Quick Start Guide
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Washington.
Washington LLC Costs:
Washington LLC state filing fee: $200
Washington LLC annual report fee: $60
Initial Report filings for Washington LLCs
All Washington LLCs must file an Initial Report.
An Initial Report is simply your Washington LLC’s 1st Annual Report.
The Initial Report is due within 120 days of your Washington LLC being formed. Day 1 is the date that’s stamped in your LLC approval, the “Certificate of Formation – Fulfilled“. Please look in the upper right for that date.
The Initial Report must be submitted to the Washington Secretary of State.
If you’ve followed our Washington LLC lessons in order, you should have already filed your Initial Report along with your Certificate of Formation (as per our recommendation); however, if you’re coming to this page for the first time, there is a chance you didn’t know about this requirement. Don’t worry. We’re going to show you how to file your Initial Report and keep your Washington LLC in good standing with the state.
(we’ll discuss ongoing LLC Annual Reports in another lesson)
Initial Report Fee for Washington LLC:
The Washington LLC Initial Report fee is $30 if you file online. The Initial Report fee is $10 if you file by mail.
If you were to file the Initial Report with your Certificate of Formation, the fee would be $0.
Just to repeat, we are assuming you have already formed your Washington LLC (by filing a Certificate of Formation). If you have not yet formed your Washington LLC, then you don’t need to worry about this stand-alone Initial Report filing. Instead, just follow our Certificate of Formation lesson which walks you through filing both the Certificate of Formation and the Initial Report at the same time.
If you don’t file your Washington LLC Initial Report within 120 days, the Secretary of State has the power to administratively dissolve your LLC. Said another way, they’ll shut it down.
The state doesn’t technically send a reminder notice about your Initial Report. Instead, they encourage filers to form their Washington LLC online and submit the Initial Report at the same time.
However, if you filed your Certificate of Formation without filing the Initial Report, you’ll just get one “reminder notice” and that will be in the Congratulation Letter, which is mailed to your Washington LLC Registered Agent’s address. The Congratulation Letter will also be emailed to you.
Having said all that, whether or not you get any notice at all doesn’t matter. It is still your responsibility to make sure you file your Washington LLC Initial Report within 120 days of your LLC filing date.
Initial Report Filing Methods:
Your Washington LLC Initial Report can be filed by mail or it can be filed online.
The fee for filing by mail is $10 and the fee for filing online is $30 (the state automatically adds a $20 “expedited fee” to all online filings).
Important: The step-by-step information below is only for the online filing method. This is the state’s preferred method of receiving Initial Reports and we also recommend filing online as it’s easier and much faster. However, if you’d like to file by mail instead, please download the Paper Initial Report and mail it to the state with a check or money order for $10 (payable to “Secretary of State”). The mailing address is WA Corporation & Charities Division, PO Box 40234, Olympia, WA 98504-0234.
Washington LLC Initial Report (Online)
If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to create an online account with the state. This is called the Corporations & Charities Filing System (CCFS).
Here’s how to create an account:
1. Go to the CCFS login page: https://ccfs.sos.wa.gov/#/
2. Click “Create a User Account” on the right.
3. Under “User Account” click “Continue”.
4. For User Type, select “Individual” and click “Continue”.
5. Create a User ID and a password.
6. Enter your contact information and your most-often-checked email address.
7. Click “Register” and then look for an email the state sent you. You’ll need to click the confirmation link to verify your account setup.
8. Once verified, you can now login to your CCFS online dashboard.
– In the left navigation menu, click “Business Maintenance Filings”.
– Then click “Initial Report”.
You can search for your LLC using either your LLC’s UBI Number or its name.
UBI stands for “Unified Business Identifier“, it’s unique to your Washington LLC, and it will be used across multiple state agencies.
Please look at your LLC’s stamped and approved Certificate of Formation. Your LLC’s UBI Number will be in the upper right.
Enter your LLC’s UBI Number (or your LLC name) and click “Search Business”. Look for your LLC name in the list below, select your name, then click “Continue”.
You will notice some of your LLC’s information is already in the report. This is because the Washington LLC has pulled this information from your Certificate of Formation filing.
The Principal Office address is where the primary business activities take place and/or where business records are kept.
The street address of your Washington LLC’s Principal Office can’t be a PO Box address. It also can’t be a PMB (Private Mailbox) or CMRA (Commercial Mail Receiving Agency), such as The UPS Store.
Your Washington LLC’s Principal Office location must be a street address, however this street address does not need to be located in Washington state, or within the United States for that matter. This address can be located within Washington state, outside of Washington state, or in any country.
For many filers this address will be their actual office address or their home address.
Phone & Email: Phone number is optional, but an email address must be entered.
Address Confidentiality Program: “I attest, under penalty of law, that I am a participant of the Address Confidentiality Program.”
Don’t check this box off unless you are a part of the Washington Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), as per Chapter 40.24 RCW. The ACP program offers privacy for people who have been the victim of a crime.
