How to Start an LLC in Pennsylvania

Written by: Kevelyn Rodriguez

Last updated:

Pennsylvania LLC is one of the most simple, cost-effective, and quick business structures to form. Even so, navigating the formation process can seem daunting without clear guidance and an actionable plan.

In this How to Start an LLC in Pennsylvania guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to form your LLC, from the steps you’ll need to take to get started to maintaining your structure.

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Pennsylvania LLC

In order to form an LLC in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Name Your Pennsylvania LLC
  2. Select a Commercial Registered Office Provider
  3. Submit Your Certificate of Organization
  4. Create a Pennsylvania LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN
  6. File Your BOI Report

In the sections below, we’ve broken down each of these steps in more detail.

Step 1: Name Your Pennsylvania LLC

The first thing you’ll need to do before getting started is picking the right name for your LLC. This is important because your business’s name will need to represent your brand accurately, as well as be as memorable as possible.

In Pennsylvania, all LLC names need to abide by the following statutory guidelines in order to be accepted by the Department of State:

  • Your name must include an entity identifier such as “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.”
  • Your name must be distinguishable from the names of all existing entities registered in Pennsylvania
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (e.g., Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • Your name cannot include words that imply that your business is in the insurance, banking, or education sectors without prior approval from the relevant licensing body
  • Your name can be in any language, but it must be written in Roman characters. Numerals and certain symbols may be used if they are clearly defined and approved by the Department of State
  • Your name should not include any words that are considered blasphemous, profane, or offensive

If you’re interested in conducting a name availability search for your LLC in Pennsylvania, you will need to email the Department of State with the subject line “Name Availability” and state your desired business name.

Keep in mind that even though picking an LLC name in itself has no cost, there are certain fees that can be associated with the overall process.

Reserve an LLC Name

If you’re not yet ready to launch your business and still need a little more time, you can choose to reserve your desired LLC name for up to 120 days by submitting a Name Reservation/Transfer of Reservation form with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

This reservation can be done online or by mail and requires a $70 processing fee.

If you require more than the initial 120-day period, you will need to submit a renewal request to extend the reservation for an additional 120 days.

Register a DBA Name

Another potential cost associated with naming your LLC is a “doing business as” (or DBA) name — known as a Fictitious Name in Pennsylvania.

This is essentially a nickname that you can choose to register for your business to operate under.

Registering a DBA name can be done by filing a Registration of Fictitious Name with the Department of State and paying a $70 fee.

Note: DBA names in Pennsylvania do not expire.

Buy a Domain Name

Finally, you’ll want to focus on securing a good domain name (which is your website’s URL address) for your business. For this, try to focus on choosing one that’s easy for customers to remember, relevant to your business, and accurately reflects your brand.

After confirming the domain name you want to use is actually available, you can purchase it through a trusted registrar.

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Step 2: Find a Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP)

The next step you’ll need to take toward forming your LLC is to designate a Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP).

A CROP serves as your LLC’s official location for receiving legal documents and correspondence, fulfilling a role that’s similar to that of a registered agent in other states.

Keep in mind that in order to use a Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP) as your registered address, it must meet the following criteria:

  • It must have a physical street address or rural route box number in Pennsylvania; post office box addresses will not be accepted
  • It must be established through a formal agreement with a Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP) before listing; failure to do so may lead to both civil and criminal penalties

Note: Your CROP cannot be used for filings where a principal place of business address is required, such as for Fictitious Name registrations.

You can register your own personal home address as your registered office if you’re looking to save money, although this is generally not recommended as it will mean that your home will become publicly available.

Hiring a third-party service is also relatively affordable ($125+ a year), making it a worthwhile investment for most small business owners in Pennsylvania.

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Step 3: Submit Your Certificate of Organization

In Pennsylvania, the Certificate of Organization is the filing document that you’ll need to submit with the Secretary of State in order to officially register your LLC; this is commonly known as the Articles of Organization in other states.

When completing your Certificate of Organization, you will need to include your LLC’s name, registered office address, organizer information, and effective date (if applicable).

You will also have the option of attaching additional provisions on a separate 8.5 x 11 inch sheet.

You can submit your Certificate of Organization either online through the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website or by downloading this form and mailing it to the following address:

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722

In order for your submission to be processed, you will need to pay a $125 filing fee to the Pennsylvania Department of State alongside your application.

Having said that, you should know that there is a fee-exemption available for veteran/reservist-owned business owners.

Step 4: Create a Pennsylvania LLC Operating Agreement

Once this is completed, the next step you’ll need to take is to create an operating agreement.

This is an internal document that clearly outlines the ownership and management structure of your company in order to reduce potential future conflict.

While this document isn’t legally mandated in Pennsylvania, all LLCs are recommended to have one as it can help maintain both: smooth operations and your LLC’s corporate veil.

A number of companies provide drafting services for operating agreements online, typically for a fee of around a few hundred dollars. However, it’s quite easy to sort this out by yourself if you want to save money, and you can even find a number of free templates online to help with this.

