How much does an LLC cost in Washington state?
Forming an LLC in Washington state costs $200, but that’s just the filing fee for the Certificate of Formation. What about the other costs to form a Washington LLC?
Besides the filing fee, there are a few other costs to consider before forming an LLC in Washington State. Things like whether or not you’ll hire a Registered Agent, your LLC’s Annual Report fee, and your Business License Application fee.
Washington State LLC Costs:
|$0 or $125 (per year)
|Certificate of Formation
|$60 (per year)
|State Business License Application
|City Business License
|Varies (renewed each year)
|Specialty Business License
|Varies (renewed each year)
|Trade Name (DBA)
|$5 (if applicable)
|Varies (paid each year)
Washington LLC Name ($0)
There is no cost ($0) associated with naming your Washington LLC. You are not required to file a Name Reservation or anything like that.
You’ll simply just enter your desired Washington LLC name on the Certificate of Formation. Once the state approves your filing, your LLC name goes into existence.
Washington Registered Agent ($0 or $125/year)
Washington law requires that you designate a Registered Agent when forming your LLC. However, there is no additional registered agent fee to list a Registered Agent on your Certificate of Formation.
A Washington Registered Agent is a person or company who receives legal documents and state notices for your LLC. A Registered Agent needs a street address in the state and should generally be available during normal business hours.
There is no additional cost if you will be your own Registered Agent, or have someone you know be your LLC’s Registered Agent. This could be one of your business partners, or a friend or family member.
However, you have the option of hiring a Registered Agent service. This will cost you between $100 to $300 per year. But Registered Agent service companies offer other helpful business services and can protect your privacy.
Hiring a Registered Agent service is a good idea if:
- You don’t have an address in the state (Washington state law requires Registered Agents to have a physical address in the state)
- You want to keep your address off public record (depending on which company you hire, you may be able to use their address to keep your address private)
Washington LLC Certificate of Formation ($200)
To form a Limited Liability Company in Washington state, you must file two documents: the Certificate of Formation and an Initial Report. Both get filed with the Washington Secretary of State.
While you can file your Certificate of Formation by mail, the state prefers (and we recommend) the online filing, which costs $200.
The online filing is easier and has a faster approval time. Plus, filing your LLC online includes the required Initial Report for no additional cost ($0).
You may have seen that filing by mail only costs $180. That’s true. But if you’re thinking that you want to save the $20 and file by mail – you actually don’t save money. If you file by mail, you have to file the Initial Report separately and pay a separate $30 filing fee. So the total filing cost by mail ends up being $210. (Remember, if you file online, you pay $200 and then $0 for the Initial Report for a total cost of $200).
Forming your LLC by mail takes 7-10 business days for approval, while forming your LLC online takes 2-3 business days for approval.
Washington LLC Operating Agreement ($0)
A Washington LLC Operating Agreement is a written contract between the LLC Members. Operating Agreements include detailed information about LLC ownership, how the LLC is managed, and how profits are distributed.
Single-Member LLCs and Multi-Member LLCs should draft an Operating Agreement, keep it with their business records, and give a copy to each Member.
Most websites charge $50 to $200 for LLC Operating Agreements.
Here at LLC University®, we offer free LLC Operating Agreement templates for all types of LLCs.
Washington LLC EIN Number ($0)
An EIN Number is also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), Federal Tax ID Number, or a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
This number is used to file income taxes, to open an LLC bank account, and to hire employees (if applicable).
Although many websites charge a service fee to get an EIN for your LLC, it can actually be done for free.
You can obtain an EIN for your Limited Liability Company from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website at no cost. The online filing can be completed in a few minutes.
Washington LLC Annual Report ($60/year)
All Washington LLCs must file a Washington Annual Report. It is due each year during your LLC’s anniversary month (the month your LLC was approved).
The fee each year is $60 to file Annual Reports. This Annual Report fee is due every year, and every Washington LLC must pay it.
Washington LLC Business License Application ($90)
All Washington LLCs must apply for a State Business License for they begin conducting business.
