Pennsylvania Incorporation

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How to Incorporate in Pennsylvania

This page was last fact-checked November 5, 2013.

If you’re looking to incorporate in Pennsylvania, 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 DSCB:15-1306: Articles of Incorporation - For Profit
  • Docketing Statement
  • Publishing
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form 2553: S-Corp Election, if desired
  • PA-100: PA Enterprise Registration Form
  • Incorporation: $125
  • EIN: $0
  • PA-100: $0 + fees for needed licenses
  • Incorporation: ~5-10 business days.
  • EIN: Immediately online
  • PA-100: varies based on needed tax accounts/licenses

How to Incorporate in Pennsylvania

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 Pennsylvania".

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 Pennsylvania".

This guide assumes you are creating a Pennsylvania Business Stock Corporation. Pennsylvania business nonstock, business statutory close, management, professional, insurance, cooperative, and benefit corporations have special formation requirements.

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:
Secretary of State database search
Name Reservation:
The corporate name shall contain: (1) the word "corporation," "company," "incorporated" or "limited" or an abbreviation of any of them; (2) the word "association," "fund" or "syndicate"; or (3) words or abbreviations of like import in languages other than English. 15 Pa. Code §1303
3 Appoint a Registered Agent

Identify the corporation’s Pennsylvania registered agent. This individual or company receives notice of lawsuit and other legal service for the corporation.

4 File Pennsylvania Articles of Incorporation

File the articles of incorporation to create your corporation.

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

Form DSCB:15-1306: Articles of Incorporation - For Profit

Filing Method:

Mail or online

State Fee:



~5-10 business days.


19 Pa. Code c23

  • You need to file a PA docketing statement with your articles.
  • You may also need to attach to your articles any necessary copies of Form DSCB:17.2.3 (Consent to Appropriation of Name) or government approvals.
5 Publish Incorporation

Section 1307 of the BCL (relating to advertisement) requires that the incorporators advertise their intention to file, or the corporation advertise the filing of, articles of incorporation with the Department one time in two newspapers published in the English language, one of which shall be a newspaper of general circulation, and the other the legal newspaper, if any, designated by the rules of the court for the publication of legal notices, otherwise, in two newspapers of general circulation, published in the county in which the initial registered office of the corporation is to be located.

Submit to:
Approved legal journals or newspapers
19 Pa. Code §23.31
  • Beware of spending too little on publishing. You may not be including the required copy.
  • Obtain legal affidavits for your records.
  • It is better to wait until after your articles are approved to publish. That way you ensure your corporate name is approved.
  • To learn more, read PA publishing requirement.
6 Establish Bylaws & Corporate Records

Your corporation must keep correct and complete books and records.

Every business corporation shall keep complete and accurate books and records of account, minutes of the proceedings of the incorporators, shareholders and directors and a share register giving the names and addresses of all shareholders and the number and class of shares held by each.
15 Pa. Code §1508

Your filed articles of incorporation are the first document for your corporate records. Your corporation will generate many other official records such as bylaws, meeting minutes, and your EIN.

Office supplies intended for a corporation will help you stay organized and save time. Optionally, get a corporate record book, seal, and document templates.

Draft bylaws (potentially using a template) which is the governing document for the corporation. The bylaws may contain any provisions for managing the business and regulating the affairs of the corporation not inconsistent with law or the articles (15 Pa. Code §1504). You will review and ratify the bylaws at your first board of directors meeting.

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 15 Pa. Code §1310. 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: Natural persons of full age.
  • Quorum: Majority of directors, unless bylaws fix a different number.
  • President, secretary, and treasurer required.
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.
  • Action by written consent: Allowed if by all shareholders entitled to vote on the action. Bylaws may provide 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
IRS Form SS-4
IRS Pub 1635: Understanding Your EIN
Filing Method:
Mail, phone, fax, or apply online with the IRS
Immediately online
The IRS website is only available during certain hours. Print your EIN before closing your session.
11 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
PA-100: PA Enterprise Registration Form
REV-558: Starting a Business in Pennsylvania - A Beginner's Guide
$0 + fees for needed licenses
Filing Method:
Mail or using Online Business Registration Interview (OBRI)

PA-100 Filing Service

13 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.

14 Ongoing Filings to Maintain Your Corporation

You must file federal and state tax returns. You must also file:

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