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How Much Does It Cost to Form a Corporation in Washington DC?

Legal business registration — and maintaining compliance with the state — involves necessary expenses and investment. Some of these costs are payable to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, while others are due to additional state entities or the federal government. Here are some common requirements and fees.

Please note that fees for a permit or business license in Washington DC may be due when you first form your business, on an ongoing schedule or on an ad hoc basis. Find more details below.

Initial Washington DC Corporation Filing Fee

When setting up a corporation in Washington DC, you’ll need to file a form and pay a filing fee. Here are the current Washington DC corporation fees and filing times:

State Fee State Filing Time Expedited Filing Time
$99* 3 Weeks 3 Business Days
State Fee $99*
State Filing Time 3 Weeks
Expedited Filing Time 3 Business Days

*Note: the fee starts at $220 for corporations. If you have more than $100,000 in authorized capital, the price will increase from there.

When you use Bizee to form a corporation in Washington DC, we charge you the state filing fee and forward it to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs when we file your incorporation paperwork.

Bizee can file your incorporation paperwork for you for free.

Just pay the required Washington DC corporation filing fee.

Washington DC allows you to incorporate more quickly by paying a rush fee

Employer Identification Number

Every corporation in the country should have a unique EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the Internal Revenue Service. You'll use your EIN when you open a business bank account, file taxes and pay employees. You can get one directly from the IRS, or Bizee can get one for you.

Foreign Corporations

If you want to do business in a state other than the one where your business is based, you must create a Foreign Corporation.

Washington DC Foreign Corporation Registration

Before you can bring an arm of your business from another state into Washington DC, you must request Foreign Qualification in Washington DC. This means the state gives you permission to conduct business there.

To request registration of a Washington DC Foreign Corporation, you must complete a Foreign Entity Registration Statement and pay a processing fee of $220. The state may have additional registration requirements, so contact the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs directly for more information and to ensure you're in compliance with state law.

Foreign Qualification to Operate in Another State

If you plan to expand your Washington DC corporation into another state, you’ll first need Foreign Qualification or a Certificate of Authority from that state. This is necessary before you can create a physical presence, hire employees or bank in that state.

You'll likely have to complete at least one application and pay a filing fee, but each state has its own requirements. Before you start the process, compare state filing times and state filing fees so you can plan accordingly.

Above all, contact the state government entity that administers business (usually the Secretary of State) to confirm their requirements and for specific instructions.

If you need assistance, Bizee provides a complete Foreign Qualification service for all states.

Washington DC Annual Report Requirements

Most states require businesses to file an annual (or other periodic) report with the state. For Washington DC, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs requires a biennial report to be filed once every other year. When you file your biennial report, you’ll need to pay a fee of $300. Here are the Washington DC biennial report filing requirements:

Annual Report



Due Date

Initial report must be filed within the first year of registration by April 1st and then every two years thereafter.

Filing Fee

Bizee can complete and file your biennial report on your behalf

Washington DC Business Licenses and Permits

Before you start doing business, you must secure the necessary state, federal or local business licenses and permits to operate your corporation. Some of the fees will only need to be paid once, while others may be ongoing charges.

Permits and licenses vary based on:


The type of business you run (e.g., attorneys must pass the state bar exam)


The industry your corporation operates in (e.g., restaurants will need health permits)


The location of your corporation (state, county or city) (e.g., a license to conduct business in Washington DC)

Operating your corporation without the required business license in Washington DC can leave you vulnerable to risks, such as fines from local, state and federal governments.

You can research these permits and licenses yourself, or use Bizee’s Business License Research Package, which includes:

  • A complete report on all the licenses, permits and tax registrations your corporation will need
  • The applications you'll need to file with the local, state and federal licensing authorities

Corporate Bylaws

While you are legally required to draft and adopt corporation bylaws in Washington DC, you are not legally required to file them with the state. Simply keep them secure at your primary place of business and continue to follow them.

Bylaws are documents that outline rules for carrying out tasks related to managing your corporation including, but not limited to:

  • The number of directors the corporation has
  • How they'll be elected, their qualifications and the lengths of their terms
  • When, where, and how your board of directors can call and conduct meetings
  • Voting requirements

The bylaws must then be adopted (and amended, if necessary) by the board of directors and shareholders.

