How Much Does an LLC Cost in Washington D.C.

Written by: Mary Gerardine

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The minimum Washington DC LLC Cost is $235, which covers the cost of processing your LLC formation document (known as the Articles of Organization) and obtaining a Home Occupation Permit and General Business License from the DC Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (DLCP).

Having said that, the total cost of forming a Washington DC LLC will depend on several factors, including your personal preferences and business needs.

In our How Much Does an LLC Cost in Washington DC article, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the different costs associated with launching and maintaining an LLC.

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LLC Cost in Washington DC

In the table below, you can find a summary of the main requirements of forming a Washington DC limited liability company (LLC) and their associated fees.

                                                                             
RequirementFee
Articles of Organization$99-$220+
Registered Agent Fee$0-$130+
LLC Name$0-$105
DC Zoning Permit$36.30-$471+
DC District Business License$99-$3,107.50
Operating Agreement$0+

Washington DC LLC Filing Fee ($99-$220+)

Depending on whether you’re looking to form a domestic or foreign LLC, you’ll be required to submit one of two formation documents to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (DLCP).

The majority of business owners will be looking to form a domestic LLC, which involves filing the Articles of Organization and paying a $99 fee. If you want to set up a foreign LLC instead, you’ll need to submit a Foreign Registration Statement — which costs $220.

With that said, if you choose to use an LLC formation service, the total cost will be a little higher as it will include a small service fee in addition to the general state filing fee outlined above.

The typical cost of these LLC formation services can range significantly, but normally start from as low as $29, increasing if you decide to purchase any additional offerings.

Note: For more details on the formation process you can check out our Washington DC LLC Formation guide.

Washington DC Registered Agent ($0-130+)

As part of the process of filling out either your Washington DC LLC Articles of Organization or Foreign Registration Statement, you’ll be required to appoint a registered agent.

This is a Washington DC resident or entity that you must assign to accept legal documents, as well as tax and governmental correspondence, on behalf of your LLC.

While you can act as your own registered agent at no cost, it’s often recommended to hire a professional service so you avoid any potential penalties or legal issues caused by non-compliance with state regulations.

Hiring a professional service can also ensure your personal information is kept off public records.

While the exact Washington DC registered agent fee you’ll be required to pay will depend on the specific provider you choose, you’ll typically be required to pay around $130 per year.

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Naming Your Washington DC LLC ($0-$105)

When forming your Washington DC LLC, you’ll be required to pick a suitable name that’s available to use.

While registering a name in itself has no cost, there are two potential costs to be aware of when naming your LLC.

Reserving Name

Securing the name of your LLC is an important step, particularly if you’re not yet prepared to launch your business. To ensure your desired name is safe for future use, you can reserve it by filing an Application for Name Reservation to the District of Columbia Government Corporations Division.

This application can be submitted electronically through the DLCP’s CorpOnline system or by printing out the above form and mailing it to the following address:

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations Division
PO Box 92300
Washington, DC 20090

Once you’ve submitted this form and paid the $50 filing fee, your desired name will be reserved for 60 days. After this time, you’ll need to decide whether to renew this reservation (and repay the $50 filing fee) or proceed to form your LLC.

Note: Be sure to confirm the name you’re hoping to use is available by completing a Business Entity Search on the District of Columbia’s CorpOnline system.

When choosing a name for your LLC, it’s important to select one that corresponds to an available domain. This is because a matching domain ensures consistency between your LLC’s name and its online presence, which helps to strengthen its brand recognition and credibility.

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Doing Business As (DBA) Name

If you want to operate your Washington DC business under a name other than the one it’s currently legally registered as, you’ll need to obtain a Doing Business As (DBA) name — which is also known as a Trade Name in Washington DC.

You can submit an application for a trade name by filing a TN-1 Trade Name Registration form with the District of Columbia Government Corporations Division.

Be aware that you’ll need to renew your DBA name and pay $55 by April 1 of the second year following its registration, and biennially from then onwards. If you miss this deadline, you’ll have until September 1 to pay the renewal fee — plus an additional $55 — late fee before your DBA is canceled.

