Starting a Corporation in Pennsylvania | What You Need to Know

Steve Bennett
Steve Bennett
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Start a Corporation in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, starting a corporation can benefit entrepreneurs looking to establish a separate legal entity for their business. Incorporating your business provides liability protection for its owners and offers potential tax benefits and a professional image. This comprehensive guide will walk you through Starting a Corporation in Pennsylvania, from choosing a corporate name to fulfilling ongoing compliance requirements. Some people consider starting a corporation since it has advantages and benefits rather than Starting an LLC in Pennsylvania.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you gain knowledge in starting a corporation with thorough research and market study. It would be best to cross-check all the factors in this article before forming a corporation.

What is a Corporation in Pennsylvania?

A corporation in Pennsylvania is a business organization recognized as a separate legal entity from its owners, also known as shareholders. When a corporation is formed, shareholders invest capital by purchasing shares of stock and, in return, become partial company owners. The corporation is managed by a board of directors elected by the shareholders to oversee the company’s operations and make important decisions. Corporations in Pennsylvania are required to have at least One directors. One of the main advantages of a corporation in Pennsylvania is that it provides limited liability protection to its shareholders, meaning their assets are not at risk if the corporation incurs debt or is legally sued.

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Common Types of Corporations

Before you start with a corporation, you should know what type of corporation you will form. There are several different forms of corporations you can take into consideration, depending on your corporation’s objectives and ownership structure.


C-Corporation is the most known type of incorporation. They have almost all corporate distinguishing characteristics. Profits are distributed to corporate owners who are taxed at an individual level. The corporation is taxed similarly to a business unit.


S-Corporation in Pennsylvania is set up similarly to a C-corporation but has different tax implications and owner limits. An S-Corporation has no more than 100 stockholders and is not taxed separately. These business units must also file paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to obtain their status.

Nonprofit Corporation

Religious, educational, and charity institutions frequently use nonprofit businesses to run their operations without making a profit. Thus, a nonprofit corporation is exempt from paying taxes. The nonprofit organization’s gifts, contributions, or cash are reinvested in the company to fund its growth, future endeavors, or operations.

It is recommended to Start a Corporation in Pennsylvania if you would like to provide limited liability protection to your shareholders rather than Pennsylvania LLC. However, you may want to consult to LegalZoom’s Business Attorney before starting a business.


How to Start a Corporation in Pennsylvania

To start a corporation in Pennsylvania, you must follow the below steps that, include choosing a corporate name, hiring a Registered Agent, appointing directors, filing for Articles of Incorporation, creating corporate bylaws, holding the initial board of directors, issuing stock, obtaining required licenses and permits, registering with state tax agencies, and annual reporting and ongoing compliance. All these steps are basic ones. It can be changed depending on the type of corporation you form and the nature of your business.

Step 1: Choosing a Corporate Name

The first step in starting a corporation is choosing an available name that complies with Pennsylvania naming rules. Most states require that the name of a corporation be distinguishable from other registered business names and include a corporate designator such as “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” or an abbreviation thereof.

Here are some guidelines you must follow while naming your corporation in Pennsylvania-

  • Your business name must contain entity identifiers, such as “Incorporated,” “Limited,” “Corporation,” or “Company,” or an abbreviation, such as “Inc.,” “Co.,” or “Ltd.”
  • Exclude any words in your business name, such as “Trust,” “Bank,” “Credit Union,” or “Trustee,” or words related to a government agency, such as “FBI,” “State Department,” or “Treasury.”

To check the availability of your desired corporate name, you can search the Pennsylvania Secretary of State‘s business name database and Business Name Search in Pennsylvania. If the name is available, you may choose to reserve it for a specific period of 120 days by filing a name reservation application and paying the online name reservation fee of $70 and mail name reservation fee of $70. If your corporation plans to operate under a name other than its legal name, you may also need to register a fictitious or “doing business as” (DBA) name.

The DBA filing can be done by two methods, by mail and in person., which costs around $70. In addition, the DBA’s validity in Pennsylvania is Indefinite, which you can file in Pennsylvania Secretary of State.

You can check out How to File a DBA in Pennsylvania for clearer understanding.

Step 2: Hire a Registered Agent

Hiring a Registered Agent is essential in starting a corporation. Registered Agent is a person or company responsible for receiving important legal documents, tax notices, and other correspondence on behalf of your corporation. They ensure that your corporation remains compliant with state regulations and requirements. There are Pennsylvania Registered Agent Services to check in forming Pennsylvania Corporation. We reviewed some of the best-registered agent services and provided features as an add-on with their packages.

