Our picks for LLC formation services

ZenBusiness
  • Low cost
  • Quick turnaround
  • Expert service and support
Visit ZenBusiness
northwest logo Northwest Registered Agent
  • Same-day filing service
  • Affordable pricing
  • Strict ethical code
Visit Northwest
LegalZoom Logo LegalZoom
  • Simple setup
  • Wide range of services
  • Technical support
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When starting a new company, choosing a business entity is the most important decision that the founders must make. For most businesses with more than one founding member, forming as an LLC is often the best option for a number of reasons.

An LLC is an uncomplicated business structure that affords business owners legal protection by separating personal assets from business debts. Moreover, LLCs often enjoy a lower tax rate than corporations. Nevertheless, creating an LLC can get complicated depending on where you are based, with the formation process, filing fees, and continuing legal obligations differing from state to state.

Forming an LLC in the State of Pennsylvania follows a similar procedure to those found in other U.S. states, although the state does require an additional document known as a New Entity Docketing Statement to be filed during registration. Additionally, Pennsylvania imposes special requirements on foreign and domestic LLCs offering certain restricted professional services.

To avoid a misstep in the filing process, follow these steps to start an LLC in Pennsylvania, and refer to the checklist at the bottom of the post to familiarize yourself with the legal and financial requirements for LLCs in the state.

Starting an LLC in Pennsylvania step-by-step

1. Select a name for your Pennsylvania LLC

Follow naming requirements

There are two major guidelines to follow when naming your LLC in the State of Pennsylvania:

  1. An LLC’s name must be distinguishable from the names of existing business entities on file with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
  2. An LLC’s name must contain one of the following: “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited,” or “Limited Liability Company.” Standard abbreviations of these words are also acceptable.

Need help coming up with a business name? Check out our free business name generator.

Check the availability of your chosen LLC name

Confirm that your LLC name is available in Pennsylvania using the Pennsylvania Department of State Search Business Entity tool.

Reserve your LLC name with the Department of State

It’s a good idea to reserve your name with the Department of State to prevent another Pennsylvania business entity from using it before you file your Certificate of Organization.

The Pennsylvania Department of State allows you to file a Name Reservation application online or by mail in order to reserve a business name for up to 120 days. The filing fee is $70.

Read more: How to perform a Pennsylvania business name search

2. Designate a registered agent (registered office)

As in every U.S. state, forming an LLC in Pennsylvania requires the appointment of a registered agent service to handle state and federal legal documents and service of process on the business’s behalf. However, the state refers to a registered agent as a registered office.

The registered office must either be a state resident or business entity with a street address in Pennsylvania OR if the individual or business is based out-of-state, they must have a business office in Pennsylvania.

Our picks of the best registered agent services

  • ZenBusiness: There’s no need to stress about filing paperwork when you work with ZenBusiness. This company offers a great variety of LLC services, the focus of which is to ensure your business is set up correctly with the proper paperwork filled out and delivered to the right branch of your state government. Of course, ZenBusiness does charge for their services, but customers say they get the most bang for their buck.
  • Northwest Registered Agent: Starting a business requires a lot of state-mandated paperwork, which can be confusing for new business owners. Northwest offers business services that can help entrepreneurs find the right documentation, fill it out, and file it on time with the right government agency. In addition to helping you set up an LLC, Northwest has a host of additional services, like registered agent services, that new owners will find useful too.
  • Bizee: Bizee offers a great library of material to help first-time business owners figure out what kind of business they should set up. From there, Bizee will aid with documentation and filing procedures and demystify terms like registered agent, articles of organization, and EIN. The company has a strong reputation and great reviews online, too.
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Read more:  How to Find the Best Registered Agent in Pennsylvania

3. File a Certificate of Organization and New Entity Docketing Statement

An LLC is created in Pennsylvania through the filing of a Certificate of Organization Domestic Limited Liability Company and a New Entity Docketing Statement with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

The Certificate of Organization must provide the following information:

  • LLC’s name
  • Registered agent name and address
  • The effective date of the Certificate of Organization
  • Whether the LLC provides professional services
  • Whether the LLC is a public benefit company
  • LLC organizers’ names and signatures

Unlike most other states, the Pennsylvania Department of State requires an LLC to submit a New Entity Docketing Statement in addition to its Certificate of Organization. The statement must include the following details:

  • LLC’s name
  • Name and address of the individual who will file the LLC’s initial tax reports
  • LLC business description
  • Federal employer identification number
  • The date ending the LLC’s fiscal year

You can file the certificate online using PENN file or print and complete a form and file by mail. The filing fee is $125. 

