How Much Does It Cost to Start an LLC in District of Columbia?

The cost to start an LLC (limited liability company) online in Washington D.C. is $99. This fee is paid to the Washington D.C. Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection when filing the LLC’s Articles of Organization.

We recommend Northwest ($29 + State Fees) to help form your LLC.

How Much Does an LLC Cost in Washington D.C.?

Washington D.C. LLC Online Filing Fee: $99

The main cost to start an LLC in Washington DC is the $99 fee to file your LLC's Articles of Organization online with the Washington D.C. Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection.

For a look at LLC cost in every state, read our other Cost to Start an LLC and How to Form an LLC guides.

Basic Business License: Varies

All businesses that do business in Washington D.C. must obtain a Basic Business License (BBL) after obtaining an EIN. This can be done online or in person.

A list of applicable business licensing categories can be found on the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection website, as well as the fees and further licensing requirements for each industry. If your LLC doesn’t fall under one of these categories, it must register for a General Business License (GBL), which is a type of Basic Business License.

Cost to Form a Foreign LLC in Washington D.C.

If you already have an LLC that is registered in another state and you’d like to expand your business into Washington D.C., you’ll need to register your LLC as a foreign LLC in Washington D.C.

The cost for registering a Washington D.C. foreign LLC is $220. You can register a foreign LLC in Washington D.C. by filing a Foreign Registration Statement (Form FN-1).

Optional LLC Formation Costs

There are optional fees associated with LLC formation:

LLC Name Reservation

Reserve your name for up to 60 days prior to LLC formation (with the option to renew) by filing Form GN-3 and paying the $50 filing fee.

Trade Name

Register for a trade name online and pay the $55 filing fee to create a name other than your legal LLC business name.

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Washington D.C. Recurring LLC Fees

Operating a successful limited liability company (LLC) in Washington D.C. requires understanding and fulfilling the ongoing requirements to maintain compliance and legal standing. 

Here are the primary ongoing requirements for a Washington D.C. LLC:

  • Biennial Report: Washington D.C. LLCs are required to file a biennial report every two years. This report provides updated information about the LLC's ownership, management, and business address. The filing fee for the biennial report is $300.
  • Registered Agent: All DC LLCs must appoint and maintain a registered agent. Though there generally is no required cost for agents, many LLCs choose to hire a third-party service to save time. Registered agent services cost $100–$200 per year on average.

By meeting these ongoing requirements and adhering to the applicable regulations, you can ensure the legal and financial well-being of your Washington D.C. LLC.

How to Register a Washington D.C. LLC Yourself

Establishing your own LLC in Washington D.C. is a simple process. By following the steps below, you can easily register your Washington D.C. LLC.

Recommended: Using an LLC formation service like Northwest ($29 + State Fees) saves time and ensures compliance. Besides the low cost, we like their streamlined approach and excellent customer service.

Nine Basic Steps to Start an LLC in Washington D.C.

Step 1: Name Your Washington D.C. LLC
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent
Step 3: File the Articles of Organization
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
Step 5: Get an EIN
Step 6: Basic Business License
Step 7: Pay Your Franchise Tax
Step 8: File the Biennial Report
Step 9: Keep Your Company Compliant

Step 1: Name Your Washington D.C. LLC

When you name your Washington D.C. LLC, you’ll need to choose a name that:

  1. Is available for use in Washington D.C.
  2. Meets Washington D.C. naming requirements
  3. Is available as a web domain

Recommended: Visit our Start an LLC in Washington D.C. guide for detailed naming rules and instructions for registering a business name in Washington D.C.

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our How to Name a Business guide and free LLC Name Generator.

We recommend that you check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent

All LLCs in Washington D.C. must appoint a registered agent. A registered agent primarily acts as your LLC’s main point of contact with the district. But most importantly, they are responsible for accepting service of process in the event your business is sued.

Your Washington D.C. registered agent must:

  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • Have a physical address in Washington D.C.
  • Be available during normal business hours to accept service of process

Recommended: Get a free year of registered agent services when you hire Northwest to form your LLC. $29 (plus state fees).

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Step 3: File the Articles of Organization

The Washington D.C. Form DLC-1 - Articles of Organization is a document that is filed with the Washington D.C. Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection to form an LLC. The fee for filing the Articles of Organization is $99 online.

For detailed instructions for completing the Articles of Organization, visit our How to File the Washington D.C. Articles of Organization guide.

File the Washington D.C. Articles of Organization

OPTION 1: File Online With Washington D.C. CorpOnline

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File Form DLC-1 by Mail or In Person

Download Form


District Filing Cost: $99 ($199 for walk-in customers), payable to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection

Mailing Address:
Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection
Corporations Division
PO Box 92300
Washington, DC 20090

Office Address:
Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection
1100 4th Street SW
Washington, DC 20024

Note: Mail-in filings must include a cover letter.