Drafting a set of bylaws can be extremely helpful in making sure you’re organized and can help protect your business from any future changes and events that may affect your business.

Other Washington DC Corporation Filing Requirements and Fees

The State of Washington DC requires you to complete a few more tasks before you can begin conducting business.

Appoint a Director

Some states - including Washington DC - require corporations to appoint a full board of directors. All corporations are required to have a board of directors that consists of at least one director or more.

Appoint Officers

In Washington DC, the board of directors (or the single director) elects officers, such as the president, CEO, etc. Washington DC corporation law requires corporations to have at least one officer who is responsible for preparing the minutes of the directors’ and shareholders’ meetings and for maintaining and authenticating the records of the corporation.

Issue Stock to Shareholders

To raise business capital and keep it separate from company owners' money, every corporation in the state must sell stock to its shareholders. The Articles of Incorporation must authorize the sale of at least one share, and the corporation cannot sell more shares than are authorized.

Hold Annual General Meetings

Corporations in Washington DC are required to hold annual meetings, and it's generally a good idea to do so. However if you decide not to, the Code of the District of Columbia Title 29, Chapter 3, Subchapter 5, Part A, § 29–305.01 states, "The failure to hold an annual meeting at the time stated in or fixed in accordance with a corporation’s bylaws shall not affect the validity of any corporate action."

Get a Trade Name or DBA

If you want to register a DBA in Washington DC (trade name), you must register a trade name with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and pay a filing fee of $55.

Bizee can file your Trade Name or DBA forms on your behalf

Change the Registered Agent

If your corporation is based in Washington DC, then you must have a Registered Agent in Washington DC. You'll need to appoint one when you file your Articles of Incorporation. You can also change to a new Registered Agent later by filing a form (page 3 of the document) and paying a fee of $50.

Let Bizee serve as your Registered Agent.

It’s free for the first year if you form your DC corporation with us and $119 a year after.

Reserving a Name for Your Corporation

If you're not quite ready to start your business, you can reserve a name for 120 days with the DCRA by filing a form and paying a fee of $50. First, conduct a Washington DC corporation search and learn the state's business naming rules to ensure you choose a name that meets legal requirements.

Amending Facts About Your Corporation

When you incorporate, the Washington DC DCRA forms you fill out include certain facts about your business at that time. Through the years, some or all of this information may change. If it does, you'll need to file Articles of Amendment with the DCRA along with a filing fee of $220. The form you'll use is dependent on whether you are amending your articles before or after a subscription of shares. If it's before, use Form DBU-13, and if it's after, use Form DBU-5. You can do this yourself or Bizee can do it for you.

You'll need to file Articles of Amendment when you:

  • Change the company's name
  • Add, remove or change a director
  • Change the Registered Agent
  • Change the number of shares your corporation is authorized to issue
  • Change any other facet of your business that was listed on the original Articles of Incorporation.

Get a Certificate of Good Standing

Some organizations may request that you prove your corporation's compliance with laws and tax requirements. In Washington DC, this proof is provided with a Certificate of Good Standing or Status. If you need to prove you have met your commitments, you’ll need to request a Washington DC Certificate of Good Standing from the DCRA. You can do this by requesting one via the state's online portal and paying a fee of $50.

Bizee can obtain a Washington DC Certificate of Good Standing on your behalf

The information listed above details many of the fees a standard corporation will be required to pay in Washington DC. In some circumstances, there may be other one-off, periodic or ad hoc fees not listed above.

Of course, your corporation will also probably need to pay federal, state, self-employment (if it's an S Corp) and other taxes. You'll find more information on the Washington DC taxes page.

FAQs About Washington DC Incorporation Fees

What Happens to the State Fees I'm Charged When I Incorporate?

We charge you this fee at cost and then pay it to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs on your behalf when forming your Washington DC business.

Where Do I Get a Permit or Business License in Washington DC?

It depends on various factors, including:

  • governing organizations in your industry;
  • federal, state and local regulations;
  • where you're located
  • the type of business you run.

Many new businesses need a business license, and you may be required to obtain additional licenses and permits. Our Business License Research Package can take the guesswork out of it for you and help you learn what your corporation needs to be compliant.

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