How to Start a Business in Virginia:
Entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Virginia will enjoy the state's easy access to established and growing markets, strategic logistics locations, and its business-friendly regulatory environment. Popular industries in the state include life sciences, logistics, manufacturing, and food and beverage processing, giving entrepreneurs plenty of room to explore different business ideas.
Form your business.
Review Virginia formation options.
Virginia offers four ways of forming your business. Review these closely and pick the one that fits your business best.
Name your business.
You'll need to register or reserve your ideal business name with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC). The state will reserve the name for 120 days, giving you enough time to prepare your business formation documents. You can complete and file the name reservation application on the State Corporation Commissions Clerk's Information System (CIS).
If you need help finding a business name, be sure to check out NameSnack's free business name generator.
Check the Virginia State Corporation Commission website and perform a name availability search to ensure that your business name is not the same or similar to another corporation registered in Virginia.
If you are satisfied that your business name is available, register an account with the Clerk's Information System.
Once you've logged on, search for the name reservation application.
Complete the application and pay the filing fee.
You can check out our guide on How to Register a Business Name to assist you with naming your business.
Get an employer identification number.
Nearly all businesses will need to register for federal taxes by applying for an employer identification number.
Register your business in Virginia.
Once you've chosen the ideal business structure and name, you can officially register your business with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The process of registering a business in Virginia is fairly simple, with the same regulations and steps applying to almost all business structures.
It's important to note that if you're looking to start a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you won't be required by law to file any formal documentation with the state. For more common business structures like an LLC or corporation, you can register your business online using the Clerk's Information System (CIS).
Go to the Virginia State Corporation Commission website.
In the main menu, click on "Businesses" until a drop-down menu appears.
In the drop-down menu, choose "New Businesses."
On the "New Businesses" page, scroll down to and click on "Forms and Fees." Here, you should be able to find your business structure's formation documents.
Complete the document and file it using the Clerk's Information System. You'll need to create an account to enter this system.
Obtain necessary permits and licenses.
The state of Virginia does not require businesses to have a statewide business license. However, you'll most likely need to acquire one or more special business licenses or permits from local governing bodies, depending on the type and location of your business. It may also depend on the industry you work in.
For instance, those working in the foodservice industry must obtain a food handler's permit, while those who sell alcohol will need a liquor license. In general, most Virginia-based businesses are expected to be in possession of a Sales Tax Certificate. This is obtained once you register for sales tax in the state.
You can consult with the City Applications website to check the license and permit requirements for your business.
You can also view a full list of licenses required for the different industries in Virginia.
Register your business for taxes.
Register for sales tax.
Every business selling taxable tangible personal property in the state of Virginia is required to pay sales and use tax. Services rendered are not taxable. The average sales tax rate in Virginia is currently at 5.3%. However, this may depend on your location. Check out a complete breakdown of the sales tax rates in the state.
You will need to register for a sales tax permit with Virginia Tax.
Go to the Virginia Tax Business Online Services portal and register an account.
Once you've successfully logged on, click on "File/ Pay Taxes" and select the tax type you need to file or pay.
Complete the on-screen prompts and selected fields.
Set up a payment schedule and pay the fee.
Register for withholding tax.
In Virginia, all business owners who pay wages or salaries to one or more employees are required to deduct and withhold state income tax from those wages. To ensure that your business remains compliant, you must first register for withholding tax, file income tax withholding returns, and pay the income tax to Virginia Tax.
Log into your Virginia Tax Business Online Services portal.
Search for the tax registration form and complete the necessary fields.
Submit the registration form.
File and pay corporation income tax.
The state of Virginia mandates that all corporations file and pay annual income tax returns, estimated payments, and extension payments through their electronic system. You can conduct all your business using the Virginia Tax Business Online Services portal.
For a more detailed look at how to file and pay corporate income tax, read through the Virginia Tax guide.
Hire employees and comply with state requirements.
Report new employees to the state.
To start hiring you will need to register at the Virginia New Hire Reporting Center. Each employee will need to be registered within 20 days of starting work. If a previous employee is absent from work for 60 consecutive days, you'll need to report them to the New Hire Reporting Center once more.
Go to the New Hire Reporting Center website and register your account.
Search for the New Hire Reporting Form.
Complete the form and submit it.
Read through the state's complete guide on how to report new employees.
Get workers' compensation insurance.
Virginia’s law requires all employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees. Getting workers' compensation coverage helps ensure that both employers and employees are taken care of if there are any injuries obtained while working.
You can obtain more information at the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission website.
Display mandatory state posters in the workplace.
All businesses in Virginia are required to showcase federal and state-mandated posters that share information about labor laws, minimum wage, health and safety, and leave, among others. These posters must be located in a conspicuous place to ensure that all employees have access to them.
Mandatory Workplace Posters:
- Virginia Unemployment Compensation Act (UC).
- Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Act (VOSH).
- Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS).
- Virginia Workers’ Compensation (VWC).
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA).
- Service Contract Act and Public Contractors Act.
- Davis-Bacon Construction Contracts Act.
- Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).
- Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).
- Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO).
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
For a complete list of posters and download information, visit the Virginia Employment Commission website.
Virginia Business Types:
1. Sole Proprietorship.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest structure to set up because it does not require formal paperwork. However, the business's owner is still required to comply with tax regulations. Additionally, if you're working under a fictitious name, you'll need to register for a DBA (doing business as) name with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
Typically involves two or more individuals who both take on the financial liability and managerial responsibilities of the business. There are three common types of partnerships; general partnership (GP), limited partnership (LP), and a limited liability partnership (LLP). Each structure has its own formation process and documents.
See our list of formation documents and filing fees in the table below.
3. Limited Liability Company (LLC).
The limited liability company (LLC) structure is the more popular choice because of its minimal paperwork, tax benefits, and simple implementation process. To start an LLC in Virginia, you must complete and file the Articles of Organization with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. There is a filing fee of $100.00.
This legal structure is best suited for large businesses that require corporate offices, a board of directors, and shareholders. To form a corporation in Virginia, you'll need to complete and file the Articles of Incorporation with the State Corporation Commission. Your filing fee will be based on the number of shares you have.
Virginia Business Registration Fees:
Articles of Organization
Articles of Incorporation
Certificate of Limited Partnership
Statement of Registration as a Virginia Registered Limited Liability Partnership
How much does it cost to register a business in Virginia?
It costs between $10.00 and $100.00 to register a business in Virginia, depending on the type of legal structure you choose.
What permits do I need to start a business in Virginia?
Almost all businesses in Virginia require a Sales Tax Certificate from the Virginia Tax Department. However, there is no general business permit issued in the state. The types of permits you need will depend on your business's location and industry.
Is Virginia a good place to start a business?
Yes. However, this may depend on your business preparation and the industry you're trying to enter. The state of Virginia does offer a highly-skilled workforce, easy access to established and emerging markets, and a pro-business regulatory system.
How do I obtain a business license in Virginia?
The State of Virginia does not require a general business license. However, depending on your business type and location, you may need to obtain special licenses and permits from the city and local government.
How much does a business license cost in VA?
Do you need a business license in VA?
It depends on your business type and location. While there is no statewide business license expected, almost all businesses are required to obtain some type of business license or permit to legally operate their business in Virginia.