Starting a company

How To Form A Corporation In Washington

Key takeaways

  • Find out why the importance and advantages of incorporating in Washington State.
  • Discover various company entities and understand which would be the best fit for your company  
  • Recognize the aspects to take into account when choosing a business structure.
  • Recognize the ideas behind qualifications and requirements.
  • Understand the function of a registered agent and its importance
  • Recognize the corporate bylaws creation procedure.
  • Get complete knowledge about employer identification number (EIN) obtaining methods.
  • Find out more about submitting articles of incorporation in Washington and registered agents.

Importance of incorporating in Washington State

Businesses can protect their assets personally, pay less tax, have broader access to funding choices, draw in more investors and clients, and build a strong brand identity by incorporating Washington State. By forming a corporation in Washington, you can enjoy lower tax rates than other business forms, greater funding choices, and protection of your personal assets from corporate responsibilities. Additionally, by becoming a company, you'll be in a better position to draw in additional investors and clients and build a distinctive brand identification from your rivals.

Benefits of a corporation as a business structure

Limited liability protection, the opportunity to generate capital by issuing stock, credibility and professionalism, eternal life, and tax advantages and deductions are just a few advantages of choosing a corporation as your company and its business structure . A corporation's limited liability protection for its owners, which can shield its assets from corporate obligations, is one of its many significant benefits. Additionally, the firm can develop and expand without additional debt if it issues stock to investors.

Choosing the Right Business Entity

The success of an entrepreneur's firm may be significantly impacted by their choice of the appropriate business formation. The choice of company entity will affect several business-related factors, including tax obligations, personal liabilities, and operational procedures. Therefore, it's crucial to weigh all available business organizations properly before choosing.

Some company structures, including partnerships and sole proprietorships, do not provide liability protection for the owner. This implies that in the case of legal action or debt, the owner's assets may be in danger. On the other hand, the higher security for personal assets provided by an LLC or corporation is due to their status as independent legal entities.

Comparison of various business entities

Choosing the business entity type is one of the significant challenges of entrepreneurship. Since each choice has unique benefits and drawbacks, the chosen entity can significantly influence an entrepreneur's long-term success.

Sole proprietorship

The most straightforward and least expensive kind of company structure is a sole proprietorship, which is run and owned by only one person. Small firms with minimal liability risk should choose this entity type. Notably, the ease of setting up and maintaining a sole proprietorship is one of its most important advantages. Being entirely in charge of the company's operations and revenues appeals to many business owners.


A partnership is a company owned and run by two or more persons but has no independent legal existence. Each partner is responsible for any debts or legal troubles that may develop, and partners split the firm's gains and losses.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A limited liability company (LLC), on the other hand, combines a partnership's adaptability with a corporation's liability protection. There is an apparent reason why this entity category has seen tremendous expansion in the US. 


The last thing is a corporation, a separate legal entity controlled by stockholders. Since shareholders' private assets are protected from the corporation's debts and liabilities, this organizational structure provides the highest liability protection. Therefore, this entity type is frequently preferred.

Factors to consider when selecting a business structure

The initial step in creating a corporation in Washington is to choose a distinctive company name that is not currently used. A registered agent must be named after choosing a name so they may accept legal paperwork on the corporation's behalf. The Articles of Incorporation, formally establishing the corporation's existence, must be filed next. Corporate bylaws must be created to specify the policies and processes for managing the organization.

The business must also have yearly shareholder meetings and keep accurate records for measuring financial success and tax and legal compliance.

Steps to Form a Corporation in Washington

Choosing a unique and compliant business name is the first crucial step in forming a corporation in Washington.

Step 1: Select a Unique Business Name

Choosing a distinctive and legal business name that meets state rules and regulations is crucial when incorporating a corporation in Washington. To be sure that another corporate organization in Washington is not currently using the name you have selected, you must first do a name availability search. The Washington Secretary of State's website offers an online search option.

1. Name availability search

If the name is available, you can submit a Name Reservation Request to the Washington Secretary of State's office to reserve it for up to 180 days. Although it is optional, this step could be helpful if you require additional time to draft your articles of incorporation.

2. Name reservation (optional)

It's crucial to consider the criteria and limitations of the state while choosing a company name. The term "Corporation," "Incorporated," "Limited," or a variation of one of these phrases, for instance, must appear in the name. Additionally, the name must be distinct from that of other Washington-based companies and cannot be deceptive or indicate a connection to the government.

3. Name requirements and restrictions

Following your decision on distinctive and legal requirements for business name, you may proceed with Washington corporation formation.

Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent

A registered agent is an individual who will retrieve crucial legal papers and communications on your corporation's behalf. Since they will ensure that your company maintains good status with the state, finding someone trustworthy and dependable for this position is critical.

1.Role of a registered agent

A registered agent acts as a liaison between your business and the government. On your company's behalf, they receive required notices and legal papers and ensure that you adhere to state laws. It's crucial to select a registered agent who is trustworthy, educated, and accessible during regular office hours. 

2. Requirements and qualifications

A corporation's birth certificate is created when its articles of incorporation are filed. Basic information about your corporation, including its name, goals, and registered agent, must be provided. Along with choosing a filing option, you must also pay a fee to the state. 

Step 3: File Articles of Incorporation

Articles of incorporation filing are not for the weak of heart. Your application may be rejected if you don't supply the pertinent facts in the appropriate format. 

