How to Set Up an LLC in Washington State

By Lisa Magloff

A limited liability company is a type of business structure that mixes the characteristics of a corporation with a partnership. The owners of the LLC -- called members -- generally have only limited personal liability for the debts of the company. In Washington, application for LLC status involves filing a form, called the certificate of formation, with the Washington Secretary of State Corporations Division. In order to submit the form, owners need to follow certain steps to ensure they comply with Washington laws related to LLCs.

Step 1

Chose a name for your company that contains the words "Limited Liability Company" or the abbreviations "L.L.C." or "LLC". The name must also be distinguishable from the name of other LLCs already registered in Washington. There are certain words that are prohibited from being used in the name of LLCs. These include the words “bank” or “banking,” “trust,” “corporation,” and “partnership.” The name cannot imply that the company has any other purpose than the stated purpose.

Step 2

Conduct a name search through the State of Washington's business name search engine. The state will also check the name when you file your registration forms, but if the name is already taken, you will need to start again and may lose your filing fee.

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Step 3

Establish a registered office and registered agent for your LLC. In Washington, all LLCs are required to have a registered office physically located in the state. This must be in a building and cannot be merely a post office box. The LLC can act as its own registered office. All LLCs are also required to have a registered agent. The registered agent is a person or another business that resides in the state and can accept legal and official documents on behalf of the LLC. A member or employee of the company may act as registered agent.

Step 4

Fill out the certificate of formation. You may download the form from the Secretary of State and mail it in or complete the form entirely online. You will need to include the name and address of the company, the registered office and registered agent, the date of dissolution if there is one, a statement as to how the company will be managed, and the name, address and signature of all the members. You may also attach additional information, such as any operating agreement.

Step 5

Send or deliver the certificate of formation and pay the required fee. As of 2010, there is a filing fee of $175. If filing online, the fee may be paid by credit card. If filing the forms by mail, the fee may be paid by check.

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