What it is and how to get one.
A Washington Corporation is a legal entity formed under the state’s Business Corporation Act (Chapter 23B of the Revised Code of Washington). A corporation is created by filing the necessary documents, starting with Washington Secretary of State and obtaining a Certificate of Incorporation.
We’re going to tell it to you straight: forming a Washington corporation isn’t particularly simple. Washington State has more corporate filings and agencies to file with than most states, and there are a lot of snags that you can hit and easily make the process longer and more expensive than it needs to be.
We offer a simple, streamlined Washington Corporation formation package to incorporate your business smoothly, but if you prefer to handle the paperwork on your own, here are the basic steps to get started.
- NAME YOUR CORPORATION
- SUBMIT ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
- WRITE CORPORATE BYLAWS
- OBTAIN AN EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (EIN)
- FILE YOUR BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP INFORMATION (BOI) REPORT
- APPLY FOR A WASHINGTON BUSINESS LICENSE
- SUBMIT AN INITIAL REPORT
- PROCEED WITH ADDITIONAL WASHINGTON CORPORATION REQUIREMENTS
Steps to Incorporating in Washington
1. NAME YOUR CORPORATION
Are there name restrictions for corporations?
Yes. The Secretary of State requires you to include one of the following corporate identifiers: Corporation, Incorporated, Company, Limited, Corp., Inc., Co., or Ltd. The name you choose cannot already be registered to another entity within the state.
You can check for availability of corporation names by doing a Washington business entity search.
Are there prohibited words?
The following words are prohibited from use: Bank, Banking, Banker, Trust, Cooperative, the combination of the words Industrial and Loan, the combination of any two or more of the words Building, Savings, Loan, Home, Association and Society.
2. SUBMIT ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
What are Articles of Incorporation?
Articles of Incorporation are the official legal document that you submit to the Secretary of State to form your Washington corporation. Articles of Incorporation list basic information about your corporation, such as your company name, your principal business address, and your Washington registered agent.
How do I submit Articles of Incorporation?
You can submit the Articles of Incorporation by mail or online. If you incorporate in Washington online, you will be able to file your Initial Report online as well. We advise online filing or, if submitting a paper document, paying the $50 expedite fee. Non-expedited paper filings will take two months to process. Online filings and expedited mailed filings are processed in two to five business days.
What is the Washington incorporation fee?
To incorporate in Washington you must pay a $180 filing fee. Online filings are charged an additional $20 processing fee. To expedite a paper filing, you must add $50.
What is a Washington registered agent?
A Washington registered agent is designated to accept legal documents, service of process and official notifications on behalf of your company. Every registered agent is required to maintain a physical location within the state where certified mail can be delivered. You must appoint an agent on your Articles of Incorporation.
3. WRITE CORPORATE BYLAWS
Corporate Bylaws govern the ownership and management of your Washington corporation. Bylaws are written and ratified by your initial shareholders. In many ways, Bylaws are the most important document in your company, since they serve as a blueprint for how your Washington corporation will operate.
What is included in my Bylaws?
Regarding ownership, your Washington Corporate Bylaws should list the names and addresses of your initial shareholders, their initial contributions to the corporation, as well the amount of shares and class of shares each shareholder received for their contribution. The rights and responsibilities associated with those shares should be carefully described.
Regarding management, Bylaws need to assign your company’s initial Board of Directors and Corporate Officers. The duties and powers of each position should be described in full.
4. OBTAIN AN EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (EIN)
Every Washington corporation is required to apply for and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. Even corporate holding companies that conduct no business are required to obtain an EIN.
What is an EIN for?
An EIN is a tax identification number for your Washington corporation. The IRS uses this number for federal tax purposes, such as tracking the federal withholdings of your employees. Similar to a Social Security Number, you company’s EIN is a totally unique identifier.
How do I get an EIN?
You can obtain an EIN by applying through the IRS website. There is no charge for an EIN.
5. FILE YOUR BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP INFORMATION (BOI) REPORT
What is the BOI Report?
The BOI, or Beneficial Ownership Information, report is a mandatory, no-cost filing required by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) through the Corporate Transparency Act. Its purpose is to combat money laundering and other financial crimes by collecting data on who is profiting and benefiting from, or controlling each company.
When is the BOI due?
Businesses incorporated on or after January 1, 2024 must file their report on the FinCEN website within 30 days of incorporation. Those incorporated prior to 2024 may file their initial report anytime before the end of 2024.
6. APPLY FOR A WASHINGTON BUSINESS LICENSE
What is a Washington Business License?
Washington’s Business License is a registration with the Department of Revenue. It is not, in reality, a license, although it will register your corporation for certain city licenses within the state. Any company hiring employees or paying taxes in the state is required to obtain a Washington Business License.The WBL allows you to register your corporation not only for state taxes, but for unemployment and industrial insurance, work permits for minors, and trade names for your corporation.An WBL should not be confused for the licenses or permits required for operating certain types of businesses within the state. Specialty permits are obtained through the Department of Licensing.
