If you googled how to form an LLC in Pennsylvania, and are feeling confused, don’t worry! At LLC University®, we specialize in researching the LLC formation process and turning it into step-by-step instructions.
File Certificate of Organization an LLC PA
In this lesson, you will learn how to start your Pennsylvania LLC with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
The Pennsylvania LLC filing consists of two documents:
- Certificate of Organization
- Docketing Statement
Once approved, these two documents officially create your PA LLC.
Note: In most states the form to create an LLC is called the Articles of Organization. However, in PA the form is called the Certificate of Organization. So technically, both Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization and Pennsylvania Articles of Organization mean the same thing.
Pennsylvania LLC Certificate of Organization filing fee
The fee to create an LLC in Pennsylvania is $125.
The fee is the same whether you file online or by mail.
How much is an LLC in Pennsylvania explains all the fees you’ll pay, including the Certificate of Organization fee.
LLC approval times
The approval time for an LLC in Pennsylvania used to be 7-10 business days, however the state is still slow because of all the government delays over the last couple of years.
So LLC approvals are currently taking 3-4 weeks.
This is the same approval time if you file online or by mail.
Note: Filing times may take longer due to the current global situation and government delays. For the most up-to-date LLC processing times, check how long does it take to get an LLC in Pennsylvania.
Tip: We recommend filing online. It’s easier to complete and you’ll get your LLC documents back faster. While both mail and online have the same approval time, US mail is often delayed, so it’ll probably take an extra week if you file by mail.
However, if you aren’t very tech-comfortable, you can still file by mail.
How to File a Pennsylvania LLC by Mail
If you want to file by mail (instead of online), you need to:
Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
PO Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
How to File a Pennsylvania LLC Online
Pennsylvania updated their online filing system in October 2022. They are no longer using PENN File. The new online system is called Business Filing Services. And you’ll need a Keystone Login to access the Business Filing Services. The instructions on this page show the latest updates.
To file your Pennsylvania LLC Certificate of Organization online, you need to create a Keystone Login.
If you already have a Keystone Login simply login.
Note: While you’ll no longer see the “Manage Business Filings” that PENN File used to have, you’ll still be able to do everything you need inside your Business Filing Services (BFS) account.
Create a Keystone Login
If you don’t have a Keystone Login, visit PA Business One-Stop Hub and click “Register”.
After registering, you’ll see a success message at the top (in a small green bar).
Next, you’ll need to go to your email and click the verification link.
After doing that, you should see this success message:
Click the “here to Login” link and then login.
Choose the purpose of your visit
You’ll see a pop-up with several buttons to choose what type of filer you are. Select Business Owner.
Go to the PA Business Filing Services
You will now see the Welcome page for PA Business One-Stop Shop.
Scroll down and click Department of State’s Business Filing Services (aka PA DOS BFS):
You will now be on the main dashboard for your Business Filings Services account. From here, you can manage your business filings.
On the left, click “Forms“.
Look under “Other Initial Filings” and click “Certificate of Organization Limited Liability Company“.
Then click “File Online“.
You’re now ready to begin forming your Pennsylvania LLC Certificate of Organization!
Limited Liability Company Type
- Prior Lesson: We recommend reading Pennsylvania LLC Name before proceeding. You’ll need to make sure your LLC name is unique when compared to existing business names in the state.
From the “Subtype” drop down, select “Limited Liability Company“.
(Note: This lesson doesn’t tell you how to file a Professional Services LLC for Restricted Professional Companies. You can still form a Restricted Professional Service LLC – aka Professional LLC – online, though. You just need to upload proof of state licensure.)
The system first asks if you filed a business Name Reservation ahead of time.
Note: You don’t have to reserve your LLC name in order to form an LLC in Pennsylvania. It’s often a waste of money.
If you don’t have a name reservation:
If you don’t have a name reservation certificate, don’t worry. Just click “No” and enter your LLC name twice. Then select “Consent to use the name is not required because the name is available for use in Pennsylvania.”
