How To Incorporate In Washington

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1. Choose a Name for Your Washington Corporation

Check on Available Names in Washington: Choosing a name for your corporation is one of the first steps you need to take when you are preparing to incorporate your small business in Washington. You should choose a name that is not in use by another registered corporation in Washington. You should search online records and other registers and catalogs to determine that the name that you have chosen is available. There is a database of registered Washington corporations that is available for these kinds of searches online at Washington Corporation.

Reserve a Corporate Name: It is not required to reserve the name that you have chosen for your corporation before you file to incorporate in Washington. If you want to reserve a certain name for your corporation before the time that you file to incorporate, you can submit a name reservation application to the office of the Washington Secretary of State. The application for corporate name reservation is available online at Reserve a Washington Corporation Name. The corporate name that you submit will be reserved for a period of 180 days. There is a filing fee of $30.00 when you submit a name reservation application.

Filing Trademarks and Doing a Corporate Name Search: Even if the corporate name that you have chosen is available in Washington, it is possible that the name could be in use by a corporation in another state. You might find that there are restrictions on your use of the corporate name that you have chosen. An attorney can offer you guidance concerning these potential restrictions and advise you on what you can do to trademark the name of your corporation.

Washington Corporate Name Requirements: When considering a corporate name, remember that in Washington corporate names need to include the word “corporation,” “incorporated,” “limited,” “company,” or an abbreviation of one of these words.

2. Find a Registered Agent in Washington

Before you file to incorporate your small business in Washington, you need to find a registered agent who will act as an agent for service of process. The registered agent that you choose will receive all legal and tax documents for your corporation. You may select an adult resident of Washington, a corporation in Washington, or a corporate services company as your registered agent.

3. File Articles of Incorporation with the Washington Secretary of State

Minimum Requirements: After choosing a corporate name and a registered agent, you can start creating Articles of Incorporation for your corporation. You will submit the completed document to the Washington Secretary of State. There is a form for this document that can be downloaded online at File a Washington Corporation. The Articles of Incorporation of your corporation must include the name of your corporation, the name and address of your registered agent, the number of shares authorized by your corporation, and the name and address of each incorporator. Each incorporator must sign the Articles of Incorporation before you submit the document to the Secretary of State.

Other Washington Legal Provisions: You should consider including other legal provisions in addition to the minimum requirements that are required in your Articles of Incorporation document. An attorney can offer you guidance concerning what additional legal provisions will be the most important and beneficial for your corporation.

Where to Submit Form: You can submit the signed Articles of Incorporation document to the office of the Secretary of State, Corporations Division, 801 Capitol Way S, PO Box 40234, Olympia WA 98504-0234.

Filing Fee: The filing fee for Articles of Incorporation in Washington is $180.00.

4. Create Other Washington Incorporation Documents (Corporate Kits)

Once you have submitted your completed Articles of Incorporation document to the Secretary of State, you can begin to take other actions in your corporation such as appointing officers and directors, adopting corporation bylaws, issuing stock certificates, obtaining a tax ID number, and acquiring the appropriate business license. You can also begin to draft other corporate documents such as buy-sell agreements, shareholders agreements that determine when stock can be sold, and documents that describe what will happen if an owner decides to leave the company. These kinds of corporate documents can be very useful, especially for corporations with multiple owners. An attorney or a professional corporate service company can assist you in drafting these important documents so that you can be sure that you are in compliance with all legal requirements.  

5. Qualify Your Washington Corporation to Do Business in Other States

Your corporation will need to qualify in order to do business in other states.  If your main corporate office is located outside of Washington, you will need to qualify your corporation before you can do business in that state. Most states do require some kind of qualification for corporations and will require you to pay taxes in your home state. You can find more information about qualifying your corporation to do business in other states online at Doing Business in other states.

6. Make Annual Filings and Pay Annual Fees and Taxes in Washington

Corporations that are registered in Washington are required to file an annual report and renewal. You can file this report online at Washington Corporation Fee. You will need to indicate the name and address of your registered agent and the names and addresses of the principal officers and directors of the corporation. The fee for the annual renewal is $69.00.

Once your corporation is registered in Washington, you will be subject to state taxes. You will be required to file taxes each year. There is no corporate income tax in Washington, but there are other taxes that may apply to your business. You can learn more about Washington taxes online at the official website of the Washington Department of Revenue at Washington Corporation Tax. An accountant can assist you in the preparation of your tax documents so that you avoid mistakes that could cost you extra taxes.

You will face many decisions when you are in the process of incorporating your small business. These decisions can be complicated, especially if your corporation has multiple owners. You should consult an attorney and an accountant during the process of incorporation so that you can feel more confident that your paperwork is being prepared correctly.

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This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.


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