What is the fee for a Washington Business License?
The flat rate for a Washington Business License application is $19. The price adjusts depending upon additional registrations, such as registering a trade name or applying to do business in certain cities.
How can I apply?
To apply for a Washington Business License, you must submit the application to the Department of Revenue Business Licensing Service. This can be done by mail or online. It is advised that you apply online.
Please remember to file your Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State before you apply for an WBL. Both the SOS and the DOR can issue a Unified Business Identifier (UBI). If you make the applications out of order, your corporation may be accidentally issued two UBIs.
7. SUBMIT AN INITIAL REPORT
Washington corporations are required to file an Annual Renewal with the Secretary of State’s office. The first report, called an Initial Report, is due within 120 days of incorporation. If you incorporate in Washington online, then you can also submit your Initial Report online. If you incorporate in Washington by mail, you must wait until the Secretary of State mails you a notice to file.
How much does the Initial Report cost?There is a $69 filing fee to process an Initial Report. Failure to file on time will result in late fee of $25.
Let Us Start Your Corporation Easily, and at a Fair Cost
Our simple, streamlined Washington corporation formation package covers everything to successfully launch your new Washington corporation:
- Articles of Incorporation Filing With Secretary of State
- Unified Business Identifier (UBI)
- Initial Report Filing
- Customized Corporate Bylaws
- Personalized Corporate Shareholder Certificates
- One Year Washington Registered Agent Service
Our Washington corporation package costs $359, which includes the $200 state filing fees and one year of registered agent service. We’ll file your documents immediately, and the Washington Secretary of State will have file your documents within 2-5 business days.
5-day processing, year round support. That’s our promise.
Why Our Washington Incorporation Rocks:
We think pretty highly of our Washington corporation formation package. Honestly, we think you will too. Here’s why:
- 5-Day Corporation Formation
- Initial Report Filing Included
- One Year of Washington Registered Agent Service Included
- 60-Day Free Trial of Phone Service (a virtual phone line for your business)
- Commercial Corporation Documents Included (Bylaws, Shareholder Certificates)
- No Hidden Fees
- No Add-Ons
- No Upsells
- Use Our Commercial Address on Your Business Filings
- Instant Access to Secure Client Portal
- Same-Day Uploads of Service of Process to Your Client Portal
- We Never Resell Your Data
- Year Round Customer Service Support From Real Washington Business Experts
Every Washington corporation order is processed and managed by one of our WA business formation experts. Our team members understand exactly where most formations go wrong and how to avoid the problems that hold up most filings. We have built a team of local filing experts: Secretary of State filers, Washington CPAs and corporate attorneys, and Department of Revenue customer support staff.
We know Washington.
We don’t hide our prices. Here’s where the money goes:
|Washington State Filing Fee||$200|
|Our Incorporation Service Fee||$100|
|One Year Registered Agent Service||$59|
Need other services for your Washington LLC? We can help:
- Annual Report Compliance Service
- S-Corporation Application
- Corporate Book and Seal
- Certified Copies
- Certificate of Good Standing
- Federal Tax ID (FEIN)
- How to Incorporate in Washington
- Register a DBA with our Trade Name Service for $116
Additional Washington Corporation Requirements
OPEN BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT
Any monetary transactions processed by your corporation should go through a business bank account, not your personal checking or savings. Your corporate bank account will be used to purchase assets, pay employees and taxes, and process debits and credits.
What documents are needed to open a corporate account?
Every bank branch has its own particular requirements for documentation. You will want to contact the bank. Most banks will need to see, at the very least, documents proving the existence of your Washington corporation: copies of Articles of Incorporation, Corporate Bylaws, as well as an initial resolution authorizing the opening of accounts.
WASHINGTON SPECIALTY BUSINESS LICENSES
What is a Washington specialty business license?
A Washington specialty business license authorizes your corporation to conduct certain types of business. Business licenses are issued by the government agency which oversees and regulates the industry your corporation is a part of.
But don’t I already have a WA Business License?
A WA Business License is not actually a business license. It is a registration with the Department of Revenue. A business license for a specific industry is issued through the Department of Licensing. It is confusing, but they are not the same thing.
What does a Washington specialty business license cost?
It depends on the license. Each profession and industry sets its own fees.
FILE ANNUAL RENEWAL
What is a Washington Annual Renewal?
After you incorporate in Washington, you must file an Washington State Annual Renewal each year with the Secretary of State, called an Annual Renewal. The renewal updates basic corporate information kept on file by the Secretary of State, such as your principal business address and your Washington registered agent.
What is the Annual Renewal fee?
There is a $71 filing fee for processing the Annual Renewal.
How can I file?
You can submit an Annual Renewal online or by mail. It is advised that you file online, which is simpler and processed more quickly.