Make sure to include the designator in your LLC name. As per Section 15-204, Pennsylvania law allows the following designators:
- LLC (or L.L.C.)
- Ltd (or Ltd.)
- LTD (or LTD.)
- Limited Liability Co.
- Limited Liability Company
- Ltd. Liability Co.
- Ltd. Liability Company
Tip: Most people choose “LLC”.
If you have a name reservation:
If you filed a Name Reservation, click “Yes” and then select your reserved name from the dropdown menu.
LLC’s Effective Date
- Related article: What Effective Date should I use for my LLC?
If you’d like your LLC to go into existence on the date it is approved by the state, select “when filed with the Department of State“.
If you’d like your LLC to go into existence on a future date, select “on a future specific date“. Then choose the date using the calendar button to the right. Don’t worry about what time you choose; it’s not important.
Note: There is no limit on how far into the future you make the date, but you can’t back-date your filing.
Pro tip: If you’re forming your PA LLC later in the year (October, November, December) and you don’t need your LLC open right away, you can give your LLC an effective date of January 1st of the following year. This can save you the hassle of filing taxes for those few months with no business activity. Keep in mind though, you won’t be able to open an LLC bank account until your LLC goes into existence.
Email Address for Notifications
We recommend enabling email notifications. This way, when it comes time to file your Pennsylvania LLC Decennial Report, you’ll be notified.
Choose the option that starts with “I would like to receive email notifications…“.
Then click “Add” and enter your email address.
Click Next Step to proceed.
Note: The information entered in your Docketing Statement gets sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. They will create an account for your LLC (which will include a PA Revenue ID Number).
The Department of Revenue will mail you a Welcome Letter with information in 3-4 weeks. All information entered here is private and won’t go on public record.
Description of Business Activity
Enter a detailed description about your LLC’s business activity.
Don’t worry, you aren’t going to be forced to do the activity you list forever. You 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
Tax responsible party
This person is the one who will be responsible for the initial tax reports. For most people forming their LLC, they will list themselves.
Enter your first name, last name, and a good mailing address.
EIN/FEIN (aka Employer Identification Number)
You can leave this blank. It’s not required.
Really, you shouldn’t get your Pennsylvania EIN Number until your LLC is approved.
(It’s silly that the state is even asking for it here. Don’t worry, we have a lesson that will show you how to get your EIN from the IRS website later.)
Tax Year or Fiscal Year End
For accounting and tax purposes, most small businesses run on the “calendar year”, which is January 1st to December 31st. That’s the same as your personal income taxes.
If that’s what you will be doing for your LLC, you can enter “12” in the first box and “31” in the second box for December 31. (This is what most people do).
If your business runs on a different fiscal year, please enter that fiscal year end date instead.
Click Next Step to proceed.
- Prior lesson: Make sure you read Pennsylvania Registered Agent.
Note: The terms Registered Agent Address, Registered Office, and Registered Office Address all refer to the same thing in Pennsylvania.
You or someone you know will be the LLC’s Registered Agent:
If you will be your own Registered Agent, or someone you know will be the Registered Agent for your LLC, select the 1st option (“The address of this limited liability company’s proposed registered office in this Commonwealth is”).
Then enter the address and county information.
You hired a Registered Agent Service:
If you hired a Registered Agent Service (aka Commercial Registered Office Provider or CROP), select the 2nd option (“The name of the commercial registered office provider and the county of venue is”).
Search for Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP):
Search for the Registered Agent company you hired and select them from the list.
Venue and Publication County:
You’ll need to contact the Registered Agent company (or check inside your account) and ask what county their address is located in. Then select it from the dropdown menu.
Tip: If you hired Northwest Registered Agent, select Erie from the county list.
Note: Don’t worry about the word “publication”. LLCs in Pennsylvania don’t have to publish anything in the newspapers. Only 3 states have LLC publication requirements and Pennsylvania isn’t one of them.
