How to Form an LLC in Washington D.C.

This guide to starting an LLC in Washington D.C. provides step-by-step instructions on filing formation documents, obtaining tax IDs, and setting up company records.

Overview

LLCs are the most popular business structure because they are inexpensive to form, provide flexibility to the owners, and are easy to run. Forming your LLC legally establishes your business, limits your personal liability, and gains tax flexibility. The following step-by-step will help you as you undertake this process.

Fast Facts: Your Budget and Timeline

Here is an overview of the total paperwork, cost, and time it takes to form an LLC in Washington D.C.. Be sure to read the final step in this guide - "Ongoing Filings" - to understand your ongoing costs to maintain a compliant Washington D.C. LLC.


Paperwork
  • Form DLC-1: Articles of Organization for Domestic Limited Liability Company
  • Operating Agreement
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form FR-500: Combines Business Tax Registration
  • D.C. Business License
  • Initial Report
Cost
  • Formation: $220 + optional $50-$100 expedite fee
  • D.C. Business License: varies
  • Initial Report: $300
Time
  • Formation: ~3-4 weeks by mail. ~10 business days online. ~3 business days for $50 expedite fee. ~1 business day for $100 expedite fee. In-person documents are expedited and processed same-day.

Step-by-Step Washington D.C. LLC Instructions

  1. Check Name Availability

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

    Name Search: District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs - Corporations Division
    Name search
    Name Reservation: Optional
    Suffix:

    The name of a limited liability company other than a professional limited liability company shall contain the words "limited liability company" or "limited company" or the abbreviation "L.L.C.", "LLC", "L.C.", or "LC". The name of a professional limited liability company shall contain the words "professional limited liability company" or the abbreviation "P.L.L.C." or "PLLC". "Limited" may be abbreviated as "Ltd.", and "company" may be abbreviated as "Co.". 
    D.C. Code §29-103.02(f)

  2. Appoint a Registered Agent

    Before you officially file to create your Washington D.C. LLC, you will need to decide who your Washington D.C. 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 D.C. articles of organization with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs - Corporations Division.

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

    • Same-day documents from our local office in Washington
    • 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

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  3. File Washington D.C. Certificate of Formation

    File the articles of organization to create your limited liability company.

    Agency:District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs - Corporations Division
    Form:

    Articles of Organization for Domestic Limited Liability Company DLC-1

    Filing Method:

    Mail, in-person, or online.

    Agency Fee:

    $220 + optional $50-$100 expedite fee

    Turnaround:

    ~3-4 weeks by mail. ~10 business days online. ~3 business days for $50 expedite fee. ~1 business day for $100 expedite fee. In-person documents are expedited and processed same-day.

    Law:

    D.C. Code §29-801 et seq

    Fact Checked:6/13/17
  4. Establish Company Records

    Your LLC must keep correct and complete books and records. Your filed articles of organization are the first documents for your LLC’s records. Your LLC will generate many other official records such as:

    • Meeting minutes
    • Operating agreement
    • EIN verification letter
    • Amendments and other filings made to the LLC throughout its lifetime

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

  5. Create the Operating Agreement

    Draft an Operating Agreement (potentially using a template) which is the governing document for the LLC. It defines the formalities of how the LLC will run itself such as holding an annual meeting. You will review and adopt the agreement at your organizational meeting.

  6. Hold the Organizational Meeting

    The first meeting of the members of the LLC is the organizational meeting. You will need your filed articles of organization and your operating agreement in order to conduct this meeting. Keep minutes of this meeting and store them in your company record book.

  7. Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

    If your LLC has more than one member or will hire employees, it must obtain an EIN. An EIN is also often required to open a bank account.

    Agency:Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
    Form:

    IRS Form SS-4

    Filing Method:

    Mail, phone, fax, or online.

    IRS fee:

    $0

    Turnaround:

    Immediately online or by phone. 4 business days by fax. 4-5 weeks by mail.

    Notes:

    The IRS website is only available during certain hours. Print your EIN before closing your session. For additional guidance, see IRS Pub 1635: Understanding Your EIN.

    Fact Checked:8/28/19
  8. Get Washington D.C. State Tax Identification Numbers/Accounts

    The District of Columbia offers a consolidated state tax registration application.

    Submit to:
    District of Columbia - Office of Tax and Revenue
    http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/
    Form:
    Form FR-500: Combines Business Tax Registration
    Fee:
    $0
    Filing Method:
    Mail or online
  9. Consider Electing S-Corp or C-Corp Taxation

    By default, your LLC receives pass-through taxation and the vast majority of LLCs keep this tax classification. Some LLCs benefit from electing S-Corp or C-Corp tax treatment:

    • S-Corp treatment can help owner-employees who earn more than ~$75,000 per year save on self-employment taxes. File Form 2553: S-Corp Election.
    • 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. File Form 8832: C-Corp Election.
  10. 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.


    District of Columbia General Business License

    Agency:District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs - Business Licensing Division
    Law:

    DC Code § 44-1700; 47-2851 DC Municipal Regulations, Title 16, Chapter 13 and DC Code § 47-285103D; DC Municipal Regulations, Title 17, Chapter 38.

    Notes:

    Businesses that have a basic business license in a different classification than the general business license typically do not need a general business license as well. Only businesses with elevator, retail cigarette, patent medicine, food product, or vending machine classifications will need to apply for the additional general business license. Nonprofit organizations generally hold a charitable solicitation license instead of a general business license.

    Fact Checked:9/18/19

    Initial Registration

    Form:

    Either Charitable Solicitation, Charitable Exempt, or General Business in some cases. 

    Filing Method:

    Mail, In-person, or Online.

    Agency Fee:

    $324.50 for General Business.

    Turnaround:

    Immediate for online and up to 30 days for mail.

    Fact Checked:8/4/17

    Registration Renewal

    Form:

    Either Charitable Solicitation, Charitable Exempt, or General Business in some cases. 

    Filing Method:

    Mail, In-person, or Online.

    Agency Fee:

    $324.50 for General Business.

    Turnaround:

    Immediate for online and up to 30 days for mail.

    Due:

    Biennially

    Fact Checked:8/4/17
  11. Ongoing Filings to Maintain Your LLC

    You must file federal and state tax returns.

    Many states also require business entities to file an annual report to maintain good standing with the secretary of state. If an annual report is required for LLCs formed in Washington D.C., view the table below.


    Washington D.C. Corporation Annual Report Requirements:

    Agency:District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs - Corporations Division
    Form:

    BRA-25: Two-Year Report for Domestic and Foreign Filing Entity

    Filing Method:

    Mail, in-person, or online.

    Agency Fee:

    $300. $100 expedite fee is required if delivering in-person.

    Turnaround:

    15 days for Mail or Online filings; Fee of $100 for one day service or $50 for 3 day service for In-person filings.

    Due:

    Your first report is due April 1 in the calendar year after registration. After the first filing, reports are due biennially by April 1.

    Law:

    District of Columbia Code § 29-102.11.

    Penalties:

    $100 late fee.

    Notes:
    • An officer, director, manager, member, or agent may file.
    • File online and pay by credit card. Print the confirmation page for your records.
    Fact Checked:1/11/21

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

    As your LLC grows, 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 D.C. LLC, 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 LLC’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.

Order Registered Agent Service Order Online

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