Pennsylvania LLC

How to Form an LLC
in PA (Pennsylvania)

Quick Start Guide ← you are here
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Pennsylvania.

Detailed Lessons:

 

Pennsylvania LLC Costs:
Pennsylvania state fee: $125

Need help?
Hire a professional service to form your Pennsylvania LLC:
IncFile ($49 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

How to Form an LLC in PennsylvaniaA 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).

If you’d like to form an LLC in Pennsylvania yourself, follow our Quick Start Guide below (the brief overview), or click on the detailed lessons above.

Need to save time? Hire a reliable service to form your LLC:
IncFile ($49 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

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: IncFile (for $99/year) or Northwest Registered Agent (for $125/year). IncFile is cheaper, but their support is not as good as Northwest Registered Agent.

3. Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement

Official PA LLC forms: 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.

Need to save time? Hire a reliable service to form your LLC:
IncFile ($49 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

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.

Free Operating Agreement download: PDF | Google Doc | Microsoft Word

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.

Fee: $0. EINs are free from the IRS. You can obtain an EIN by mail (Form SS-4), fax (855-641-6935), or online (recommended).

• 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 LicenseSuite and 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.

8. Taxes

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.).

Recommendation: hire an accountant after your LLC is formed. Read our how to find a great accountant guide, or check out Thumbtack.

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]
[email protected] (online filings)

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Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator at LLC University
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! We teach people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your entrepreneurial journey.

49 Comments

  1. Brett Boulin March 23, 2017

    I can’t thank you enough for this site. I went from paying $250+ to form my llc to paying $0 ( I’m a veteran). This site could not have made it easier and I will promote it any chance I get. Thank you so much Matt. You are the man!!!!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz March 23, 2017

      Hi Brett, thanks so much man!! Really appreciate the kind words :) Happy to hear that we could really help and serve you. Best wishes with the business my friend!!

      reply
      • Crystal Davis April 6, 2018

        How do u get the activity license?

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz April 8, 2018

          Hi Crystal, are you referring to a Philadelphia commercial activity license? If so, we don’t cover that. Thanks for your understanding.

          reply
    • Arlene Saltsman June 6, 2018

      Is there a question that asks if you are a veteran when applying for LLC that changes the fee to $0? Just trying to figure this out!
      Thanks!

      reply
  2. VW June 21, 2017

    Thanks so much for posting this very helpful information!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz June 23, 2017

      You’re very welcome!

      reply
  3. Kim August 7, 2017

    I already applied for EIN and business name, we aslo drafted papers to do business as a general partnership. I want to change to an LLC. Do i need to withdraw or cancel the business name I already have? Can I use the EIN I already have?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 7, 2017

      I recommend cancelling the name registration since it won’t be needed. And you’ll need a new EIN after the new LLC is formed.

      reply
  4. Ross Connard October 4, 2017

    Bumped into your video on YouTube about why NOT to open a business in Delaware and made my way to your site. Great information, well presented. Thank you very much for saving us a bunch of trouble, Matt.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz October 4, 2017

      Hi Ross, thank you for the kind words! I’m very happy to hear we were able to save you the time and hassle :)

      reply
  5. Ashley Acornley November 6, 2017

    What if you have an LLC established in one state, but you are moving and need to establish the LLC in a new state? Is there specific paperwork that I need to file or a particular office I need to contact?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz November 8, 2017

      Hey Ashley, there are usually 3 ways to “move” an LLC. 1) Dissolve existing LLC and form a new LLC in the new state. This means new EIN, new bank account, etc. 2) File a Foreign LLC registration in the new state. This keeps the existing LLC in place (same EIN, same bank account, etc.), but gives it authority to do business in the new state. 3) If the incoming state allows, you can convert/re-domesticate/move your LLC to the new state. This “converts” the LLC to the new state and then you can dissolve the hold one. This allows you to keep the same EIN and bank account. You can call the Secretary of State of the incoming state and see if they have this option. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any followup questions.

      reply
  6. Tom Lemon November 15, 2017

    Hi Matt,

    I filed both the “Application for Registration of Fictitious Name” and the “Certificate of Organization-Domestic Limited Liability Company” (in that order) for my new LLC. I fear filing both of these forms has created a conflict for naming the LLC. Can you tell me if these forms are at odds with each other? Do you know if there is a way to fix it if so?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz November 15, 2017

      Hey Tom, yes, this will cause an issue. I’d call the state (717-787-1057) and see if they can cancel the Fictitious Name registration. You want your Fictitious Name owned by your LLC, correct? What is the reason you are filing a Fictitious Name? Would you be able to provide the name of both your LLC and Fictitious Name? Feel free to send an email if that’s better for you.

      reply
      • Tom Lemon November 15, 2017

        I thought that I had to request the name as a separate step prior to getting the LLC certification…but, realized too late that was incorrect. I called and they said I should wait for the requests to be processed and hopefully we could sort it out afterwards. I sent email to potentially help too. Thanks for your assistance. Your website is a great resource.

