1717 N Street NW, Suite 1, Washington, DC, 20036 | (202) 403-0599
by Washington DC Registered Agent LLC

GUIDE TO FOREIGN CORPORATION REGISTRATION IN DC

How to Register a Foreign Corporation in DC

A foreign business entity is any business that was organized outside the District of Columbia. “Foreign” doesn’t just mean businesses formed in other countries—businesses formed in other US states are also considered foreign entities.

Foreign corporations that want to conduct business within the District of Columbia are required to register with DC’s Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). Registration requires submitting a Foreign Registration Statement to the DCRA.

At Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, we make registering a foreign corporations easy! We handle your registration paperwork, provide you a full year or our expert registered agent service and more, for as low as $369—including filing fees!


 

How do I know if I need to register?

You must register your corporation before conducting business in the District of Columbia. That said, what does “conducting business” mean? The district doesn’t specifically define this phrase, but below are a few clear signs that you should register:

  • You have employees in DC
  • You have or lease an office, warehouse or store in DC
  • You plan to bring a lawsuit against another party in DC

In general, if your corporation has substantial, continuous contacts in DC, you likely need to register. If your activities are limited to defending a lawsuit, holding meetings, selling through independent contractors or similar activities as outlined in DC Code §29–105.05, you may not need to register.


 

What information is required on my Washington DC Foreign Registration Statement?

In your Washington DC Foreign Registration Statement, include the following information about your business:

  • Corporate Name

    This is the name of your corporation as it appears on records in the state or country of your business’s formation.

  • Place of Organization

    Provide the state or country where your business was formed.

  • Date of Organization

    Include the date that your business was formed.

  • DC Business Transaction State Date

    If you haven’t yet started transacting business in DC, you can enter “upon registration” as your start date. If you have previously conducted business in DC, you may have additional reports and fees to submit. If this is the case, don’t submit your Foreign Registration Statement until you’ve contacted the DCRA Corporations Division to determine your exact fees (or else your application may be rejected).

  • Principal Address

    This address should be in the state or country of your corporation’s formation. If there isn’t an address maintained in the state or country of formation, enter the main address of your business.

  • Registered Agent and Office

    Your corporation is required to have and maintain a Washington DC registered agent. A registered agent accepts service of process and official notifications on behalf of your corporation. Your registered agent must be regularly available at a designated physical address in the District of Columbia (a registered office).

    At Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, we can be your registered agent for just $49 a year!

  • Description of Business Activity

    Briefly describe what sort of business you will conduct in DC. You must be specific (don’t just write “engaging in lawful business”). For example, you could put “candy manufacturing” or “art restoration.”

  • Name of Governor

    A governor is someone in a primary leadership position for your business. For a corporation, this would typically be a director. You’ll need to include the title, name and address of at least one governor.

  • Certificate of Good Standing

    You’ll need to attach an original Certificate of Good Standing from the state or country of your business’s formation. This certificate can’t be over 90 days old. Certificates of Good Standing are available from your area’s registration authority—in the US, this is typically a division of the local Secretary of State office. If your country does not issue Certificates of Good Standing, contact the DCRA to determine what form to submit.

 


 

Submit Your Foreign Registration Statement

The filing fee for a Foreign Registration Statement is $220. If your corporation has conducted any business in DC before registering with the District of Columbia, there may be back reports and fees as well. Expedited processing is available for some submission methods, as indicated below.

File Online

You can file your Foreign Registration Statement online using the DCRA’s CorpOnline portal. 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

File by Mail

A paper Washington DC Foreign Registration Statement Form is available from the DCRA for both mailed and in-person filings. Mailed filings are payable by check or money order. Expedited filing is not typically available.

File In-Person

In-person filings are automatically considered expedited and are processed the same day at the expedited rate. In-person filings are payable by cash, check, money order, Visa or MasterCard.

Required Expedited Fees:
• 1 day: + $100


 

Our Services

If you’d rather not navigate this paperwork, hire us. We’ll ask you a few simple questions, complete and file your Foreign Registration Statement, and provide you with a comprehensive registration package—including the registered agent service you need for district compliance.

Your registered agent performs an important job: accepting service of process and official notifications on behalf of your business in DC. Hiring a commercial registered agent, like Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, brings you several advantages as well:

  • Availability

    You don’t need to be tied to a desk waiting for a potential process server. We’re a local DC business, and we’re available so that you’re free to run your business.

  • Speed

    Never miss an important notice. We sort and scan documents daily to ensure you get everything you need ASAP.

  • Affordability

    Our registered agent service is only $49 a year—with renewals at the same low price.

  • Our registration package has it all:

    • One Year of DC Registered Agent Service
    • Instant Access to Services Through Our Secure Online Portal
    • Local Business Forms Pre-Filled Your Company’s Information
    • Same-Day Document Scans for All Service of Process
    • Biennial Report Reminders and Compliance Notifications
    • Expert Customer Service Support

Service Standard 15 Days Expedited 3 Days Expedited 1 Day
District of Columbia Filing Fees $220 $270 $320
Our Formation Service Fee $100 $100 $100
1 Year Registered Agent Service $49 $49 $49
Total $369 $419 $469

 


 

What happens after I file the Foreign Registration Statement?

Once you’ve submitted your Washington DC Foreign Registration Statement, what’s next? Before you begin conducting business, you’ll need a business license, and you may need a Certificate of Occupancy. To maintain your business, you’ll also need to submit biennial reports.


 

Does my business need a Certificate of Occupancy?

You’ll need a Certificate of Occupancy if your business operates from a location within the District of Columbia other than your home (in which case you’ll need a Home Occupation Permit). 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?

It doesn’t matter if your business is foreign or domestic: if you conduct business in the District of Columbia, you need a business license. Most businesses require a basic business license.


 

What are the fees for a Washington DC basic business license?

The total cost of a basic business license is made up of four fees added together:

Application fee: $70
Endorsement fee: $25
Category license fee: (varies)
Technology fee: (10% of the sum of the other fees)

The category license fee depends on your category of business. A basic business license must be renewed either every two or four years, depending on the category.


 

How does my business obtain a Washington DC business license?

After registering with the DCRA, your business will need the following additional IDs, registrations and certifications before submitting an application:

  1. An EIN
  2. Registration with the Office of Tax and Revenue
  3. Certificate of Occupancy or Home Occupation Permit (if your business operates from a location in DC)
  4. A Clean Hands Self-Certification (a statement avowing you owe less than $100 to the DC government).

 


 

What is a biennial report?

The District of Columbia requires both domestic and foreign corporations to file a biennial report, a document that updates your business’s current ownership and contact information.


 

When is the Washington DC biennial report due?

April 1st of the year after you register your corporation in Washington DC. The report is then required every two years, due on April 1st.


 

How do I submit a Washington DC biennial report?

Much like the Foreign Registration Statement, the Washington DC biennial report can be filed online with CorpOnline or submitted by mail or in person after downloading a Two-Year Report Form from the DCRA.


 

What is the biennial report filing fee?

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?

Businesses in default will lose their good standing and incur a late fee of $100.


 

Why is Washington DC Registered Agent the top choice for the job?

We believe in a job well done and value doing the best you can, even if that means dealing with confusing processes and miserable red tape. When you hire Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, we’re with you for 365 days for just $49.


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