Master Business License

Washington Master Business License Application

Washington Business License for LLC

Filing a Washington business license application (also known as Master business license application) is an important step in starting a business in Washington State. If you fill out the form wrong, it could be rejected. It also could notify all the wrong state agencies. You could be sending in zero returns, fielding audit phone calls from state agencies you’ve never heard of, and if you didn’t get accomplished what you really needed to do with the application, you’ll have to do it all over again, and wait another month to hear back.

If you’re applying yourself for the first time, it can appear a bit daunting. That’s why we created this page for you to use this page as your guide to file confidently.

How to Get a Washington Master Business License

Start the Washington Master Business License Application on the Department of Business Licensing website.

To help guide you through the process, we’ve provided information to help you:

If, by some favor of the business gods, you don’t need to complete a MBLA, consider yourself lucky. There will be a lot less forms, fees, and frustration in your immediate future. Most businesses, however, will have to turn one in. If you’re starting a new business, you’ll need to apply for a master business license if your company:

  • Will hire employees.
  • Will have a gross income equal to or more than $12,000 a year.
  • Will be collecting sales tax.
  • Will be paying required state taxes to the WA State Department of Revenue.
  • Will buy or process specialty foods.
  • Will be doing business under a name other than your own full legal name.
  • If you need a new specialty license or city license.

Already have an existing business? You still might not be out of the woods. You will need to do another application for each of the following scenarios:

  • If your business ownership is changing hands.
  • If your business location is changing or if you are adding a new business location.
  • If your trade name is changing or you want to register a new one.
  • If you are newly hiring employees.If your business will need to pay unemployment insurance or industrial insurance.

Form your company with the Secretary of State

If you are applying for your license for the first time because your are forming a new business, your next step should be to incorporate or register your business entity with the WA Secretary of State. Once you file with them, you’ll receive a UBI number, which you can then use for your Master Business License Application. Doing the steps in this order will help you avoid the potential snag of receiving two different UBIs from two state agencies that may have a failure to communicate.Also note: Contrary to some official information you might find, you can’t apply for your Master Business License Application with the Washington Secretary of State; you have to go through the Business Licensing Service, run by the Department of Revenue.

Determine whether you must file by paper or if you can file online.

If this process is starting to feel like a choose your own adventure book, you’re on the right track. If you can avoid filing by paper, using the online system will get you your license the fastest. Your method of filing depends on the nature of your business. If your business deals with one of the following areas, you’ll probably have to file by paper: Cigarette wholesale; whitewater rafting, debt collection, employment or travel agencies, limousines, manufactured home communities, private investigation, radiology benefits, vehicle sales and manufacturing (including boats, RVs and trailers), scrap metal, taxi or towing service, tobacco, underground storage, used vehicle batteries, or waste tires. Find the list of business activities that require a paper application. If not, you are free to proceed through the online process.

Start a Washington Business help

Complete the application process


From the Business License Application page, you’ll create your username and password. You will fill out information in a series of screens, based on your answers to questions about your business. For instance, if you answer “yes” to whether your will be hiring employees, the system will generate detailed employment questions. All told, the application takes about 20 minutes.

When you are finished, you will see a confirmation page. Review that all your information is correct. Lastly, you may pay by e-check or credit card.

By Paper

The Master Business License Application form is 4 pages long. Be especially careful to read each question and section, as filling out an unnecessary section might generate extra red tape for you to deal with. Sign the form, include a check to the Department of Revenue, and mail the form to the address on the form.

Wait for processing.

If you apply online, your application will usually be processed in 2-5 business days, and you’ll receive a confirmation by email. If you have to file by paper, it could take up to 21 days for them to process your application. Either way, your actual license will follow by mail. If you filed online and receive confirmation, you can begin business, as long as you don’t need to wait for any specialty licenses.

Apply for other licenses and permits.

Unfortunately, the “master” business license is a little misleading. It’s not always your one-stop shop and you’re done. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to apply for a contractor’s license, or other specialty or city licenses and permits.

Your business license application puts you on the radar of other WA State agencies, according to how you filled it out. These agencies will get in touch with you, and you may be required to turn in quarterly reports, even if you have no employees.

Master Business License Application Answers

How much does the Master Business License cost?

The base application fee is $19. There are additional fees for other things you can apply for at the same time. For instance, trade names are an extra $5 apiece. Or, if your business happens to be egg handling, you’ll pay $30, with an extra fee for each location ($15). But if bill collecting is what you do, factor in $850 for the first branch, and $50 for each one after that. We’ve listed more information about specialty and city licensing fees.

What becomes public record?

The Department of Revenue’s searchable database will show your company name, Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number, date open and closed, mailing address and business location address, NAICS code and permit information. If you’re concerned about privacy, hiring us as your registered agent can help conceal what information is on public record in Washington.