Step 5: Get an EIN

Even though it’s not a legal requirement (unless your LLC has employees or multiple members), all Pennsylvania LLCs should apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

This is a free, nine-digit number used by the IRS to identify your business and keep track of its tax reporting — much like a Social Security Number (SSN) for individuals.

You’ll need an EIN to be able to:

  • Hire employees
  • Open a business bank account
  • Apply for some business licenses/permits
  • Establish a line of credit

On top of this, using an EIN instead of a Social Security Number (SSN) helps to protect your personal information and safeguard your anonymity as the business owner of your LLC.

You can quickly apply for an EIN for your LLC online through the IRS website. You’re also able to submit a paper application using Form SS-4 either via fax to (855) 641-6935, or by mailing it to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Note: Don’t worry if you don’t already have an SSN, it’s not necessary to have one in order to apply for an EIN — instead, you can just leave Section 7b of the application blank and call the IRS on (267) 941-1099.

Step 6: File a BOI Report

Starting January 2024, the vast majority of LLC owners will be required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

This is part of an initiative by the U.S. government to stop individuals and entities engaging in illegal or unethical activities from being able to conceal this using “opaque ownership structures”, like shell companies, to hide their true identities.

Existing LLCs will be able to file this report anytime between January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, while new LLCs will have up to 90 days after the date they were initially formed to do so (30 days for LLCs formed after the start of 2025).

Keep in mind that failure to file your LLC’s BOI report on time can result in exorbitantly high fines (i.e., $591 per day) or even jail time (up to two years).

Note: Not every LLC owner is required to file a BOI report. For example, companies with more than 20 full-time employees, accounting firms, and banks are exempt. For a full list of filing exemptions, you can have a look at FinCEN’s website.

How to Maintain Your Pennsylvania LLC

Congratulations on forming your new Pennsylvania LLC! With this out of the way, you’ll be ready to begin operating in no time.

However, in order to keep operating legally in the state of Pennsylvania, your LLC will need to keep up with its annual obligations — which we’ve discussed in greater detail below.

Submit an Annual Report

Starting from 2025, Pennsylvania will require all LLCs to submit an annual report — a change from the previous decennial report system.

The annual report must be submitted to the Department of State by September 30th of each year and requires a filing fee of $7.

You will be able to file your LLC’s Annual Report online through the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.

Note: This new requirement will include a transition period that’s set to last until 2027; during this, penalties for non-filing will not be enforced. After 2027, however, any LLC that fails to file the report within six months of the due date will risk being dissolved.

Pennsylvania vs Other States

Pennsylvania stands out as a favorable destination for businesses due to its strategic location, diverse economy, and robust infrastructure.

Although the upfront costs to establish an LLC in Pennsylvania might be on the higher end when compared to other states, the ongoing maintenance expenses are significantly lower.

This combination of factors makes Pennsylvania a compelling choice for sustained business operations, providing a cost-effective environment for companies to grow and prosper in the long-term.

Regardless, keep in mind that the best state to form your LLC is almost always the state that you will be operating in; this is because otherwise you’ll likely be required to register as a foreign LLC in your home state, meaning that you’ll need to pay registration and maintenance fees twice.

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Pennsylvania Department of State Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
401 North Street
206 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Contact Information:

EmailRA-CORPS@pa.gov
Phone: (717) 787-1057

How to Start an LLC in Pennsylvania FAQ

How much does it cost to start an LLC in PA?

The minimum cost you will have to pay to start an LLC in Pennsylvania is $125, which covers the processing fee for filing the Certificate of Organization.

Besides the filing fee, you may choose to pay for a name reservation, hire a Commercial Registered Office Provider, purchase business insurance, or register a DBA name — all of which will increase your total cost.

What is required to start an LLC in Pennsylvania?

To start an LLC in Pennsylvania, you will need to select an appropriate business name, choose a Commercial Registered Office Provider, (optional) and submit the Certificate of Organization.

For more information on the state’s formation process — including the relevant Pennsylvania LLC naming rules — you can check out our guide on How to Start an LLC in Pennsylvania.

How long does it take to form an LLC in Pennsylvania?

Once received by the Pennsylvania Department of State, it typically takes about 15 business days to process an LLC filing. Filing online can speed up the submission by reducing the overall transit time (in comparison to mail filings).

For more information, you can have a look at our state-specific How To Start An LLC article.

What is the fastest way to get an LLC in Pennsylvania?

The quickest way to establish a domestic limited liability company in the state of Pennsylvania is to file the Certificate of Organization through the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.

For a more detailed breakdown of the costs that can be involved with forming an LLC, you can have a look at our Pennsylvania LLC Cost guide.

What is a Restricted Professional Company in Pennsylvania?

A restricted professional company in Pennsylvania is a type of limited liability company that provides specific professional services, as defined under Pennsylvania law.

If you’re forming this type of LLC, you will need to include a description of the professional services you plan to offer in your LLC’s Certificate of Organization.

Do I need a sales tax license for my Pennsylvania LLC?

Yes, if your Pennsylvania LLC sells goods or provides taxable services, you will need to obtain a sales tax license.

This is done by submitting a Pennsylvania Enterprise Registration form, which registers your business for tax purposes and allows you to legally collect sales tax.

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