The State Business License (“bulk registration”) costs $90. This is a one-time fee and the State Business License lasts forever.
Note: The City Business License and Specialty Business License (if applicable) have an initial fee, but you are also required to renew these licenses each year.
The term “state business license” is a little confusing though, because in addition to being an actual business license, it’s also a “bulk registration” application that will register your LLC for taxes as well as a number of other things.
Your LLC will get a State Business License in addition to a City Business License (depending on the city) and a Specialty Business License (depending on the industry).
If you have employees, the business license application will also register your Washington LLC with the Department of Labor & Industries and the Employment Security Department.
Additionally – (and this is optional) – if your LLC wants to do business under a name different than its true and legal name, you can register for a Trade Name (aka DBA) for your LLC via the Business License Application.
City Business License, aka “City Endorsement” (varies)
A City Business License is required for most LLCs in Washington.
Depending on the city where your LLC exists (or is operating), your City Business License may be “wrapped into” the State Business License Application. If not, you may need to go through FileLocal (if your LLC is located in the Puget Sound region).
Either way, there is an initial fee for the City Business License as well as an annual renewal fee.
Some cities don’t charge anything (you just have to register), while some cities are $5 or $10. And others can be as high as $100 to $150. The average City Business License fee (and annual renewal) is about $40 to $50.
Specialty Business License, aka “Specialty Endorsement” (varies)
If the industry your LLC works in poses a risk to the public or customers, your LLC may need to get a Specialty Business License. Said another way, businesses that are more regulated or have safety concerns have extra licensing requirements.
Depending on the industry, you may be able to get your Specialty Business License during the Business License Application or you may have to apply for it manually outside of the Business License Application. The cost of the Specialty Endorsement varies widely, based on what type of occupation or industry it’s for.
Trade Name ($5)
A Trade Name (aka DBA or “doing business as”) is not required for an LLC in Washington. You can just do business under your LLC’s registered name.
However, if you’d like to do business under a different name, you can register a Trade Name during the Business License Application. The cost for each Trade Name in Washington is just $5.
If you’re not sure whether to get a trade name, check out Do I need a DBA?
Washington LLC Taxes (varies)
There are many different types of taxes that business owners must pay. Federal income tax, federal self employment tax, business & occupation (B&O) tax, sales tax, sales and use tax, property tax (if the LLC owns property), and more.
How much you’ll pay in taxes can only be determined by working with a qualified accountant in your area.
The amount you’ll pay your accountant will also vary, but most accountants for a new business starting out will cost between a few hundred dollars per year to about $1,000 or $1,200 on the more expensive end.
Summary of Washington LLC Fees
The “base cost” to form an LLC in Washington State is $200 for the initial LLC paperwork (Certificate of Formation and Initial Report). Then the Business License Application will cost $90 plus your City Endorsement, which for most will average out to about $50. So the average base cost is around $340 to form a Washington LLC.
The required ongoing costs for a Washington LLC will be $60 per year for the Annual Report plus the cost of the City Endorsement renewal. Again, let’s use $50 per year as an average for the City Business License. So in that case, required annual LLC costs will be about $110 per year.
If you hire a Commercial Registered Agent, that’ll cost about $125 per year.
If your Washington LLC requires a Specialty Endorsement type of Business License, that’ll likely cost a couple hundred dollars per year. (Most businesses won’t need this, though).
And of course there’s taxes, which include the amount you pay in taxes and how much you pay your accountant for their services. This will vary widely and we’re not able to provide an estimate. You’ll need to speak to a few accountants regarding the specifics of your business.
Washington LLC Cost FAQs
How much does it cost to open an LLC in Washington?
It costs $200 to start a Washington LLC. This is a one-time filing fee for the LLC Certificate of Formation online. (It costs $210 to file the Certificate of Formation and Initial Report by mail.)
Some LLCs may need a business license in Washington. This depends on your industry and where your LLC is located. The cost of local business permits varies. And depending on what your LLC does, you may need to obtain business insurance.
