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How To Start an LLC in Pennsylvania: the BEST Method in 2024

Suzanne Stewart Suzanne StewartFinance Specialist
If you’re looking to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true in the state of Pennsylvania, starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) might just be the best way to get your business off the ground. LLC formation is a great way to gain credibility, enjoy tax flexibility, and keep your personal and business assets separate.

Additionally, Pennsylvania offers up to a $1,000 tax credit for new businesses that create 25 or more new jobs. Pennsylvania has also created 300 Opportunity Zones throughout the state. Opening a business in one of these zones qualifies you for certain tax deferrals. Lastly, there are no initial report fees for LLCs operating in Pennsylvania.

But let’s be clear: it’s not easy. Setting up an LLC involves multiple steps that require an understanding of Pennsylvania’s business laws, from filing the necessary paperwork to ongoing reporting requirements. And you don’t want to get these wrong. Non-compliance can lead to daunting legal and financial repercussions that could see your business dreams evaporating before your eyes.

The process, while feasible, is complex and requires meticulous attention to detail, and that’s why we’ve created this easy-to-follow guide. Let’s get started!

Short on Time? Here’s a Quick Guide to Starting an LLC in Any US State:

These are the bare minimum required steps to start an LLC in any state, district, or territory in the USA. Remember, these are generalized steps, and we’ve outlined more detailed requirements and the specific rules and regulations for Pennsylvania in our full guide below. Always consult with a legal advisor, Pennsylvania’s Department of State office, or one of our recommended LLC formation services for accurate, up-to-date information.

  1. Choose a distinctive and compliant name for your LLC based on Pennsylvania’s rules – this is your business name.
  2. Designate a person or entity, which could be you, a partner, or an LLC formation service like ZenBusiness, to handle legal papers and official communication for your LLC as your Registered Agent.
  3. Complete and submit the Articles of Organization to Pennsylvania’s Department of State, including your LLC’s name, address, and the Registered Agent’s details.
  4. While technically optional, it’s advisable to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS and enroll for applicable business taxes at the state and local levels.

How To Start an LLC in Pennsylvania: a Comprehensive Guide

Before you begin, be sure to take note of the following important points:
  • The State of Pennsylvania requires a Docketing Statement to be filed along with with your LLC’s Articles of Organization.
  • You must complete a Statement of Validation in order to make any changes to any previously filed documents.
  • Beginning in 2025, all LLCs in Pennsylvania will have to file Annual Reports.
  • Depending on the type of business you are conducting, you may need to acquire other local or state business licenses.

1. Choose a name for your LLC

Select a name that reflects your business and complies with Pennsylvania’s naming rules. The name must be unique, not be too similar to existing businesses, and include an LLC designator like “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.” Perform a name search on Pennsylvania’s Department of State website to ensure your chosen name is available.

You should also consider searching for and registering a domain name for your business website, which is included with an LLC formation plan from Tailor Brands.

2. Appoint a Registered Agent

A Registered Agent is a person or entity responsible for receiving legal documents (e.g., lawsuits, summons) and official government correspondence on behalf of your LLC. The Registered Agent must have a physical address (not a P.O. box) in the state of Pennsylvania, and must be available during regular business hours.

You can choose a member of the LLC if it is a partnership, a friend, a professional Registered Agent service like ZenBusiness, or even yourself.

3. File Articles of Organization

This foundational document needs to be filed with Pennsylvania’s Department of State office. This costs $125, and must include the following information, at minimum:
  • LLC name
  • Principal office address
  • Registered Agent’s name and address
  • Name and signature of the organizer(s)

4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement

An Operating Agreement is optional for LLCs in Pennsylvania. This is a legal document that outlines the ownership, management structure, and operating procedures of your LLC. It typically includes information on:
  • Members’ ownership percentages
  • Voting rights and responsibilities
  • Profit and loss allocation
  • Management structure (member-managed or manager-managed)
  • Procedures for adding or removing members
Creating an Operating Agreement helps avoid disputes among members and provides clarity on how the business should be run.

5. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the IRS to your LLC for tax purposes. It’s required for filing business taxes, hiring employees, and opening a business bank account, which you should also do to keep your personal and business finances separate.

However, if your LLC is a single-member LLC with no employees and is classified as a disregarded entity for tax purposes, you may be able to use your Social Security number (SSN) instead of an EIN for federal tax filing. But even in this case, it is generally recommended to obtain an EIN to separate business activities from personal ones and maintain the limited liability protection.

