Start a Business in Washington D.C.

Incorporation Service

Your specialist works with you 1-on-1 to form your LLC, corporation, or other business structure. We prepare and file most formations in just one business day!

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This guide on starting your business in Washington D.C. provides step-by-step instructions on the paperwork to file formation documents, obtain tax IDs, and set up company records.

how to start a business

Step-By-Step Startup

Below is an overview of the paperwork, cost, and time to form each of the most popular business structures. Simply click on the link for your desired structure to view detailed step-by-step instructions.

  • If you have not decided whether you want to form an LLC, corporation, or other business structure, click here.
  • If wish to form your business in a different state than Washington D.C., click here.
Structure Paperwork Cost Time

Washington D.C. Limited Liability Company

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  • 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
  • Formation: $220 + optional $50-$100 expedite fee
  • D.C. Business License: varies
  • Initial Report: $300
  • 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.

Washington D.C. Corporation

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  • Form DBU-1: Articles of Incorporation of Domestic Business Corporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form 2553: S-Corp Election, if desired
  • Form FR-500: Combines Business Tax Registration
  • Incorporation: $220 for authorized capital up to $100,000 + optional $50-$100 expedite fee
  • Incorporation: ~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.

Washington D.C. Nonprofit

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  • Form DNP-1: D.C. Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • IRS Form 1023: Tax Exempt Application
  • IRS Determination Letter
  • Form FR 500: D.C. Tax Registration
  • Form FR 164: D.C. Tax Exemption
  • URS Charitable Registration, if applicable
  • Business license:
    • D.C. Basic Business License for the Charitable Solicitation Category, or
    • D.C. General Business License
  • D.C. Charitable Gaming License, if applicable
  • Incorporation: $80 + optional $50-100 expedite fee
  • 501(c): $275 or $600 IRS fee
  • D.C. Basic Business License for the Charitable Solicitation Category ($412.50) or D.C. General Business License ($324.50)
  • Charitable gaming license: $10-500, if applicable
  • Incorporation: ~15 business days. ~3 business days for $50 expedite fee. Same-day for $100 expedite fee.
  • 501(c): 2 weeks to 3 months
  • Licenses: Immediate to ~3 weeks

Top 5 Tips on Registering a Business in Washington D.C.

  1. Formation and business licenses are obtained from the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). You'll hear this acronym a lot.
  2. Calculating the fee to include with a corporation formation can be confusing. Pay $220 for authorized capital up to $100,000. Authorized capital refers to the valuation of your stock. You multiple the authorized shares by the par value per share. So if you issue 500 shares at $3 per share, then the authorized capital is $1,500 and your filing fee to incorporate is $220.
  3. The DCRA requires a beinnial report from corporations and LLCs. You must file an initial report by April 1st during the calendar year after registration, then every two years by April 1st. The DCRA mails reminders ~1 month before the report is due, which you should tend to promptly because there are penalties for late filing.
  4. Filing your formation documents can save lots of time. Filing by mail takes ~3-4 weeks. Filing online takes ~10 days. If you need your documents fast, you can pay the state for expedited service. The fastest way is to hire a courier to deliver documents in-person then they will be processed same-day.
  5. The District of Columbia offers a consolidated state tax registration application, called Form FR-500: Combines Business Tax Registration. It's free to file and can be filed online.

Incorporation Service

Your specialist works with you 1-on-1 to form your LLC, corporation, or other business structure. We prepare and file most formations in just one business day!

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