How to Form a Corporation in the District of Columbia

by Michael Keenan
Forming a corporation allows you to issue stock.

Forming a corporation allows you to issue stock.

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Forming a corporation won't automatically help your work-life balance, but it will at least help keep your business liabilities separate from your personal assets because you'll have limited liability. If you want to do business in the District of Columbia, you have to register your corporation with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

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Articles of Incorporation

Prepare your articles of incorporation. You can do this by using the DBU-1 form, available from the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs' website, or by creating your own as long as it includes all of the required information. The articles of incorporation must include the corporation's name, how many shares it can issue, the name and address of the corporation's registered agent, and the name and address of each of the incorporators. Optional information includes the names and addresses of the initial directors and the purposes and duration of the corporation.

Fees and Turnaround

Determine your registration fee by consulting the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs' website (see Resources). The amount of the fee varies according to the amount of capital your corporation is authorized to raise. For further help, call the Corporations Division at (202) 442-4400. After you've submitted your registration, it generally takes about 15 business days to process. The processing time starts once all of the paperwork is received and payment is received from your bank. However, for an additional fee you can have the processing expedited to either one or three business days.

Mailing Your Registration

After you've completed your articles of incorporation, mail it along with the registration fee to Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations Division, P.O. Box 92300, Washington, DC 20090 if you're sending it through the U.S. Postal Service. If you send it using a service other than the U.S. Postal Service, mail the articles of incorporation and the registration fee to: Wells Fargo Bank, 7175 Columbia Gateway Drive, Lockbox # 92300, Columbia, MD 21046.

Alternatives to Filing by Mail

The District of Columbia also allows you to form your corporation online through the Corporation Division of the District of Columbia's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs' website. To do so, you have to create an account on the website and then provide all of the same information that you would have otherwise provided through a paper application. In addition, if you form your corporation online, you must pay the registration fees with a credit card. You can also register your business in person at the Cashier's Office, located at the Business Licensing Center on the 2nd Floor at 1100 4th Street, SW. You can pay in cash of by check or credit card. All walk-in customers are charged for expedited processing.