Note: You could be fined up to $1,000 or face criminal charges if you make any false statements anywhere on your Trade Name Registration Form.

Washington DC Zoning Permit ($36.30-$471+)

Another cost your Washington DC LLC will likely need to pay is the fee to register with the Office of the Zoning Administrator, which can vary widely depending on the zoning permit you need.

There are two main types of zoning permits your business could need, depending on where it plans to operate:

  • Home Occupation Permit: For LLCs planning to operate out of a home
  • Certificate of Occupancy: For LLCs planning to conduct business out of an office

We’ve broken down the costs of these two zoning permits in the table below.

Zoning Permit Type Fee Description Total
Home Occupation Permit Filling Fee $33
Permit Issuance Fee $33
Certificate of Occupancy Copy $7 for standard copy $20 for certified copy/affidavit
5,000 square feet or less $42 + $33 filing fee
Between 5,001 and 50,000 sq. ft. $42 + $0.004/sq. ft. + $33 filing fee
Between 50,001 and 100,000 sq. ft. $276 + $0.003/sq. ft. + $33 filing fee
100,001 sq. ft. or more $471 + $0.0013/sq. ft. + $33 filing fee

Note: The DC Department of Buildings (DOB) applies a 10% “enhanced fee” to all zoning permit totals. So with this addition applied, the filing fee for a Home Occupation Permit would be $36.30.

Washington DC District Business License ($99-$3,107.50)

In order to operate a business legally in Washington DC, you’ll need to obtain a Basic Business License from the DLCP by submitting an application through My DC Business Center.

A number of different activities are regulated with specific business licenses, such as entertainment services, food services, and the sale of flammable products. Each of these come with their own specific requirements and fees — which vary between a minimum of $99 (for employment counseling services) to over $3,000 (for ice cream manufacturers).

However, if your business doesn’t engage in any of the activities that are specifically regulated by the DLCP, it will need to obtain a General Business License (GBL) instead — which is another type of Basic Business License that costs $99.

Depending on the type of business activities your LLC engages in, it will need to renew this license every two or four years within 75 days of its expiration date.

Note: You can find a full list of the different types of business activities regulated by the DLCP, as well as the associated fees of these licenses, using the Basic Business License Directory.

Washington DC LLC Operating Agreement ($0+)

While not mandatory, it’s good practice for Washington DC LLCs to have an operating agreement.

This document defines the roles and responsibilities of the members or managers in your LLC and will help prevent and solve any business disputes that may arise later on.

While you can opt to hire an online service or business attorney to draft this document for you (which typically costs at least a few hundred dollars), it’s actually quite straightforward to do it yourself at no extra cost.

It’s also important to note that this doesn’t actually need to be filed with the Washington DC Secretary of State — it’s purely an internal document.

Additional Washington DC LLC Formation Costs

On top of the more common fees outlined above, there are a number of potential additional formation costs that LLCs in Washington DC may encounter depending on their circumstances.

We’ve summarized some of these additional costs below:

Expedited Washington DC LLC Filing

Your LLC filing with the Washington DC Corporations Division will typically be processed within 15 days of receipt. However, you can request one of the expedited filing options if you want to speed up this process:

  • Three day processing: $50
  • Same day processing: $100

Bear in mind that you’ll be required to pay for same day expedited processing if you submit your LLC filing in-person at the DLCP Business License Center. This is because any filings made this way will be processed while you wait.

Note: The DLCP recommends making expedited service requests electronically through its CorpOnline system since this service isn’t offered for all mail-in filings.

Certificate of Good Standing

A Certificate of Good Standing is a document often required in order to open a business bank account and protect your personal assets; it can also be required by lenders in order to check that your LLC is properly registered and legally authorized to conduct business with the state. 

