Last updated April 26, 2021

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Pennsylvania LLC
Certificate of Organization

Quick Start Guide
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 to save time?
Hire a professional to form your LLC in Pennsylvania:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

★ Check out Northwest vs LegalZoom

How to form an LLC in Pennsylvania (File the Certificate of Organization & Docketing Statement)

In this lesson, you will learn how to file your Pennsylvania LLC with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations.

The Pennsylvania LLC filing consists of two documents:

  • Certificate of Organization
  • Docketing Statement

Once approved, these two documents officially create your Pennsylvania LLC.

Pennsylvania LLC Department of State Bureau of Corporations
(Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Corporations Building)

After completing the Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement, you can submit it to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations in 1 of 3 ways:

  1. Online: the LLC filing fee is $125 and your LLC will be approved in 7-10 business days.
  2. By mail: the LLC filing fee is $125 and your LLC will be approved in 7-10 business days.
  3. Walk-in: this requires an expedited fee in addition to the $125 LLC filing fee. This is the state’s only expedited filing option. The expedited fee goes up depending on how fast you need your LLC approval.

• For an extra $100: same-day approval (must be received by 10am)
• For an extra $300: 3-hour approval (must be received by 2pm)
• For an extra $1,000: 1-hour approval (must be received by 4pm)

Tip: Most people who do the walk-in filing, choose the $100 expedited option and arrive shortly after they open at 8am.

Walk-in filings are not available. As of late-2020, walk-in filings are no longer available. We’ll update this lesson once the state re-opens walk-in filings.

Note: The “LLC filing fee” (the fee to create a Pennsylvania LLC) is the same thing as the “Certificate of Organization fee”. The Certificate of Organization is the document that, once approved by the Bureau of Corporations, creates your Pennsylvania LLC.

LLC University® recommendation

If you don’t need your LLC approved the same-day, we recommend filing online.

If you’re not very “tech-comfortable”, we recommend filing by mail.

If you need your LLC formed right away, we recommend the walk-in filing (if you’re willing to drive to Harrisburg).

LLC University® prior lessons

Before filing your Pennsylvania LLC documents with the state, make sure you have read the two prior lessons:

Feel free to skip to the applicable section:

File online
File by mail
Walk-in filing

Need to save time? Hire a professional to form your LLC in Pennsylvania:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)

You need a Keystone Login to file a Pennsylvania LLC online

In order to file a Pennsylvania LLC online, you must create a Keystone Login.

(If you already have a Keystone Login and a PENN File account, simply login.)

Prior to Keystone Login, the old method of online filing was to just have a PENN File account. Since May 29, 2020, Pennsylvania now requires everyone to create a Keystone Login.

Create a Keystone Login

  1. Visit PA Business One-Stop Hub
  2. Click “Register” on the right
  3. Create a username and password (if you have a PENN File login, don’t use that here)
  4. Enter your contact information
  5. Create security questions
  6. Click “Submit”

The system should send you back to the registration page with a “Keystone Login registration successful” message at the top (it’s a small green bar).

You can’t login just yet. You need to check your email and click the verification link. You’re going to get 2 emails from the state, but only one includes the “click here to verify your email address” message.

After you click the verification link, you’ll be sent back to the PA Business One-Stop Hub page.

Click the “here to Login” link and login with your new Keystone Login.

We recommend using 1Password to organize and save your passwords. Our team uses it and it saves a lot of time.

Choose the purpose of your visit

After logging in, if you see a pop-up message that says “choose the purpose of your visit”, select “Business Owner“.

You will now see the Welcome page for PA Business One-Stop.

Click the “PENN File” icon at the top left:

Pennsylvania LLC PENN File icon

You should see the following message:

Pennsylvania LLC Connect PENN File to Keystone Login

If you don’t have a PENN File account:

  • Click “Sign up now” (under the login fields).
  • Most of your contact information should be auto-filled.
  • You just need to enter your address.
  • Click “Register” at the bottom.
  • There won’t be a “success message”. Instead, you’ll see “My Dashboard” at the top, which means, you are now inside of your PENN File (and your PENN File account is automatically connected to your Keystone Login)
  • You can go to the Penn File instructions below and begin filing your Pennsylvania LLC online.

If you already have a PENN File account:

You need to login one final time with your PENN File username and password. Once you login to PENN File, the system will automatically synchronize your PENN File account to your new Keystone Login.

It’s a little confusing: After you login to PENN File, you won’t get any success message that lets you know your PENN File account and Keystone Login are synchronized. However, you will see “My Dashboard” and you will be logged into your PENN File account. If you see that, it means PENN FIle and Keystone Login have been successfully synchronized.

Note: You won’t use your PENN File login again since the accounts are now synchronized. You’ll only use your Keystone Login moving forward.

In the PENN File Dashboard, you’ll see this message regarding your email address:

Pennsylvania LLC PENN File email

If that is a good email address:
Then there’s nothing else you need to do. You can begin filing your LLC online.