6. Register for state and local taxes

Depending on your business activities and location in the state of Pennsylvania, you may need to register for various state and local taxes, such as:
  • Sales and use tax
  • Payroll tax
  • Income tax withholding
  • Unemployment insurance tax
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
Consult the Pennsylvania Department of State website or a professional LLC formation service for more information on registration requirements in your local region.

7. Obtain necessary licenses and permits

Your LLC may require specific licenses or permits to operate legally in Pennsylvania, depending on the industry and location. Examples include:
  • Professional or occupational licenses
  • Health and safety permits
  • Zoning and land use permits
  • Sales tax licenses
  • Environmental permits
Visit the Pennsylvania Department of State and your local government websites for more information on required licenses and permits, or seek advice from ZenBusiness, which can come up with a plan to cover your exact requirements.

8. Maintain ongoing compliance

LLCs in Pennsylvania are subject to ongoing state requirements to remain in good standing. These requirements include:
  • Filing a Statement of Information. Beginning in 2025, the State of Pennsylvania will require LLCs to submit an Annual Report by June 30 of every year, which updates the state on key information about your business, such as ownership, Registered Agent, and contact information. This will cost $7.
  • Maintaining a Registered Agent. Ensure that your Registered Agent remains available and maintains a valid physical address in the state where your LLC is formed.
  • Complying with state and federal tax obligations. File your LLC’s tax returns and pay any taxes owed on time. This may include federal income tax, state income tax, sales and use tax, payroll tax, and any other taxes that may be relevant to your particular business.
  • Renewing licenses and permits. Keep all required licenses and permits up to date by renewing them as needed. Failure to maintain proper licenses and permits can lead to fines or legal trouble.
By staying informed and diligently meeting these ongoing requirements, you can keep your LLC in good standing and protect your limited liability status. The easiest way to do this is to employ one of the selected business service providers we’ve researched and reviewed below.

These Are the Top LLC Formation Services for Pennsylvania

There are a lot of LLC formation services out there. To come up with the best ones for Pennsylvania LLCs, we looked for the following features:
  • A free (minus state fees) plan that saves you the most money.
  • Feature-packed plans, regardless of cost, so you get the best value.
  • Unique features not offered by most of the competition, such as creative services, financial tools, or specialty consultations, to move you along.
  • Ease of use and user friendliness, because who needs a service they have trouble using?
  • Good customer support, if you need help or guidance getting started.
  • Customization of plans and services, because not all businesses are built alike.
Here are our top LLC formation services specifically to start an LLC in Pennsylvania.

ZenBusiness homepage with preferred business name text field to get started
ZenBusiness can offer you LLC formation services starting at $0 (plus state fees, of course)
ZenBusiness, a well-regarded LLC formation service, caters to both small side hustles and ambitious enterprises, providing a range of customizable plans and product bundles to suit varying budgets.

ZenBusiness presents a complimentary plan, along with two levels of paid plans: Pro and Premium. While the free plan involves a processing time of 2–3 weeks, there’s an option to purchase an add-on for quicker processing. The Pro and Premium plans ensure filing within 1–2 days. Notably, all plans feature a 100% Accuracy Guarantee, instilling confidence that ZenBusiness maintains precise details.

Furthermore, all ZenBusiness plans incorporate an extra advantage – ZenBusiness Money Essential, a free financial management tool automating expense tracking. For more comprehensive features, an upgrade to ZenBusiness Money Pro is available, aiding in monitoring expenses, income, invoices, mileage, taxes, and more. Unsure of your requirements? You can enroll in a complimentary 30-day trial of ZenBusiness Money Pro for comparison.

Features

  • Tax consultations. Just for signing up, you’ll get a free 30-minute tax consultation through partner 1-800Accountant.
  • Mobile app. Access your account dashboard through an Android or iOS app in addition to desktop.
  • Website builder. ZenBusiness offers access to a proprietary website builder with the Premium plan. You also get a domain name and email address.
  • Full customization. You can modify your ZenBusiness plan so you get only the services you need – and you won’t be paying for anything you don’t.
Free plan (plus state fees)?
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time 1–2 days
Customer support Chatbot, email, phone

2. Tailor Brands: Build Your Brand From the Beginning

Tailor Brands homepage, with business name text field to get started
Tailor Brands gets you started quickly and easily
Tailor Brands offers a compelling advantage through its assortment of visual design and marketing tools, coupled with optional services to enhance your experience. Beyond fundamental LLC formation, it encompasses graphic design, materials for brand expansion, social media management tools, and website construction.

A noteworthy aspect of Tailor Brands is its no-cost “plan generator.” By sharing some information about you and your business, Tailor Brands constructs a customized checklist to steer you from your current stage to a fully established online presence. While you’ll receive prompts to explore its plans and services along the journey, this serves as a fundamental yet valuable roadmap for transitioning from just a dream to actionable steps in your business endeavor.

