Pennsylvania LLC
Certificate of Organization

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

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

The Pennsylvania LLC filing consists of two documents:

  • Certificate of Organization
  • Docketing Statement

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.

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:

  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.

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

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)

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.

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.

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

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.

TIFF vs PDF

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

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

On Windows 10, you can double-click the TIFFfile 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 TIFF file with Preview. Then in the Preview menu > click File > hold the ‘option’ key on your keyboard > select Save As, and then save the TIFF file as a PDF file.

Tip: 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.

Matt Horwitz, founder of LLC University®Pro 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


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


Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Matt Horwitz has been the leading expert on LLC education for the past decade. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC that other companies weren't offering. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
 
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.

45 comments on “Pennsylvania Filing Forms”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. Hi Matt! I am forming an LLC in anticipation of making some real estate investments. Give the fact that my business has not actually completed any transactions, does the “effective date” have any meaning? For example, If I wanted to arbitrarily choose an effective date of July 23, 2016, can I do so? Thank you, this is an amazing source of information!

    • Hey Brandon! Glad you are finding the course helpful, and thanks for the kind words. The effective date is the date your LLC officially goes into existence with the state.

      You can’t back-date it, but you can forward date (up to 90 days). Here’s a reason you might need to forward date:

      If you’re forming your LLC in October, November, or December, and you don’t need your business open during those months, forward date your filing to January 1st. This will save you the hassle of having to file an RCT-101 w/ PA Department of Revenue for the year the LLC was open (but not really active). It’s not a major thing though, just an FYI as it might help paint some context.

      Also, great to hear about the upcoming purchases! Let me know if you need anything else.

  2. Hi Matt! Thank you so much for this great source of information! it’s by far the best step by step guide to form LLC in the internet!

    you said above “After filing your PA LLC online, the state will approve it in 7-10 business days. The state will email you a stamped and approved copy of your Certificate of Organization along with a Welcome Letter.”

    I just received a copy of the Certificate of Organization along with a Welcome Letter within less than 24h! but the certificate of organization is not stamped! is my LLC approved now? can I apply for EIN?

    • Hey Jamal! Thanks for the nice comment :) Did you file by mail or file online? If you file online, yes, approval times are much faster. If not, wow, that was fast. We’ll chat with the state and see if approval times have gotten faster.

  3. Hi Matt,

    This is extremely helpful and resourceful! Thank you! I do have a quick question. I want to form a LLC in the Education field. I wonder if there is any impact if I choose “Not applicable” to the question “This limited liability company shall have the purpose of creating general public benefit”? Is it required for ALL education related company to choose Applicable to this question?

    Thank you Millions!
    -Ashlee

    • Hey Ashlee! Thank you for the lovely comment. No, this is not a requirement for all education companies. In fact, it’s not a requirement for any company. It’s instead for those who specifically know they want to form a Benefit LLC. Think of a Benefit LLC as hybrid between a for-profit and a non-profit company that has a positive social impact and usually a charitable component. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t have fundraisers or can’t raise money without making this election. Hopefully that helps clear things up. People forming Benefit companies usually know at the onset and have spoken with their accountant about any pros and cons.

      • Thank you very much Matt! You are being really helpful!!! So does this website!

  4. Hello Matt,

    I am currently registered and operating in PA as one-person sole proprietorship (fictitious name) since 2002 and I have an EIN number. I would now like to change the business category from a sole proprietorship into a one-member LLC. But I would also like to chance the business name (ex. ABC to XYZ) and retain the EIN. I understand that I need to write/notify IRS of the name change.

    I found your university website in my search. I have a PENN File account but I’m not sure how to proceed.

    1) Should I amend the fictitious name to change the name of the business (ABC->XYZ) first; and then create a new LLC using the same name (XYZ), and dissolve fictitious name.

