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Starting a business in Washington DC begins with registering your company with the Washington Department of Licensing & Consumer Protection (DLCP). However, in typical Washington DC Style, the process is a little more complicated than that.

What are the steps to starting a business in Washington DC?

Choose Your Company Structure

The first step is to decide on your company structure. You may need to register your business with the Washington DC Department of Licensing & Consumer Protection (DLCP) Corporations Division. If you form an LLC or a corporation, you’ll also probably need to file a Beneficial Ownership Information report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network after you register with the DLCP.

Apply for a Basic Business License

The next step is to apply for a Washington DC Basic Business License. Almost every District of Columbia company needs one. There are several requirements to meet before you submit your DC business license application to the DLCP:

  1. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
    Getting an EIN is easy and can be completed entirely online at the IRS website.
  2. Register with the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue.
  3. Make sure your DC business premise has a Certificate of Occupancy Permit (or Home Occupation Permit). This only applies if your business has a physical street address in the District of Columbia.
  4. Complete the Clean Hands Self Certification. This requires only a signature that validates and confirms that you do not owe the District of Columbia government more than $100.
  5. Check and see what other documents, permits, and licenses you may need to get your business up and running.

How do your register your DC business with the DLCP Corporations Division?

Domestic District of Columbia corporations are formed by filings the Articles of Incorporation. Domestic DC LLCs are formed by filing the Articles of Organization. Both of these documents are official legal business entity formation documents.

What if my corporation or LLC is already registered in another state?

Corporations and LLCs that are already registered in another state can file a Foreign Registration Statement to register their corporation entity with the DLCP Corporations Division. To do so, you must submit a Certificate of Good Standing from your home state to register your business entity in Washington DC. To obtain this certificate, contact the department that you initially registered your business with. Oftentimes, you can access these documents online for free or for a small fee.

Regardless if you are registering your business in Washington DC or filing a Foreign Registration Statement, the DLCP provides paper forms for filing, or you can conveniently register your business entity online.

Who is required to register their Washington DC business with the DLCP Corporations Division?

Sole proprietors in the District of Columbia are not required to register with the DLCP, but it is optional. However, you may want to consider forming a Washington DC limited liability company instead because of the tax benefits and liability protections.

If your company is a DC corporation, DC partnership, or DC limited liability company, you need to be registered and in good standing with the DLCP Corporation Division. All business entities registered are required to have a Washington DC registered agent and office.

For $49, Washington DC Registered Agent offers 365 days of registered agent service.

Who is required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information Report?

Most US businesses and international businesses registered to operate in the states must file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), though there are some exemptions. On your BOI report, you must disclose basic information about your business and the individuals with the most control over its profits and operations. However, this information does not go on the public record. You can file for free online through FinCEN.

For new businesses formed in 2024, reports are due within 90 days of formation. New businesses started in and after 2025 have 30 days to file. Existing businesses (formed prior to 2024) are required to file by January 1, 2025.

Skip the hassle with our $25 BOI report filing. Our filing experts will get your report filed swiftly and make sure it contains all the correct information.

What is a DC registered agent?

A registered agent, or “resident agent”–as it is sometimes called, is a third party individual or entity with a physical street address in the District of Columbia who can accept documents such as service or process or official business notices on behalf of the company. As your DC registered agent, we provide all of the corporate and business formation forms pre-populated with our District of Columbia registered agent information already on them.

Who needs a DC registered agent?

If you are starting a business in Washington DC, you are required to have a Washington DC Registered Agent to register your domestic business entity.

If you are filing a Foreign Registration Statement so that your company that is registered in another state can do business in the District of Columbia, you also need a registered agent.

Any company that is applying for a basic business license also needs a Washington DC Registered Agent.

If you are a sole proprietor who does not reside in Washington DC, but wants to do business in DC, you must provide a resident agent when you apply for your DC Basic Business License.

Essentially, anyone and any legal business entity doing business in the District of Columbia is required to have a registered agent.

Do you need to get a DC Basic Business License to engage in business after you register with the DLCP Corporations Division?

Most District of Columbia companies need a license to do business from the DLCP Business License Division. There are several categories (and sub categories…and sub-sub categories) of DC business licenses. The license(s) you need depends on what business activities you anticipate to do in Washington DC.

Each license requires and application. However, the required application material vary between licenses. Once you have all the necessary documents, permits, registrations, etc. for your specific license, you can submit your application packet via mail, in-person, or online.

Do I need a different registered agent for each business license?

No! You can list the same registered agent on all of the business licenses you apply for. However, it’s important that the registered agent you choose is reliable and top-quality. Sign up for our District of Columbia registered agent service and we act as your DC registered agent for the DLCP and for your DC Basic Business License all for just $49 a year!

Not only do you get a registered agent for multiple DC agencies, you will have instant access to your pre-populated business formation forms in your safe and secure online client account.

Operating Authority for Independent Taxicab Owner Operators

The District of Columbia now requires taxicab owner operators, limousine owner operators, and for-hire independent owner operators to appoint a Washington DC resident agent for service of legal process in order to receive Washington DC Operating Authorty.

How do I apply for Washington DC Operating Authority?

To apply for Washington DC Operating Authority, you must appoint a resident agent. Here at Washington DC Registered Agent LLC, our goal is to make getting DC Operating Authority as easy as possible.

When you sign up for our registered agent service, we instantly provide you with our agency information for you to use on the Online Operating Authority Application.

We suggest using the online application because you can appoint us as your resident agent through this form. If you submit a paper application, you will need a signed copy of our consent to submit to the District of Columbia Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (which will slow down the application process).

What do I need for my Operating Authority Application?

Applying for a Washington DC Operating Authority for Independent Taxicab Owners is a complicated process. There are multiple forms and registrations you are required to submit. Check out our “How to … “ guide for more information.

How can Washington DC Registered Agent LLC help me start my business?

If you are forming an LLC or corporation to operate a taxicab or limousine (or abate asbestos, do construction, provide security services, operate a circus, do HVAC work, walk dogs, or do basically anything) in Washington DC, you will need a license. If you need a license, you need a registered agent and that’s something we can help with!

Additionally, we can handle your Washington DC LLC or Washington DC corporation formation for only $100 (plus the DLCP fees). As a part of your formation we automatically include our registered agent service, bringing your total cost to $149 (plus the DLCP fees).