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement isn't required for Washington D.C. LLCs, but it's a good practice to have one.

What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.

Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.

For more information on operating agreements, read our Washington D.C. LLC operating agreement guide.

Step 5: Get an EIN

What is an EIN? An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue System (IRS) to identify a business for tax reporting purposes. An EIN is essentially a Social Security number (SSN) for your company.

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN number is required for the following:

Free EIN: You can get an EIN from the IRS website (free of charge) after forming your business.

Step 6: Get a Basic Business License

All businesses that do business in Washington D.C. must obtain a Basic Business License (BBL) after obtaining an EIN. This can be done online or in person.

A list of applicable business licensing categories can be found on the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection website, as well as the fees and further licensing requirements for each industry. If your LLC doesn’t fall under one of these categories, it must register for a General Business License (GBL), which is a type of Basic Business License.

Step 7: Pay Your Franchise Tax

Washington D.C. LLCs are required to pay an annual Franchise Tax. Returns are due April 15 for calendar-year filers, otherwise on the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the tax year for fiscal filers.

Late Filings: For all late payments, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue will charge:

  • a penalty of 5% per month, up to 25% of the total tax due,
  • an interest penalty of 10% per year, compounded daily, and
  • a collection fee of 10% the tax balance due after 90 days.

Step 8: File the Biennial Report

Washington D.C. requires LLCs to file a biennial report with the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. The filing fee is $300 online or by mail and $400 in person. Mail-in filings must include a cover letter.

Biennial reports are due by April 1 every second year. Any biennial report received after April 1 will result in a $100 late fee.

Step 9: Keep Your Company Compliant

In order to maintain compliance of your LLC in Washington D.C., you'll need to meet all federal and district government regulations, fulfill tax obligations, and adhere to employment laws. Here's a summary:

  • Obtain the necessary business licenses and permits. The requirements for these depend on your business activities.
  • Stay up to date on your DC LLC taxes. If you sell physical products, you’ll need to obtain a seller’s permit via the Office of Tax and Revenue. If you have employees in Washington D.C., you typically required to register for a seller must register for Unemployment Insurance Tax through the Department of Employment Services and sign up for Withholding Tax via the Office of Tax and Revenue.
  • File federal returns. Report your federal income tax to the IRS each year using Form 1065 for multi-member LLCs or Form 1040 Schedule C for single-member LLCs. The way you pay yourself as an owner can also impact your federal taxes.
  • If you're planning to hire employees, follow legal requirements by:
    • Verifying the eligibility of new hires to work in the US.
    • Reporting new employees to the district
    • Providing workers' compensation insurance
    • Withholding employee taxes
    • Displaying workplace compliance posters prominently

Steps After LLC Formation

Read all the steps you’ll need to maintain your LLC’s personal liability protection, open a business bank account, get business insurance, and stay up to date with district reporting requirements.

Visit our After Forming an LLC guide to learn more.

Washington D.C. LLC Cost FAQ

What documents are needed to form an LLC in Washington D.C.?

To form an LLC in Washington D.C., you need to file the Articles of Organization with the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. This can be done online, by mail, or in person. The filing fee is $99 for online and mail submissions, and $199 for in-person submissions.

What is the role of a registered agent in a Washington D.C. LLC?

A registered agent for an LLC in Washington D.C. acts as the primary point of contact for the company. They receive all official correspondence, including legal documents and notices, on behalf of the business.

Can an LLC in Washington D.C. operate under a trade name?

Yes, an LLC in Washington D.C. can operate under a trade name. This is often referred to as a DBA (doing business as) name and allows the business to operate under a name different from the one officially registered.

What are the annual compliance requirements for a Washington D.C. LLC?

LLCs in Washington D.C. are required to file a biennial report, which has a fee of $300. This report is submitted every two years and helps keep the district updated with current information about your business.

Why should I consider using an LLC formation service in Washington D.C.?

Utilizing an LLC formation service in Washington D.C. can simplify the formation process for your business. They can help you navigate the filing of your Articles of Organization and other required paperwork. Furthermore, many of these services also offer additional features, such as registered agent services and compliance alerts, which can be highly beneficial to your business operations.

How can I check if a business name is available in Washington D.C.?

You can use the Business Entity Search tool available on the Washington D.C. Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection's website to verify if a business name is available.

What is a Certificate of Good Standing in Washington D.C.?

A Certificate of Good Standing in Washington D.C. is a document that verifies that your LLC is legally registered and in compliance with all district requirements. This certificate can be requested when dealing with banks, potential investors, or other entities that might need to verify the legal status of your business.

Article Sources

Washington D.C. CorpOnline:
https://corponline.dlcp.dc.gov/Home.aspx/Landing

IRS - Employer ID Numbers:
https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/employer-id-numbers

Washington D.C. Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection:
https://dlcp.dc.gov/

SBA - Apply for licenses and permits:
https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/launch-your-business/apply-licenses-permits