    2) Or Should I create a new LLC using the old name (ABC) with “Consent to Appropriation Name”, amend the ABC LLC to XYZ LLC, and dissolve the fictitious name (ABC)

    I understand that it would have been easier to just create XYZ LLC and dissolve ABC but I need to retain the history of my company since I am trying to apply for an MBE status.

    I would really appreciate your advice. Thank you very much in advance.

    Max

  5. Hey Matt,
    I filed a cert of organization with the name “Biz, limited liability company” and fictitious name as “Biz, LLC.” Both has the same address. Now i received a letter saying that there’s a name conflict and another letter saying welcome with the Cert of Org attached. I called the Bureau of PA but was told that I should not worry about the conflict and that the business exits under my name as the filer. It’s been like 4 months now. I haven’t received any docketing paper from PA or PA EIN. I need your advise. Please respond through email, thanks.

    • Hi Hope, hopefully I can help straighten things out. It seems like you’re confused on a few different points. You cannot register a Fictitious Name with the letters “LLC” in it (or the words spelled out). That’s why your Fictitious Name was rejected. Further, “Biz, limited liability company” and “Biz, LLC” have the same root (“Biz”). Having LLC spelled out or abbreviated technically mean the same thing (that the entity is an LLC). So “Biz, limited liability company” and “Biz, LLC” are the same thing. You’ll need to call the PA Department of Revenue to see if an account was created for you. The account should have been created shortly after the Bureau approved your LLC. The EIN is issued federally by the IRS, not from the state of Pennsylvania. You need to apply for an EIN with the IRS. We have a video lesson for EIN (also known as Federal Tax ID Number) on the website. Hope that helps!

  6. I am starting a new LLC, I have gone through the steps of creating LLC:
    1. Name Search
    2. Registered Agent
    3. Filing Forms
    4. Operating Agreement

    When I go to checkout it says my cost is $70.00. It clearly states that creating an LLC is $125.

    Am I missing something?

    • Hi Cari, you likely selected a Fictitious Name registration ($70) instead of an LLC filing, which is $125. In lesson 3 (Filing Forms), please look for the text “after you login” and make sure you are selecting the proper filing. Here are the steps:
      – login
      – scroll down to “Start or Manage Business Filings”
      – click “Domestic Limited Liability Company”
      – click “Certificate of Organization – Domestic Limited Liability Company (8821)”
      Hope that helps!

  7. I just wanted to thank you. I am starting my own (first) business, and while I know my craft, I know nothing about forming a business. Your website has been an invaluable resource in the formation process. Every link has been active and accurate, every instruction written clearly and simplified for anyone to understand, even someone like me who has no knowledge in these matters. I’d been researching for days and still felt lost before I came across your website. Now I’ve filed and am awaiting approval. Thank you so much.

    • Michael, your comment is so wonderful to receive! Thank you so much for the kind words :) We’re so happy to hear that we’ve not only been able to help you start your business, but have made the process easy and enjoyable to learn. That’s our goal! Congratulations on your first business! Wishing you nothing but success and meaningful growth!

    • Hi Will, it’s above on this page. Please look for “Download the Docketing Statement”. Hope that helps.

  8. I just wanted to say THANK YOU!! I had filed my LLC paperwork, sent it in and waited… Imagine my surprise when I got a notice stating the Docketing Statement Form DSCB:15-134A was missing (along with a copy to fill out and return)! When I downloaded and filled out the paperwork nothing was there about this form (or I missed it)… I wasn’t sure what to do about the FEIN, or what to put for Description of Business Activity, so I Googled it and found your website! What a blessing! I now have you bookmarked, and will be passing your info on in any business groups I’m in! I second what Michael said in the above comment!

    • Hi Susan, THANK YOU for such a lovely comment! So glad you found our site and were able to get your LLC successfully filed! Thanks for spreading the word too… it really means a lot!!

  9. Hi,
    I filed for my PA LLC online and received the emailed copy of my certificate of organization with the welcome letter in 7 days; however, I don’t see an official stamped approved date. The only date is the date I submitted the form online. What should be used as an approval date for my operating agreement and EIN- is it the date I filed or the date I received my emailed copy back?