You’re able to obtain your LLC’s Certificate of Good Standing from the DLCP by submitting a request through its CorpOnline platform or in-person at the following address:

Business Licensing Center
2nd Floor
1100 4th Street SW
Washington, DC 20024

Regardless of how you choose to request this certificate, it will cost you $50 to place an order, which can be paid by check, money order, cashier check, or credit card.

Certified Copies of Business Documents

Several Washington DC LLCs like to keep certified copies of important business documents (such as their Articles of Organization) — whether it’s for banking needs, legal requirements, or just for maintaining organized records.

If you want to obtain any certified copies of your LLC’s documents, you can easily request them from the DLCP at a cost of $50 each.

Just like Certificates of Good Standing, mail-in orders are not permitted — you’ll need to make your request either electronically through the CorpOnline platform, or in-person at the Business License Center.

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Cost to Maintain an LLC in Washington DC

In addition to the cost of forming an LLC in Washington DC, there are also several ongoing costs you’ll be responsible for paying each year.

We’ve outlined these recurring costs associated with maintaining a Washington DC LLC below.

Biennial Report

For your LLC to remain in good standing, it will need to submit a biennial report with the DLCP Corporations Division and pay a $300 filing fee by April 1 every two years.

This biennial report can be filed electronically through the CorpOnline platform, in person at the Business Licensing Center, or by mailing Form BRA-25 to the following address:

Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection
Corporations Division
PO Box 92300
Washington, DC 20090

Remember that your first biennial report will be due by April 1 of the year immediately after the calendar year in which your LLC was formed.

Note: If you fail to submit this biennial report on time, you’ll be charged an additional late fee of $100.

Registered Agent Maintenance

If you decide to take advantage of a professional registered agent in order to handle your legal documents, you’ll be required to pay an annual fee in return for their services. This fee commonly ranges between $35 and $300 depending on the provider and features you select.

While you’re not required to use a professional registered agent service, it’s highly recommended for most small LLC owners.

Taxes

In addition to your LLC’s federal tax obligations, there are a variety of state-specific Washington DC business taxes you need to be aware of, including:

  • Sales tax
  • Employment taxes
  • Business privilege taxes
  • Property taxes

Additionally, there are various local taxes your LLC may need to pay depending on the municipality or county it’s based in, such as:

  • Sales and use taxes
  • Property tax

Washington DC vs Other States

With a startup fee of at least $235 and a recurring fee of $300 every other year, Washington DC is one of the most expensive states you could choose to form your LLC.

By comparison, it would be far cheaper in the long run to start your business in Texas instead because it has practically no ongoing costs. In fact, it would be cheaper for your LLC in Texas within two years of operating, even in spite of this state’s high upfront cost of $300.

Ultimately, however, the best state to form your LLC will be one in which you plan to primarily operate your business from.

This makes it far easier to stay legally compliant on a number of levels, including taxation, licensing, and filing requirements, as you’ll only need to deal with one state’s set of rules.

LLC Cost in Washington D.C. FAQ

How much does an LLC in DC cost?

It typically takes at least $235 to form a District of Columbia LLC — this covers the cost of your LLC filing fees and obtaining the relevant zoning permit and Basic Business License. However, it doesn’t include potential extras like business insurance and your LLC’s registered agent. For more information on the total Washington DC cost, check out our How Much Does an LLC Cost in Washington DC article.

How do I start a DC LLC?

Starting an LLC in Washington DC involves several steps. First, you’ll need to choose a unique name for your LLC before appointing a registered agent and filing your Articles of Organization with the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. We walk through each of these key steps in more detail in our How to Start an LLC in Washington DC guide.

How long does it take to get an LLC in DC?

The timeline for getting an LLC in Washington DC can vary. While it takes between seven and ten business days for your LLC’s Articles of Organization to be processed, this timeframe can vary depending on whether you paid for expedited filing or there’s a high volume of filings.

Can I be my own registered agent in DC?

Yes, you can serve as your own registered agent for your DC LLC if you meet the requirements. To do so, you must have a Washington DC street address where legal documents can be served during business hours. You can find out more about the cost of a professional registered agent service in our How Much Does it Cost to Start an LLC article.

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