Filing the Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization is Easy!
Step 1: Get Your Certificate of Organization Forms
You can download and mail in your Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization, OR you can create an account and file online. For this first step, choose your preferred method below.
OPTION 1: Create an account with PA Business One-Stop Hub. From the user dashboard, select "PENN File," scroll down to “Start or Manage Business Filings” and select “Domestic Limited Liability Company.” Then, select the “Certificate of Organization” option.
- OR -
OPTION 2: Download the Certificate of Organization PDF from the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website. This form will need to be mailed to the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
You will also need to complete the PA Department of State Docketing Statement for new entities.
Step 2: Fill Out the Certificate of Organization
In this step, we will help you complete the Pennsylvania Certificate of Organization form. An additional Docketing Statement will also need to be filed alongside the Certificate of Organization.
You will need to know the following information to complete these forms:
- Entity Name
- Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
- Effective Date
- Business Purpose (for restricted professional companies only)
- Description of Business Activity
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Having a creative and smart business name is important but not as important as having a legally correct name.
When you choose a name for your business, you have to make sure the name:
- meets Pennsylvania naming guidelines.
- is not already in use by another business in Pennsylvania.
Follow the Pennsylvania Naming Guidelines:
- Your name must include “company,” “limited,” or “limited liability company;” an abbreviation of one of those terms; or words or abbreviations with the same meaning.
- Your name cannot include any words implying that it is a business corporation, such as “corporation” or “incorporated” or an abbreviation of these terms.
- Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
- You may need approval from the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, the Department of Education, the Department of Banking and Securities, the Insurance Department, or the Public Utility Commission to include certain restricted words.
- Your name must be distinguishable from any existing business in the state. This includes Pennsylvania reserved names.
Check Name Availability:
Is your name available in Pennsylvania? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a name search on the Pennsylvania Department of State website.
To learn more about naming your business, including best practices and creative branding, visit our How to Name a Business in Pennsylvania guide.
Not sure what to name your business? Check out our Business Name Generator.
Register Your Domain Name:
We recommend checking to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL to prevent others from acquiring it.
Registered Agent and Registered Office
A registered agent accepts and sends legal documents on your LLC’s behalf. When you register your Pennsylvania LLC, you are required to list your registered agent and your registered office.
Your registered agent can be anyone 18 years or older that lives in Pennsylvania. Your registered agent must always be available at the registered office during normal business hours. Your registered office address cannot be a P.O. box alone.
To learn more about choosing a Pennsylvania registered agent, read our How to Choose a Pennsylvania Registered Agent guide.
To learn more about what a registered agent does and how to choose one, read our What is a Registered Agent guide.
You must list the names of all organizers of the LLC, and they must sign the form.
You must state whether the Certificate of Organization should become effective upon filing or if there is a future effective date.
If your LLC is organized to perform a restricted professional service (e.g., dentistry, law, medicine), you must note which service that is.
Keep in mind that a business purpose that involves licensing, tax-exemption, or tax-deductible status requires specific language from the IRS or a professional license.
Description of Business Activity
Briefly describe your business activities.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Provide the nine-digit Employer Identification Number for your business. For more information on how to get an EIN, see “Steps After Your LLC Is Officially Formed.”
Step 3: File the Certificate of Organization
To register your LLC, you will need to file the Certificate of Organization with the Department of State.
There are two ways to file your Certificate of Organization:
- Complete the forms online.
- Submit hard copies by mail.
OPTION 1: Create an account with PA Business One-Stop Hub. From the user dashboard, select "PENN File," scroll down to “Start or Manage Business Filings” and select “Domestic Limited Liability Company.” Then, select the “Certificate of Organization” option. Fill out the required fields and submit.
- OR -
OPTION 2: File the Certificate of Organization PDF by mail.
State Filing Cost: $125
Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105
Note: Hard copy Certificate of Organization forms must be submitted with a Docketing Statement.
Create an Operating Agreement
An Pennsylvania LLC operating agreement is a legal document that outlines the ownership structure and member roles of your LLC.
In Pennsylvania, you aren't required to have an Operating Agreement to officially form an LLC, but it's still a good idea to have one. You can start your operating agreement before, during, or after you file your Certificate of Organization.
Your operating agreement will be kept in your LLC's private business records; you do not file it with the state.
Use our free Operating Agreement Tool to draft a customized operating agreement for your LLC.
Get an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a social security number for your LLC. You will need an EIN if you want to hire employees or open business bank accounts.
You can get your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our What is an EIN article.
Open a Business Bank Account
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential to protect your business' corporate veil. When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued.
For reviews on some of our most trusted business banks, visit our Best Banks for Small Business review.
Get Licenses and Permits
When you are registering an LLC, you need to determine if your business needs any licenses or permits to remain compliant. On the federal level, there are a handful of business activities that require licenses or permits.
Find out how to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your business or have a professional service do it for you:
- Federal: Use the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guide to federal business licenses and permits.
- State: Apply for or learn more about licenses, permits, and registration with Pennsylvania's Department of State Licensing Services website.
- Local: Contact your local county clerk and ask about local licenses and permits.
Brand Your Business
The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand. When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high-quality products and services.
Creating a logo for your business is vital for increasing brand awareness. You can design your own unique logo using our Free Logo Generator. Our free tool can help you design your own unique logo for your new business idea.