Welcome to our Start a Business tutorial on the registration of limited liability companies in the state of Washington. We have gone over the filing process for domestic formation and foreign registration, both of which are capable through the use of the Secretary of State online filing system. While pre-existing foreign LLCs will not be able to submit their filings through the mail, domestic filers have been given this option as an alternative to e-registration. The filing fees for those filing a Certificate of Formation (domestic) is $180 by PDF and $200 online. Foreign applicants must file online and will therefore be charged $200. As this particular tutorial is meant to act as an overview of the filing process, it would be wise to click on the links found throughout this main page to get a deeper understanding of what’s in store for you as a business filer in the state of Washington.

How to File

Step 1- The first step we recommend is employing the Business Entity Search to check the availability of your chosen LLC name. If it is indistinguishable from that of another entity on register with the Secretary of State, there is a very good chance that your filing will be rejected due to the unoriginal designation. If you need additional time in which to prepare for registration, you may wish to perform a Name Reservation. This filing, which costs $30, will secure your business name for a period of 180 days.

Step 2- You may now begin the filing process by either navigating to the online registration portal or by downloading the PDF of the Certificate of Formation (domestic only). Click on either the domestic or foreign filing guide below to research our more detailed tutorials.

Step 3- With your forms complete, you will be required to pay the filing fee. If submitting your documents electronically, this feat can be accomplished via credit card. If filing through the mail as a domestic standard or professional LLC, you will be required to make a check or money order out to the Secretary of State for the amount of $180 or $200. Remember that foreign entities will be charged $200 and will need to upload the certificate of good standing from their initial jurisdiction when prompted in the registration process. Paper filers can send their completed forms and fees to the below address for processing by the Secretary of State.

Secretary of State : Corporation Division

801 Capitol Way S, PO Box 40234

Olympia WA 98504


EIN– It is necessary for employers in the United States to apply for an Employer Identification Number after registration to ensure that they are on file with Internal Revenue Services. This number is issued to all entities and individuals that pay withholding taxes on employees. The EIN is considered the corporate equivalent of a SSN and without it your business will be extremely limited in its ability to transact business. For example, you will be unable to apply for credit cards or open bank accounts if this number is not acquired. Click on the heading of this paragraph to gain insight into the application guide. You may also navigate directly to the IRS website to Online or download the Form SS-4 to file through the mail.

Operating Agreement– Newly formed entities should consider drafting an operating agreement to assist in the general organization of their internal affairs. Due to the internal nature of this agreement, there is no statute which dictates that it must be filed with the Secretary of State. Instead it should be kept as a point of reference for the rules and regulations of the entity. Take a look at our free template, available in both MS Word and Adobe PDF formatting, which can be found in the page linked at the beginning of this paragraph. An operating agreement is a complex legal document and it would be wise to have an attorney at hand when the time comes to draft one of your own.

Renewal– It is required that all LLCs file for renewal each year by submitting an annual report with the Business Licensing Center. This filing will effectively keep your business in good standing with the Secretary of State and will allow them to stay notified of any significant structural or managerial changes which may have taken place over the course of the previous year. When renewing a foreign or domestic LLC, filers will need to pay a $71 filing fee online by credit or debit card. The submission of the form and the payment of the fee can be accomplished through the online filing system that was recently put in place by the Business Licensing Center. It will be necessary for you to have an online account with the Department of Revenue filing system in order to access the annual report filing system.

How to (Video)