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Step 3: Appointing Directors

Corporations in Pennsylvania are required to have at least One directors, though some states may require more. Directors are responsible for overseeing the corporation’s management and making major decisions on behalf of the company. In Pennsylvania, directors must be at least 18 years old and do not need to be state residents.

When appointing directors, it is essential to consider individuals who are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and capable of making sound business decisions. Maintaining a record of appointed directors, including their names, addresses, and terms of service, is also a good idea.

Step 4: Preparing and Filing Articles of Incorporation

After you appoint the initial board of directors in your Pennsylvania corporation, the next step is to write and file a Articles of Incorporation. In writing, the Pennsylvania Articles of Incorporation, the corporation name, principal place of business, the purpose of business, Registered Agent contact information, and the names and addresses of incorporators and initial board members, should be written.

To officially form your Pennsylvania corporation, you must prepare and file Articles of Incorporation with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State. The Articles of Incorporation is a legal document that outlines essential information about your corporation, such as its name, address, purpose, and details about its stock.

The specific requirements for Articles of Incorporation vary by state, but generally, the document must include the following:

  • The corporate name
  • The purpose of the corporation
  • The name and address of the registered agent
  • The names and addresses of the initial directors
  • The number of authorized shares and their par value
  • The name and address of the incorporator(s)

Once the Articles of Incorporation are complete, please submit them to the Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office, along with the required filing fee. Fees vary by state, but in Pennsylvania, the Articles of Incorporation filing fee costs around $125 for online and by mail filing. It is crucial to provide accurate and complete information on this document, as errors or omissions may result in delays or rejection of your filing.

  • Online Filing: Create an account/Log in to the SOS site, get the online form, fill it, and submit online
  • Offline filing: Send the form by mail to Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations, P.O. Box 8722, Harrisburg, PA 17105

Step 5: Creating Corporate Bylaws

Now you are done filing Articles of Incorporation in Pennsylvania, the next step is to draft corporate bylaws. While not always required by law, creating corporate bylaws is essential in establishing Pennsylvania corporation. Bylaws are the internal rules and regulations that govern the corporation’s operations and management. They outline the rights and responsibilities of directors, officers, and shareholders and provide guidelines for holding meetings and making decisions.

Key provisions to include in your corporate bylaws may include:

  • The corporation’s purpose and principal place of business
  • The roles and responsibilities of directors, officers, and shareholders
  • The process for appointing and removing directors and officers
  • The procedures for holding annual and special meetings
  • The methods for amending the bylaws and Articles of Incorporation
  • The procedures for issuing stock and maintaining shareholder records

Once the bylaws are drafted, they must be adopted by the corporation’s board of directors. Keeping a copy of the bylaws with your corporate records and updating them to reflect changes in the corporation or applicable laws is essential.

Step 6: Holding the Initial Board of Directors Meeting

The initial board of directors meeting is a crucial milestone for your Pennsylvania corporation. During this meeting, the directors will adopt the corporate bylaws, elect officers, and make other key decisions to set the foundation for the corporation’s operations.

The agenda for the initial board meeting may include the following:

  • Adopting the corporate bylaws
  • Ratifying any pre-incorporation actions taken by the incorporator(s)
  • Electing corporate officers (e.g., president, vice president, secretary, treasurer)
  • Designating a corporate bank account
  • Authorizing the issuance of stock
  • Approving necessary licenses, permits, and tax registrations

It is essential to keep detailed minutes of the initial board meeting, documenting the decisions made and actions taken. These minutes should be stored with your corporate records.

Step 7: Issuing Stock

Corporations in Pennsylvania are required to issue stock to their owners, also known as shareholders. When preparing to issue stock, you must determine the number of authorized shares and their par value, as outlined in your Articles of Incorporation. You may choose to issue different classes of stock, each with its rights and privileges, such as voting rights and dividend preferences.

The process for issuing stock typically involves the board of directors approving a stock issuance resolution, determining the price per share, and recording the issuance in the corporation’s stock ledger. Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records of all stock transactions, including transfers and cancellations, is crucial to ensure proper ownership tracking and compliance with securities laws.

Step 8: Obtaining Required Licenses and Permits

Depending on the nature of your corporation’s activities and location, you may need to obtain various licenses and permits to operate legally. These may include federal, state, and local requirements, such as:

  • A Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax reporting and employee withholding purposes.
  • State sales and use tax registration, if your corporation sells taxable goods or services
  • Professional or occupational licenses for specific industries (e.g., healthcare, construction, food service)
  • Pennsylvania Business Licenses, zoning permits, and health department approvals

Researching and obtaining all required Pennsylvania licenses and permits before commencing operations and maintaining compliance with any ongoing renewal or reporting requirements is essential.