If you want to change that email address:
Click “EDIT ACCOUNT“, update your information, and then click “Update”. You’ll be taken back to the PENN File Dashboard and if you see your old email address listed in the blue box, you can ignore this message (it’s a software bug). Your new email address was successfully saved.

File your Pennsylvania LLC online (Certificate of Organization & Docketing Statement)

After you are successfully logged into Keystone Login and then PENN File, you’ll be on the “My Dashboard” page.

Let’s get started:

  • Scroll down to the “Start or Manage Business Filings” section.
  • Click “Domestic Limited Liability Company” (links will appear below after you click).
  • Click “Certificate of Organization – Domestic Limited Liability Company (8821)“.

Veteran

Veterans and Active Reservists, thank you for your service! If you are a United States Veteran or Active Reservist, your PA LLC filing is free.

Check off the box and select which form or ID you’ll use for proof:

  • Federal DD-214 Form
  • Federal NGB-22 Form
  • A valid Federal Veterans Administration Card
  • A valid Department of Defense-issued Military Identification Card

Note: You will need to upload a copy of your Form or ID in the “Attachments” section. We’ll discuss this further below.

Warning: You will be held liable for a third-degree misdemeanor if you commit any of the following:

  1. Fraudulently obtain the Veteran/Reservist filing fee exemption.
  2. Assign, transfer, or attempt to assign or transfer a business filing fee exemption.
  3. Use or attempt to use a business filing fee exemption in any manner contrary to Act 135.

Search

The name of the limited liability company:

Enter your desired Pennsylvania LLC name:

  • Don’t enter the designator (LLC, L.L.C., LTD, etc.).
  • Use your preferred capitalization.

Comma: Your LLC name can use a comma if you want or you can leave it out. For example, both “ABC Widgets, LLC” and “ABC Widgets LLC” are acceptable. If you’re going to use a comma, enter your LLC name as “ABC Widgets,”.

Designator:

Select your preferred designator from the drop down menu. As per Section 204, Pennsylvania law allows for the following designators:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • Ltd (or Ltd.)
  • LTD (or LTD.)
  • Limited
  • Co (or Co.)
  • Company
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company

Tip: If you’re not sure which designator to choose, “LLC” is the most common and easily recognizable. “LLC” is what most people choose.

Search:

Click the blue “Search” button to do a preliminary search and see if your LLC name is available.

It’s confusing: If your LLC name is available, it will appear below in red text. This is pretty confusing because we think it should be green text.

If your LLC name is available:

You’ll see a “Name Availability Disclaimer” at the bottom and a message that begins with “The name sought appears to be available at this time.

While this message may not instill confidence, it means your LLC name is available and you can proceed to the next step. Click “Save and Continue”.

If your LLC name is not available:

You’ll see a “Name is not currently available.” You’ll need to select “I want to select a different name” and then click “Save and Continue” to reset the name search.

Written consent: This message means that you can’t use your LLC name since it’s the same (or too similar) to an existing business name in Pennsylvania. And in order to use that name, you need a signed Consent to Appropriation of Name from the company and that company needs to change its name or be going out of business. It’s extremely rare to get such a consent letter, so we recommend coming up with a different LLC name or using a unique variation of your current name.

Business Details (Registered Office)

(a) Initial Registered Office

Select this option (and enter the address) if your Pennsylvania Registered Office address will be any of the following:

  • your home
  • your office
  • a friend’s address
  • a family member’s address
  • another street address, like a UPS mailbox address

Remember: PO Boxes are not allowed and the address must be a street address located in Pennsylvania.

(b) Commercial Registered Office Provider

Select this option if you hired a Commercial Registered Agent, aka “Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP)”.

After selecting (b), wait 10 seconds for the page to refresh (the address fields will disappear and two drop-down menus will appear).

Name: Select your Commercial Registered Agent from the drop down menu.

County: Select the county where your Commercial Registered Agent’s address is located. This should be available in the account/login you have with your Registered Agent. If you can’t find this information, you’ll need to call or email them.

Recommendation: If you need to hire a Commercial Registered Agent, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent. If you choose this option, you’ll need to sign up for their services before selecting them here in your online filing.

Once finished, click “Save and Continue”.

Organizer(s)

Organization Name

Choose this option if the LLC Organizer is an existing company.

Add the LLC Organizer’s name (the address fields are optional and can be left blank) and click “Add Organizer”.

Individual Name

Choose this option if the LLC Organizer is a person (wait a few seconds for the page to refresh).

Tip: If you are submitting your LLC filing yourself, you’ll choose this option.

Add the LLC Organizer’s name (the address fields are optional and can be left blank) and click “Add Organizer”.

You are only required to have 1 Organizer on file, but if you’d like to add another Organizer, enter their information and click “Add Organizer”.

Once finished, click “Save and Continue”.