Features

  • Free logo maker. Tailor Brands provides a free logo maker available with all plans, as well as advanced features available with the Elite plan.
  • Zazzle partnership. Get started with printed merchandise for your LLC with an exclusive deal with Zazzle.
  • In-house website design. For an added fee, Tailor Brands offers a custom website design to help your business get seen.
  • Trademark support. Tailor Brands can help you file your trademark application as an add-on service.
Free plan (plus state fees)?
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time Less than 2 days
Customer support Chatbot, email, phone

3. Swyft Filings: Ideal for Beginner Small Business Owners

Swyft Filings homepage, allowing users to choose entity type and state of formation to get started
Swyft Filings helps the beginner and veteran alike, by doing the paperwork for you
If you’re a fledgling business owner seeking a straightforward method to embark on your journey, consider Swyft Filings as an excellent alternative. Swyft Filings’ procedure for forming an LLC demands minimal paperwork, catering especially to those new to the process.

The sign-up process takes only a few minutes, and the subsequent access granted to Swyft Filings’ client account dashboard proves exceptionally user-friendly.

Swyft Filings doesn’t just help you get started, but also ensures ongoing smooth operations. With any plan, you’re entitled to a complimentary 14-day trial of ComplianceGuard, a tool aiding in maintaining state-level business compliance. It offers annual reports, meeting minutes, and alerts about impending filing deadlines. Swyft Filings remains at your side from your initial steps as a novice to your status as a seasoned veteran.

Features

  • EIN application. With the Standard and Full Service plans, your EIN application is included for free.
  • Business license applications. Swyft Filings offers licensing and permit research and application services available as a paid add-on.
  • Specialty documents. With the Standard and Elite plans, you’ll gain access to specialty documents like Operating Agreements and banking resolutions.
  • Free Basic plan. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, Swyft Filings offers a basic service that provides everything you need.
Free plan?
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time 1–5 business days
Customer support Phone support, ticket support, knowledge base

Get Your Pennsylvania LLC Off the Ground With Ease

Starting an LLC can be a dream come true – but only after you’ve completed all the paperwork. Our top three featured company formation services take all the hassle and headache out of getting your LLC up and running.

No matter how big or small your LLC venture might be, ZenBusiness has a plan that will work for you. Its plans pack a lot of value, including its free one. And its competitors don’t offer many of the features it includes for free, such as 100% Accuracy Guarantee and ZenBusiness Money Essential, with every plan.

If brand building is your main priority, consider Tailor Brands. This provider is known for its creative and marketing services and tools. From your logo to your website, it has you covered.

Or, if you’re a newbie just starting out and want a lot of guidance along the way, go with Swyft Filings. It offers a fast, intuitive signup process and an easy-to-use client dashboard.

Here are our top picks at a glance for Pennsylvania:

Standout feature Bonus feature #1 Bonus feature #2 Starting price
ZenBusiness Customizable range of plans 100% Accuracy Guarantee Free tax consultations $0
Tailor Brands Branding and marketing tools Business “launch plan” generator State and local permit research and filing service $0
Swyft Filings Ease of use for beginners Excellent client dashboard Free trial of ComplianceGuard $0

FAQ

How do I start an LLC in Pennsylvania?

To start an LLC in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to follow all the requirements laid out by the Secretary of State. This includes choosing a unique name for your LLC, filing your Articles of Organization, and paying the required filing fee. You can do this on your own or use an LLC formation service to ensure you get everything filed properly.

What are the benefits of starting an LLC in Pennsylvania?

Starting an LLC in Pennsylvania allows you to separate your personal and business assets. It offers flexibility in management, allowing members to choose how the LLC is run and structured. Plus, Pennsylvania offers tax credits and tax deferrals to qualifying businesses and charges no initial report fees.

How can I start an LLC in Pennsylvania for free?

No matter how you start your LLC, you’ll be required to pay the state fees charged by the Secretary of State. However, if you want to use an LLC formation service, we recommend ZenBusiness, as it offers a free basic plan to help you get started, as well as paid add-ons if you need them.

Which LLC formation service provides Registered Agent services?

Most LLC formation services offer Registered Agent services if you’d prefer not to do this yourself – basically, this involves being available for business communications during regular work hours. All three of our top vendors can act as your Registered Agent in any US state, but this will incur an additional fee. If you’re going to be available during regular business hours, you might find it more cost-effective to be your own Registered Agent, which is perfectly legal.

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