How much does an LLC in Washington cost per year?
All Washington LLCs need to pay $60 per year for the Annual Report fee. These state fees are paid to the Washington Secretary of State. And this is the only state-required annual fee. All Washington LLCs have to pay ongoing fees for Annual Reports to remain in good standing.
If you hired a Registered Agent service, you’ll have an annual subscription fee to pay each year. This is usually about $125 per year.
Some LLCs may need a business license in Washington. This depends on your industry and where your LLC is located. You’ll need to check with your municipality to see if there are any annual renewal fees for the business permit.
Should I hire an LLC formation service?
You aren’t required to hire a professional service company (aka an LLC formation service) to form your Washington LLC. You’re allowed to form your LLC yourself if you’d like. If you do it yourself, you’ll only pay the Washington LLC filing fee, not any service fees to a filing company.
However, if you want to save time and make sure your LLC is filed correctly, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent.
Northwest Registered Agent has excellent customer service and they include Registered Agent services free for the 1st year. (Many LLC formation companies also offer Registered Agent services.) They also offer other services, like an Operating Agreement and filing your Annual Report.
Check out Best LLC Services for more suggestions.
Do I need to hire an attorney to form an LLC?
No, you aren’t required to hire an attorney to form your Washington LLC. You’re allowed to complete the LLC formation process yourself if you’d like.
However, some people may want to hire an attorney if their LLC has a complex ownership or management structure, has investors, or requires industry-specific documentation.
A business attorney usually charges between $800 and $2,500 to form an LLC (we can’t say for sure what the minimum fee would be, since every attorney charges differently).
How do I start an LLC in Washington?
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Washington:
- Choose an LLC business name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your Washington Registered Agent
- File the Washington Certificate of Formation
- Complete and sign an Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in Washington
What’s the cheapest way to start Washington LLCs?
You can get an LLC cheaply by filing your formation documents yourself. You’ll also save money by being your own Registered Agent, and using our free LLC Operating Agreement template.
By forming your LLC yourself, being your own Registered Agent, and using our Operating Agreement template you can save over $400.
How much does a Washington business bank account cost?
It varies. Some banks charge monthly fees ($10 to $20 per month), but these can sometimes be avoided by meeting certain requirements. For example, if you make a certain number of direct deposits or maintain a specified minimum balance, then they’ll waive the monthly fees.
And you might be able to find a bank that doesn’t charge any monthly fees.
Before you open your LLC business bank account, we recommend calling and asking if there are ways to avoid the monthly maintenance fees.
How much is a Foreign LLC in Washington?
A Foreign LLC is an LLC formed in another state that must register (aka Foreign Qualify) in Washington. This is because the LLC is doing business in both states.
The Washington Foreign LLC cost is $200 for the foreign registration statement.
If you form an LLC in Washington, it is called a “Domestic LLC”. If you formed your LLC in another state, it would be a Foreign LLC once you register it in Washington.
Is Washington a good state for an LLC?
Yes, Washington is a great state to start a business. Washington doesn’t charge a state business license fee, has simple Washington LLC requirements; and the state has quick approval times and helpful representatives at the Secretary of State if you have questions.
However, the most important factors in deciding where to start a business are where you live and where you’re doing business.
Meaning, if you live in or do business in Washington, then you should start your business in Washington. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business. And just because a certain state has cheaper LLC fees doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to form your LLC there.
For example, if you form an LLC in Wyoming, but live in and conduct business in Washington, you’ll also need to register your Wyoming LLC in Washington (and pay fees). And you’ll end up paying Washington taxes anyway. This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
In summary, if you are a Washington resident, then yes, Washington is the best state to form an LLC. If you don’t live in and do business in Washington, then no, Washington probably isn’t a good state to start an LLC.
Washington Corporations Division: Annual Reports
Washington Department of Revenue: Business Licensing FAQs
Washington Corporations Division: Fee Schedule and Expedited Service
Washington Corporations Division: Limited Liability Companies Online and Paper Registrations
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.