The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs administers business licensing and entity formations, including limited liability companies (LLCs). An LLC is an unincorporated association, with one or more members. Owners risk only their investment, with personal assets not at risk. It is generally easier to set up and maintain than a corporation. The filing fee to establish an LLC in the District is $300 and you can apply online here: Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Other than a company name and address, the Organizer will need a Registered Agent with a District address for service of process. Every LLC is required to file a two-year report with the Corporations Division to maintain good standing within the District, otherwise the LLC will go dormant.
The District allows registration and use of a trade name, which is a business name used in practice which is different from your company or individual name. A trade name DBA (doing business as) is a fictitious name used in business that does not include the full legal name of all the owners of the business. Your business may have only one corporate name but may have multiple trade names. Tradename Registration is $55 and is a nice alternative to changing your company name, which requires an amendment to the Certificate of Organization.
Foreign LLCs that are established in other state jurisdictions may be required to register in the District if they are considered “doing business” in D.C. Your company is considered “doing business” if it holds itself out to the public as conducting business in the District operating under protection of its laws. Merely having an employee living in D.C., having a bank account or holding an occasional meeting here would not constitute engaging in business. Defending a legal action does not mean you are doing business, though a foreign entity doing business in the District may not commence a legal action here unless it is registered to do business.
After your company has been established, you may need to apply for a business license depending on your service offered. Generally, self-employed consultants do not need a basic business license. You will also need a tax employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS and may need to register with the District’s Office of Tax and Revenue prior to filing any business tax returns.