How to Incorporate in Washington

Order your Washington Incorporation online. It's easy, inexpensive, and guides you through the decisions to set up your corporation the way you want.

  • Trusted formation services. We serve the compliance needs of 40,000 companies (and counting).
  • Immediate online access to your incorporation wizard, project status, and powerful integration with the secretary of state database to detect when your corporation has been approved.
  • Affordable investment starting at $99 to set up your limited liability protection.
- Rated 4.4/5 by 104 clients on Google
Order Now
An abstract background of blue waves


If you’re looking to incorporate in Washington, you’re in the right place. This guide will help you file formation documents, get tax identification numbers, and set up your company records.

Paperwork Cost Time
  • Form ProfitArticles2010: Articles of Incorporation - Washington Profit Corporation
  • Initial Annual Report
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form 2553: S-Corp Election, if desired
  • Form BLS-700-028: Washington Business License Application
  • FinCEN Beneficial Ownership Report
  • Incorporation: $180 by mail or in-person. $230 expedited by mail or in-person. $200 online.
  • Initial Annual Report: $10
  • Washington Business License Application: $19, if required
  • Incorporation: ~2 months by paper. ~2-3 business days expedited paper or online.
  • Washington Business License Application: ~2 business days online. ~21 business days by mail.
  1. Choose a Corporate Structure

    Incorporating means starting a corporation. If you want to form an LLC, please see "How to Form an LLC in Washington".

    Is your corporation for-profit or not-for-profit? If you are starting a nonprofit, please see "How to Start a Non-Profit Organization in Washington".

    C-Corp and S-Corp refer to taxation with the IRS, not to legal structures. Your corporation is taxed as a C-Corp unless you file an election to be taxed as an S-Corp (explained below).

  2. Check Name Availability

    The legal name of your corporation may not conflict with any other registered name. Check availability of your desired name by conducting a name search.

    Name Search: Washington Secretary of State - Corporations Division
    Name Reservation: Optional
    Suffix Requirements:

    Must contain the word "corporation," "incorporated," "company," or "limited," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," "co.," or "ltd.". In the case of a social purpose corporation, must contain the words "social purpose corporation" or the abbreviation "SPC" or "S.P.C." 
    RCW &sect23.95.305

  3. Appoint a Registered Agent

    Before you officially file to create your Washington LLC, you will need to decide who your Washington registered agent will be. A registered agent is a business's legal appointee to receive notice of lawsuit and other legal or government notices.

    State law requires every LLC to have a registered agent. The registered agent is designated when you file Washington articles of organization with the Washington Secretary of State - Corporations Division.

    Our reliable registered agent service fulfills this requirement. You get:

    • Same-day documents from our local office in Spokane
    • Immediate online access to state forms with our address and, where required, our signature
    • Annual fees from $89 to $99 per state with no additional charges

    Order Now
  4. File Washington Articles of Incorporation

    File the articles of incorporation to create your corporation.

    Agency:Washington Secretary of State - Corporations Division

    Articles of Incorporation - Washington Profit Corporation

    Filing Method:

    Mail, in-person, or online.

    Agency Fee:

    $180 by mail or in-person. $280 expedited by mail or in-person. $200 online.


    ~2 months by paper. ~2-3 business days expedited paper or online.


    RCW §23B Washington Business Corporation Act

    • The Secretary of State will issue your Unified Business Identifier (UBI) which is your state id across state departments.
  5. File Initial Report

    Agency:Washington Secretary of State - Corporations Division

    Use the form the secretary mailed to you with your formation certificate or file online.

    Filing Method:

    Mail or online.

    Agency Fee:

    $10 application fee + $20 online filing fee.


    Within 120 days of incorporation or qualification.


    RCW 23B.16.220.

  6. Establish Bylaws & Corporate Records

    Your corporation must keep correct and complete books and records.

