Washington law allows an individual to create a limited liability company, or LLC. An LLC is a hybrid business entity that combines the limited liability protection of a corporation with the simpler annual filing and protections against double taxation of a partnership. Establishing a Washington LLC may be a good option for an individual looking to start a small business. Starting a Washington LLC involves filing a Certificate of Formation with the Washington Secretary of State.
Choose a name for your Washington LLC. Under Washington law, the name of an LLC must contain either the phrase “Limited Liability Company” or “Limited Liability Co.” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or “LLC”. The name of your Washington company must be distinguishable from the name of any business registered or reserved with the Washington Secretary of State. To pick a unique name for your company, you may find it helpful to use the Washington Secretary of State’s Corporations Search (see Resources), which is a free online searchable database of all businesses registered with the Washington Secretary of State.
Choose a registered agent for your company. A registered agent is the person or business that, in the instance your company is sued or subpoenaed, will receive service of process. If you are a Washington citizen with a Washington street address, you may serve as the registered agent of your company. If you are not a Washington citizen, or do not wish to have your name and street address linked to your company in a public record, you may hire a registered agent service, which will act as the registered agent for your business.
Choose a method of registration. The Washington Secretary of State allows individuals to file a Certificate of Formation by Internet or mail. If filing online, you must use the Limited Liability Company On-Line Registration Form (see Resources). If filing by mail, you must use the Washington Secretary of State’s Certificate of Formation form (see Resources).
Fill out the Certificate of Formation. Provide the name and principal address of your company. Provide the date when you want your company to form and dissolve. Indicate whether owners, known as members, or managers, who are persons without an ownership stake, manage your company. Managing, in the context of a Certificate of Formation, means making day-to-day business operation decisions. Provide the name and address of your registered agent, and have your registered agent consent to appointment by signing the Certificate of Formation. Provide your name and address and sign the Certificate of Formation.
File your Certificate of Formation. As of 2010, the filing fee for a Certificate of Formation is $180. If you are filing online, follow the on-screen directions for submitting your Certificate of Formation. If filing by mail, send it to the address provided with the Washington Secretary of State’s Certificate of Formation form you downloaded (see Resources). If filing by mail, you may pay by check, credit card or debit card. If you are paying by check, it must be made payable to the Washington Secretary of State. If you are filing by mail and paying by credit or debit card, you must fill out a Credit/Debit Card Authorization form (see Resources).