    Thank you so much for freely sharing this very helpful information!

    • Hey Sam, you’re very welcome! You should have a date on your Welcome Letter as well is in the upper right of page 1 of your Certificate of Organization. That’ll be your LLC’s effective date. Hope that helps :)

  10. Thank you so very much for increasing my knowledge re. LLC’s, but now I think I filled in my paperwork incorrectly! I checked the restricted box and psychology, but now I see this applies only if the psychologist is licensed by the state. I am a certified school psychologist (PA Dept of Ed), not a licensed psychologist. Do I need to change this somehow? Thank you so much in advance!

    • Hi Maureen, you’re very welcome :) Happy to hear! I’m not 100% sure since we don’t have all professions (for all states) documented… things vary widely re: PLLCs state by state. I recommend calling the Department of Education to clarify. You could also try the Bureau of Corporations. Thanks for your understanding.

  11. Hi Matt, I want to change by sole proprietorship printing business to an LLC in Pennsylvania. I am keeping my same name for the business and just want to add the LLC after it. Do I need to register for a fictitious name since when I searched, my name is available and I’m keeping the same name? Once the state approves the LLC, do I need to do anything else for sales tax purposes or will this convert automatically. I imagine I need to contact all my vendors to let them know I’m operating as an LLC and do I need to contact my customers too? Do I need to advertise this in the newspaper? I have read that I don’t have to since my name will be the same. I want to get a new EIN so once the state approves my LLC, I would file to get a new EIN, then contact Pennsylvania with the new EIN?

    • Hi Ron, no, you won’t need to register a Fictitious Name or advertise. You’ll just be forming an LLC and then getting an EIN for the LLC. Yes, you’ll need to update your sales tax account and the PA Dept. of Revenue. And yes, vendors and customers as well. Hope that helps.

      • Thanks for all of your help Matt. I was able to form my LLC and update everything pretty easy.

  12. Hi Matt, Thank you so much for posting valuable information to form llc. We are forming LLC in PA and we did not find section to specify manager managed LLC in Certificate of Organization.

    We are really confused, as all the members wants to have passive role because of most of members are on work visa (H1B) and would like to have LLC managed by Manager.

    Where should we fill in this information so thats its evident its manager managed?

    • Hi VJ, you’re welcome :) The Pennsylvania LLC Certificate of Organization doesn’t ask about management. The state doesn’t really care. It’s an “internal” affair and that would be set by your Operating Agreement. I just emailed you a Manager-managed LLC Operating Agreement template. Hope that helps.

  13. Hi Matt! My husband and I have been impressed with your website as we start an LLC. We also submitted these forms online and received approval within one business day! We were very excited since we were debating about driving to Harrisburg and paying for expedited approval.

    • Hey Carolyn! We’re happy to hear we were able to help. Yea, that drive is a pain! Congratulations on your LLC filing and good luck with your business!

  14. Matt. I am planning to create an LLC with my three brothers to take over ownership of our parents lake house. This is not going to be a business for profit as we are not planning to rent the property out but are doing it more for protection of our personal assets. Would this be something an LLC is used for?

    • Hi Jodi, yes, this is a common setup. However, it may also be a good idea to speak a real estate attorney about other options. Hope that helps.

  15. Matt I just finished the last page on the Pa state site which reads “certificate of organization domestic limited liability company” and it asks if I want to upload anything which I don’t. So then I click save and it just stays on that page? I thought it would lead me to a check out for payment? does all the info I just filled out about my company stay saved on the site? Whats my next step thanks Jerrell

    • Hi Jerrell, were you able to get it submitted? You likely just needed to hit save and continue… or manually click on the “Declaration & Signature” tab. What web browser were you using?

