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How to Form an LLC in Pennsylvania
Quick Start Guide ← you are here
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania LLC Costs:
Pennsylvania state fee: $125
(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)
A Pennsylvania Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a legal business structure used to protect your personal assets (home, car, bank account) in the event your company is sued.
A Pennsylvania LLC can be used to operate a business, or an LLC can be used to hold assets (such as real estate, vehicles, boats, and aircraft).
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)
(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)
1. LLC Name
• Search your desired LLC name to make sure it’s available for use.
• Your name must be unique among the existing businesses registered in Pennsylvania.
• Pennsylvania LLC name search: https://www.corporations.pa.gov/search/corpsearch
• Designator: your LLC name must include a designator at the end. Pennsylvania law allows for the following: LLC (most common), L.L.C., LTD, Ltd., Limited Liability Company, Limited Liability Co., Ltd. Liability Company, Ltd. Liability Co., Limited, Company, or Co.
2. Registered Office
• A Registered Office is an official address on file with the state that is used for legal mail (called Service of Process).
• Your Registered Office Address must be located in Pennsylvania. It must be a street address. PO Boxes are not allowed.
• Your options: home address, office address, friend’s address, family member’s address, or the address of a Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP).
• Benefit of using a CROP: your address will remain off public records for privacy.
• CROP Recommendations: Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year). Northwest has been in the business for over 20 years and they have great customer support. Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded to your online account.
3. Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement
• PA LLC filing fee: $125
• Filing methods: by mail, online (recommended), or walk-in.
• File online: https://www.corporations.pa.gov/Account/Register_account
• File by mail:
PA Department of State
Bureau of Corporations
PO Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
• LLC approval time: 7-10 business days.
• What you get: Stamped and approved Certificate of Organization and Welcome Letter.
• Expedited filing: $100 extra for same-day approval. Must be filed in-person in Harrisburg. Use expedited service request form.
4. LLC Operating Agreement
• Your LLC’s Operating Agreement is an “internal document”. It does not get mailed to the state or any other agency. Just keep it with your LLC business records.
• The Operating Agreement is where the owners (called Members) of the LLC are listed. This document governs how much each member owns, how profits are split, how taxes are paid, and more.
• If you have a single-member LLC, it’s still best practice to have an Operating Agreement for your LLC.
5. Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)
• An EIN is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is used for opening bank accounts, filing taxes, and employee payroll, if applicable.
• Think of the EIN as a “social security number” for your LLC.
• Common names: Federal Tax Number, Federal Employer Number, FEIN, Federal Tax ID Number, EIN, Employer Identification Number. They are all the same thing.
• Wait for LLC approval: Only apply for an EIN after your LLC is approved.
• If you are a non-US resident or don’t have a social security number, you cannot obtain an EIN online. Mail or fax Form SS-4 and write “Foreign” on line 7b.
• If your LLC is owned by another LLC, you cannot obtain an EIN online. Mail or fax Form SS-4.
6. Decennial Report
• Unlike most states which require an Annual Report, Pennsylvania just has a Decennial Report. This report is due once every 10 years, in years ending with a “1” (2021, 2031, etc.).
• Purpose: to keep the state updated with your LLC’s contact information.
• Reminders: the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations will mail reminders 2 months before the due date.
• Penalty if not filed: forfeiting the rights to your LLC name.
7. Business Licenses and/or Permits
• You need to contact the city, county, township or borough where your LLC is located to determine if you need a business license and/or permit. These requirements vary widely, depending on where the business is located, and what industry you are in.
• If you want to save time, we recommend hiring a professional license company to do the research for you and prepare your applications. Our favorite company is IncFile. They will provide you with a comprehensive package of all license and permit requirements for your Pennsylvania LLC. Just fill out their 1-minute questionnaire to get started.
• Federal taxes: LLCs have “pass through” taxation. Profits or losses flow through to your personal tax return and are usually listed on a Schedule C.
• State and local taxes: Pennsylvania LLCs must register and pay taxes with the PA Department of Revenue, as well as your local municipality (city, town, county, etc.).
9. LLC Bank Account
• Maintain liability protection: open a bank account for your LLC to keep business finances separate from personal finances.
• Items needed: Approved Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization, EIN, and Driver’s License.
• Shop around: some banks charge monthly fees for an LLC bank account. Others don’t. Call a few banks in PA to compare your options.
• Debit card: Your bank will issue a debit card after you open the account.
• Credit card: Start building business credit. Shop business credit cards here.
10. Business Phone Number
Instead of using your home telephone number or your cell phone, you can purchase an affordable “virtual business number” specifically for your Pennsylvania LLC. You can set this virtual business phone up to forward to your cell phone, go through voice prompts, or configure it any way you’d like.
We recommend using Phone.com as they have the cheapest plans and their customer service is excellent.
They offer local phone numbers as well as 1-800 toll-free numbers. You can easily setup call forwarding, pre-recorded prompts, and get voicemail messages forwarded to your email.
Getting a separate business phone number for your Pennsylvania LLC is also a good idea in order to keep your actual number private from those pesky “public record” websites.
Pennsylvania State Agency
PA Department of State
PA Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
717-787-1057 (8:00am – 4:45pm M-F)
[email protected]a.gov (online filings)