How to Form an LLC in Pennsylvania

This guide to starting an LLC in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania. Be sure to read the final step in this guide - "Ongoing Filings" - to understand your ongoing costs to maintain a compliant Pennsylvania LLC.


Paperwork
  • Form DSCB:15-8913-2: Certificate of Organization - Domestic Limited Liability Company
  • Operating Agreement
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • PA-100: PA Enterprise Registration Form
Cost
  • Formation: $125
  • EIN: $0
  • PA-100: $0 + fees for needed licenses
Time
  • Formation: ~5-10 business days.
  • EIN: Immediately online
  • PA-100: varies based on needed tax accounts/licenses

Step-by-Step Pennsylvania 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: Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
    Name search
    Name Reservation: Optional
    Suffix:

    Must contain the term "company", "limited", or "limited liability company" or an abbreviation of one of those terms, or words or abbreviations of like import.
    Pennsylvania Code Title 2 &sect204

  2. Appoint a Registered Agent

    Before you officially file to create your Pennsylvania LLC, you will need to decide who your Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania articles of organization with the Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.

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

    • Same-day documents from our local office in Lancaster
    • 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 Pennsylvania Certificate of Formation

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

    Agency:Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
    Form:

    Certificate of Organization

    Filing Method:

    Mail or online.

    Agency Fee:

    $125

    Turnaround:

    ~5-10 business days.

    Law:

    15 Pa. Code Ch. 89

    Notes:
    • You need to file a PA docketing statement with your certificate.
    • The $125 certificate of organization fee is waived for veterans. Filers requesting a veteran/reservist-owned small business fee exemption should attach proof of the veteran’s or reservist’s status to the Certificate of Organization form when submitted.
  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 Pennsylvania State Tax Identification Numbers/Accounts

    Pennsylvania issues multiple tax IDs - one for each tax account number (box number). For example, if your business sells candy bars and has employees, you will have separate tax account numbers for sales tax and employer withholding tax.

    Submit to: Pennsylvania Department of Revenue
    www.revenue.state.pa.us/
    Form: PA-100: PA Enterprise Registration Form
    Guidance: REV-588: Starting a Business in Pennsylvania - A Beginner's Guide
    Fee: $0 + fees for needed licenses
    Filing Method: Mail or using Online Business Registration Interview (OBRI)

    More information and help filing PA-100

  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.


    Pennsylvania Business License

    Not required



    General Business License licensure is not required on the State level in Pennsylvania.

    Pennsylvania does not have a general business license at the state level, but local licenses are often required.

  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 Pennsylvania, view the table below.


    Pennsylvania Corporation Annual Report Requirements:

    Agency:Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
    Form:

    Decennial Report of Association Continued Existence

    Filing Method:

    Mail

    Agency Fee:

    $70

    Due:

    Decennial reports are due every ten years during years ending with the numeral "1" (2021, 2031, etc.). Reports must be filed by December 31 of decennial report years.

    Law:

    54 PA Cons Stat § 503.

    Notes:
    • The decennial report requirement only applies to entities that were registered in Pennsylvania prior to the end of the previous decennial reporting year and that have not made an amended filing with the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations since the end of the previous decennial reporting year.
    • Nonqualified foreign entities with a name registration in Pennsylvania and corporations that have updated their list of officers with the Department within the last 10 years are generally exempt from the decennial reporting requirement.
    Fact Checked:1/11/21

    For more details, see our Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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.

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