Form Questions

Effective date of Certification of Organization:

“The Certification of organization shall be effective upon filing in the Dept. of State.”
If you’d like your LLC to go into existence on the date it is approved by the state, select this option.

“The Certification of organization shall be effective on (month date year hour, if any)”
If you’d like your LLC to go into existence on a future date, select this option and choose the date using the calendar button to the right. Don’t worry about what time you choose; it’s not very important.

Tip: There is no limit on how far into the future you can make the date, but you cannot back-date your filing.

Should I make my LLC effective on a future date?

If you’re forming your LLC later in the year (ex: October, November, or December), but you don’t need your LLC open right away, you can forward date your filing to January 1st of the following year. This can save you the hassle of reporting and filing taxes for those months of no activity.

If you need your LLC open right away, then we recommend choosing the first option (“effective upon filing”).

Note: If you forward-date your LLC filing, you won’t be able to open an LLC bank account until your LLC goes into existence.

Restricted Professional Company (aka Professional LLC or PLLC)

“The company is a restricted professional company organized to render the following restricted professional service(s):”

If you’re forming a regular LLC (which most filers are), select “Not Applicable” (and wait for the page to refresh).

If you’re licensed by the state and your LLC will engage in any of the professions listed below, select “Applicable” and then select an option from the secondary drop down menu.

  • Chiropractic
  • Dentistry
  • Law
  • Medicine and surgery
  • Optometry
  • Osteopathic medicine and surgery
  • Podiatric medicine
  • Public accounting
  • Psychology
  • Veterinary medicine

Important: As per Section 8998 (of Title 15), Professional LLCs in Pennsylvania are required to file a Certificate of Annual Registration each year (due before April 15th) and pay a $560 annual fee (per Member). This is mandatory for PLLCs and if not filed, will result in penalties and fines. The state will also place a lien on the company’s assets.

Also, in the “Attachments” section of your filing, you will need to upload a copy of each LLC Member’s professional state license.

Benefit Company LLC

“This limited liability company shall have the purpose of creating general public benefit:”

If you are forming a regular LLC (which most people are), select “Not Applicable” (and wait for the page to refresh).

If you are forming a Benefit Company LLC, select “Applicable”. Then enter the purpose of the Benefit Company in the box that appears below. Benefit Companies fall under Section 8892 of Title 15 and are companies that are created to have a positive impact on society and the environment.

Once you’re finished with the Form Questions section, click “Save and Continue”.

Docketing Statement (individual responsible for tax returns)

What is a Docketing Statement?

A Docketing Statement is a form that registers your LLC with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

After the Department of Revenue receives the Docketing Statement, they will assign and mail your LLC a Revenue ID Number. This will arrive 2-4 weeks after your LLC is approved.

Name:

Enter the name and address of an LLC Member. This person will be responsible for any Pennsylvania tax returns for the LLC.

Tip: After your LLC is approved, we recommend speaking to an accountant (or a few) about what returns may need to be filed for your business. We cannot answer this for you as different returns need to be filed depending on your LLC’s business activity and how it makes money.

Address:

Enter a mailing address for this person. This address doesn’t have to be the same address as your Registered Office. It’s best to use whatever address is the most reliable address for receiving important mail.

FEIN [Employer Identification Number/Federal Tax Identification Number]:

The fact that the state is asking for an EIN (aka FEIN) can be really confusing, since your LLC shouldn’t have an EIN until after it is approved.

We recommend entering “applied for“.

After your LLC is approved, you can apply for an EIN from the IRS:

Description of Business Activity:

Enter a detailed description or a complete sentence about the initial purpose of your business.

Don’t worry, you aren’t going to be forced to do this forever. You also don’t need to update the state if this changes in the future.

However, you have to be specific for this initial purpose.

If you list a general statement (ex: “any lawful purpose” or “general purpose”) or something really vague, the state will reject your LLC filing.

Here are some examples of descriptive business purposes:

  • Real estate investing
  • Coffee shop and cafe
  • Online retail and eCommerce
  • To offer online coaching and digital products
  • To operate and manage a food truck in Pittsburgh
  • Technology company offering IT and web development services

Once finished, click “Save and Continue”.

Attachments

Tip: Most filers don’t need to upload Attachments to their LLC filing.

If you need to upload any attachments though, click “Choose File” to

Documents can only be uploaded in the following format:

  • PDF
  • TIFF
  • TIF

Note: You cannot upload PNG, JPG, JPEG, or any image files. You’ll need to first convert them to PDF before uploading.

Veterans/Active Reservist:
Please upload a copy of your document or ID.

Restricted Professional Company (aka Professional LLC):
Please upload a copy of the LLC Members’ professional license.

Once finished, click “Save and Continue”.

Declaration & Signatures

If your LLC Organizer is a person:
The date and your electronic signature will be auto-filled.

If your LLC Organizer is a company:
The date will be auto-filled, but a person will need to electronically sign their name on behalf of their company. Click “Update Signature”.