Click Next Step to proceed.
- Related article: LLC Organizer vs LLC Member
Add an LLC Organizer to your filing by clicking the “Add” button. Enter their first and last name in the pop-up and then click save. The address is optional, so you can leave it blank.
Tip: Most people forming their own LLC are also the LLC Organizer.
Note: You’re required to list 1 Organizer, but you could list more than 1. However, you don’t need to make every LLC Member an Organizer of the LLC. They are not the same things. The LLC Members will be listed in your LLC Operating Agreement (we’ll cover this in another lesson).
Click Next Step to proceed.
This section is used to upload any additional documents to your LLC filing, such as additional rules or provisions.
Most people don’t upload anything unless they’ve been instructed to do so by their attorney.
Click Next Step to proceed.
This page is letting you know that the fee to form an LLC in Pennsylvania is $125.
However, if you are a Veteran, you can form a free LLC in PA. If you qualify for a free Pennsylvania Veteran LLC, check the box and upload proof of your veteran status.
Note: The $125 LLC fee is the same whether you are forming a regular LLC (aka Domestic Limited Liability Company) or a Foreign LLC.
Click Next Step to proceed.
Review your information for accuracy and check for typos.
If you need to make any changes, click the appropriate step in the list on the left where you need to make changes.
If everything looks good, click Next Step to proceed.
Sign and File Document
Enter your full time in the “Signature” field and click “Today” to enter today’s date.
Below that, make sure “File Online” is selected.
Then click “File Online” again in the lower right.
Note: If you’re getting an error message, it usually means some information needs to be updated. Look at the left navigation. Anything that needs attention will be highlighted in red:
After clicking “File Online” you’ll see a pop-up on the right.
Click the button to pay by credit or debit card.
Enter your billing information and submit your payment to the state.
Congratulations! Your Pennsylvania LLC has been submitted to the state for processing.
Now you just need to wait for your LLC to be approved.
Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization Approval Time
After filing your Pennsylvania LLC online, the state will approve it in 7-10 business days.
After your LLC is approved, you will get the following documents via email:
- Acknowledgement Letter
- Certificate of Organization (stamped and approved)
And in a few weeks, you’ll receive the Welcome Letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
Pennsylvania Department of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations at 717-787-1057. Their hours are Monday through Friday, from 8am – 4:45pm.
PA LLC Certificate of Organization FAQs
However, the LLC owners (called Members) don’t get publicly listed in the Certificate of Organization.
Instead, you’ll list the LLC Members in your LLC’s Operating Agreement. The Operating Agreement is a document that spells out who owns the LLC and how much they own. Additionally, it sets out other rules like how the LLC is managed and how disputes are resolved.
The Operating Agreement is an “internal” document. Meaning, it doesn’t get filed with any government agency. You’ll just keep it with your business records.
It costs $125 to file by online using Pennsylvania’s Business Filing System.
Your LLC might also need to pay for a business license or permit, depending on what your company does.
- Go to the Department of State Business Filing System
- Click Search on the left, and enter your LLC name
- Click on your LLC in the results, and then click the button to “Request Certificate.”
- Select “Copy Request” from the dropdown menu for Request Type. Then choose whether you want a regular copy or a certified copy of the Certificate of Organization.
- Click the Search button to display all the documents, and select the “Initial Filing“. Click Save & Close.
- Pay for your order and Submit the request.
If you have questions about why your filing was rejected, you can call the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations at 717-787-1057.
Pennsylvania doesn’t have a state-wide general business license requirement.
However, the Pennsylvania Department of State requires certain types of businesses to have a license. You should also check with your city or county about any local business license requirements for your LLC.
And you may need to register with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue in order to collect sales tax or register for other taxes.
- Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your Pennsylvania Registered Agent
- File the Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Check whether you need business permits
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Open an LLC bank account