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz November 15, 2017

          Hey Tom, I understand. A lot of people think they need to do that (reserve a name ahead of time). That’s not the case and it’s unfortunate that there are a lot of websites that mislead people on that step (it mostly has to do with them trying to charge for unnecessary services). Keep me posted once you hear back. They’ll likely reject one of the filings and give you your money back. But do just reach back out once you hear from them. I’ll help you straighten it out.

          reply
          • Tom Lemon November 20, 2017

            Hi Matt,

            Not sure it was through correspondence or luck but, the Fictitious Name request was rejected while the LLC request was accepted. Looks like I’m down the $70 fee but, the end result was good. Thanks for your help.

            reply
            • Matt Horwitz November 22, 2017

              Hey Tom, that’s great news! Try calling the state after the Thanksgiving holiday and ask for a refund for the $70 filing fee.

              reply
  7. susan November 28, 2017

    Hi Matt,
    I filed for a LLC. I have not received conformation yet. But today, I received a paper from labor poster services telling me I need to purchase a poster for compliance. This is a dog training, and I will not be hiring employees. It will just be me. Do I need to purchase this?
    Thank you in advance.
    Susan

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz November 29, 2017

      Hi Susan, the short answer is that it’s a bogus letter and you can throw it away. If you flip over the letter and look at the fine print, it’ll say somewhere that the letter is a solicitation and that the company is not affiliated with the actual state government. These letters are borderline scams as they trick people into purchasing something that they don’t need, and that they can actually get for free in most instances.

      reply
  8. Aaron P January 2, 2018

    I applied for an EIN October, 2017, with a name I want to use for an LLC.
    I am looking to do an online clothing with 4 brand names; when I did the EIN, one of the brand name I will be using as the trade name. Will this confuse things when I a) file for the LLC, and then I am assuming the name
    that I put on the EIN as the trading name, I will need to do a ficitious name for that is the other three once the LLC is approved?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 2, 2018

      Hey Aaron, you’re supposed to form the LLC first, then obtain an EIN. I’ll help you straighten things out, but have some questions. Do you want to do business under one, or all of your brand names, or will you simply just have 4 brands/clothing lines owned by your LLC? You only need to file a Fictitious Name registration if you’ll be doing business under a name different than your LLC name.

      reply
  9. Jason S January 3, 2018

    Hi Matt, just found your website today while researching to set up an LLC in PA. What a great resource! I already have a federal EIN/Tax ID that I’ve used as a freelancer/on my personal taxes for several years, and my accountant said if I create a new LLC (for a film production), I would not need a new EIN, and would just use my existing one. But reading through the comments here, I noticed new EIN’s are sometimes required. I don’t want to have a misstep while creating the LLC, is it possible you could verify if my current EIN would work for the new LLC (operating as a passthrough)? Also, would I then be able to create a separate bank account for the business with this existing EIN? Thanks for your time! Jason

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 15, 2018

      Hi Jason, apologies for the slow reply. Yes, your accountant is correct. You can use the existing EIN (which you obtained as a Sole Proprietorship) if you will be operating as a single-member LLC, which that seems to be the case. Also, you can only use this EIN if you do not have employees. You will need to mail a letter to the IRS though letting them know about the reassignment. Some people find it easier to cancel your EIN then get a new one for the LLC. Either way works though. Hope that helps!

      reply
  10. GB January 4, 2018

    Matt, just wanted to thank you for this wonderful website. You helped me make my decision to not choose DE/NV/WY as states to incorporate since I will be operating in a different state and paying extra fees and keeping track of other state requirements are totally not worth the basic income my LLC will potentially make. The other popular websites had totally confused me. Regards!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 15, 2018

