Get Licensed

After completing your business plan, it’s time to register your business. Register your business BEFORE signing a lease or spending any start-up money. Find out what to expect by reviewing the steps below.

Registration and Licensing Checklist

Estimated Cost Time to Approval
Register Your Business Structure (State)

  • Corporation
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Limited partnerships
$180-$230 2-14 business days
License Your Business
$19 2-14 business days
$5 per name 2-14 business days
$110 Same day
Variable Variable
State Specialty Licenses
$200-$2,000 60-90 days
$25 to apply 1-3 days for licensing + 10 days for equipment
$93 10-45 days
Variable 45-60 days
Federal Identification No set-up fee Same day online or up to 5 weeks by mail

Register Your Business Structure

Choose a Business Structure

Register with the Secretary of State

  • Corporations, limited liability companies (LLC), and limited partnerships must register with the Washington Secretary of State. Sole proprietors and general partnerships skip this step.
  • The Secretary of State will issue a Unified Business Identifier (UBI) and send you formation documents. Be sure to use the same name and UBI when dealing with all agencies.
  • Learn the requirements for your entity type.

License Your Business with the State and the City of Seattle

Determine Your Licensing Requirements

The Business License Application is a single application used to apply for many state licenses and permits and to register trade names. Before you register, make sure your trade name is available.

Review the list of business licenses and permits available through this system to get as much accomplished as possible with each filing session. The system charges a $19 base filing fee each time an application is submitted.

Submit a State Business License Application

Use the Business License Application to apply for state licenses and permits as well as to establish accounts, including:

After you submit your license application, these agencies will contact you to set up your accounts.

Re-Filing the Business License Application

You may need to file (or re-file) a Business License Application ($19) when you:

  • Change address or finalize your business location.
  • Plan to hire employees in the next 90 days.
  • Need a minor work permit to hire employees under 18 (takes about 1 day).
  • Apply for a liquor license, which you do after securing your location (takes 60-90 days to approve).

Apply for a Seattle Business License

Apply for Business Licenses for Other Jurisdictions, if Needed

  • If you open another location or cater outside the City of Seattle, you’ll also need a business license for that city. The state Business Licensing Service (link: http://bls.dor.wa.gov/citycounty.aspx ) processes business license applications for many cities, but if you don’t see yours listed, contact that city directly.

State Specialty Licenses

State specialty licenses

Get Expert Advice

Consider hiring a consultant or attorney to help you through your specialty licensing process.

Liquor License

To sell beer, wine, and/or spirits at your location, you’ll need a state liquor license.

  1. Get an overview of requirements.
  2. Many different types of licenses are available. The most common for restaurants are:
    • Retail Restaurant – Beer Only
    • Retail Restaurant – Wine Only
    • Retail Restaurant – Beer and Wine
    • Retail Restaurant – Spirits, Beer, and Wine
  3. Double-check requirements here before submitting your application.
  4. If you are uncertain which type of liquor license is best for you, call the Liquor Control Board at 360-664-1600. A customer service representative will help you determine which license types are best for your business plan.
  5. Apply for a liquor license using the Business License Application and complete the Liquor Control Board Addendum-Retail.
  6. Start your Liquor License Application any time, but note that you’ll need to secure your location before the application can be processed.
  7. It takes 60-90 days for the Liquor Control Board to decide on your application, but you may be eligible for a temporary license after 30-45 days.

Lottery Retailer License

Cigarette Retailer and/or Tobacco Products Retailer License

Gambling License

  • Gambling is regulated by the Washington State Gambling Commission. Gambling license applications are available online and at the Lacey headquarters office. Plan ahead: it takes about 45-60 days to process your application. See the Overview of Gambling License process.
  • Note: Seattle also requires you, as a business owner, to register any gambling activities and pay gambling taxes if applicable.

Set Up Your Federal Identification

Register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) before you open a business bank account, hire any employees or owe any taxes.

  • Apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number. The Employer Identification Number (EIN) is the primary way to legally establish your business. EIN is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number. You’ll get yours on the same day if you apply online. By mail, it takes up to 5 weeks.
  • Enroll in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. You’re required to enroll your business in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to report and pay any tax due to the IRS.