Washington Business License
Almost every business in the state will be required to apply for and acquire a Washington Business License (there are few exceptions). Formerly called the Master Business License, a Washington Business License is issued through WA Business Licensing Services. The Business License registers your company with a Department of Revenue account, allowing your company to pay state taxes and pay employees.
If you need to apply for specialty licenses, such as contractor’s licenses, you will need to have a Washington Business License.
Who Needs a Washington Business License?
If your Washington LLC, corporation or sole proprietorship will do any of the following, you will need a Washington Business License:
- Hire employees (including minors and workers in home)
- Get a specialty business license
- Register or change a trade name
- Collect and pay Washington taxes
- Buy or process specialty foods
- Do business under a name other than your full legal name
- Sell your business
- Pay or change unemployment insurance or industrial insurance
How to Get a Washington Business License
If your company fulfills any of the above, then you need to get a Washington Business License. Although it may seem complicated at first, the process is actually pretty straightforward. There are, however, a couple important things to remember:
- Form your company with the Secretary of State first (unless you are a sole proprietor)
- Do not file with the Secretary of State and the Business Licensing Service at the same time
- Determine if you are required to file a paper application (most business can file online)
The Secretary of State will issue you a Unified Business Identifier number when you form your Washington corporation or LLC. The Business Licensing Service, however, also issues UBI numbers. In a worst case scenario, if you file with both agencies at the same time, you’ll be issued two UBI numbers. File with the Secretary of State first, then use the UBI number you are issued to file with the Business Licensing Service.
Not everyone can file online.
Filing a Washington Business License Paper Application
Washington State requires certain types of businesses to file for a Washington Business License through a paper application. If your company is involved in one of the following industries, you cannot file online:
- Cigarette wholesale
- Whitewater rafting
- Debt collection
- Employment and travel agencies
- Limousine services
- Manufactured home communities
- Private investigation
- Radiology benefits
- Vehicle sales and manufacturing (including RVs, boats, and trailers)
- Scrap metal
- Taxi and towing services
- Underground storage
- Used vehicle batteries
- Waste tires
If you need to file a paper Washington Business License Application you will need to mail it to:
State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
PO Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034
If you have additional questions, you can also call: 1-800-451-7985.
File Washington Business License Application Online
My Department of Revenue Account
To apply for a Washington Business License online, you will first need to create a Department of Revenue account through their online system: MyDOR. This account will allow you to apply for the WBL, as well as file your Annual Renewal each year.
File a Washington Business License Application
In your MyDOR account, click File Business License Application. MyDOR will walk you through the filing process. The application takes about 20 minutes to complete. There is a $19 non-refundable application fee.
When filing for the Washington Business License, you can register for Industrial Insurance and Unemployment Insurance for no additional fees. You can also register a trade name, which costs $5 per name.
You may also register for special Business Endorsements. Many of these endorsements require additional forms, and their fees vary depending on the endorsement.
Wait for Processing
Online processing generally takes two business days, although during high-volume times it may take longer. Confirmations are sent by email. Once your application is accepted, a physical Washington Business License will be sent by mail.
Does My Washington Business License Register Me for Other Licenses?
No. If you need specialty licenses, such as a contractor’s license, the Washington Business License does not automatically register you for these. You will still need to contact the appropriate agency and go through their application process.
The main purpose of the WBL is to register your company with the Department of Revenue, allowing your business to pay taxes, register employees, and access certain types of insurance.