How to Incorporate a Business in Pennsylvania

A view of the business district from across the river in Pittsburg, PA.
A view of the business district from across the river in Pittsburg, PA. (Image: kanonsky/iStock/Getty Images)

By incorporating a business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you are creating an entity that is separate from its owners, giving the owners limited liability. That means if the business gets sued, the owners will not be personally liable for any debt the business owes. To incorporate the business, you must go through Pennsylvania's Department of State.

The Department of State Website

You start the incorporation process at the Department of State website at On the home page, you will see the heading “Top Services.” Underneath that heading you will find a link to business registration forms. Click on that link. This brings you to a chart of divisions and form names. Scroll down until you see “Domestic Business Corporations,” then find the link to the form for “Articles of Incorporation” and click on it.

Articles of Incorporation Form

Next, you will need to fill out the form. Enter your name and contact information, then fill out the information that will be included in your Articles of Incorporation. Start with the name of the corporation and then enter the address of the corporation’s registered office. A simple P.O. Box address will not be enough because the state will use this address to serve the corporation in the event someone files a lawsuit against it. Next, enter the name of the commercial registered office provider. The state will serve this person if the corporation is sued.

Finishing the Form

State whether the corporation is organized on a non-stock basis or a stock share basis. If the corporation is organized on a stock share basis, enter the number of authorized shares of stock. After that, enter the names and addresses of each incorporator and the effective date of the incorporation, if applicable. If you would like to include additional provisions to the articles of incorporation, attach them to the form. If you are forming a cooperative corporation or a benefit corporation, fill out those areas of the form. Finally, sign and date the form.

Other Forms and Documents

You will also need to complete a Docketing Statement form. This form requests that you fill in the name of the corporation, the name and mailing address of the person responsible for the initial tax reports, a description of the type of business activity the corporation will be conducting, and the fiscal year end. If you have a specified effective date for the incorporation and an employee identification number assigned to your corporation, enter those. Finally, you will also need to complete a Consent of Appropriation of Name form. Submit these two forms with your Articles of Incorporation form, along with any necessary governmental approvals.

Submission Procedures

Submit all of the required documents to: Department of State, Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations, P.O. Box 8722, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722. You must also submit your filing fee in the form of a check made payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As of 2015, the fee is of $125.

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