices for your LLC.

Your registered agent can be a person or a registered agent service. You can act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to use a registered agent service.

Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own registered agent:

  • You’ll 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

Step 3: File A WA LLC Certificate of Formation

It’s time to officially form your LLC by filing your Certificate of Formation with the Washington Secretary of State.

You can file online with the Secretary of State or fill out a hard copy of the Certificate of Formation and mail it in or deliver it in person. The filing fee is $50. 

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 each Article:

  1. Entity Name and Address
  2. Effective Date and Duration
  3. Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address

For more detailed help with completing the form, visit our Washington Certificate of Formation guide.

Mail Your Articles of Organization:

Send the form and payment (payable to the Secretary of State) to:

Secretary of State
Corporations Division
P.O. Box 40234
Olympia, WA 98504

Submit In Person: 

Secretary of State
Corporations Division
801 Capitol Way S
Olympia, WA 98501

How long does it take to get an LLC approved? LLCs are processed immediately after receiving payment online, or 5 to 7 business days by mail or in person.

Step 4: Create A Washington State LLC Operating Agreement

Creating a Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington 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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