Your Principal Office address information is likely already filled in.
Verify that it is correct and then move to the next section, or make any changes/updates if needed.
In Washington state, the term “Governor” means any LLC Member or LLC Manager.
You are required to list at least one Governor for your Washington LLC. If you’d like to list more than one LLC Governor, click the “Add Governor” button to save each entry.
When opening an LLC bank account, the bank representatives will likely be looking for all the LLC Members to be listed as Governors in the Certificate of Formation; however, you are not required by law to do this. Of course if you don’t mind all LLC Members being on record, then you should add them.
However, if you’d only like to list 1 Governor you can do so. Then, to make your documentation and paper trail better for the bank, show them your LLC Operating Agreement (which lists all the LLC Members) and have the Executor (aka Organizer) sign a Statement of Organizer. This document shows the Executor creating the LLC and then appointing all of the LLC Members. The Statement of Organizer form is an internal document and does not need to be filed with the Secretary of State. The bank shouldn’t have an issue opening your LLC bank account with an Operating Agreement and Statement of Organizer.
Member-Managed vs. Manager-Managed LLC:
Although you don’t need to tell the Washington Secretary of State whether or not your LLC will be Member-Managed or Manager-Managed (or whether the Governor is a Member or a Manager), we think the following articles will be helpful for you to understand how LLCs are managed.
LLC University® related articles:
For more information on LLC Governors in Washington state, please see #12 of RCW 23.95.105.
Nature of Business:
Select the type of business (or the type of businesses, if multiple) that your Washington LLC will engage in.
If you can’t find something that fits the nature of your LLC business from the drop-down menu, you can check off the “Other” box below and enter the business activities your LLC will engage in.
For example, it can just be a few words like “real estate investing”, “coffee shop”, “online retail”, or it can be a longer explanation or sentence if needed.
Washington state also allows for a general purpose, which means your LLC can engage in any and all legal activity. If you prefer to file your Washington LLC with a general purpose, you can select “Any Lawful Purpose” from the drop-down menu.
If you’re not 100% sure about what your Washington LLC will engage in, or you’re worried that the state will always force you to do the same thing, that’s not the case. You can always update your LLC’s business purpose in your ongoing Annual Report. Or you can just select a general purpose LLC, which is what most filers do.
Select “Date of Filing” since you’ll want this Initial Report to be effective as soon as possible.
Return Address for this Filing:
This section is optional and can be used if you would like your LLC Initial Report approval mailed and/or emailed somewhere besides the default address.
By default, the state mails a stamped and approved copy of your Initial Report to your LLC’s Registered Agent’s address. They’ll also send you an email with your approval document attached (the email you used when creating your CCFS account).
If instead you’d like the stamped and approved copy of your Initial Report mailed to an address different than your LLC Registered Agent’s address, you can enter that here.
Do keep in mind that whatever information is entered in this section will become a part of your LLC filing and will therefore be listed on the state’s website (this information isn’t private).
Most filers are okay with the default address and leave this section blank.
Upload Additional Documents:
This section can be used if you’d like to include any additional attachments with your LLC Initial Report.
Most filers don’t upload any additional attachments.
An Authorized Person is the person or company who has the authority to sign your LLC Initial Report.
Most filers are the Members (owners) of their LLC as well as the Authorized Person.
If that’s the case for you, check off the box that says “I am an authorized person”, select “Individual”, enter your first and last name, and then check off the box in the bottom section that the information listed in your LLC Initial Report is true and correct.
Once finished, click the “Continue” button to go to the next step.
On the next page, you will see a preview of your Washington LLC Initial Report. Please review this page carefully and look for any errors or typos.
If you need to make any changes, click the “Back” button at the bottom.
If everything looks good, Click the “Add to Cart” button to proceed.
Select the checkbox to the left of your LLC Initial Report filing and then click the “Check Out” button.
The “online rapid processing fee” of $20 is mandatory and is automatically added to the $10 base fee when filing your LLC Initial Report online ($30 total).
Next, click “Proceed to Checkout”.
Enter your first and last name, then enter your credit or debit card information, and click the “Place Your Order” button.
Congratulations, your Washington LLC Initial Report has been filed for processing!
Now you just need to wait for your Initial Report to be approved.
Washington LLC Initial Report Approval
After submitting your filing online, your Washington LLC Initial Report is processed instantly.
(however, if you file by mail, the processing time is 10-12 business days)
Your stamped and approved Initial Report will be mailed to your Registered Agent’s address, as well as sent to you by email.
However, you can also download the approval document right away.
Just search for your LLC name on the state’s Business Search page. Click “Filing History”, click on “Initial Report – Fulfilled”, then click the document icon to download and save.
Here’s an example of what an approved Initial Report will look like:
Next Step: Washington LLC Operating Agreement
Once you file your Washington LLC Initial Report, you can then proceed to the next lesson: Washington LLC Operating Agreement.
Washington Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the Washington Secretary of State at 360-725-0377. Their hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm Pacific Time.