Click “Review Filing” to proceed.

Review

Double-check all your information for accuracy and check for any typos. If you need to make any changes, click the “Edit” buttons. Once ready, click “Proceed to Cart” at the bottom. Then on the next page, click “Checkout”.

Tip: If you see an error message that says “We’re sorry – something has gone wrong on our end”, this is usually because PENN File is open in more than 1 browser tab. Close out all PENN File tabs except for the one you are trying to checkout with. Then click the “shopping cart” at the top menu and try checking out again.

Enter your credit/debit card information and the billing address associated with your card. Then click the “Make Payment” button to electronically submit your filing.

You will be redirected back to PENN File and see this message:

Payment successful PENN File

Congratulations, your PA LLC has been submitted to the state for processing! Now you just need to wait for your LLC to be approved by the state.

There is nothing else you need to do on PENN File. You can close the browse tab/window.

Don’t be tricked by the confusing “approval” messages from the state

The first email from the state (arrives right after payment is made)

Right after you pay, you’ll get an email from the state that says something along the lines of “This order is now complete. Transaction approved!

Your LLC wasn’t approved yet. It was just your payment that successfully went through.

You need to wait for the official approval email.

“My Completed Business Filings”

In the PENN File Dashboard, you will see your LLC filing under “My Completed Business Filings” with a “Download Filing”:

My completed business filings PENN File

Your LLC was not approved yet. If you click “Download Filing”, it’s just a copy of what you sent the state (not your LLC approval).

You need to wait for the official approval email.

Pennsylvania LLC Approval (Online Filing):

After filing your PA LLC online, the state will approve it in 7-10 business days. The state will send you an email with two download links.

One will be your Acknowledgement Letter and the other will be your stamped and approved Certificate of Organization (“Filing”).

The email will look like this:

Pennsylvania LLC approval email

You can ignore the “Please click on this link to download” and the Key and the Passcode.

Instead, just click the “Acknowledgement” link to download your Acknowledgement Letter. This is not an important document (it’s not a part of your official LLC approval). It’s more like a “Welcome Letter”.

Click the “Filing” link to download your stamped and approved Certificate of Organization. This is your official LLC approval. We recommend saving a copy on your computer and printing one out too. The links in this email only last for 30 days, so if you lose your approved Certificate of Organization, you’ll need to order a copy from the state, which costs $40. So keep this document in a safe place. Again, the stamped and approved Certificate of Organization is your official Pennsylvania LLC approval document.

TIF vs PDF

You may notice that the Acknowledgement is a PDF file, but your stamped and approved Certificate of Organization is a TIF file.

This is a little bit annoying, since TIF files are not as common as PDFs. We recommend converting your TIF file to a PDF file.

On Windows 10, you can double-click the TIF file to open it. Then press ‘ctrl + p’ on your keyboard. The print option window will appear. From the “Printer” option, choose “Microsoft Print to PDF” from the drop down list. Then select your paper size (Letter), check off the box for “Fit Picture to Frame”, and then click “Print”. Choose where you want to save the PDF file on your computer and then click “Save”.

On MacOS, you can open the TIF file with Preview. Then in the Preview menu > click File > hold the ‘option’ key on your keyboard > select Save As, and then save the TIF file as a PDF file.

Note: If you have a different operating system, you can search google for “convert tiff to pdf” and use a free online conversion tool.

A copy of your approval documents will also arrive in the mail

You’ll also receive a duplicate copy in the mail about a week or two after you get the email.

It’ll be a printed copy of your Acknowledgement Letter and your stamped and approved Certificate of Organization.

Letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (with Revenue ID Number)

You’ll also receive a Welcome Letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. This letter arrives 2-4 weeks after your LLC is approved.

This letter will include your Pennsylvania Revenue ID Number. This is a unique 10-digit number that is separate from your LLC’s Federal Tax ID Number (which we’ll discuss in another lesson). Your LLC’s Revenue ID Number identifies your LLC with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Next Step:
Click this link to jump down to the next step.


Instructions for Filing Pennsylvania LLC Certificate of Organization & Docketing Statement by Mail

We will first walk you through filling out the Certificate of Organization and then we will walk you through the Docketing Statement.

Remember, it’s these two forms that form your Pennsylvania LLC.

Download the Certificate of Organization

Pennsylvania LLC Certificate of Organization:
Form DSCB: 15-8821

Note: You can print the form, fill it out by hand (use a black pen), then sign; or, you can type in the form on your computer, then print and sign. When printing, use regular white paper (8.5″ x 11″). The state prefers the form be typewritten instead of handwritten.

Instructions on pages 3 and 4:
We recommend reading the state’s instructions on pages 3 and 4 in addition to our instructions below.

Return document by:

  • If you want your document returned by mail, check off the first box and enter your mailing address. This address doesn’t have to match the rest of the filing. The address can be located in any state.
  • If you want your document returned by email, check off the second box and enter your email address.

