Welcome to the Start a Business webpage covering entity registration in the state of Washington. These webpages have been designed to educate our readers on the process of forming new businesses and registering foreign entities with the Washington Secretary of State. For some entities, online filing has been made available through government website; all other business types will be required to submit their filing through the mail. This main page is only meant to serve as an overview of the various functions and filings that we’ve covered for this particular jurisdiction. We urge you to explore the tutorials linked throughout in order to gain access to more in-depth instructions on your entity’s specific filing requirements.

Start an Entity

Search for a Name

The Business Entity Search function on the Washington Secretary of State website is extremely useful when researching the business details of a particular entity. It can also be used for checking the availability of your chosen business name prior to registration and to purchase documents for your entity. We suggest that, if you are committing to paper filing, you use the name availability search as it is essential that the designation of your company be distinguishable from that of any other business on file with the Secretary of State. Online filers will be able to benefit from the preliminary search installed at the beginning of their filing process.

How to File in Washington

Step 1– The first step that we suggest you take is checking that the name you have chosen for your business is indeed available for use in the state of Washington. As previously mentioned, this can be executed with the use of the Business Entity Search. Should you need additional time with which to prepare for filing, a name reservation may prove useful. This filing, which costs a total of $30 for profit entities and $20 for nonprofits, will secure your business name for a period of 180 days.

Step 2 – You will be able to now download the assigned PDF for your entity type or access the online filing system to complete the forms electronically. Click on the link that corresponds with your entity type to gain access to a tutorial detailing its specific filing process.

Corporation

Limited Liability Company

Partnerships

Step 3 – When you’ve finished the forms, you will be required to pay the filing fee (full list below). For those filing online, this can accomplished by submitting your credit card information and click Complete Order which will of course then submit your filing to the Secretary of State. Those filing by mail will need to pay their fee by check or money order made out to the Secretary of State and send both the from and the fee to the address below.

Secretary of State : Corporation Division

801 Capitol Way S, PO Box 40234

Olympia WA 98504

(Filing Fees)

Corporations

  • Domestic Profit Corporation- $200 (online), $180 (mail)
  • Domestic Professional Corporation- $200 (online)
  • Domestic Social Purpose Corporation- $180 (mail)
  • Domestic Nonprofit Corporation- $50 (online), $30 (mail)
  • Domestic Nonprofit Professional Corporation- $50 (online)
  • Foreign Profit Corporation- $200 (online)
  • Foreign Nonprofit Corporation- $50 (online)

LLC

  • Domestic Limited Liability Company- $200 (online), $180 (mail)
  • Foreign Limited Liability Company- $200 (online)

Partnerships

  • Domestic Limited Partnership- $180 (mail)
  • Domestic Limited Liability Partnership- $180 (mail)
  • Foreign Limited Partnership- $180 (mail)
  • Foreign Limited Liability Partnership- $180 (mail)

Name Reservation

You are not required to file for a name reservation in Washington, however, it may be a wise choice if you are in need of additional time in which to prepare for registration. This state awards businesses 180 days of name security with the submission of the requisite form. When filing for a name reservation, business representatives will be limited to paper filing as online filing for this function is not available on the Secretary of State website. The filing fee, payable by check or money order, amounts to a total of $30 for profit entities and $20 for nonprofit. For more information on how to get your name reserved, click here.

Certificate of Existence

In Washington, the document used to demonstrate the status that a business holds with the Secretary of State is called the Certificate of Existence. This document is most frequently used when a business is requesting financing or applying for registration in a foreign territory because it demonstrates that the entity in question is in good standing with the state authorities. In Washington, the fee associated with this certificate is $20, which can be paid by credit card online. For more information about the online acquisition of your certificate of existence, click here.

Agreements

It is beneficial to draft a binding agreement during your entity’s initial stages of formation in order to successfully delineate the business’s financial and logistical organization. The documents listed below enable the business to be run more smoothly and effectively as they clarify the relationship between the company officials and the entity itself. While they are not legally required in the state of Washington, each of the below agreements will most often serve as the only indicator of a number of crucial provisions which will not only organize the entity’s internal affairs but will provide conclusive evidence in the case of a legal dispute. For more information, click on the link below that correlates with your entity type to gain access to the free template. You’ll find that each document is available in both MS Word format and Adobe PDF.

Employer Identification Number

The Employer Identification Number is used by the IRS to keep track of all employers paying withheld taxes on employees in the United States. For this reason, it is more than likely that you will be legally required to apply for this number as soon as you’ve finished filing with the Secretary of State. Without one, entities are unable to hire employees, open bank accounts, apply for credit cards or otherwise perform financial transactions of any kind under the company name. For more information on the application process, both Online and through the mail, click on this link to be brought to our step-by-step guide.

How to (Video)