How to Start a Business in West Virginia:
Thanks to its growing economic diversity, business-friendly tax system, and low cost of living and doing business, West Virginia has proven to be a desirable location to start a new business. Entrepreneurs looking to enter this market will especially enjoy the state's impressive chemicals, energy, aerospace, automotive, and biotech industries.
Form your business.
Review West Virginia formation options.
West Virginia offers four ways of forming your business. Review these closely and pick the one that fits your business best.
Name your business.
Your business name is an integral part of your brand identity. To successfully stand out among competitors, you'll want to choose a name that's memorable, creative, and easy to search online.
To reserve a name in West Virginia, you must complete and submit a Name Reservation (form NR-1) to the Business Division of the Secretary of State.
If you need help finding a business name, be sure to check out NameSnack's free business name generator.
Make a list of names that you like and perform a Google search to find any conflicts with other West Virginia business names.
Once this is done, you'll need to do a trademark search to ensure that the business name that you chose has not already been trademarked.
Check the West Virginia Secretary of State website to ensure that your business name is not the same or similar to another corporation registered in West Virginia.
If your business name is available, you can reserve or register your chosen name with the state. A name reservation will protect your name for 120 days, giving you enough time to finalize your formation documents.
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 West Virginia.
Now that you've chosen a business name and legal structure, you can officially register your business with the West Virginia Secretary of State. The process for registering a business is relatively simple, with the SOS website providing everything you need, including forms, helpful resources, and a quick and easy online registration portal.
A simple way to register your business is by creating an account with the One Stop Business Portal.
Download the applicable business formation forms and register your business.
Obtain necessary permits and licenses.
The state of West Virginia does not require businesses to have a statewide license. You may, however, require a specific business license, certificate, or permit, depending on the type of business that you start.
For instance, those who require professional or occupational licenses or permits will need to register with the Division of Labor, while those working in construction must obtain licenses and permits from the Contractor License Board.
In addition to specialized licenses and permits, all businesses in West Virginia require a business registration certificate from the West Virginia State Tax Department before starting to operate. You will need separate certificates for each location of your business in West Virginia.
You can consult with the West Virginia Association of Licensing Boards to check on specific business licenses and permits that you may require.
You can also check out the One Stop Business Portal's complete list of occupational, professional, and special licenses and permits.
Register your business for taxes.
Register for sales and use tax.
Every business selling taxable tangible personal property in the state of West Virginia is required to obtain a sales tax license and contribute to sales tax. Services rendered are not taxable. You will need to register for a sales tax license with the West Virginia State Tax Department.
On your MyTaxes account, search for the tax registration form.
Complete the form and submit it.
Register for withholding tax.
All employers are subject to the West Virginia personal income tax. You will be required to deduct and withhold the tax from wages or salaries and remit the tax withheld to the State Tax Department. For a more detailed look at what you'll need to register, read through the state's informational booklet.
You can register for withholding tax using the One Stop Business Portal.
On the One Stop Business Portal, search for the tax registration form.
Complete the form and submit it.
Alternatively, you can download the registration form and mail or fax it to the state's tax department.
Register for unemployment insurance tax.
In West Virginia, your small business is required to establish an unemployment insurance account with Workforce West Virginia. To find out if you're liable for the unemployment insurance tax, you must first register with the Unemployment Compensation Division (the Division) of WorkForce West Virginia (WFWV).
The Division will use the information provided during the registration process to determine your liability. If your business is required to contribute towards unemployment insurance, you will need to file quarterly reports.
To register online, use the WV.gov Accounts website. Here, you'll be able to complete and file the Employer’s Initial Statement, Form UC 201-B.
Alternatively, you can download Employer’s Initial Statement, Form UC 201-B and mail or fax it.
Hire employees and comply with state requirements.
Report newly hired employees to the state.
To start hiring you will need to register at the West Virginia New Hire Reporting Center. Each employee will need to be registered within 20 days of starting work in accordance with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.
To register an employee with the New Hire Reporting Center, you'll first need to register an account.
Once this is complete, you can register your new employees using their online platform.
Get workers' compensation insurance.