Free LLC Filing for Veterans and Reservists:

Pennsylvania LLCs are free for Veterans or Reservists. You’ll need to verify your status with a form or ID and check off this box.

Please see instructions here: Pennsylvania LLC is free for Veterans.

If you are not a Veteran or Reservist, leave this box unchecked.

1. The name of the limited liability company is:

Enter your Pennsylvania LLC name exactly as you would like it, including your preferred capitalization, as well as the designator.

Pennsylvania law allows use of the following designators, which must be included at the end of your LLC name:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • LTD
  • Ltd.
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Limited
  • Company
  • Co.

Tip: Most filers choose the “LLC” designator.

Comma: You can use a comma in your Pennsylvania LLC name or you can leave it out. For example, “ABC Widgets, LLC” and “ABC Widgets LLC” are both acceptable.

Reminder: The #1 reason Pennsylvania LLC filings are rejected is because the name is not available. Make sure to review the Pennsylvania LLC Name search lesson before proceeding.

2. Registered Office Address

Please make sure you have read our Pennsylvania Registered Agent lesson before completing this section of the form.

Complete section 2a only (leave 2b blank) if you are using any of the following as your Registered Office:

  • your home
  • your office
  • a friend’s address
  • a family member’s address
  • another street address, like a UPS mailbox address

Then enter their street address and county on line 2a.

Complete section 2b only (leave 2a blank) if you hired a Commercial Registered Agent (aka Commercial Registered Office Provider or CROP).

The state has all Commercial Registered Agent addresses on file, so you only need to enter the name of the company you hired and the county in which they are located. If you’re not sure what county they are located in, please call or email them.

Remember: PO Boxes are not allowed.

Recommendation: If you need to hire a Commercial Registered Agent, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).

Important: You must hire a Commercial Registered Agent first before listing them in your Certificate of Organization. Otherwise, you could be held civilly and/or criminally liable.

3. The name of each organizers is

Enter the name of your LLC’s Organizer in this section.

Your LLC only needs to have 1 Organizer, however, you can list multiple Organizers if you’d like.

4. Effective date of Certificate of Organization

If you want your Certificate of Organization to be effective upon filing with the Pennsylvania Department of State, then check off the 1st box. This means your LLC will go into existence on the date it is approved by the state.

If you want your LLC to go into existence at a later date, then check off the 2nd box and enter that future date. There is no limit on how far into the future you can make this date, but you cannot back-date this.

Tip: If you’re forming your LLC late in the year (between August and December), but you don’t need your LLC open right away, you can forward date your filing to January 1st of the following year. This can save you the hassle of reporting and filing taxes for those months of no activity. For more information, please see LLC effective date.

5. Restricted professional companies only

If you are forming a regular LLC (which most people are), leave this section blank.

If you are licensed by the state (Chiropractic, Dentistry, Law, Medicine and surgery, Optometry, Osteopathic medicine and surgery, Podiatric medicine, Public accounting, Psychology, or Veterinary medicine), your need to form a Professional LLC (PLLC) and you need to check off the respective box.

Important: As per Title 15, Section 8998, Professional LLCs (PLLCs) in PA are required to file a Certificate of Annual Registration each year and pay an annual fee for each member. This is mandatory for PLLCs and if not filed, will result in penalties and fines.

6. Benefit companies only

If you are forming a regular LLC (which most people are), leave this section blank.

If you are forming a Benefit Company LLC, please check off the respective box. Benefit Companies fall under Section 8892 of Title 15 and are companies created to have a positive impact on society and the environment.

7. Additional provisions

This section lets you know that you can add attachments if you need to include additional provisions to your LLC.

Most people leave this blank except for Veterans, Active Reservists, and those forming a Professional LLC.

Veterans/Active Reservist:
Please include a copy of your document or ID when mailing your documents to the state.

Restricted Professional Company (aka Professional LLC):
Please include a copy of the LLC Members’ professional license when mailing your documents to the state.

Date and Signature

Enter today’s date and have anyone’s name that is listed in #3 (Organizer) sign here.

Your Certificate of Organization is now ready for filing, but you also need to complete a Docketing Statement.

Download the Docketing Statement

Pennsylvania LLC Docketing Statement:
Form DSCB: 15-134A

Note: The Docketing Statement gets forwarded to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and they will create a Revenue ID Number for your LLC. Your LLC’s Revenue ID Number will arrive by mail 2-4 weeks after your LLC is approved.

1. Entity Name

Enter the name of your LLC exactly as you entered it in your Certificate of Organization.

2. Tax Responsible Party

Enter the name and address of an LLC Member. This person will be responsible for any Pennsylvania tax returns for the LLC.

Tip: After your LLC is approved, we recommend speaking to an accountant (or a few) about what returns may need to be filed for your business. We cannot answer this for you as different returns need to be filed depending on your LLC’s business activity and how it makes money.

