Start a Business in Washington
Starting a business in Washington is easy. All you need to do is file a few forms with the Washington Secretary of State and start running your business. Below, we show you how to get started and walk you through some of your options.
One option is, of course, to stop reading and just hire us to start your business for you. At Northwest, we form businesses and provide registered agent service throughout the US. That’s our business, and obviously we recommend starting your business in a certain way. We call it “Starting a Business the Right Way."
Starting your business the right way means hiring a registered agent to form your LLC or corporation so you can protect your privacy and receive the care your business needs to stay active. If you hire us to start your Washington business, we’ll be your registered agent, provide Privacy by Default®, a business address, mail forwarding and local Corporate Guide® service for life.
How to Start a Business in Washington
You file articles of incorporation for a Washington corporation or articles of organization for a Washington LLC with the WA Secretary of State.
You obtain a federal tax ID number (FEIN or EIN) with the IRS after you have confirmation and filed articles from the State of Washington showing your approved Washington business.
Opening a business banking account under your new Washington business name should be easy with these two items.
The Washington Master Business License will notify the Department of Revenue, Department of Labor and Industries, and the Employment Security Department that you are doing business in Washington.
Obtain a trade license, if you actually need one. (Most businesses don’t.) Obtain a local city or county license, if you need one.
To learn about licensing and other requirements for selling marijuana, visit our How to Start a Marijuana Business in Washington page.
If you’re going to have an office or shop you might need an approval from the city zoning for your type of business in that location.
If you get overwhelmed, just get your business pulling in money and worry about regulations later.
Are You A Do-It-Yourselfer? You Can Save Some Money:
If you want to start a business in Washington yourself, you can just hire us as your Washington registered agent, and you’ll instantly have the Washington LLC or corporation forms to file along with filing instructions on the quickest, cheapest, and most efficient way to incorporate a Washington corporation or form a Washington LLC. You’ll get the ongoing support of our online tools, reminders and the support of a professional Washington registered agent service.START YOUR WASHINGTON BUSINESS TODAY
Washington LLC vs Corporation
Small business owners tend to like the flexible management structure and great tax options of an LLC. They have fewer annual requirements and are generally easier to maintain. Large business owners like the well-established, defined management structure of a corporation. Plus, having the ability to sell stock helps attract top investors.
But, what about Washington? Any pros and cons for a Washington LLC vs a Washington corporation?
When it comes to initial filing and maintenance fees, there aren’t any significant advantages to starting a Washington LLC versus a Washington corporation. The Certificate of Formation and Articles of Incorporation both cost $180 to file ($200 online). In addition, both entities are required to file an initial report ($10 or free with online formation) and an annual report ($60) with the Washington Secretary of State.
Washington state doesn’t assess a corporate or personal income tax. However, the state does have a form of gross receipts tax known as the Business and Occupation Tax (B&O Tax). The rates for this will vary depending on your business’s classification. For example, retail stores will pay 0.471% whereas manufacturing companies will pay 0.484%.
Unfortunately, Washington LLCs don’t have strong protection against creditors. A claimant may obtain a charging order—putting a lien on the debtor’s interest—which could lead to a court foreclosing on the transferable interest.
If you want a corporation, you file Washington Articles of Incorporation:
The Washington Articles of Incorporation cost $180 with the Washington Secretary of State. We custom draft your Washington articles of incorporation when you hire Northwest to start your Washington business.
The basic requirements of Washington corporations are:
- The Washington corporation must have a corporate ending such as incorporated, corporation or an abbreviation thereof.
- The duration of the corporation.
- The purpose of the Washington corporation is not actually listed in the articles.
- The number of authorized shares.
- The class of shares.
- The name of the registered agent in Washington and the registered office address.
- The name and address of the Washington incorporators.
- Date of incorporation.
- The Washington incorporator must sign the articles of incorporation.
Washington does not require original signatures on new WA corporation filings. Your filed articles will be sent to your Washington registered agent unless you specify a different address.
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If you want a LLC, you file Washington Articles of Organization:
To form a Washington LLC, you file Washington Articles of Organization and pay the $180 fee.
The basic requirements of Washington LLC filings are:
- The business name must have a limited liability company ending or variation of it.
- A New Washington LLCs name must be different than already registered Washington companies.
- The duration of the Washington LLC.
- The principal office address of the LLC.
- The Washington registered agent, registered office address, and registered agent signature.
- The names and addresses of the initial organizer.
- If the limited liability company is to be managed by managers or members.
- The Washington executor/organizer has to sign the articles.
Washington does not require original signatures on new WA LLC filings. Your proof of filing is sent to the Washington registered agent unless you specify another address.