HOW TO INCORPORATE IN WASHINGTON DC
Start a Corporation in Washington DC
When most people think of our nation’s capital, they envision politicians and lawyers—but at the heart of DC is business. DC is a thriving center for business growth and innovation, a great community for entrepreneurs and new business owners.
Interested in starting a DC corporation? Incorporating your new business in the District of Columbia will likely involve the following steps:
- File Washington DC Articles of Incorporation
- Write bylaws
- Obtain an EIN and register for local taxes
- Submit Beneficial Ownership Information report
- Apply for required permits
- Apply for a district business license
- Open a corporate bank account
You don’t have to navigate DC incorporation on your own. Ask any business legend, and they’ll tell you that the secret to business success isn’t being an expert at everything—it’s in hiring the experts you need. At Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, our expertise is in business formation. We incorporate DC businesses daily, and we offer a total incorporation package for as low as $248. This package doesn’t just form your business, but also includes everything you need for your entire online business presence.
What are DC Articles of Incorporation?
They’re the first step to incorporating in Washington DC. Incorporation begins with submitting Washington DC Articles of Incorporation to the Department of Licensing & Consumer Protection (DLCP). The approval of this document forms and registers your business in the District of Columbia.
What do I include in DC Articles of Incorporation?
Your Washington DC Articles of Incorporation requires basic information to form your business, such as your corporation’s name, contact information and number of shares.
- Corporation Name
Your Washington DC corporation’s name must include one of the following words or abbreviations: Corporation (Corp.), Incorporated (Inc.), Company (Co.), or Limited (Ltd.). Words like “bank,” “insurance,” or “credit union” require approval from the Mayor. Check your name’s available with the DC Business Center’s Quick Search.
- Authorized Shares
When you form your Washington DC corporation, you also authorize (create) shares of stock. Some or all of these shares can be distributed later on at your organizational meeting. You must authorize at least one share. In your Articles, you’re only required to list the number of shares you’re authorizing.
- Registered Agent
Your Washington DC registered agent accepts service of process and official notices on behalf of your DC corporation. A registered agent must either be an individual DC resident or a business registered in the district. In your Articles, you must include the name of your agent and the street address in DC where the agent is regularly available during standard business hours.
- Miscellaneous Provisions
In this optional section, you can add any provisions that aren’t inconsistent with the law. For example, if you want to have series or classes of shares (such as common or preferred shares), you could include these designations, along with the rights or limitations for each share type.
Incorporators sign and deliver your Washington DC Articles of Incorporation to the DLCP. Incorporators are required to include their names and addresses. Your incorporator doesn’t have to be a director, officer, or anyone with ownership interest in your corporation. We’ll be your incorporators if you sign up for our incorporation package.
Submitting DC Articles of Incorporation
The minimum filing fee is $99. Your filing fee could be more, however, if you authorize an especially large number of shares or if your shares have a particularly high value.
The number of shares you authorize (whether or not they’re issued) is your corporation’s authorized capital. If the value of your authorized capital is $100,000 or more, the filing fee for your Washington DC Articles of Incorporation increases as indicated below:
• $100,000-$500,000 of authorized capital: $550
• $500,001-$1,000,000 of authorized capital: $1100
• $1,000,001+ of authorized capital: $1650
Additionally, expedited options (which vary based on filing type) can increase your fee total as well. You can file your Washington DC Articles of Incorporation online, by mail, or in person.
Use the DLCP’s CorpOnline portal to file online. To create an account, you’ll need to provide your name, address, and email, as well as a username and password. Online filings are payable by Visa or MasterCard.
Optional Expedited Fees:
- 3 days: + $50
- 1 day: + $100
Download a paper Washington DC Articles of Incorporation form from the DLCP’s CorpOnline portal for both mailed and in-person filings. Mailed filings are payable by check or money order. Expedited filing is not typically available.
Your filing is automatically considered expedited and is processed the same day when you file in person. In-person filings are payable by cash, check, money order, Visa or MasterCard.
Required Expedited Fees:
- 1 day: + $100
At Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, we form DC businesses, assist businesses with maintaining compliance, and provide registered agent service—and that’s all we do. So, it’s essential for us to be the best. We’ve developed a comprehensive incorporation package that provides you a fully functional corporation at a great price.
- A Year of Registered Agent Service
Our expert registered agent service is ready and available so you’re free to run your business.
- Immediate Access to Secure Digital Client Account
Find your scanned documents and access free, helpful resources, such as business forms pre-filled with your corporation’s information.
- Washington DC Business Presence
Our formation service includes your own business domain, free for a year, along with a website, email, SSL, and phone service, each free for 90 days.
- Same-Day Document Scans for All Service of Process
We ensure you receive important documents fast.
- Biennial Report Reminders and Compliance Notifications
Our compliance tools help you never forget a filing requirement.
- Expert Customer Service Support
Contact our friendly, knowledgeable staff for assistance.
- Use of Our Commercial Address on Business Filings
Avoid spam and solicitors by listing our address on public documents like your Washington DC Articles of Incorporation.
- Custom Documents
We provide your Washington DC corporation with bylaws, initial resolutions and more!
- Option to add Beneficial Ownership Information Report Filing
We’ll take care of your filing for just $9.
|Standard 15 Days
|Expedited 3 Days
|Expedited 1 Day
|District of Columbia Filing Fees
|Our Formative Service Fee
|1 Year Registered Agent Service
While our incorporation package is comprehensive, we understand some DC corporations want extras, like corporate books and seals. We offer these as well—for a full list of additional services, check out our order form.