3. Description of Business Activity

Enter a detailed description or a complete sentence about the initial purpose of your business.

Don’t worry, you aren’t going to be forced to do this forever. You also don’t need to update the state if this changes in the future.

However, you have to be specific for this initial purpose.

If you list a general statement (ex: “any lawful purpose” or “general purpose”) or something really vague, the state will reject your LLC filing.

Here are some examples of descriptive business purposes:

  • Real estate investing
  • Coffee shop and cafe
  • Online retail and eCommerce
  • To offer online coaching and digital products
  • To operate and manage a food truck in Pittsburgh
  • Technology company offering IT and web development services

4. FEIN [Employer Identification/Federal Tax ID Number]

The fact that the state is asking for an EIN (aka FEIN) can be really confusing, since your LLC shouldn’t have an EIN until after it is approved.

We recommend leaving this section blank and writing “applied for” below where the number would go.

After your LLC is approved, you can apply for an EIN from the IRS:

5. FYE [Tax Year or Fiscal Year End]

For accounting and tax purposes, most businesses run on the “calendar year”, which is January 1st to December 31st.

If that’s the same for your LLC, you can enter “12/31” (don’t enter a year).

If your business runs on a different fiscal year, please enter that fiscal year end date instead.

Note: this form does not require a signature. You’re now ready to mail your documents to the state.

Prepare your $125 payment

Prepare a check or money order for $125.

Make it payable to “Pennsylvania Department of State”.

Check must have a name and address:
If you are paying with a personal check, it must have a pre-printed name and address on it. If not, the state will reject it. If your checks don’t have this, you’ll need to use a money order. Also, the state doesn’t care whose name is on the check or what the address is. They just need someone’s name and someone’s address on the check.

Mail your documents

Mail your completed Certificate of Organization, Docketing Statement, and $125 LLC filing fee to:

PA Department of State
Bureau of Corporations
PO Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722

Tip: You can send these documents via regular USPS mail, or you can send them via UPS or FedEx for a slightly faster approval time.

Congratulations, your Pennsylvania LLC has been mailed to the state for processing! Now you just need to wait for approval.

Pennsylvania LLC approval time by mail

The state will approve your LLC in 7-10 business days.

The state will send back a stamped and approved copy of your Certificate of Organization along with a Welcome Letter.

These documents will arrive by mail or email, depending on what you checked off at the top of the Certificate of Organization form.

