How to File the Articles of Incorporation for a Washington D.C. Nonprofit

Person submitting paperwork.

Filing the Articles of Incorporation is a critical step in starting a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit in Washington D.C. Whether you have been running a charity for a while or are just starting out, your nonprofit organization will need to fill out the Articles of Incorporation and file them with the Washington D.C. This will allow you to file for 501(c)(3) status and reap the benefits of having an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Want to form a nonprofit elsewhere? Check out our other How to Start a Nonprofit guides.

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Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Washington D.C. is easy, just follow these easy steps to file the Washington D.C. Articles of Incorporation:

If you are starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Washington D.C., you have come to the right place. After reading the comprehensive guide for Washington D.C. nonprofit formation, follow this guide to file the Washington D.C. Articles of Incorporation with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs - Corporations Division.

What is covered in this guide:

  1. Information you will need to file the Washington D.C. Articles of Incorporation
  2. How to file the Washington D.C. Articles of Incorporation
  3. Washington D.C. Nonprofit Formation FAQ

Information you will need to file the Washington D.C. Articles of Incorporation

To become a nonprofit corporation in Washington D.C. you must file DNP-1, with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs - Corporations Division.

Here are the sections that you will need to complete.

Section 1: Corporate Name

Enter the name you have selected.

For help with selecting a name for your nonprofit read our comprehensive guide on how to name a Washington D.C. nonprofit.

Section 2: Members

State whether or not the organization will have members.

Section 3: Registered Agent

The registered agent can be any entity registered to do business in Washington D.C. or any person who is a resident of the state. Your organization cannot act as its own registered agent.

Enter the information of the registered agent you have selected.

For more information read our guide: What is a registered agent? and The Washington D.C. Registered Agent Guide.

Section 5: Miscellaneous Provisions

There are two provisions you must include so your organization is eligible to apply for 501(c)(3) status:

1. Describe the purpose of your nonprofit organization.

In order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, the organization’s purpose must explicitly be limited to one or more of the following:

  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Literary
  • Testing for public safety
  • Fostering national/international amateur sports competition
  • Preventing cruelty to animals/children


2. Use this section of the articles of formation to formally state what the assets of the organization will be used for, and what will happen to the assets if the organization is dissolved.

To be eligible for 501(c)(3) status, you must convince the IRS that the organization’s assets will always only be used for the purposes approved under 501(c)(3) rules. To this end, you must include provisions ensuring that in the event your organization is dissolved, the assets of the organization will be used towards tax-exempt purposes.

Section 5 of this sample document provides an example of these provisions required for 501(c)(3) eligibility.

Section 6: Incorporator

The incorporator is the person who completes, signs, and submits the certification of formation. This person does not need to be a part of your organization. This can be you or a lawyer helping you with the process of formation.

When you sign and date the form you are affirming everything written in the form.

How to file the Washington D.C. Articles of Incorporation

You can file online, by mail, or in person.

NOTE: If you file in person, you will be charged an automatic additional expedite fee.

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations Division
PO Box 92300
Washington, D.C. 20090

Information: (202) 442-4432

Website: www.dcra.dc.gov

Filing Fee: $80

Washington D.C. Nonprofit Formation FAQ

How long does it take to process Form DNP-1?

Processing typically takes around 15 days. The paperwork can get processed in about 3 days for an additional expedite fee of $50, or the same day for an additional fee of $100.

NOTE: If you wish to expedite processing you must also submit form EX-1 along with the expedite fee.