Step 10: Registering with State Tax Agencies

In addition to obtaining licenses and permits, your Pennsylvania corporation may also need to register with various tax agencies. This may include registering for sales and use tax, obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in Pennsylvania for payroll tax purposes, and filing state income tax and franchise tax returns.

An EIN will serve as the tax ID for your Pennsylvania corporation. EIN can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a 9-digit number similar to Social Security Number. EIN, however, is distinct from SSN. It is only used for business-related activities, particularly for submitting general taxes. The form must be completed and uploaded to the IRS website.

The application of an EIN in Pennsylvania can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The online EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is four weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone-International Applicants – International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

Each state has tax requirements, so consult a tax professional or Pennsylvania Department of Revenue for guidance on your specific obligations.

Step 11: Decennial Reporting and Ongoing Compliance

Once your Pennsylvania corporation is up and running, you must fulfill ongoing reporting and compliance requirements to maintain good standing. This may include filing Decennial Report with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, updating your corporate records to reflect changes in directors or officers, and staying current on any required licenses or permits.

In addition, it is essential to stay informed about changes in corporate laws and regulations that may impact your business and to seek professional advice when needed.

Paying Your Taxes in Pennsylvania

Even if you have established your corporation in Pennsylvania, pay your taxes and keep everything up to date so you won’t pay any penalty. Unlike an LLC, there is a corporate tax that every corporation in Pennsylvania has to pay. On the other hand, they must pay income taxes based on their business income. Some other types of taxes in Pennsylvania are sales tax, franchise tax (not applicable to all the states), and other state taxes.

Cost of Forming a Corporation in Pennsylvania

In forming a corporation in Pennsylvania, a filing and Decennial fee must be paid. Without it, your corporation won’t operate. A corporation’s initial filing fee may vary from state to state. However, in Pennsylvania, it costs $125 for online and by mail filing. The corporation in Pennsylvania also has to file an Decennial Report (though it might not be mandatory, it is recommended to file one). Ensure you comply with all the necessary fees and costs so your corporation will run successfully and smoothly.


What is a corporation in Pennsylvania?
A corporation in Pennsylvania is a legal structure that allows a group of individuals to operate under a single entity, separate from its owners.
What are the requirements to start a corporation in Pennsylvania?
You must register your corporation with the Pennsylvania Department of State, file articles of incorporation, and appoint a registered agent.
How much does it cost to start a corporation in Pennsylvania?
The state filing fee for incorporating a business in Pennsylvania is $125.
What is a registered agent?
A registered agent is an individual who acts as the official point of contact between the corporation and the state.
Can I be my own registered agent in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can serve as your own registered agent in Pennsylvania.
What is a certificate of incorporation?
A certificate of incorporation is a legal document issued by the state of Pennsylvania recognizing a company as a legitimate corporation.
Do I need a lawyer to start a corporation in Pennsylvania?
No, you don’t need a lawyer to start a corporation in Pennsylvania, but it’s always recommended to consult with one.
How long does it take to start a corporation in Pennsylvania?
It usually takes around 5-7 business days to process and approve the articles of incorporation in Pennsylvania.
Do I need to file for an EIN when starting a corporation in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you’ll need to apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) with the IRS.
Is there a maximum amount of shareholders in a Pennsylvania corporation?
No, there’s no maximum number of shareholders allowed in a Pennsylvania corporation.
How do I choose a name for my corporation in Pennsylvania?
You’ll need to choose a unique name that is not already registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Can I reserve a name for my corporation in Pennsylvania before incorporating?
Yes, you can reserve a name for your corporation in Pennsylvania for up to 120 days by filing a name reservation with the Department of State.
Are there any naming requirements for a corporation in Pennsylvania?
Yes, the corporation’s name must contain the word “corporation,” “incorporated,” or an abbreviation thereof.
Can I use a nickname or acronym as my corporation’s name in Pennsylvania?
Only if it relates to an approved business function or product or if it’s part of the name of the corporation.
Do I need to have a Pennsylvania business license when starting a corporation?
It depends on your business activity and where you operate the business. Check with your local government or a professional.
Is there a minimum number of directors required for a Pennsylvania corporation?
No, there is no minimum number of directors required for a Pennsylvania corporation.
Can I include certain provisions in my articles of incorporation in Pennsylvania?
Yes, some additional provisions you can include are shareholder agreements, voting rights, and business restrictions.
Do I need to publish my articles of incorporation in Pennsylvania?
No, not unless required by the business’s county of operation.
Can I file my corporation’s annual report online in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can conveniently file your annual report using the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.
Are corporations in Pennsylvania required to hold annual meetings?
Yes, Pennsylvania requires all corporations to hold an annual meeting of shareholders to elect directors and discuss corporate business.
Can I change my corporation’s name down the road in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can petition to change a corporation’s name by filing a certificate with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
What tax obligations does a corporation in Pennsylvania have?
Corporations in Pennsylvania are subject to state and federal taxes, including corporate income tax with rates from 1% to 9.99% according to the taxable income.
Can I operate a sole proprietorship in Pennsylvania if I don’t want to incorporate?
Yes, you can also operate a sole proprietorship or some other types of business entities like Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Pennsylvania.
Is a corporation in Pennsylvania required to have a bank account?
Yes, the corporation should open its own bank account separate from its members, employees, etc.
Can I add or remove shareholders after starting a corporation in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can add or remove shareholders after starting a corporation in Pennsylvania by filing the appropriate forms with the state.
Where can I find more information on how to start a corporation in Pennsylvania?
You can visit the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website or consult with a qualified professional for more information, e.g on laws, taxes, filings, etc.
Is there an age limit for incorporating a business in Pennsylvania?
No, there isn’t any age limit for incorporating a business in Pennsylvania, but you still need an adult registered agent.
How should I maintain the proper records of my corporation in Pennsylvania?
You can keep the records of your corporation in Pennsylvania, like financial records, meeting minutes, etc. Of course, following the general accounting principles standard would be necessary.
Can I dissolve a corporation in Pennsylvania after starting it?
Yes, you can dissolve a corporation in Pennsylvania by filing articles of dissolution as provided by the Department of State & clearing all debts/liabilities or taking legal help.
Does Pennsylvania provide any advantages to incorporating my business in that state?
Starting and managing a business in Pennsylvania certainly has some benefits like its centralized location, booming economy/industries, low costs, skilled workforce, and many other advantages.

