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Our Information Center is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. We are friendly, eager to assist you, and knowledgeable about regulations. We have team members that have owned and operated businesses and some that have worked for regulating agencies. If we do not have the answer we collaborate with dozens of subject matter experts that do. Contact us and we will assist you with your questions, we really want you to succeed.

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The Small Business Guide

The Small Business Guides provides helpful information, links to valuable resources, and outlines the steps for starting and operating a business in Washington state. The Small Business Guide is available in English, SpanishRussianKorean, Vietnamese, and Chinese.

The Business Guide includes sections that will help you plan, run, grow, or close a business in Washington State.


We assist, you succeed

We know regulations, you know your business, together we'll make a great team that will keep your business on track with state, federal, and local regulations. We also have tools and resources to help you get started with your business and then to keep it running smoothly, here are a few of the most popular ones:


Small Business Guide

The Small Business Guide includes sections that will help you plan, start, run, grow, or close a business in Washington State and it's available in many languages.

Payroll Calculator

Use the online “Payroll Calculator” to estimate payroll costs. There are two different calculators, one for hourly employees and the other for salaried employees.

Business License Service

Use this online service to get your business licensed quickly.

Business License Wizard

Step-by-step, this tool asks you questions to build a checklist of things you'll need to do and permits you'll need to consider when licensing your business.

Corporate/Entity Registration

Registering your corporation is not the same as licensing your business, you'll need to both.

Small Business Liaisons

Whether you're being audited by a state agency, trying to get the right permits to expand your business, or just need to clarify something simple, you may need a contact at one of the state agencies to help you.

Small Business Liaisons

The Small Business Liaison Team (SBLT) consists of representatives from 27 agencies. Our mission is to listen to businesses, then drive action to make it easier to do business in Washington state. A primary goal of the SBLT is to have an informed small business community capable of understanding and ultimately complying with the state’s licensing and regulatory requirements. The team was formalized and expanded in Executive Order 12-01. ORIA acts as facilitator for monthly SBLT meetings. Subgroups develop outreach programs, solicit ideas for regulatory improvement and develop new business tools.

Major accomplishments include

  • Updating, maintaining, and increasing the visibility of the Small Business Guide;
  • Hosting presentations from state agencies and outside sources that provide services in support of small businesses;

A few of the past SBLT accomplishments include

  • Translations in PDF form of the comprehensive Small Business Guide (Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian); Participation in statewide business forums
  • Two videos, prepared by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, Employment Security and the Washington Department of Revenue in response to requests from business owners, with information on audits and taxes.

Additionally, the team has collaborated with local and regional small business assistance centers and invited business owners to provide direct feedback to the SBLT on their experience working with state agencies.

Meet some of the Liaisons, learn about Small Business programs at state agencies, find out how you can join a forum discussion with the SBLT

Frequently Asked Questions

Not usually; Contact the Department of Labor and Industries to inquire (360-902-6901), review the LNI web page on self-insurance (, and we also recommend reviewing the Employers' Guide to Workers' Compensation Insurance in Washington State ( and the Employers' Guide to Self-Insurance in Washington State (
If an out-of-state business is hiring an employee in Washington state, the business needs to apply for a Washington State Business License ( as well as set up the Workers Compensation and Unemployment Insurance. The business will also need to report each Washington employee through the New Hire Reporting Program of the Department of Social and Health Services within 20 days of hire unless their company is listed as a multi-state employer ( The business may also need to register with the Washington state Secretary of State (
There is no fee for applying or renewing a Reseller Permit. Recommend visiting:, for information on the Reseller Permit and contacting the Reseller Subject Matter expert at: 360-902-7137 or for additional assistance.
All businesses hiring employees are required to register for workers' compensation and unemployment insurance. Register by completing, or updating, your Business License Application with Business Licensing Services, and checking the boxes to indicate you have, or plan to hire employees ( After filing your application, the Department of Labor and Industries and the Employment Security Department will send you information about employee quarterly report forms.
No, In Washington state you cannot convert a sole-proprietor businesses into a structured entity (i.e., corporation). You will need to open the corporation as a new business. To do this, you need to complete 3 steps:

1. You first register your new corporation with the Secretary of State's (SOS) Office. You can file online (, the SOS Office will then issue you a new Unified Business Identifier (UBI) for the corporation.
2. Use the new UBI number to create a new business license through the Department of Revenue using the Business Licensing System (
3. You will also need to reapply for any applicable specialty, and/or city endorsements (for example, Nursery endorsements). You will probably need to re-apply for all of the licenses you currently have. For example, if you are a building contractor, you will need to reapply for your contractor’s license with the Department of Labor and Industries.
A UBI number is a 9-digit number that registers you with several state agencies and allows you to do business in Washington State. A UBI number is sometimes called a tax registration number, a business registration number, or a business license number. Use the Business License Application to apply for a UBI number.
Sole proprietors who aren’t employers usually don’t have to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). However, all other business types must apply for this registration whether they have employees or not. For more information about who needs an EIN or how to apply, visit the Internal Revenue Service (,,id=98350,00.html).
L&I enforces the state's minimum wage law. A voter-approved initiative (I-1433) passed in 2016 raising the minimum wage to $11.00 per hour in 2017 and continues to increase the minimum wage to $11.50 in 2018, $12.00 in 2019, $13.50 in 2020. Starting in the year 2021, the initiative requires a cost-of-living increase for Washington's minimum wage each year. See more about minimum wage (
The paid sick leave law and all applicable rules go into effect on January 1, 2018.
Yes. Almost all employers must provide paid sick leave to their employees, unless the employer only has workers who are exempt from Chapter 49.46 RCW – Minimum Wage Act, which includes the paid sick leave requirements.
Liability Insurance is not required as a general rule; however, it is recommended for a sole-proprietorship because it does not provide the same protection against lawsuits as a Corporation or Limited Liability Company. One exception to this rule is if you are registered as a general or specialty contractor with the Department of Labor and Industries ( We recommend using the Business Licensing Wizard located at, to determine if there are any other business types that require liability insurance.

For information on business insurance, visit:
To file your state business tax return online with the Department of Revenue go to My DOR page at
To set up your account visit: to create a Secure Access Washington (SAW) account for use on My DOR.

For Additional information on SAW user accounts visit:
Yes, you must still file your tax return by using one of the follow options:
• Express file online at No login required.
• E-file a "no business” return online using our tax filing system, My DOR. Simply log into My DOR. You will need to have access to your tax
• Phone: To use our automated system at any time call 1-800-647-7706. At the greeting enter 1 at each prompt, your 9-digit tax Account ID/UBI
number, and then follow the instructions.
• Mail: Check the “no business activity” box at the top of your tax return, sign, date, and mail to the address listed at the top of your return.

For assistance contact Department of Revenue (DOR) using one of the following options:
1. Visit a local Department of Revenue field office - see
2. Call DOR at 1-800-647-7706. Tax specialists are there to help Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Automated services to file a no
business tax return are available 24 hours a day.

Business Publications

DescriptionFile NameDownload
Checklist for hiring employees for the first time.
Federal, State and Local Loans and Programs for Small Businesses
Checklist of licenses required for a new business.
Road Map for opening a business
Small Business Guide - Full Version - Chinese
Small Business Guide - Full Version - Korean
Small Business Guide Rack Card
Small Business Guide - Full Version - Russian
Small Business Guide - Full Version - Spanish
Small Business Guide - Full Version - Vietnamese
Small Business Liaison Team (SBLT) Contact Information
Small Business Guide- Full Version- English
Brief guide to help you get started as a driver for Uber, Lyft, and other similar services.

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