Foreign LLC registration

An LLC formed out-of-state that intends to do business in Pennsylvania must register with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Follow these steps to do business in Pennsylvania as a foreign LLC:

  1. Comply with Pennsylvania LLC naming guidelines and confirm that your LLC name is available in the state using the Pennsylvania Department of State Search Business Entity tool.
  2. Appoint a Pennsylvania registered office (registered agent).
  3. File a Foreign Registration Statement and New Entity Docketing Statement (see section above) with the Pennsylvania Department of State. The statement can be filed online or through the mail. The filing fee is $250.

4. Draft an operating agreement

Although not a legally mandated step for forming an LLC in Pennsylvania, drafting a comprehensive LLC operating agreement is strongly recommended for all nascent limited liability companies.

The operating agreement should do the following:

  1. Describe the LLC’s business structure
  2. Establish the individual responsibilities and obligations of LLC members
  3. Detail how the LLC will be run

Without an operating agreement clarifying the specific duties of its members, an LLC may face significant legal and operational difficulties.

5. Obtain an IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN)

All newly formed LLCs in the United States must acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (with the exception of single-member LLCs).

The nine-digit EIN is like a social security number for a business and is necessary to pay income tax, file tax returns, open business bank accounts, and perform many other important functions.

You can apply for an EIN online on the IRS website without paying a filing fee.

6. Fulfill your Pennsylvania LLC’s additional legal obligations

Once an LLC is registered, its members must devote attention to fulfilling legal requirements that apply for the duration of the company’s existence.

File Annual Registration (Restricted foreign and professional LLCs only)

Foreign and domestic LLCs active in Pennsylvania that offer certain restricted professional services are required to file a Certificate of Annual Registration with the Department of State Corporation Bureau every year by April 15. LLCs that do not fit this description are not required to file an annual registration.

The certificate may be filed online or by mail. The annual registration filing fee amounts to at least $500 per year, with the potential for additional fees for every member of the LLC.

Read more: What is an annual report?

Register with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue

Certain LLCs active in Pennsylvania must register with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue in order to fulfill a number of state tax obligations. This includes LLCs that collect sales tax and those that have employees.

Registering for most state taxes can be done using the DOR myPATH system. The website also includes a list of major state business taxes.

Obtain business licenses and permits

LLCs active in Pennsylvania may be required to obtain one or more state or local business licenses or permits depending on their type of business and location.

The Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop can help in determining which state and local licenses an LLC may need to obtain.

For additional information on local licensing regulations, contact a city or county clerk in the city or county where your LLC is located.

Read more: How to Get a Business License

7. File a BOI Report

Effective January 1, 2024, the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) mandates that most corporations, LLCs, and similar entities in the U.S. report their beneficial owners’ information to FinCEN. In Kansas, a beneficial owner is identified as someone with significant control or at least 25% ownership of the entity. Required information includes the owner’s name, birth date, address, and ID number from an approved document, along with its image.

Entities established or registered before the 2024 cutoff must file their initial reports by January 1, 2025.

For businesses formed in 2024, there is a 90-day window after confirmation of formation to file, while those established afterward have 30 days from their creation or registration date to comply. Filings are processed electronically via FinCEN’s BOI reporting portal.

Learn more about BOI Reporting.

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Pennsylvania LLC checklist

Naming requirements:

A Pennsylvania LLC’s name must obey the following guidelines:

  1. Must be distinguishable from the names of existing business entities on file with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
  2. Must contain one of the following: “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited,” or “Limited Liability Company.” Standard abbreviations of these words are also acceptable.

Formational documents and filing fees:

Registration procedure:

  • An LLC is created in Pennsylvania through the filing of a Certificate of Organization Domestic Limited Liability Company and a New Entity Docketing Statement with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Additional legal obligations:

  • File a Certificate of Annual Registration  – Required for professional LLCs and foreign LLCs engaged in specific restricted professional services
  • Register with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue – Required for some certain LLCs, including those with employees and those that collect sales tax
  • Obtain business licenses and permits – Required for certain LLCs depending on their business type and location

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