Video Instructions

Note: This is an older video that shows filing by mail only (no online filing). Both the Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement have since changed a little bit, but we are including this video as it still provides helpful information regarding how to form an LLC in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania LLC - Certificate of Organization
Video Transcript:
Welcome to the Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement video. A Limited Liability Company is a hybrid between a Partnership and Corporation. It provides the liability protection of a corporation with the “pass-through” tax advantages similar to those of Partnerships and Sole Proprietorships. In order to form your LLC, a Certificate of Organization must be filed with the Corporation Bureau, accompanied by a Docketing Statement. A Docketing Statement is a 1-page document which ask a few simple questions such as: what type of entity your business is, what state it is located in, your business name, a brief description of your business’s activity, your desired fiscal year, and a few other questions. We will show you how to complete the Docketing Statement later in this video. Your desired business name must be available for use. Please make sure you have watched the Name Research video. An actual street address or rural route box must be used as the businesses address. A PO Box is not allowed. If you do not currently have an existing business address, the State of Pennsylvania allows you to use your home address as your business address. If you do not have an existing business address and you do not wish to use your home address, you can elect to use a Registered Agent, and you may then use their address on your Certificate of Organization. A Registered Agent may be someone whom you know, who lives in the State of Pennsylvania, and is allowing you to use their address for purposes of receiving your LLC’s mail. You can alternatively hire a company to act as your Commercial Registered Agent and they will then receive and forward your mail for you. Typical fees for commercial Registered Agents range between $100 – $350 per year. We have included a link below this video to Northwest Registered Agent. We have heard many great things from our clients about their excellent customer service and their annual fee is between $100-$125 per year, depending on how many years you sign up for. There will be a few items to think about and have ready prior to completing your Certificate of Organization. No. 1: The address where you would like the approved Certificate of Organization sent back to. No. 2: Whether you will be using a business address, your home address, or the address of a Registered Agent. No. 3: The names and addresses of the organizer (organizers). The organizers are simply the individual (or individuals) who filed a Certificate of Organization with the State. This would be yourself if you’re a Single-Member LLC (or you and your business partner or partners if you’re a Multi-Member LLC). No. 4: Whether your LLC will be “member managed” or “manager managed”. The State of Pennsylvania allows LLCs either be “member managed” (by the owners) of the LLC or “manager managed” (by an elected manager or managers). If this sounds confusing to you, then this section of the Certificate of Organization will not be applicable. It is more common to see “member managed” LLCs. If this is the case (and most likely will be), you will simply strike or cross out this section. We will show you where to do this later in the video. And No. 5: The date your business will start or the date your business was started. To form your LLC, the Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement are the only documents you will need to file with the State of Pennsylvania (the Operating Agreement and EIN which are in the upcoming Lessons do not go to the State of PA). Remember to include all 3 pages of the Certificate of Organization, the 1-page Docketing Statement, and your filing fee). The filing fee is $125. The $125 filing fee must be made payable to “Department of State”. In the next few slides, I will go over the accepted forms of payment that go along with your Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement. You can either send in a personal check or money order along with your Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement. Again, the $125 filing fee must be made payable to “Department of State”. If you are sending in a personal check, your check, you must have a printed name and address on it. Let’s take a look at a few examples. This check would not be accepted and your filing would simply be sent back because there is no name or address on the check. This check would be accepted because there’s a name and an address on the check. Note: the address must be printed. It cannot be handwritten. Also, the address does not have to be a Pennsylvania address or the address of the LLC. It can be an address from any state. You will notice that my checks do not have an address under my name. In this case, I need to use a money order. Here is an example of a money order that was used for a filing of mine. I have just blacked out my address for privacy, but you can see that it is made payable to “Department of State” for $125. After you mail your documents and the $125 filing fee to the State, you can expect to receive a stamped and approved Certificate of Organization within 7-10 business days (they keep the Docketing Statement). Until that point, do not order business cards, do not obtain your EIN (also known as the Federal Tax ID Number), do not register domain names, or start to use your LLC name until you receive approval from the State. If there are any errors with your filing or if your desired LLC name is not available, the State will simply send back your documentation (including your payment) along with instructions on what needs to be corrected. Here’s an example of a stamped and approved Certificate of Organization. You’ll notice it has the Entity Number and Date Filed at the top, the Approval Stamp in the center, and the Approval Date in the lower left. Once you receive this, your LLC is officially formed. Let’s get started filling out your Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement. You can access them from the “downloads” section in this Lesson and from there, you can either print them out or download and save them to your computer. Here is the Certificate of Organization which you can find in the “downloads” section. You have 2 options: you can either print this document out and handwrite (it is required that you use blue or black ink), or, you can save this document. It’s a PDF, so you can save it to your computer and you can type in the information. You’ll see here I have already filled out this document so you will just need to make the necessary corrections that apply to you. The very 1st box at the top, you’re going to enter the name and address where you would like the Certificate of Organization sent back to once it is approved (so here, I’ve entered my address). We’re next going to jump down to Section 1 where you’re going to enter the name of your LLC. Make sure that you include the abbreviation “LLC” or they will not approve your filing. No. 2, if you’re using a home address or a business address, that goes in Section A (you’re going to write your address, your city, State, zip and county. If you choose to use a Registered Agent, you will put their name and address in Section B. In Section 3, you’re going to list the organizers of the LLC. For this example, this is a Single-Member LLC, so I filled in my name and my address. If you have multiple members, you would put their name and address on each of the lines provided. if you have more than 3 or 4 members and you cannot fit it into here, attach an additional page and include that when you mail this in. Continuing on page 2, No. 4 says “Strike out if inapplicable term (A member’s interest in the company is to be evidenced by certificate of membership interest)”. This is not applicable; if you’re on the computer, you can simply strike this out in the PDF document ,or, if you are doing this handwritten with pen, you can just simply cross or strike it out. No. 5, “Strike out if inapplicable (Management of the company is vested in a manager or managers)”, this is most likely that you are going to be a member managed LLC. In that case, you can strike this out, or, if you’ve opted to be manager managed (and a manager who is not a member of the LLC is managing the LLC), you can leave this alone. In this case, I’m going to strike this out. Section 6, I’m going to enter the effective date that the business was started. Do not worry about the hour, if any. In Section 7, this is also inapplicable, and you can strike it out. No. 8 simply states that if you need to attach additional provisions (for example, if you had more organizers and you couldn’t fit them in section 3), you can attach an additional 8-and-a-half-by-11). Moving down here, you’re going to enter the date. I put the 1st day of January 2012, and simply, if you’re a single member, you’ll sign on the line, or if you have multiple members and organizers, you each sign here. Make sure to include this 3rd page here with your filing. You’ll notice here it just says “Typewritten is preferred. If no, you can complete the form in blue or black ink”. Tells you, you know things, we’ve already gone over (the filing fee, $125, made payable etcetera, etcetera). Don’t worry about this, we’ve covered this all in the video; just make sure to include this page with the filing (for some reason that, they request that). Let’s take a look again at an example of a filing fee and the form of payment. Again, you can use a personal check or you can use a money order as specified earlier depending on whether or not your check has a printed address on it. Here’s an example of a money order for $125 made payable to the “Department of State”. If you are writing a personal cheque, you will simply make it payable to “Department of State” for $125 and sign the check either. Either your personal check or the money order, is going to go in the same envelope with the Certificate of Organization and the Docketing Statement. You’re going to mail those documents (the Certificate of Organization, the Docketing Statement, and your filing fee to the Department of State, Corporation Bureau, P.O. Box 8722, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722). I recommend you pause this video and write down that address. Keep in mind, if you have any questions while going through your filing, you can call them at the number listed on the Certificate of Organization (717-787-1057), and you can also leave any comments or questions in the Comments Section below this video. Let’s take a look at the Docketing Statement. Here is the Docketing Statement. There are a few boxes where we will need to check off a few items. Here, underneath “Pennsylvania Entities”, we’re going to put an “X” or a “check mark” next to “limited liability company”. You can ignore “Foreign Entities” and “Other”. No. 1, you’re going to enter the name of your LLC. Again, make sure to include the abbreviation “LLC”. No. 2, you’re going to include the name and mailing address for the person responsible for filing taxes (most likely, this is going to be yourself if you’re the organizer, or it could be your business partner). I’ve included my name and my address here. Again, this document can be filled out on the computer (or you can print it out and handwrite it in blue or black ink). No. 3 ( a “Description of business activity”), a lot of people think this is more complex than it needs to be it. It can be a very simple, very broad, you know, generic description of what your business does. So here, for “At Your Door Quick LLC”, its “Courier services”. If you’re really not sure what your LLC is going to be used for, or, what some people do is they’ll write, you know, “general business management”, or “business consulting”, or “management consulting”, or “marketing consulting”, etcetera. You can leave it fairly vague, and this is simply used for the Corporation Bureau and their statistics. Okay, Section 4, you’re going to write the date, the specific date that the business was created. In this case, I’m putting today’s date (1/1/2012). No. 5, where they’re asking for your EIN, because you haven’t done that yet, you simply just write “Applied For”. No. 6, you’re going to write December 31 or December 31st. And No. 7, where it says “Fictitious Name”, you’re going to simply put “Not Applicable”, and that’s it. The Docketing Statement is fairly simple. Make sure to include the Docketing Statement with your filing. Again, that’s going to be the 3 pages of the Certificate of Organization, the Docketing Statement, and your payment (whether that’s a personal check or money order). You’re then going to mail all those documents and your form of payment to the Corporation Bureau and wait approximately 7-10 business days, and you’ll receive back a stamped approved copy of your Certificate of Organization. You can now move forward onto the next Lesson which will be the Operating Agreement, and for the 4th Lesson which is your EIN (remember to wait until you receive back the stamped and approved copy of the Certificate of Organization). That wraps it up for this video.

