How to Start an LLC in Pennsylvania

L L C members happy after starting an L L C

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, use a professional service:

four point eight out of five stars Northwest Registered Agent ($29 + State Filing Fee)

three point four out of five stars LegalZoom ($79 + State Filing Fee)

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 Start an LLC in Pennsylvania guide below to get started.

Steps to form an L L C in Pennsylvania

To learn how to form an LLC in any state, visit our How to Start an LLC guide.

Step 1: Create A Name For Your Pennsylvania LLC

Before you register your Pennsylvania 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.

Find a Domain Now

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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.

Using a Pennsylvania Fictitious Name (DBA)

A Pennsylvania DBA (doing business as), also known as a fictitious name, is any registered name that a business operates under that isn't its legal business name. A fictitious name can be used by any type of business, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC).

Learn how to get a DBA in our Pennsylvania DBA guide.

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. To learn more about Pennsylvania Registered Agents, read our guide.

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: Northwest Registered Agent offers a free year of registered agent services when you form your LLC ($29 plus state fees).

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 a Pennsylvania 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 an operating agreement 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.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

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Steps After Forming an LLC in Pennsylvania

After forming your Pennsylvania LLC, it's important to:

Open A Business Bank Account

A business bank account helps separate personal expenses and company expenses, which is required to maintain your Pennsylvania LLC's corporate veil. A corporate veil protects your personal assets from creditors in potential lawsuits against your LLC or Business.

Learn more by reading this guide to Banking for Entrepreneurs. For a multi-member LLC, you'll also want to set up capital accounts for LLC members. We also recommend checking out our review of the best business bank accounts.

Get A Business Credit Card

A business credit card will help separate personal and business expenses while building your company's credit history. A strong credit history will be useful for raising capital in the form of venture capital, angel investment, or small business loans.

Set Up Business Accounting

Hiring a business accountant is one of the best ways to ensure you’re taking advantage of LLC tax benefits; possibly saving you and your business thousands of dollars per year.

When forming an LLC in Pennsylvania, it’s a good idea to start a relationship with a business accountant as soon as you start your business to help set your company up for success.

Get Business Insurance

Business insurance helps manage risk. The most common forms of business insurance are general liability, professional liability, and workers' compensation.

Find out the real cost of getting insurance for your business. Get a free quote or call 855-965-3168.

Keep Your Company Compliant

Research Pennsylvania Business Licenses and Permits

To operate an LLC in Pennsylvania, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations such as health permits, building permits, and signage permits. 

Business licensing and permit requirements vary from state to state. To get started, visit our How to Get a Business License in Pennsylvania guide. To help facilitate this process, you can also utilize a business license service.

File Your Pennsylvania LLC Decennial Report

LLCs that have not made new or amended filings within a 10-year period are required to file a decennial report with the Department of State in years ending in 1. This can only be filed by mail using a decennial report form for a filing fee of $70.

Understand Pennsylvania State Tax Requirements

Pennsylvania businesses selling a physical product are generally required to register for a seller’s permit with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. Visit our Pennsylvania Sales Tax guide to learn more about seller’s permits and Pennsylvania sales tax.

Additionally, LLCs with employees in Pennsylvania must sign up for unemployment insurance tax with the Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation and employee withholding tax with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Understand Your Pennsylvania LLC’s Federal Tax Requirements

Most Pennsylvania LLCs will need to report their income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year using Form 1065: Partnership Return (multi-member LLCs) or Form 1040 - Schedule C (single-member LLCs).

How you pay yourself will affect your federal taxes. Visit our guide to learn more about how to pay yourself from your LLC.

Know Your Pennsylvania LLC’s Federal Tax Election Options

Pass-through taxation entails a business’s profits passing through to the LLC member’s individual tax returns. Like a sole proprietorship, an LLC is taxed as a pass-through entity, also known as a disregarded entity. 

Once this process is completed and after any tax-deductible expenses are taken out, the LLC members pay self-employment taxes and income tax on their portion of the business income. 

Alternatively, Pennsylvania LLCs can choose to elect to be taxed as an S corporation (S corp) or C corporation (C corp). If S corporation tax status is elected, LLC members can be taxed as employees of the business, potentially reducing tax burden.

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Need Help Forming an LLC?

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