Starting a Pennsylvania LLC
A Pennsylvania Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a legal business structure used to protect your personal assets (like your home, car, and personal 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).
1. LLC Name
Search your desired Pennsylvania LLC name to make sure it’s available for use.
Your name must be unique among the existing businesses registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State: Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
Use the Pennsylvania Business Entity Search to confirm that your LLC name is not already in use by another company.
Limited Liability Name Designator
Your LLC name must include a designator at the end. Pennsylvania law allows the following designators:
- LLC (most common)
- Limited Company
- Ltd. Liability Co.
- Limited Liability Co.
- Ltd. Liability Company
- Limited Liability Company
2. Registered Office
A Pennsylvania Registered Office is an official address on file with the Pennsylvania Department of State that is used for legal mail (called Service of Process).
Your Registered Office Address must be located in Pennsylvania. And it must be a street address. You can’t use a PO Box. Your Registered Office Address could be:
- home address
- office address
- friend or family member’s address, with their permission
- the address of a Registered Agent Service (also called a Commercial Registered Office Provider)
Benefit of using a Registered Agent Service: Your address will remain off public records for privacy.
If you want to hire a Registered Agent Service, we recommend 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
The Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization is the document you’ll file to officially create your LLC.
PA LLC filing fee: $125
Check out LLC Cost in Pennsylvania for more info on LLC fees.
LLC approval time: 7-10 business days.
Note: Filing times may take longer due to the current global situation and government delays. Please see how long does it take to get an LLC in Pennsylvania.
You can file by mail, or online (recommended).
You can file online using the PA Business One-Stop Hub (Keystone Login required).
File by mail
Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations
PO Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
What you get back
The Pennsylvania Department of State will send you a stamped and approved Certificate of Organization along with a Welcome Letter.
4. LLC Operating Agreement
The Pennsylvania Operating Agreement is where the owners (LLC Members) of the LLC are listed. This document governs how much each Member owns, how profits are split, how taxes are paid, and more.
Your Pennsylvania LLC Operating Agreement is an “internal document”. Meaning, you don’t need to send your Operating Agreement to any government agencies. Just keep it with your LLC business records.
If you have a Single-Member LLC in Pennsylvania, it’s still best practice to have an Operating Agreement for your LLC. The bank may ask for one when you go to open a business bank account for your LLC.
Pennsylvania LLC Operating Agreement template: We provide free Pennsylvania Operating Agreement templates for LLCs that you can download here: Pennsylvania LLC Operating Agreement.
5. Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)
A Pennsylvania EIN Number (aka Employer Identification Number) 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 in PA.
Common names: Federal Tax Number, Federal Employer Number, FEIN, Federal Tax ID Number, EIN, Federal Employer Identification Number. These all mean the same thing.
Wait for LLC approval: Only apply for an EIN after your Pennsylvania 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.
6. Decennial Report
Unlike most states which require an Annual Report, Pennsylvania LLCs don’t file an Annual Report. However, they may need to file a Pennsylvania LLC Decennial Report.
The purpose of the Pennsylvania Decennial Report is to keep the state updated with your LLC’s contact information.
Every 10 years (in years ending in “1”), the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations looks back over the past decade to see if your LLC has filed anything with their office. If it has, the LLC doesn’t owe a Decennial Report. If it hasn’t, the LLC owes a Decennial Report.
The most recent Decennial Report was due in 2021. The next Decennial Report will be due in 2031.
Exception – Restricted Professional Company: If you have a Restricted Professional Limited Liability Company (which is what Pennsylvania calls a PLLC), you need to file an Annual Report called the Certificate of Annual Registration.
The Certificate of Annual Registration must be received by the state by April 15th every year (beginning the year after your Restricted Professional LLC is approved). Restricted Professional Companies don’t need to file a Decennial Report.
7. Business Licenses and/or Permits
Your LLC might need a Pennsylvania Business License or other 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.
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.
Each company has unique Pennsylvania LLC Taxes requirements, but we can give you an overview of the Limited Liability Company tax situation.
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 Pennsylvania business taxes with the PA Department of Revenue, as well as your local municipality (ex: city, town, county, etc.).
9. LLC Business Bank Account
Open a bank account for your LLC to keep your personal and business assets separate. This helps maintain your liability protection.
Business debit card: Your bank will issue a debit card after you open the account.
Business credit card: You can also get a business credit card to earn points, miles, and other rewards.