      Hey GB! Apologies for my slow reply. That is great to hear. So happy we were able to help :)

      reply
  11. Tezarah January 5, 2018

    Hi Matt!
    I have filed and received my LLC, but I don’t yet have a bank account for the business. Is the fictitious name paperwork necessary to open a business bank account? Is that different from a DBA? Being a small business is associated with so many costs and I don’t want to put out money I don’t have to because I’m not clear on things. My business name is Wilkins Realty LLC. I filed through legal zoom but didn’t check the fictitious name box. Will I have to do the additional $70 paperwork or can I just open the bank account in the business name?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 15, 2018

      Hi Tezarah, apologies for the slow reply. Yes, a DBA is called a Fictitious Name in Pennsylvania. But no, it’s not required to open a bank account, unless you wanted to do business under a different name besides Wilkins Realty LLC. Since you will just operate under the name Wilkins Realty LLC and open your bank account in that same name, the DBA is unnecessary. Hope that helps!

      reply
  12. Alex Ramirez January 11, 2018

    Hey after hours of searching on the web, your website was the best. I found the information I needed quick and easy to understand thank you!!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 15, 2018

      Thank you so much for the awesome comment Alex!! It means a lot. Happy to hear we were able to help :)

      reply
  13. Ron Davis January 12, 2018

    Sincerely Appreciate the info! How can someone support your endeavors?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 15, 2018

      Ron, you’re welcome!! Thank you so much. That’s very kind of you. Best form of repayment is word of mouth. The next time you hear of someone forming an LLC, just tell them about LLC University :) Thank you again!

      reply
  14. Jacky Humphrey January 15, 2018

    Hi, My son and daughter are preparing to start an LLC, however my daughter is apprehensive about putting her name on documents because her 6yr old son receives disability SSI, and she also works a job. She’s afraid they will remove him because she will be making too much extra money.

    What can I tell her?

    They you for your excellent information, I have told many about your University.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 15, 2018

      Hi Jack, quite easy in PA actually, since LLC Members are not listed on the Certificate of Organization. Have your son be the LLC Organizer, so just his name will be on the Certificate of Organization. Then have him sign a Statement of LLC Organizer appointing himself and your daughter as the LLC Members. Also have both of them sign an LLC Operating Agreement. Both the Statement of LLC Organizer and the Operating Agreement are “internal documents”, meaning, they are not sent to the state. Hope that helps. And thanks for spreading the good news!

      reply
  15. DAVID R FEENEY January 31, 2018

    Matt, me and my partner have an LLC in PA. We are the only 2 members. Our LLC has no expenses or profits since beginning in 2014. My partner and I no longer work together, and I would like to amend the LLC so that I am the sole remaining member. Is this possible, and how would I do this?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 3, 2018

      Hi David, you can certainly do so, but you should have a contract drawn up showing your partner stepping down and selling their interest to you. We don’t have something like this available yet. You’ll also need to have him go to the bank and remove himself as a signer (if applicable). You’ll also need to send a letter to the IRS requesting your LLC no longer be taxed as a Partnership and be taxed as a Sole Proprietorship. You may also need to contact the PA Department of Revenue regarding the change. Let me suggest an easier route. Form a new LLC for yourself and then dissolve the old LLC. Things will be “cleaner” this way.

      reply
  16. DAVID R FEENEY February 3, 2018

    Thanks for your advice, Matt! Sounds reasonable.

    However, the 2nd new LLC cannot have the same name as the first LLC, is that correct?

    Regardless, thanks so much for your response.

    PS: Matt, I thought your name was familiar. We formed our LLC using LLC UNIVERSITY in March, 2016! I took your online course materials, and was very happy with your service.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 12, 2018

      Hi David, that’s awesome to hear! In your case, the 2nd new LLC can have the same identical name of the 1st LLC, as long as that 1st LLC plans on dissolving (being shut down) or plans on changing it’s name (via filing an amended Certificate of Organization). Also, the 1st LLC needs to sign a Consent to Appropriation of Name Form (DSCB:19-17.2). In you situation, if you’re going to shut down the 1st LLC, you’d check off “About to cease to do business” in #5. Hope that helps!

      reply
  17. Alina February 4, 2018

    I am operating now as Sole Proprietor and have my business name registered as DBA. I want to “move” to LLC. I am not sure yet if I will have employees yet, but is better to file for a new EIN if I may hire someone one day? Do I have to cancel the DBA in order to receive the same name for LLC? I hope my questions make sense.
    Thank you for all your information.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 9, 2018