FAQ for Washington DC Corporations
Incorporating in our nation’s capital involves quite a few requirements. Common questions about registered agents, licenses, reports and more are answered below.
Why do I need a registered agent?
Washington DC requires corporations to appoint a registered agent in their Articles of Incorporation and to continuously maintain a registered agent in the district. Having a registered agent is not just a legal requirement, however—it has great advantage as well.
Privacy: When you hire a commercial registered agent like Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, you can list our address on public documents like your Articles of Incorporation. This helps you avoid all the junk mail and hassle that come with a publicly-listed address.
Availability: You don’t have to worry about missing a court summons when you head out to a meeting or take a vacation. Our job is to be available and ensure you never miss an important notice.
Affordability: For just $49 a year, we can service your Washington DC corporation!
What is an organizational meeting?
An organizational meeting is typically the first official meeting held by your corporation. It’s the first opportunity you have to complete the organization of your business. At this meeting, you can appoint officers, issue shares of stock, and adopt bylaws.
At Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, we help you prepare for your organizational meeting by providing custom bylaws for your Washington DC corporation.
Do I need federal tax ID for my DC corporation?
Yes. Corporations are required to obtain a federal tax ID (called an Employer Identification Number or EIN). EINs are also needed to get a Washington DC business license.
How does my corporation obtain an EIN?
To get an EIN, you can complete apply online on the IRS website at no cost. If you’d prefer us to apply for you, you can add Tax ID service to our formation package for $50.
Do I need to file a Beneficial Ownership Information report?
More than likely, yes. Except for some exempt businesses in highly-regulated industries, all corporations must file a federal Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
Not filing on purpose or knowingly providing false information on your report could result up to two years of jail time or up to $10,000 in financial penalties.
When is my Beneficial Ownership Information report due?
BOI report due dates vary according to when your business is incorporated. LLCs started in 2024 are required to file within 90 days of formation, while LLCs formed in 2025 or after must file within 30 days. If your corporation was formed before 2024, your deadline is January 1, 2025.
How do I file my BOI report, and what’s the cost?
You can file your BOI report for free online through FinCEN. The information you provide in your report is stored in a secure database and is not accessible to the general public.
Can you file my BOI report for me?
Yes! We can make your life a little easier with our affordable BOI report filing service. For just $9, we get your report filed quickly and accurately.
What information is required on my BOI report?
You’re required to disclose name, address, and tax or personal identification information for your corporation and for the individuals with the most influence over your company and its formation. These individuals fall into two categories: beneficial owners and company applicants.
Beneficial owner: any individual who owns 25% of your corporation and/or who has substantial control over business decisions and operations (such as a corporate officer).
Company applicant: the individual in charge of filing your Articles of Incorporation or directing them to be filed (if different).
You can list information for as many beneficial owners as necessary and information for up to two company applicants. Corporations formed before 2024 don’t need to include any information on company applicants.
Should I consider registering trade name (DBA)?
Lots of DC companies operate under a trade name (also sometimes referred to as a DBA) because it allows for franchising and branding opportunities. If you’d like to register a trade name, select our Trade Name Service inside your account after signing up for our business formation service. We will register your company’s trade name for $125 plus district fees.
Do I need a Certificate of Occupancy?
If your business operates from a location within Washington DC, you’ll need either a Certificate of Occupancy or a Home Occupation Permit (if you operate out of your home). If you lease a commercial space, you may be covered by your landlord’s Certificate of Occupancy.
Do I need a Washington DC business license?
Before engaging in any business within the District of Columbia, your corporation must obtain a business license.
How do I register for local taxes?
What is DC’s Personal Property Tax?
In addition to traditional corporate taxes, if your corporation owns or holds personal property in the District of Columbia, you must file a Personal Property Tax return.
Are there exemptions to the Personal Property Tax?
Filing is required, but you are exempt from paying the tax if your personal property value is less than $225,000. Nonprofits, as well as some technology companies and supermarkets are also exempt. Business that already pay certain other taxes, such as the DC Gross Receipts Tax, are exempt as well.
What is considered personal property?
Personal property includes items such as books, furniture, machinery, equipment, supplies, computers, trailers, and unregistered vehicles. You’ll report the current value of this property using the depreciation guidelines in the tax form instructions.
When is the Personal Property Tax due?
July 31st each year.
Why do I need to submit a Washington DC biennial report?
This report updates the District of Columbia on your corporation’s current ownership and contact information, including your principal office and registered agent. This helps ensure that the district maintains a reliable channel of communication with your corporation.
When is the Washington DC biennial report due?
The reports are always due on April 1st. Your first report is due the year after registering your business in DC. Afterwards, your reports are due every two years.
How can I submit my biennial report?
To file online, you can use CorpOnline.
How much does it cost to file a biennial report?
The filing fee is $300. Expedited filings are $100 for 1-day processing and $50 for 3-day processing. In-person filings are automatically assessed the same-day $100 expedited fee.
What happens if my biennial report is late?
Corporations in default lose their good standing. Late filings also incur a $100 late fee.
Why hire Washington DC Registered Agent LLC?
Take the first step toward making your business vision reality. Hire us at Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, and we’ll create and submit your Washington DC Articles of Organization, give you custom documents, provide you with a year of expert registered agent service and our Washington DC Business Presence package, and more.