Welcome to the Start a Business guide created to assist prospective business owners through the entity registration process in Pennsylvania. Within our tutorials you will be provided with all the information you need to know in order to file with the Department of State. Unlike some states, Pennsylvania has supplied an online registration system through which you can complete the entire filing process. Alternatively, filers can submit their documents through the mail once downloaded and completed using a PDF viewer. Regardless of how you choose to file your forms, you will be required to supply the accompanying filing fee (full list found below). Scroll down and explore the links found throughout this page to find out more about the exact filing requirement for your entity type.
Start an Entity
Search for a Name
There are many reasons why someone might wish to search for a name through the Department of State’s database. For prospective business owners, you will find a Business Entity Search useful to check the availability of a desired operating name prior to filing your registration documents. Indeed, the preliminary name availability search is one that we recommend to all business filers as it will reduce the risk of a rejected filing form. This search function can also be used to investigate the business details of any entity on file with the Department of State.
Pennsylvania Online Account
An account must be created in order to use the online filing system that the Department of State has provided. The account registration process can be accomplished simply by supplying a few pieces of required information and choosing a user name and password. The entire procedure should only take you a few minutes (we have provided a tutorial for anyone that is in search of assistance on this process). If you have chosen to file your registration documents through the mail, an account will not be required and the previous information may be disregarded.
How to Register in Pennsylvania
Step 1- Before filing any registration documents with the Department of State, we recommend that you first perform a Business Entity Search to check the availability of your desired operating name. Without a name that is distinguishable from the others currently on file in Pennsylvania, your application is liable to be rejected. A Name Reservation application may also be useful if you would like additional time to prepare your filings as it will provide you with 120 days in which an operating name may be reserved.
Step 2- With a name chosen and secured for your business, continue by either downloading and completing the appropriate PDF application, or by logging on to your account with the Department of State to access the online filing system. Click on the link below associated with your entity type to review our step-by-step tutorials on either procedure.
- Domestic Profit Corporation
- Domestic Non-Profit Corporation
- Domestic Cooperative Corporation
- Foreign Profit Corporation
- Foreign Non-Profit Corporation
- Domestic Limited Liability Company
- Domestic Professional Service Limited Liability Company
- Foreign Limited Liability Company
- Foreign Professional Service Limited Liability Company
- Domestic Limited Partnership
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership
- Foreign Limited Partnership
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership
- Foreign Limited Liability Limited Partnership
Step 3- With your registration documents completed, you will be required to supply all additional certificates/forms (if applicable). All foreign entity types must attach a certificate of good standing from their initial state/country of formation. In addition to that, a docketing statement must be supplied for corporations and LLCs, both domestic and foreign.
Step 4- A filing fee will now be required in order to process your application. Online filers must supply a valid credit card to conclude their registration process. Those filing through the mail must provide either a check or money order made out to the Department of State and forward all articles to the address below.
Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722 – Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
- Domestic Profit Corporation- $125
- Domestic Non-Profit Corporation- $125
- Domestic Cooperative Corporation- $125
- Foreign Profit Corporation- $250
- Foreign Non-Profit Corporation- $250
Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
- Domestic Limited Liability Company- $125
- Domestic Professional Service Limited Liability Company- $125
- Foreign Limited Liability Company- $250
- Foreign Professional Service Limited Liability Company- $250
- Domestic Limited Partnership- $125
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership- $125
- Foreign Limited Partnership- $250
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership- $250
- Foreign Limited Liability Limited Partnership- $250
If you are currently in the process of preparing your registration documents with the Department of State and you’re concerned about the availability of your desired operating name, you may find a Name Reservation application to be quite useful. For a fee of $70, you will be provided with 120 days to prepare your filings while the use of a particular business name remains reserved for your entity. We do however recommend that you perform a Business Entity Search prior to filing for this application to ensure that the name chosen for your entity is currently available for use.
Certificate of Subsistence
A Certificate of Subsistence is a document used by businesses to prove their legitimacy to other organizations that they may be dealing with. Specifically, foreign entities seeking formation with a secretary of state outside of their own jurisdiction will be required to supply a Certificate of Subsistence to relay their business status and prove that their entity is currently up to date with all necessary fees and reports. To obtain this document, begin by downloading the PDF application located here. This application must then be completed and mailed to the proper authorities, along with a $40 filing fee in the form of a check of money order made out to the Department of State.
Drafting an agreement between the managing members of your entity could very well provide the only definitive documentation on file detailing the internal structure of your business. With this agreement you will have written proof of a number of important details, such as the roles and responsibilities of all managing members, personal interest percentages, general meeting times, and the distribution of assets during dissolution. There is no legal obligation to file these documents with the Department of State, though we highly recommend that you take a moment to review the free templates that we have provided to see if drafting an agreement could be beneficial to your business. Click on the link below associated with your entity type to download the MS Word or PDF files that we have provided.
Employer Identification Number
An Employer Identification Number must be obtained as soon as acceptance has been received from the Department of State regarding your entity’s formation. An EIN, often considered the corporate equivalent of a SSN, is used by the IRS to identify businesses for tax reporting purposes. Once obtained, your entity will be seen as a legitimate tax paying company that is operating legally in the country. Without an EIN, you will be unable to hire employees, register for bank accounts, apply for loans, or perform a number of other business transactions that are crucial to the operation of any successful organization. Some may find filing for an EIN difficult and for this reason we have supplied a tutorial here, in which you will be able to apply Online or through the mail with the PDF Form SS-4.