How to Start a Business in Washington State

The Evergreen State offers a multitude of reasons why you should start business there. One standout reason is that, according to the Commerce Department, Washington State’s economy was the fastest growing in the nation last year (4.4 percent).

Make your business idea a reality! Washington state is a pro-business climate with no actual income tax. Furthermore, to start business in Washington state offers an active lifestyle and gives an entrepreneur the pride of owning their own business.

Here, we give you every step you need to arrange your Limited Liability Company (LLC) business structure without having to pay someone else to do it for you. Once you have a business plan, anyone can form an LLC without professional assistance. Keep in mind, however, there will be filing fees no matter how you proceed.

Do it Yourself

There are many legitimate turnkey services to choose from that will save you time, but doing it yourself will save you money, plus you are engaged in the process. From the first day of your journey, you are in control.  And you don’t have to rely on an automated service that may or may not be in business next week. And you don’t have to count on an international, automated website that may not be privy to Washington state idiosyncrasies.

Follow these 10 Steps

  1. Name your LLC and register your company name as a .com domain

A great name is imperative from both a memorable and brand one. A unique name will set you apart from the competition and hopefully, facilitate a web presence helmed by a .com. Your website brand must be synonymous with your moniker. It may take arduous amounts of hours for one to create, but it is worth it. Don’t make the name too long. Marry it to your product art service as best you can. And set up email service so that your employees and you can be labeled for communication under your company name.

  1. Choose your registered agent

If this is not part of your business plan, it should be. When forming an LLC, you must have a registered office and a registered agent. If your business is small, that should be you because you must be accessible during business hours and you can negotiate with mail and delivery services. If you choose this route, you must live and do business in Washington state. It’s not an internet or satellite option.  Perhaps one downside is that the address you file as an agent becomes public record. Thus, if you use your home address, you lose a degree of privacy.

  1. File the certificate of formation with the Secretary of State

This step is critical. Since you’ve decided to organize your business structure as a corporation, you must create and file a certificate of incorporation. It is a legal document that legitimizes your LLC as properly formed. It makes it official, regarded as a legal entity in Washington state. If you want a legal copy of your start-ups formation and articles of incorporation, you can request it online at a cost of $40 and $3 per document.

  1. Get your UBI number

UBI is an acronym for United Business Identifier. Sometimes it is labeled as a tax registration number or business registration number. It is a nine digit number used by state agencies to specifically identify a business. After the Secretary of State processes your formation, they will send you a confirmation via email or mail. Your UBI will be included in that correspondence. Once you obtain it, you can utilize it right away. You can use this number when doing business with other state agencies. And the number will never change for the duration of your business.

  1. Submit your Master Business License Application

This is a license specific to a Washington business. Some but not all businesses are required to obtain it by law to conduct business activities in Washington state. You need one if your business will conduct activity using a name other than your legal name, your business requires city and state endorsements, you plan to hire employees in the next 90 days, your gross income is $12,000 or more. To see other requirements, check out this LINK.

  1. File your initial report

120 days after you filed for your business formation, an initial report is due for all Washington state LLC’s. File the same method as you originally did, via email or online. Should you file online, you will get immediate confirmation and that task is complete.

  1. Create an operating agreement

This is not required to do business in Washington, but they are recommended as they are a source of protection for your business. According to the SBA (Small Business Administration), “an operating agreement is an important document used by all LLC’s because it outlines the financial and functional decisions by the business, including rules, regulations and provisions. It’s a contract binding members of the LLC to its terms.” Click or tap HERE for a guide to crafting an Operating Agreement.

  1. Obtain a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

An EIN is a Federal Employer Identification number. Incfile and Legalzoom suggest you enlist their help to obtain an EIN, but that is not necessary. Apply online for an EIN HERE. It immediately provides a number once you’ve completed the application. And you saved $30.  Incfile and Legalzoom are legitimate file processors. But they can give the impression that their service is vital. For instance, you do not need their help establishing a business bank account with your EIN.  Incfile is partnered with Bank of America. They act to turnkey your process. There is nothing wrong with that, but patience and common sense will save you unnecessary expenditures. Every penny counts in a start-up!

9, Renewal of Business License

Licenses must be renewed annually. You will receive due date notice six weeks prior to the renewal date. Late fees apply. Make note of this as a detail in your business plan.

To ensure a business of integrity with Washington business, please abide by the government’s rules, file accurate taxes and remain vigilant of any potential changes that may occur.  And choose a wonderful business location that is synonymous with your brand and hopefully, your lifestyle too!

Washington state is a vibrant place to live and work from the sophistication of Seattle to the chill spots in Spokane to glorious slopes in Crystal Mountain to hiking the Middle Index. Button up your business now. Soon, you will be buttoning up your jackets!




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Chris Fuller