      Hi Alina, it’s better to file for a new EIN (after the LLC is approved) to keep your records cleaner (regardless if you hire or not). No, you don’t have to cancel the DBA in order to form an LLC under the identical name (only difference will be “LLC” at the end). Here is the order you’ll want to go about it. Pretty much ignore the existing DBA (for now). Form a new LLC using the identical name, but adding “LLC” at the end. After LLC is approved, get a new EIN for the LLC. Then just start running and operating your PA LLC. When you file your 2018 taxes (in April 2019) for your Sole Proprietorship/DBA, on the schedule that lists your Sole Proprietorship/DBA, tell your accountant to mark the return as final. Then later in 2019, cancel the EIN for the DBA. And then cancel the DBA itself with the state by filing a Cancellation of Fictitious Name. But there is no rush on the DBA Cancellation form. You can just do it next year after you file your final return. If helpful, we have additional information on moving from a DBA to an LLC here: convert Sole Proprietorship to LLC. Hope that helps.

      reply
  18. alan February 22, 2018

    Hi Matt,

    Great site – reading all your responses to the previous questions and I learned a lot!

    I previously had an LLC in NJ (now dissolved) and I remember when wording the business purpose on initial filings, I was told I could have generic wording as the following:

    “The purpose of the Limited Liability Company is to engage in any lawful activity for which a Limited Liability Company may be organized in this state”

    I am now forming another LLC in PA and under which I would like to carry various business endeavors (event planning, food service, and other unrelated ventures).

    Q1: Can I use the same wording in the state of PA? If not, what would be acceptable wording to make the business purpose as general as possible?

    Q2: Based on my understanding on how fictitious names work (DBA), am I correct that the LLC can file a separate fictitious name for each different type of business venture?

    Thanks in advance!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 25, 2018

      Hey Alan, thanks! Glad to hear the comment section has been helpful :) 1.) Yes, PA LLC statutes allow for a general purpose. The Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization does not ask for the business purpose, but you can use the following language in the Docketing Statement: “Any and all lawful purposes for which an LLC may be organized under the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania”. 2.) Yes, you are correct. An LLC can register/own as many Fictitious Names as you’d like. In PA, the official name for a DBA is a Fictitious Name. You can find more info here: https://www.llcuniversity.com/pennsylvania-llc/fictitious-name/. Hope that helps.

      reply
  19. Lakshay March 26, 2018

    Hi,
    First I want to Thank you for an amazing site. Very clear steps.
    I have 1 question, I filed for my PA llc online last week. How long it takes for the approval?
    If it takes 3-4 weeks can I convert my filing to expedite?

    Thanks

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz March 26, 2018

      Hey Lakshay, thank you! When forming a Pennsylvania LLC online via PENN File, approval is 7-10 business days. However, most of the time, I’ve seen them approved faster. Hope that helps :)

      reply
  20. Ninan T April 17, 2018

    Hey, Thanks for setting this up.
    Good job and a neat presentation as well.
    A special Blessing on you.
    I have a Q.
    What happens to a dormant LLC and its taxations.
    I don’t have any at the moment.Asking for the sake of information.
    Thanks in Advance

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz April 17, 2018

      Hey Ninan, thanks :) You’re very welcome! In PA, you just have to the file the Decennial Report once every 10 years (in years ending in a “1”, example 2021). If there is no income or write offs, or credits or deductions to claim, you don’t have to file a return. So you can just leave the LLC “on the shelf” until you’re ready to use it. Hope that helps.

      reply
  21. Jon Marziale May 30, 2018

    couple questions: What does a dicennial report consist of: I filed all the paperwork for my LLC, and have the LLC started, and I sent in my documents to the IRS to become taxed as an S-Corp. What is my next step here? I filed the PA 100 as well as IRS form 2553, got my EIN and all, is there anything else I need to do with the State of PA or the IRS? Since I elected to be taxed as an S-corp, will there be more reports that I need to file other than the dicennial report? Appreciate any help.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz June 17, 2018

      Hi Jon, nope, those are all the LLC formation steps with the PA Bureau of Corporations. You can find more info on the Decennial Report and having an LLC taxed as an S-Corp here: Pennsylvania LLC Decennial Report and LLC taxed as S-Corp. Regarding your S-Corp taxation, you’ll need to speak with an accountant regarding proper filings federally and at the state level. Hope that helps!

      reply

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