Forming an LLC in PA is an administrative procedure that involves choosing a business name, providing a registered office address, and filling the articles of organization with the Pennsylvania Department of State, alongside applicable state filing fees.
Afterward, you’ll also need to apply for an EIN with an IRS, set up a business bank account, and look into obtaining any necessary licenses, local or industry registrations, and insurance. You may also want to prepare an operating agreement, but this step is optional if you register a single-member LLC.
To begin with, it seems like a lot to handle. But in reality, you’ll whizz through all these steps and start an LLC in Pennsylvania in no time!
Steps to Open an LLC in PA
- Step 1: Pick a name for your LLC
- Step 2: Choose a business location for your LLC formation
- Step 3: Hire a registered agent (optional)
- Step 4: File the Pennsylvania LLC articles of organization
- Step 5: Get an EIN from the IRS
- Step 6: Draft an LLC operating agreement
- Step 7: Open a business bank account
- Step 8: Obtain business insurance
Step 1: Pick a name for your LLC
When brainstorming a business name for your LLC, make sure that it’s distinct from other businesses registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS). The easiest way to do so is to run your list of ideas through a name search on the PA DOS website.
Remember that you must add one of the following designators to the end of your LLC business name:
- “Limited Liability Company”
Or one of these abbreviations:
If you’re not planning to register an LLC immediately, it makes sense to reserve the selected name. To do so, file a Name Registration form to DOS and secure your name for 120 days. The filing fee is $70.
Step 2: Choose a business location for your LLC formation
In Pennsylvania, you must designate a business address as the Registered Address for your LLC. This physical address must be a street address located in Pennsylvania where your company representative (or yourself) can be reached at any time.
All the process of service documents and other correspondence from the authorities will arrive at this address. Options for business owners include the main office of operations, a home address, or a commercial registered office provider.
Step 3: Hire a registered agent (optional)
Most states require a registered agent that’s listed by name and physical address. It’s where service of process, or legal documents, and other business mail are sent.
However, Pennsylvania only requires new businesses to list the physical address of the registered office. It serves the same purpose as a registered agent. The difference is a person’s name is not required.
If you choose to have the registered office be your primary office location or a home office, you may not need to hire anyone. Some business owners hire a third party known as a Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP). In other states, this is often known as a Commercial Registered Agent. Note that you can’t use a P.O. box.
Factors in hiring a registered agent service
Hiring a registered agent service provides privacy. Since the registered office is listed publicly, using a third party helps you keep your name and home address private. Professional registered agent service is also beneficial for business owners that may not be available at the registered office location during business hours or travel a lot for work.
Hiring a CROP has an additional cost of about $50-$300 per year. You can find an array of service providers online. But be sure to check reviews. After all, you don’t want to entrust sensitive legal documents to just about anyone.
Step 4: File the Pennsylvania LLC articles of organization
Certificate of Organization
The Certificate of Organization must include the following information:
- Your LLC’s business name
- The Registered Office Address or the name and address of the Commercial Registered Office Provider
- Names of the LLC’s organizers
- The effective date of the Certificate
- Any restricted professional services information
- Information for LLCs organized as benefit companies
- Signatures of the members
The Docketing Statement must be attached to the Certificate of Organization. It must include:
- Your LLC’s entity name
- The responsible tax party
- A description of LLC’s business activity
- A federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- The LLC’s fiscal year
The Certificate of Organization Form and accompanying Docketing Statement can be filed online or sent by mail to the Pennsylvania Department of State. The mailing address is:
Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
Filing fee and processing
The PA LLC filing fee is $125. The following requirements for the filing fee apply:
- It must be paid by check or money order. Cash and credit card payments are not currently accepted.
- Payment should be made payable to the PA Department of State.
- Checks must include a commercially pre-printed name and address of the account holder.
The Certificate of Organization and Docketing Statement are processed in about 7-10 business days. The date is upon receipt by the Department of State.
Step 5: Get an Employer Identification Number from the IRS
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is needed for multi-member LLCs, a single-member LLC with any employees, or an LLC that elects to be treated as a corporation for tax purposes. To obtain an EIN for your LLC, file an application with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Most business entities will need an EIN for identifying the business with federal income tax and state tax filings, employee tax forms, and opening a business bank account.