Next Step:
Click this link to jump down to the next step.


Pennsylvania LLC Walk-in Expedited Filing

Walk-in filings are not available. As of late-2020, walk-in filings are no longer available. We’ll update this lesson once the state re-opens walk-in LLC filings.

This section only applies if you need to expedite your LLC filing and you are going to drive to Harrisburg to deliver it in-person.

If so, please scroll up to the File by Mail section, complete your Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement, then come back here to prepare the rest of the expedited filing.

Download the Expedited Service Request
Form DSCB: 15-153(a)(15)

• Enter your name, address, phone, and email address.
• Select counter pickup (in person) or email, depending on how you want to pick up your forms.
• Select the level of service you want and make note of the “received by” times.
• Select whether you’ll pay by check or credit card (credit cards are charged when you drop off forms).
• Check off the box at the bottom stating that you agree to the terms found in the PA Bulletin.

Prepare Payment:
• If you are going to pay by credit card, you will do so when you get there.

• If you are going to pay by check or money order, please bring two. One will be for $125 and the second will be for the amount you selected in the Expedited Service Request Form ($100, $300, or $1,000). Please make them both payable to “Pennsylvania Department of State”.

Important: Check must have name and address. If you are paying with a personal check, it must have a pre-printed name and address on it. If not, the state will reject it. If your checks don’t have this, you’ll need to use a money order. Also, the state doesn’t care whose name is on the check.

Head to Harrisburg:

Items to bring:
– Expedited Request Form
– Certificate of Organization
– Docketing Statement
– 2 checks or money orders made out to “Department of State” (unless you are paying with credit card)

Bring them to the Bureau of Corporations:
401 North Street
Room 206
Harrisburg, PA 17101

Hours:
8am – 4:45pm (tip: the earlier you arrive, the better)

LLC Approval for Walk-in Filings:
You can either pick up your documents later that day, or the state will email them to you. You will receive a stamped and approved copy of your Certificate of Organization along with a Welcome Letter.

Next Step

Once you’ve filed your Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement, you can then proceed to the next lesson: Pennsylvania LLC Operating Agreement.

Pennsylvania Department of State Contact Info

If you have any questions, you can contact the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations at 717-787-1057 (Monday through Friday, 8am – 4:45pm).

Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, 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! LLC University® teaches people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your business journey.
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