Step 1) Verify & Secure Your Brand Name
To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in WA, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. To check, conduct a free Business Entity Search through the state.
Keep in mind your LLC name should contain the words ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company’. Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ are also acceptable. If needed, you can file an LLC Name Reservation form with the Sec. of State that’s good for 180 days.
Filing Fee: $30
Remember, this isn’t optional in Washington-- it’s mandatory.
Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use Weebly to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!
Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent
Your WA 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 start an LLC with a service like IncFile. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.
Step 3) File Certificate Of Formation
- Name and address of the LLC;
- Name, address and signature of the LLC’s Registered Agent;
- LLC’s effectivity date of formation;
- Indication whether the LLC will be managed by a member or a separate manager.
Filing Fee: $180 mail or $200 online
Step 4) Request An EIN
What’s an EIN, or Employer Identification Number? It’s almost exactly like a social security number but for businesses instead of flesh and blood individuals.
You’ll need it to process taxes, set up business bank accounts, to legally hire employees and more. But don’t worry, it’s as easy to get one.
Step 5) Setup A Business Bank Account
First and foremost, make sure that your LLC’s bank accounts aren’t mingled with any others of any kind. It’s a huge mistake you can avoid with ease, okay?
Secondly, don’t just assume where you bank personally is the best choice. Is it convenient? Sure, but there are tons of places to build your brand’s financial foundation and many of them are likely offering much better deals and incentives.
To learn about some of these perks from the mainstream perspective browse this free Checking Account Guide.
Step 6) Draft An Operating Agreement
In Washington, an Operating Agreement serves as the internal rule book of business operations that trumps the default state rules that take over if there isn't one in place.
It also defines internal agreements between its members in terms of financial/management duties and responsibilities. Very important! Even if you're a solopreneur or two-man-band.
You can create your LLC’s document now with the help of an online Operating Agreement Template which can be fully customized to fit your specific circumstances.
Step 7) Handle Business Taxes & Licensing
This is the step where we tell you that you should ideally work with a tax attorney/accountant or do detailed research yourself so that there's no mistakes and your LLC is 100% compliant in terms of taxes, licensing, and any needed permits depending on the nature of your business.
If you need additional help, there’s a Business License Service we recommend. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.
Need Help Forming an LLC?
If you'd like help forming an LLC in Washington, feel free to read our reviews of the two most popular services.