    Draft bylaws (potentially using a template) which is the governing document for the corporation. The bylaws of a corporation may contain any provision for managing the business and regulating the affairs of the corporation that is not inconsistent with law or with the articles of incorporation (C.R.S. 7-102-106). You will review and ratify the bylaws at your first board of directors meeting.

    A corporation shall keep as permanent records minutes of all meetings of its shareholders and board of directors, a record of all actions taken by the shareholders or board of directors without a meeting, a record of all actions taken by a committee of the board of directors in place of the board of directors on behalf of the corporation, and a record of all waivers of notices of meetings of shareholders and of the board of directors or any committee of the board of directors (C.R.S. 7-116-101).

    Your filed articles of incorporation and bylaws are the first documents for your corporate records. Your corporation will generate many other official records such as:

    • Meeting minutes
    • Shareholder resolutions
    • EIN verification letter
    • Amendments and other filings made to the corporation over its lifetime

    Organizations need a secure, centralized tool for managing and accessing sensitive records. Our Records Manager software offers a simple, efficient way for corporations to store records, track officers, directors, and shareholders, and customize meeting notifications.

  7. Appoint Initial Directors

    The initial directors serve on the board until the annual meeting of shareholders (when directors are elected to the board). If the initial directors are not named in the articles of incorporation, they are appointed by the incorporator. The incorporator documents and signs this action for the corporate records.

  8. Hold Organizational Meeting

    Hold the organizational meeting of the incorporators or initial directors in compliance with RCW §23B.02.050. Keep minutes of this meeting.

    The following state laws apply unless overridden by the organizational documents, where permissible.

    Directors Officers
    • Number: One or more required.
    • Qualifications: None.
    • Quorum: Majority of directors, unless bylaws or articles of incorporations fix a different number. No less than one third.
    • As stated in the bylaws, but a minimum of one. One person may hold multiple offices. One officer is required to be responsible for maintaining corporate records.
  9. Issue Stock Certificates

    The owners may be issued stock certificates to serve as proof of ownership in the corporation. Remember to hold the first annual meeting of the shareholders (the owners of the corporation) according to bylaws and keep minutes of this meeting.

    The following state laws apply unless overridden by the organizational documents, where permissible.

    Shareholders Annual Shareholder Meeting
    • Qualifications: N/A
    • Stock Certificate: Not required.
    • Voting Trusts Allowed: Yes.
    • Required: Yes, unless directors are elected by written consent.
    • Action by written consent: Allowed if enough shareholders consent to equal the number required to take action by vote.
  10. Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

    Your corporation must obtain an EIN regardless of whether it will hire employees.

    Submit to: Internal Revenue Service
    Form: IRS Form SS-4
    Guidance: IRS Pub 1635: Understanding Your EIN
    Filing Method: Mail, phone, fax, or apply online with the IRS
    Fee: $0
    Turnaround: Immediately online
    Notes: The IRS website is only available during certain hours. Print your EIN before closing your session.
  11. Report Beneficial Ownership Information to FinCEN

    As of January 1, 2024, millions of entities in the US need to report beneficial ownership information (BOI) to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as part of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). Non-exempt corporations formed before that date must submit BOI by December 31, 2024, while those formed after must submit it within 30 days of formation. Our BOI Reporting Service includes up to four initial, updated, and corrected reports per year, ensuring the data you report to FinCEN is kept up to date.

  12. Get Washington State Tax Identification Numbers/Accounts

    The Unified Business Identifier (UBI) issued to your corporation by the Secretary of State is also your organization's id with the Department of Revenue.

    You must register with the Department of Revenue if you meet any of the following conditions:

    • Your business is required to collect sales tax.
    • Your gross income is $12,000 per year or more.
    • Your business is required to pay taxes or fees to the Department of Revenue.
    • You are a buyer or processor of specialty wood products.