Also Read

How to Save Money While Forming Your Pennsylvania Corporation

One of the first and most important steps in saving money when forming a Pennsylvania corporation is to do your research. By understanding the different business structures available and the specific requirements for each, you can make an informed decision on which type of corporation best suits your needs and budget. Take the time to research the various filing fees, taxes, and ongoing maintenance costs associated with each business structure to determine the most cost-effective option for your business.

When it comes to filing fees, there are some ways to minimize costs when forming your Pennsylvania corporation. One option is to file the necessary paperwork yourself, rather than hiring a lawyer or corporate service provider to handle the paperwork on your behalf. While this may require more time and effort on your part, it can save you a significant amount of money in legal fees. Additionally, many states offer online filing options for business registration, which can be a more affordable and efficient option compared to traditional paper filing.

Another way to save money when forming your Pennsylvania corporation is to carefully consider the services you require from a lawyer or corporate service provider. While it may be tempting to hire professional assistance for every step of the process, there are many aspects of forming a corporation that you can handle independently with a little research and patience. Consider hiring a lawyer or service provider for specific tasks that are complex or require specialized expertise, such as drafting legal documents or navigating tax laws, while handling simpler tasks like filing paperwork yourself to save on costs.

In addition to filing fees and legal expenses, new business owners should also consider the ongoing maintenance costs associated with running a corporation in Pennsylvania. One way to save money on these costs is to carefully manage your corporate records and compliance requirements to avoid any potential fines or penalties for non-compliance. Keeping accurate and up-to-date records of your business activities, financial transactions, and annual filings can help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure that your corporation remains in good standing with the state.

As you navigate the process of forming your Pennsylvania corporation and strive to save money along the way, remember that proper planning and research are key to success. By understanding the costs associated with each step of the process, exploring cost-effective options for legal assistance, and managing ongoing maintenance costs efficiently, you can minimize expenses and set your corporation up for long-term success. With a strategic approach and a commitment to financial responsibility, you can save money while forming your Pennsylvania corporation without sacrificing the quality or legitimacy of your business.


Starting a corporation in Pennsylvania involves several critical steps, from choosing a corporate name to fulfilling ongoing compliance requirements. Following the steps outlined in this guide and seeking professional advice when needed, you can successfully establish your Pennsylvania corporation and enjoy the benefits of limited liability, potential tax savings, and a professional business image.

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