  16. Hello Matt just want to say this is very helpful. I have a quick question about the expedited service request form in PA, it ask for entity number but I don’t have one yet can I leave that blank? Thanks

    • Hi William, you’re very welcome. Which form/line are you referring to re: the entity number?

  17. Hi Matt,
    Quick question I am forming an LLC and I filed for my EIN before registering my Certificate of Organization and I read online that LLC needs to be added to my name (ex. ABC Help LLC) is this correct? Do I have to correct this by mail to the IRS to add LLC to my name once I file and are approved for my Business Entity/Certificate of Organization?

    Also How do I know how to correctly fill out my PA-100 form to fit my business. For Section 8 do I fill out just the County I live in and conducting taxable sales or is this for every county I may conduct sales within PA For? For Section 9 Do I have to fill out Establishment Employment Information for myself being that I will be paying my self a percentage and are technically my own employee? Also Section 11. Does an LLC need to fill out this section? Section 7 and 17 if I am selling decor items on Etsy that I am making do I choose manufacturing, retail trade, and wholesale trade being that I will buy some of my products from wholesalers?

    Thank you for this website filled with all the Instructions and steps in this confusing process. This website has truly helped me stay organized and take most of the stress away from what could have been a more stressful process. Thanks a bunch!!!!

    • Hey Sasha, have you used the EIN for anything yet? If not, it’s easier to just get another EIN and cancel the first EIN. You can apply for a new EIN right away (you don’t have to wait for the cancellation of the old EIN to be processed first).

      If you want to keep the EIN, you can file a name change form by mail, but it can take 2-3 months before you hear anything back. It’s typically much faster, but the IRS is very backed up right now. We have information here: Change LLC name with IRS. Regarding the PA-100 form, we recommend working with an accountant to get this properly filled out. Thank you for your understanding and I hope that helps :) And thank you so much for your kind words. We’re so happy the site has been helpful!!

  18. Hi again Matt,
    So I filed my LLC and it got returned (sad face). It says:
    The enclosed filing is being returned for the following reason(s):

    103 – Your filing lacks the specific brief statement of business. Refer to the proper paragraph on the
    Docketing Statement. BE MORE SPECIFIC/ DETAIL.
    161 – Your payment has been received. Please return this notice along with your corrected filing.
    Failure to do so may result in further rejections and penalties, if applicable.
    Please return this letter or a copy thereof with the attached, date-stamped and corrected document
    within 30 days of the date of this notice in order to retain the date of delivery to the Department as the
    file date, if a filing is required. Rejection of a document does not constitute a name reservation.
    In accordance with 19 PA Code §3.2(a)(2) and §11.12(d)(2), the dates on any missing documents or
    certificates, which are needed to support this submittal, must be operative or effective on or as of the
    original date of the submission in order for the original submission date to be retained.
    The fees of the Bureau are nonrefundable pursuant to 15 Pa.C.S. §153(a). The nonrefundable policy
    applies to both accepted and rejected filings.

    What does this mean? Did I not fill out the Business Activity section correctly? I put “Any lawful business activity for which a Limited Liability Company may be organized in Pennsylvania.” Was this the issue? I was unsure as to what to put for this section. My business is making handmade decor items and selling them online. What should I have put here instead? Please help I don’t know where to go to get this correct. Do I have to pay the $125 again or it will be fine as long as I file again within the 30 days?

    • Hi Sasha, don’t worry. This isn’t as scary as the letter sounds (those “penalties” don’t apply). And it’s a quick fix ;)

      Your LLC was rejected because you used the “any lawful business” description. The state rejects filings which use this clause (even though it’s allowed in the Pennsylvania LLC Act). Please see above on this page. Look for the “Description of Business Activity:” section for more details.

      All you need to do is complete a new Certificate of Organization and mail it to the state with a copy of your rejection letter. The rejection letter will serve as your $125 “credit”, so you don’t have to pay twice (as long as the new Certificate of Formation is filed within 30 days). For your description, you could say something like “handmade crafts and online sales”. Hope that helps!

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