    Agency:Washington Department of Revenue
    Form:Form BLS-700-028: Washington Business License Application
    Filing Method:Mail or online
    Agency Fee:


    Turnaround:~2 business days online. ~21 business days by mail.
    Notes:Washington Department of Revenue - New Business Tax Basics Booklet
  13. Consider Electing S-Corp Taxation

    By default, your corporation is taxed as a C-Corporation. Some corporations, especially smaller ones, benefit from electing S-Corp tax treatment:

    • C-Corps suffer from double taxation: the corporation pays taxes on profits then members pay taxes on their distributions. If profits exceed $250,000 per owner, you provide employee benefits, or you will re-invest most of your profit in the business, you may benefit from the low tax rates on retained earnings under C-Corp treatment.
    • S-Corp treatment avoids double-taxation. It is generally the best choice for small businesses. To accomplish this, file Form 2553: S-Corp Election with the IRS.
  14. Obtain Business Licenses & Permits

    To run your business legally, you must obtain applicable licenses and permits. The easiest way to navigate the wide range of federal, state, and local requirements is to search by your business type and locality using the Small Business Administration Business License & Permit look-up tool.

    Washington Business License

    Agency:Washington Department of Revenue - Business Licensing Service

    RCW § 19.02.070.

    Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:Not Set
    Ownership Requirements:

    If your business structure will be one of the following, you must file with the Washington Secretary of State before filing the Business License Application:

    • Washington (Domestic) Corporation
    • Washington (Domestic) Partnership
    • Washington (Domestic) Liability Company
    • Washington (Domestic) Limited Liability Partnership

    You need a license if you meet 1 or more of the following criteria:

    • Your business grosses $12,000 or more per year.
    • You’re doing business using a name other than your full legal name.
    • You plan to hire employees within the next 90 days.
    • You sell a product or provide a service that is taxable.
    • Your business has specialty licenses available through the Business Licensing Service.
    Exam Required?Not Set
    Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?Not Set

    Initial Registration


    Business License Application

    Filing Method:

    Mail or online

    Agency Fee:

    Fees vary. There is a $90 fee for opening a new business and a $19 for registering a trade name, adding additional endorsements to an existing location, or making similar changes to an existing license.

    Renewal Not Required

    Not required

    General business licenses do not need to be renewed.

  15. Ongoing Filings to Maintain Your Corporation

    You must file federal and state tax returns.

    Annual Report

    Many states also require business entities to file an annual report to maintain good standing with the secretary of state.

    Agency:Washington Secretary of State - Corporations Division
    Filing Method:


    Agency Fee:



    Annually by the end of the registration anniversary month. So if you incorporated or foreign-qualified on March 15, then your annual report is due every year by March 31. You may start filing 45 days prior.


    RCW 23.95.255


    $25 late fee. Your business also risks being dissolved or revoked.

    • Anyone with authority may file.
    • Original signatures are not required.
    • Expedited service is available for an additional $50.

    For more details, see our Washington annual report information center page.

    You will need to demonstrate your company’s good standing to banks, customers, and other state agencies. After all the work involved in forming your Washington corporation, don’t let a missed annual report filing cause your new business to fall out of compliance.

    Tracking and filing annual reports on your own can be time consuming and lead to accidental lapses. Protect your corporation’s good standing with Managed Annual Report Service, which tracks and automatically files reports on time, every time, so you can focus on your business.

Helpful Tools

We use Harbor Compliance fairly regularly for new business formation and as registered agents. They have consistently provided great service very quickly. They have also been extremely responsive to both emails and phone calls.
TimRoute Consultant, Inc.
Harbor Compliance provided excellent customer support and handle everything in establishing my corporation in Texas. They set up my new corporation, obtained a Federal EIN# and provided By-Laws for my corporation quickly and efficiently. John and Cliff both were responsive and provided answers right away to my questions. I am very happy to have relied on Harbor Compliance and will use them again for any future needs.
HarrySidere Technology, Inc.
Thank you Harbor Compliance. We are a small contractor business out here in NYC. We came across Harbor Compliance searching online, gave them a call on Tuesday noon, told them our situation, what we needed over the phone, all papers filed and sent back to me Friday morning. Thank you so much for your prompt service Harbor Compliance!
MichaelMHLin and Partners Inc.