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9 Steps to Start a Business in Washington State

Washington State is a great place to start your next business venture. The culture, climate, and economic stability make it a popular place for business owners to open or start their own business. When looking to open your business in Washington, there are a few steps that you need to take to ensure you set your business up correctly. Today, we are going to look at 9 easy steps to start a business in Washington State.

Step 1: File Formation Document With Secretary Of State

For those who are starting a Washington LLC or forming a Washington corporation, this is going to be your first step. While many other places will tell you to start with applying for your business license with the Department Of Revenue, this has to come first if you are forming an LLC. You will want to find the Articles Of Incorporation if you are starting a corporation or a Certificate of Formation and initial report if you are forming an LLC. Get this form filled out and filed with the Secretary of State before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Allow Time For Processing, Wait For UBI Number

This is a part of the process where you may have to be a little patient. The processing time will vary depending on how you sent in your document. If you filled it out online, you can expect your processing time to be about 5 business days. For those who are submitting through the mail with expedited services, you may have to wait up to 3 weeks for confirmation. Once confirmed, you will be provided a 9 digit UBI number by the Secretary of State. This is your Unified Business Identifier that the state uses to identify your business.

Step 3: Obtain A Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

If you plan on hiring employees or have to file federal taxes, you are going to be required to have an EIN. An EIN is an employee identification number and is assigned by the IRS to identify tax accounts of employers. This can be done online or our team can happily help you through the process.

Step 4: Submit a Master Business License Application

Once you receive your UBI, you can apply for your business license through the Business Licensing Service. This license allows the state government to know that you are in business so that you can pay taxes, obtain city licenses, and register with Department of Revenue. This is another part of the process that is best done online as you will have less processing time as compared to mail in.

Step 5: Apply For Other Licenses & Permits

When you go to submit your Master Business License Application, you may have to apply for any specialty licenses, depending on what business you are in. Some businesses may require certain permits or licenses before you are able to open up. This may come with extra fees and paperwork as well, so knowing licenses are required for your business is essential. If you are a contractor you will need a contractors license. A registered agent such as Washington Business Registration can help you find the necessary licenses you may need for your business.

Step 6: Get Workers’ Compensation & Unemployment Insurance

If you have indicated that you will have employees working at your business, the WA Department of Labor & Industries will set up a workers’ compensation account for you automatically. You should receive a packet of information after the WA Employment Securities Department sets up your unemployment insurance account. This packet will be from L&I And Employment Securities and will include how much money you need to deduct from your employee’s paychecks.

Step 7: Pay Taxes To Department Of Revenue

Depending on what was checked on your master business application when you filled it out, you may be receiving an information packet from the Department of Revenue. While Washington State does not have personal income tax, there is a B & O tax that is applied to your gross income. It is very important that you understand all of the taxes that you have to pay as a business to ensure you do not get behind.

Step 8: Keep In Compliance

Last but not least, you will need to ensure that you are staying in compliance. Per the state of Washington, you must submit an annual report or annual LLC license renewal with the Secretary of State. This will cost $60 and you can file this online for convenience. The registered agent you are working with will receive the Annual Renewal Notice. If we are your agent, we will handle all this for you!

You will also need to renew any city licenses, specialty licenses, and keep compliant on your insurance and bond for contractors.


Now that we have looked at the quick and easy steps you need to take for starting a business in Washington, it’s time to set sail! We know that this was a lot to cover and that the whole process can be quite intimidating. If you are wanting to fast track your business formation, Washington Business Registration is here to help. Our team is skilled and knowledgeable in setting up businesses in Washington and can help you through every step. Contact us today to speak to a professional registered agent to get started today!


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