When you go to open your business bank account, you’ll need to take your:
- Approved Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization
- EIN for your LLC
- Driver’s License
In addition to your Certificate of Organization and EIN number, some banks may require a copy of your Operating Agreement. We recommend calling your bank ahead of time to double-check which documents are required.
You should also shop around. Some banks charge monthly fees for a business bank account, but others don’t. Call a few banks in PA to compare your options.
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 set up 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 Department of State Contact Info
PA Department of State
PA Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
717-787-1057 (8:00am – 4:45pm, Monday to Friday)
How to Start an LLC in PA FAQs
The first benefit of a Pennsylvania LLC is protecting your personal assets. Meaning, if your business is sued, your personal assets – like your home, cars, and bank accounts – are protected.
This protection applies to all LLC owners (called LLC Members). It doesn’t matter if you have a Single-Member LLC or Multi-Member LLC. All of the LLC Members are protected from the business’s debts and liabilities.
With a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership, these types of informal business structures, the owners aren’t protected in the event of a lawsuit. For that reason, an LLC as a business entity is a much more common business structure than a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership.
Another benefit is LLC pass-through taxation.
This means the Pennsylvania LLC itself doesn’t pay federal income taxes. Instead, the profits “pass through” to the LLC Members. And the Members report and pay the taxes on their personal tax return.
To learn more, please see How are LLCs taxed.
That said, you may also need to pay for municipal or industry-specific licenses and permits, or get a state-level sales tax permit. The costs of business licenses and permits vary widely by municipality. Reach out to your local municipality if you have any questions about your LLC’s unique needs.
Other documents you may have read you’ll need – like an Operating Agreement or an EIN for your LLC – are free.
If you have an LLC formed in another state, but you want to conduct business in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to register that out-of-state LLC in Pennsylvania and pay the associated filing fee. This is known as a Foreign LLC registration.
You can find Foreign LLC fees on this page: Foreign LLC fees by state
Restricted Professional Companies (PLLCs)
A Restricted Professional Company is one that provides licensed professional services (like accounting, medical, or legal aid).
If you want to form a business entity that offers liability protection, but your business will be providing restricted professional services, you’ll need to form a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC).
You can get an LLC in Pennsylvania by filing online or by mail. We recommend filing your Certificate of Organization online because you don’t have to wait for your documents to be mailed back, so the approval time is faster.
And when you file your Pennsylvania LLC Certificate of Organization, you’ll need to list your Registered Agent’s address (called a “Registered Office Address”).
It’s important to note that the Registered Office Address on file becomes a part of the public record. Many people who prefer privacy and don’t want their home or office address listed publicly choose to hire a Commercial Registered Office Provider (Registered Agent Service).
[llcu-cta id="30369" label="Northwest - LLC - Special Offer 2 - RA" /]
Watch the video below for more details:
You may have heard that PLLCs file an Annual Registration and pay the corresponding annual registration fee each year.
However, regular LLCs only have to file paperwork once per decade. That filing is called the Decennial Report and its filing fee is $70.
Note: Limited Liability Companies that have submitted a filing in the past 10 years don’t have to file a Decennial Report for that decade.
Learn how to file a Fictitious Business name for a Pennsylvania LLC using our step-by-step guide: How to file a DBA in Pennsylvania.
A Registered Office Address, along with the Registered Agent’s name, goes on public records with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Your LLC’s business address (where you actually operate the business) can be different from the Registered Office Address.
However, the most important factors in deciding where to start a business are where you live and where you’re doing business.
Meaning, if you live in or do business in Pennsylvania, then you should start your business in Pennsylvania. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business.
For example, if you form an LLC in Wyoming, but live in and conduct business in Pennsylvania, you’ll also need to register your Wyoming LLC in Pennsylvania (and pay extra fees). And you’ll end up paying Pennsylvania taxes anyway. This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
In summary, if you live in and conduct business in Pennsylvania, then yes, Pennsylvania is a good state to start a business. If you don’t live in and do business in Pennsylvania, then no, Pennsylvania isn’t a good state to start a business.
For more information, please see Best state to form an LLC.
So when it’s time to file taxes, a Single-Member LLC just needs for the owner to report their LLC income – and pay taxes on that income – using their Form 1040 personal tax return.
And Multi-Member LLCs will report their income to the IRS on Form 1065. But the owners will pay the taxes owed on that income using their 1040 personal tax return.