West Virginia’s law requires all employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees. Workers' compensation insurance helps pay medical costs for employees that are injured or become sick because of the job, provide disability payments, and missed wages.
You can obtain more information about workers' compensation requirements at the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner website.
Display mandatory workplace posters.
The state of West Virginia mandates that all businesses display informational posters in the workplace. These posters or "notices" should share important information about workplace safety, minimum wage payments and collections, and employee leave.
Mandatory State Posters:
- Minimum Wage Requirements Poster.
- Wage Payment & Collection Act Poster.
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act.
- EEO Is The Law.
- Family Medical Leave Act.
- Job Safety and Health Protection.
- EEO Is The Law Supplement.
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
- WV Human Rights Act.
- WV Minimum Wage Requirements.
- WV Wage Payment and Collection Act.
- WV Unemployment Benefits.
- Fair Labor Standards Act.
To download West Virginia workforce posters for free, visit the Workforce West Virginia website.
West Virginia Business Types:
1. Sole proprietorship.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest structure and usually involves one individual who is solely responsible for the enterprise. With a sole proprietorship, you will not be obligated to file formal documents with the state. However, you should still comply with state tax requirements.
A partnership is suitable for businesses with two or more owners who typically share liability, profits, and managerial responsibilities. In West Virginia, there are three types of partnerships recognized by the state, each with its own registration process. These include a General Partnership (GP), Limited Partnership (LP), and a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).
For those looking to start a GP, you will not be required to file official documents with the state. However, if you're starting an LP or LLP, you'll need to register your business with the Secretary of State. You can find formation document names and fees in the table below.
3. Limited Liability Company (LLC).
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the most popular type because of minimal paperwork, flexibility, tax benefits, and a simple implementation process. LLC business owners are not obligated to file a corporate tax return. To form an LLC in West Virginia, you'll need to complete and file the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State and pay a filing fee.
A corporation is a formal, standalone entity with shareholders and corporate offices. With a corporation, the owner(s) assets are protected if the company is sued or facing financial problems. It also offers notable tax benefits and the ability to transfer shares easily. To start a corporation in West Virginia, you must complete and file the Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State and pay a filing fee.
West Virginia Business Registration Fees:
Articles of Organization
$100.00 + $1.00 online fee
Articles of Incorporation
$100.00 + $1.00 online fee
Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation
$25.00 + $1.00 online fee
Certificate of West Virginia Limited Partnership
$100.00 + $1.00 online fee
State of Registration of Domestic or Foreign Limited Liability Partnership
$250.00–$500.00 + $1.00 online fee
Registration Fee Waiver:
It's important to note that if you're a veteran looking to start a business, the state of West Virginia will waive all business registration fees. This applies to all business structures.
How much does it cost to register a business in West Virginia?
It costs between $15.00 and $500.00 to start a business in West Virginia, depending on your location and business type.
What permits do I need to start a business in West Virginia?
The permits needed to start a business in West Virginia will depend on the type of services and products you offer. However, all businesses are required to obtain a business registration certificate with the West Virginia State Tax Department.
Is West Virginia a good place to start a business?
Yes. However, this may depend on the industry you're looking to enter. Favorable industries in West Virginia include chemicals, energy, and automotive. In addition, the state also offers a low cost of living and doing business, a pro-business tax system, and plenty of growing and established markets.
How do I get a business registration certificate in WV?
To get a business license in West Virginia, contact the State Tax Department or go to the State Tax Department website, select Business Registration, and follow the prompts. Check if you require more special licenses or permits.
How do I set up an LLC in West Virginia?
- Choose your West Virginia LLC filing option.
- Submit your Articles of Organization.
- Create an LLC Operating Agreement.
- Obtain a Federal EIN from the IRS.
- Open an LLC bank account.
- Get a Business Registration Certificate.
- File the West Virginia LLC Annual Report.
- Pay taxes on the LLC income.
Do I need a West Virginia business license?
Most businesses will need a license to operate in West Virginia, but there is no one set license for all businesses. You can consult with the West Virginia Association of Licensing Boards to check on specific business licenses and permits that you may require. You can also check out the One Stop Business Portal's complete list of occupational, professional, and special licenses and permits.