STEP 1: Name your LLC

Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Pennsylvania naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.

1. Follow the naming guidelines:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company,” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.

2. Is the name available in Pennsylvania? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a name search on the State of Pennsylvania's website.

3. Is the URL available? We recommend that you check 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 in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

FAQ: Naming an LLC

What is an LLC?

LLC is short for Limited Liability Company. It is a simple business structure that offers much more flexibility than a traditional corporation, while at the same time providing many of the same benefits. Learn more here.

Or you can watch our 2 minute video, What is an LLC?

Do I need to get a DBA or Trade Name for my business?

Most LLCs do not need a DBA. The name of the LLC can serve as company’s brand name, and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under a name other than that of your LLC. Learn more here.

STEP 2: Choose a Registered Office

You are required to submit the address of your registered office for your Pennsylvania LLC.

What is a Registered Office? A registered office is the official mailing address for all legal mail from the state related to your business. Legal mail can include service of process (if you are sued) and state filings. 

Where can my Registered Office be? A Pennsylvania registered office must be a street address within Pennsylvania. You cannot use a PO box for your registered office address. 

TIP

Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent provides the first year of registered agent service free with LLC formation ($49 + State Fees)

STEP 3: File the Certificate of Organization

To register your LLC, you will need to file the Certificate of Organization with the State of Pennsylvania. This can be done online or by mail.

When filing, you will need to state whether your LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. We recommend learning more about these two options before you file.

File the Certificate of Organization

OPTION 1: File Online with the State of Pennsylvania

File Online


OR


OPTION 2: File by Mail or In-Person

Download Both PDF's to get started:

Certificate of Organization - Pennsylvania LLC

Docketing Statement - Pennsylvania LLC


State Filing Cost: $125, payable to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Nonrefundable)

Mail to:

Pennsylvania Department of State

Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations

P.O. Box 8722

Harrisburg, PA 17105

If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the State of Pennsylvania, you need to form a Foreign LLC.

STEP 4: Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is not required in Pennsylvania, 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? An operating agreement is an important document because it 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 Pennsylvania LLC operating agreement guide.

Recommended: Use our free Operating Agreement Tool to draft a customized operating agreement for your LLC.

FAQ: Creating an Operating Agreement

Do I need to file my operating agreement with the state?

No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.

STEP 5: Obtain an EIN

What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. It is essentially a social security number for the company.

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

  • To open a business bank account for the company
  • For Federal and State tax purposes
  • To hire employees for the company

Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail.

NOTE

FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: You do not need an SSN to obtain an EIN. Learn more here.

Get an EIN

Option 1: Request an EIN from the IRS

Apply Online


OR


Option 2: Apply for an EIN by Mail or Fax

Download Form

Mail to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax:

(855) 641-6935


Fee: Free

FAQ: Getting an EIN

How do I get an EIN if I don’t have a social security number?

An SSN is not required to get an EIN. You can simply fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Then call the IRS at 267-941-1099 to complete your application. Learn more here.

What tax structure should I choose for my LLC?

When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.

However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing S corporation status. We recommend consulting with a local accountant to find out which option is best for you.