1. Required information

Your corporation's name, objectives and first registration agent are required details. Additionally, you must provide the first directors' names and addresses and the number of stock your business will issue. It's similar to filling out a mad lib, but the risks are greater.

2. Filing fees and methods

The sort of corporation you're creating, and the filing method you select will affect the articles of incorporation filing fees. The costs for filing electronically, in person, or by mail vary. For instance, filing online might be less expensive than mailing paperwork. However, if you pay an additional charge and file in person, you can complete your filing the same day. 

3. Processing time

The filing method you select will also affect how quickly your articles of incorporation will be processed. The quickest way of filing is usually online, with processing timeframes varying from a few days to a week. By mail, filing might take more time—up to several weeks. 

Step 4: Create Corporate Bylaws

Corporate bylaws are formal legal documents but guidelines that determine how your organization does business. 

1. Purpose and importance

Bylaws are crucial because they ensure everyone is on the same page and outline the obligations of shareholders, directors, and officials.

2. Key components

The frequency of meetings, the election process for directors, and the distribution of voting rights are crucial components of bylaws. It's like coming up with a recipe for success but using words and legalese instead of flour and sugar. Get legal advice to guarantee compliance with legal obligations and good business standing.

Step 5: Issue Stock Certificates

It's crucial to issue stock certificates to establish ownership and ensure shares are distributed fairly. 

1. Authorized shares

The number of authorized shares  must be determined before issuing stock, and the proper issuing processes must be followed. This entails acquiring required licenses and abiding by legal obligations. 

2. Issuing procedures

Your search for name availability, reservation, filing costs, processing times, business planning, company governance, financial management, and other assistance and resources are all available on the Washington Secretary of State website.

Step 6: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

You'll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), so get one. A company's Employer Identification Number (EIN) functions similarly to a social security number.

1. Importance of EIN

It's crucial since it's necessary for filing taxes, creating a bank account, and recruiting staff.

2. Application process

The IRS website may be used to complete the simple application procedure online. As with a key to your business kingdom, be careful to keep it safe and secure after you've gotten your EIN.

Step 7: Open a Corporate Bank Account

When you start a corporation in Washington, opening a separate corporate bank account for your company transactions is crucial.

1. Benefits of a corporate bank account

For legal and tax reasons, keeping your personal and business finances separate is essential. Having a business bank account makes record-keeping easier and helps you prevent misunderstandings. A corporate bank account gives your company a more professional appearance since it proves it is a distinct legal entity with independent financial operations.

2. Required documents

  • Articles of Incorporation: You must give the bank a copy of your completed Articles.
  • You must have your EIN (Employer Identification Number) to create a bank account for your firm.
  • Corporate bylaws: To confirm the legal status of your company, certain banks may ask to view your corporate bylaws.
  • Identification: You must submit proof of identification for each signatory on the account.

State and Federal Compliance for Washington Corporations

State business taxes

State business taxes should be considered while founding a corporation in Washington. The taxes that could be levied on your firm depend on various variables, including the nature of your company and the location of its headquarters. It is advised to consult a tax expert to ensure you comply with Washington state tax regulations.

Annual report filing

In Washington, businesses must submit an annual report to the Secretary of State's office. The annual report contains details on your corporation's registered agent, officers, and directors. Submitting the report before the deadline is crucial to prevent fines or late fees.

State business licenses and permits

Corporations may also be required to seek state business licenses and permits and submit yearly reports. Studying and getting the relevant licenses and permissions is crucial to guarantee adherence to state laws.

Federal tax obligations

Washington requires corporations to pay federal taxes. In addition to paying federal income tax on any profits made, this also entails completing an annual corporation tax return with the IRS. To guarantee corporate compliance with federal tax obligations, it is advised to consult with a tax expert.

E. Other regulatory requirements

Other regulatory requirements, such as those about the environment or a specific business sector, may apply to Washington firms. To prevent any penalties or legal troubles, it's crucial to investigate and abide by any applicable legislation.

Maintaining Good Corporate Standing in Washington

Maintaining a positive company reputation is no exception to the rule that the road to success is not easy. 

A. Conducting annual meetings

The annual meetings  are not simply for making small conversation and exchanging niceties. They allow us to deliberate on crucial issues, come to conclusions, and plan for the future of our cherished organizations. As mandated by the state of Washington, ensure that you have at least one annual meeting each year. A well-organized meeting is a step towards a well-organized company, so keep that in mind.

B. Recordkeeping and documentation

Recordkeeping of finances is not the most exciting aspect of owning a business. Keep your vital records, including your bylaws, articles of incorporation, and meeting minutes, safe. Don't forget to record your company dealings, financial transactions, and tax records for quick access. 

C. Monitoring changes in state and federal laws

The world of laws and rules changes so frequently. However, staying current with these modifications is essential for preserving good standing. This involves keeping track of changes to tax laws, business license requirements, and other regulations that impact your firm.


In conclusion, firms incorporated in Washington State have access to capital, asset protection, favorable tax treatment, improved credibility, and brand identification. Businesses incorporated in Washington can benefit from more flexibility and expansion prospects, which can eventually result in long-term success. Therefore, incorporation in Washington State should be a strategic consideration for companies looking to expand and succeed.

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Note: Our content is for general information purposes only. Levy does not provide legal, accounting, or certified expert advice. Consult a lawyer, CPA, or other professional for such services.

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