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)
||$180-$230||2-14 business days|
|License Your Business|
|$19||2-14 business days|
|$5 per name||2-14 business days|
|State Specialty Licenses|
|$25 to apply||1-3 days for licensing + 10 days for equipment|
|Federal Identification||No set-up fee||Same day online or up to 5 weeks by mail|
- 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.
Determine Your Licensing Requirements
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.
Use the Business License Application to apply for state licenses and permits as well as to establish accounts, including:
- A taxpayer account (Department of Revenue).
- Unemployment insurance (Employment Security Department).
- Workers’ compensation (Department of Labor and Industries).
- Trade name registration for $5 per name.
- Most specialty licenses, including Liquor, Lottery, and Cigarette and/or Tobacco Retailer.
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 using the Seattle Electronic Filing System.
- You should also check if your business will need any City of Seattle regulatory licenses, such as gambling.
- Have questions? See Seattle Business Licensing Help.
- 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.
To sell beer, wine, and/or spirits at your location, you’ll need a state liquor license.
- Get an overview of requirements.
- Many different types of licenses are available. The most common for restaurants are:
- Double-check requirements here before submitting your application.
- 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.
- Apply for a liquor license using the Business License Application and complete the Liquor Control Board Addendum-Retail.
- Start your Liquor License Application any time, but note that you’ll need to secure your location before the application can be processed.
- 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.
- If you plan to sell Washington State Lottery products, you must apply for a Lottery Retailer License. Use the Business License Application to get started and complete the additional required forms. Get more lottery licensing information at the Washington State Lottery website.
- A Cigarette Retailer License and/or Tobacco Products Retailer License is required anywhere these products are sold. Use the Business License Application for these, too.
- 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.
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.