The IRS website has a questionnaire to help understand if your LLC may need an EIN.
Obtaining an EIN
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) must submit a request through the IRS using a Form SS-4 to obtain an EIN.
The IRS offers this as a free service. The application can be made online, through the mail, via fax, or by phone. The telephone option is for international applicants.
Applications for an EIN that are filed online are processed immediately. Applications with a fax number usually receive a response in about four business days. The processing time for mail applications is about four weeks.
Do sole proprietors need an EIN?
If you were doing business as a sole proprietorship, then you may still use your social security number on tax forms. However, if you later change to a multi-member LLC or hire employees, you’ll need an EIN.
Step 6: Draft an LLC operating agreement
An operating agreement is an internal business document. It lays out the members’ roles, capital contributions, salaries, ownership percentage, and profit and loss sharing agreement. Additionally, LLC operating agreements may include terms on liability, business taxes, and other general business operations.
So what are Pennsylvania law requirements on operating agreements?
Pennsylvania law doesn’t require that a Pennsylvania LLC have an operating agreement. However, it’s advised to have one. The operating agreement provides liability protection for the LLC and its members. It also defines the roles and obligations of the limited liability company’s owners. It’s crucial when personal assets are invested in the business entity.
One or more of your Pennsylvania LLC’s members can prepare the LLC operating agreement. Since it’s an internal document, there is no filing fee cost. However, many new businesses may hire legal help to draft their limited liability company operating agreement. The fees for legal service will vary.
Step 7: Open a Pennsylvania business bank account
A Pennsylvania business bank account helps keep personal funds separate from business funds, which is required under PA law. The fees and timeline for getting a business bank account will depend upon the bank used.
Some banks will provide a fast turnaround time, especially if a member has strong credit or your LLC has raised a lot of capital. But some business owners may need to shop around.
The cost to maintain a bank account is minimal. On average, it may run about $14 a month. If loans or checks are required, then the fees will be more.
Step 8: Obtain business insurance
The type of insurance your LLC may need will depend on the nature of your business. Some common types of business insurance include:
- General liability insurance to protect in lawsuits brought against your LLC
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Professional liability insurance for LLCs providing professional services
Again, shop around and compare the terms, costs, and coverage among different providers. Also, some business bank accounts come with discounted insurance plans.
Pennsylvania LLC taxes, costs, and fees
A Pennsylvania LLC must register for state taxes. It’s done by submitting a Form PA 100 with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. It’s in addition to obtaining the EIN with the U.S. IRS and other required tax reports.
Owners (or members) report their business income or losses that they receive from the LLC on their annual personal tax return under Schedule C. However, there may be additional requirements for local and state taxes depending on the type of business.
Pennsylvania doesn’t impose any franchise or business privilege taxes for operating in the state for LLCs.
Also, LLC owners don’t have to file an annual LLC report with the state unless any business details or structure changes. Respectively, there are no yearly LLC fees in Pennsylvania for LLC companies.
Pennsylvania business permits and licenses
For PA LLCs, the local registrations, permits, licenses, and zoning requirements are based on the primary locality for which the business operates.
The Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop encourages businesses to use a designated tool to contact the local municipality for specific details on the permits, licenses, and other requirements for where the business entity will operate.
The costs and timelines will vary based on the nature of the business activities, the locality of the primary business operations, and more. It may also have an additional state fee.
Additionally, some businesses will need special registrations and licenses from the Pennsylvania state government. These include home improvement contractors, for example.
Pros and cons of forming an LLC in Pennsylvania
Registering and operating an LLC in the Coal State has its perks and slight downsides. But overall, PA proposes a good business and tax climate for small business owners and companies positioned for growth.
- Personal liability shielding and asset protection
- Easy to form compared to other business entities
- Enhanced credibility to clients or customers
- Protection from lawsuits against the company
- No annual report fees or franchise taxes
- Flexibility in organizing management structure
- Relatively low state sales tax (6% state-wide)
- If the primary business operations are outside PA, then will need to file as a foreign LLC
- May need to file as a foreign LLC in multiple states you do business in
- Some other states have more friendly business laws and regulations for certain industries
Pennsylvania LLC FAQs
The following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding forming an LLC in Pennsylvania.