Form an LLC
15 min read

How to Start an LLC in Washington DC in 2023

Is it the right time for you to start an LLC in Washington DC? LLC stands for limited liability company and is one of the most common business structures used in the United States today. An LLC, with its flexibility, is growing in popularity. Below I look at how to start an LLC in Washington DC and answer some of your questions around business structure.

Published on
January 26, 2023
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7 Steps to Starting a Successful LLC in Washington DC Business:

1. Select a Business Name for Your Washington DC LLC.

When starting on your journey to build your business in Washington DC, one of the most important first steps is naming your LLC. Not only is this important to set your company apart from competitors and attract customers, but it’s also legally required to have a business name in Washington DC.

To create a name for your LLC in Washington DC, you can follow some of these steps and guidelines:

1. Adhere to the Business Naming Guidelines:

  • Your LLC name may not be the same as or similar to the name of another existing corporation or entity authorized to do business in the state of Washington DC.
  • Do not use a name that could falsely suggest an association with a federal or state government body such as the FBI, FDA, Treasurer, or Department of Revenue.
  • If your business is not professionally licensed in a given field (doctor, engineer, lawyer), you are not allowed to use any verbiage that suggests this within your name.
  • Your proper legal business name must include the Limited Liability Company or LLC/L.L.C.

2. Search the state of Washington DC’s business name directory.

You want to ensure it’s available for use within the state. You can start your search for available Washington DC LLC names with the below link: Washington DC Business Name Search Directory

3. Reserve the business name with the state of Washington DC.

After finalizing that your business name is available for registration within your state, you should immediately file the necessary paperwork for LLC registration.

4. Purchase your domain name.

When you legally finalize the name for your LLC in Washington DC, go and purchase the domain name. If you don’t do this right away, you’ll leave your business name susceptible to domain squatters and may not be able to purchase the name or have to pay a high price.

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2. Pick out a Registered Agent in Washington DC.

If you’re planning to do business in the state of Washington DC, you are legally required to have a designated registered agent. A registered agent is a business's liaison with the state, serving as a point of contact for legal documents, such as subpoenas and tax notices.

Here are a few ways you can have a registered agent in Washington DC:

  • You or any business employee who is 18+ years of age, has a valid address in the state of Washington DC, and is regularly available during business hours can become a registered agent.
  • You can use a registered agent service provider that acts on your behalf.
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3. File the Washington DC LLC Certificate of Formation.

Within the state of Washington DC, every new business owner wishing to register an LLC will need to file a Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State, Corporate Division. A certificate of formation is a filing instrument with Washington DC to legally registered your LLC.

Here are some basic guidelines you’ll need to follow when filing your Certification of Formation in Washington DC:

  • Pay the necessary Washington DC filing fee
  • The LLC name and business address
  • The registered agent’s name and physical address
  • A short description of the company’s purpose or primary business (and if known, NAICS code)
  • List whether the business managed by the members or a manager

4. Finalize Your Businesses’ Operating Agreement.

Although not many states require you to file an operating agreement, it’s important to have one ready to set the rules of your Washington DC business legally.

What is an operating agreement?

A business operating agreement is a written contract between the members of an LLC that details how the company will be run and who has decision-making power over specific aspects of the business. It can also include information about what happens if one member leaves the company or if a new member joins. The agreement is important because it protects your interests as an owner and helps ensure that you have control over what happens in your business.

Do you need a business operating agreement in Washington DC?

You probably don't need a business operating agreement, but you definitely want one.

A business operating agreement is the document that lays out the ground rules for how you'll run your company. It's the only way to set things up so that you and your partners can avoid conflicts and stay on the same page about big decisions.

Without an operating agreement, it's up to your state's laws and/or general contract law to decide how much control each partner has over the company. That means there's no guarantee about who gets to make what decisions or when they get to make them—and it also means that if you disagree with your partners on something important, nothing is stopping them from deciding without you—or even against your wishes!

But with a business operating agreement in place, everything is spelled out in advance. You know exactly what rights everyone has, so there are no surprises when it comes time for big decisions like hiring new employees or expanding into new markets.

5. Obtain Your Washington DC LLC Federal Employment Identification Number (EIN).

Every business in the U.S. is required to file for an EIN with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN is a tax ID number that is used for filing taxes. If you are an individual, you can use your Social Security Number as your tax ID number. However, if you are a business, you must use an EIN number.

When you file taxes in Washington DC, the government uses your EIN number to identify who owns the company and how much money it makes. This helps them decide how much money they should take from each company and pay out in taxes. If you do not have an EIN, it can be difficult for companies to determine who owns their business and what kind of money they make.

You can file your EIN in two ways:

Do it yourself: If you have all of the necessary paperwork and information ready, you can go directly to the IRS website and apply for your EIN.


Leverage an EIN Service Provider: If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of the IRS and are unsure what information is needed to file for your EIN, you can use one of the following EIN service providers below who will do everything for you!

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6. Remember to Always File Your LLC Annual Reports.

This is one of the steps many new LLC owners forget about each year, but is required by the state of Washington DC to remain in good standing. You will need to pay a fee each year to the state in which you’ve filed your LLC.

What is an annual report?

An LLC Annual Report is a document that outlines the key facts about your LLC. It is required by law, and helps you avoid legal trouble down the road. The annual report is usually filed with a state agency, which will then make it available to the public. The contents of the report vary depending on where you live, but they typically include information like:

  • The name and address of your business (and officers)
  • The purpose or mission of your business
  • The names and addresses of other businesses that share ownership with yours

7. Comply With Other Tax and Regulatory Requirements.

After you’ve completed all of the necessary steps to legally establish your LLC in Washington DC, you may still need to check with your local government on other necessary licenses and permits needed to operate your business.

What are business licenses?

Business licenses are a form of permit that allows you to run your business legally. They're issued by local governments and are used to protect the public from harm, such as unsafe products or dangerous workplaces.

You'll need to apply for a business license if you operate a business out of your home, have employees, or sell products or services.

Here are some other common business licenses and permits needed to operate in Washington DC:

  • Local business licenses
  • Building, Planning and Zoning Permits
  • Liquor Licenses
  • Peddler’s license
  • Landscaping license
  • Health license
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Nick C
Founder & Entrepreneur
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This post is for information only. You are responsible for reviewing and using this information appropriately. This content doesn’t contain and isn’t meant to provide legal, tax, or business advice. Requirements are updated frequently and you should make sure to do your own research and reach out to professional legal, tax and business advisers, as needed. We’re reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Frequently Asked Questions About Starting an LLC in Washington DC:

How much does it cost to start an LLC in Washington DC?

The main cost to start an LLC in Washington DC is $99.00 for filing your Certificate of Formation. You will also need to file an annual report with the state of Washington DC on a every 2 years basis, which also costs $300.00.

Do you need an EIN for your Washington DC LLC?

Yes, you need an EIN for your Washington DC LLC. The EIN stands for "Employer Identification Number," and it's basically like the social security number of your business. If you're setting up an LLC, you'll need this number in order to open a bank account, file taxes, and do other things that are necessary for running a business.

How long does it take to form an LLC in Washington DC?

The length of time it takes to submit your paperwork and legally form your LLC varies depending on the Washington DC you’re applying to and how you apply (mail or online). Generally speaking, if you file online, you can expect it to take anywhere from one to three business days to form your LLC or one to two weeks if you file by mail.

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