Starting a West Virginia LLC, step-by-step
Starting a West Virginia LLC costs $130. And it takes 10 days to get an LLC in West Virginia.
Here are the 6 steps to forming an LLC in West Virginia:
- Choose an LLC Name
- Select a Registered Agent
- File Articles of Organization
- Get a Business Registration Certificate
- Create an Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN
If you want to form your LLC yourself, follow our free guide below.
If you want someone to take care of it for you, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent
(We recommend Northwest. We've reviewed all the top companies in the industry. And Northwest is our #1 pick for prices, customer support, and address privacy. Check out Northwest vs LegalZoom to learn more.)
How much does it cost to start an LLC in West Virginia?
It costs $130 to start an LLC in West Virginia.
And then it costs $25 per year.
What are these fees for?
- $100 is to file the Articles of Organization – the document that creates an LLC.
- $30 is to apply for the Business Registration Certificate – basically a state-level general business license.
- $25 per year is for your Annual Report – a mandatory filing that keeps your LLC in good standing.
To learn more about LLC Costs, see LLC Costs in West Virginia.
How long does it take to get an LLC in West Virginia?
If you file your LLC by mail, it will be approved in 5-10 business days (plus mail time).
But if you file online, your LLC will be approved in 5-10 business days.
Please see How long does it take to get an LLC in West Virginia to check for any delays.
Here are the steps to forming an LLC in West Virginia
1. Search your LLC Name
Search your West Virginia LLC Name to make sure it’s available in the state.
You need to do this because two businesses in the state can’t have the same name.
First, search your business name and compare it to existing businesses in West Virginia. You can make sure the LLC Name you want is unique from existing businesses using the Business Entity Search from the West Virginia Secretary of State.
Second, familiarize yourself with the naming rules in West Virginia (so your West Virginia LLC gets approved).
We’ll explain both in more detail here: West Virginia LLC Name.
2. Choose a West Virginia Registered Agent
The next step is deciding whether to list a second West Virginia Registered Agent.
A West Virginia Registered Agent is a person or company who accepts legal mail and state notices on behalf of your West Virginia Limited Liability Company.
West Virginia is one of 2 states that doesn’t require you to choose your own Registered Agent for your Articles of Organization. This is because Service of Process for all LLCs gets delivered to the West Virginia Secretary of State by default.
Said another way, the West Virginia Secretary of State acts as the Registered Agent for all LLCs in the state.This means that for most people, there really isn’t a point to listing a Registered Agent in their West Virginia LLC paperwork.
And if you’re forming your LLC yourself, not hiring a Registered Agent Service will save you $100 to $200 per year.
On the other hand, if you want to hire a company to form your West Virginia LLC, you can hire a Registered Agent Service. They’ll form your LLC and they’ll also serve as your Registered Agent.
We recommend Northwest Registered Agent
Our favorite feature about Northwest is they’ll let you use their office address throughout your LLC filing. This way, you can keep your address off public records.
They’ll also scan any mail sent to your LLC and upload it to your online account.
Northwest has excellent customer service, and they’re who we trust to be our own Registered Agent.
3. File West Virginia LLC Articles of Organization
To start an LLC, you need to file the West Virginia Articles of Organization.
This gets filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State.
The West Virginia Articles of Organization costs $130 if you file online.
This is a one-time fee to create your LLC.
Pro Tip: We recommend filing your Articles of Organization online because it’s easier and includes the Business Registration Certificate in the process.
If you file online, the total fee will be $130 ($100 for the Articles of Organization, and $30 for the Business Registration Certificate).
Veterans and Young Entrepreneurs get Free LLCs
Veterans, active military personnel, and the spouses of either can start an LLC for free in West Virginia.
And if you’re under the age of 30, you can also form a West Virginia LLC for free thanks to the Young Entrepreneurs Act Waiver.
Note: Only the LLC formation fee ($100) is waived in the process for veterans and young entrepreneurs. You will still pay $30 for the Business Registration Certificate.
If you want to file your LLC formation paperwork yourself, see our step-by-step guide: West Virginia Articles of Organization.
Or, you can hire a company to do it for you.
4. Get a Business Registration Certificate
All LLCs in West Virginia are required to get a Business Registration Certificate (BRC) before they can legally do business in the state.
The Business Registration Certificate is West Virginia’s version of a state-level general business license.
It costs $30 to file the BRC application with the West Virginia State Tax Department.
This is a one-time fee, meaning you don’t have to renew your Business Registration Certificate.
Pro Tip: If you file your Articles of Organization online, the BRC application may be included in the online process. (It depends on which version of the One Stop Business Portal you use).
If you filed online and haven’t received your West Virginia LLC Business Registration Certificate after one month – or you aren’t sure if you filed for one – you can call the West Virginia State Tax Department at 304-558-3333 and they will tell you whether your business is registered.
For more information on the BRC, and step-by-step filing instructions, please see: West Virginia LLC Business Registration Certificate.
Depending on where your LLC is located, you may also need a local business license or permit.
For example, if you want to start a daycare, you may need a business license from the city or county.
You can learn more on our West Virginia Business License page.
5. Create a West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement
A West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement serves as a “companion” document to the Articles of Organization.
The Articles of Organization creates your LLC, and the Operating Agreement shows who owns the LLC.
Additionally, some banks require an Operating Agreement when you open an LLC bank account.
And having an Operating Agreement will be very helpful if you ever end up in court. Reason being, it helps prove that your LLC is being run properly.
That’s why we recommend that all LLCs have an Operating Agreement – including Single-Member LLCs.
Furthermore, an Operating Agreement is an “internal document“. Meaning, you don’t need to file it with the state or the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Just keep a copy with your business records.
You can download a free template below.
Then, learn how to fill it out by watching our step-by-step West Virginia Operating Agreement video.
6. Get an EIN for your LLC
The next step is to get a West Virginia EIN Number from the IRS for your LLC.
Note: An EIN Number is also called a Federal Tax ID Number or Federal Employer Identification Number.
An EIN Number is used to:
- identify your LLC for tax purposes
- open a business bank account
- apply for business licenses and permits
How much does an EIN cost?
Getting an EIN Number from the IRS is completely free.
How long does it take to get an EIN?
If you apply online, it takes 15 minutes.
If you apply by mail or fax, it can take 1-3 months.
How can I get an EIN?
US Citizens/US Residents: If you have an SSN or ITIN, you can apply for an EIN online. Follow these instructions: Apply for an EIN online.
Non-US Residents: You can’t get an EIN online, but you can still get one by fax or by mail. Follow these instructions: How to get an EIN without an SSN or ITIN.
What do I do after my LLC is approved?
After your West Virginia LLC is approved, there are some additional steps.
Open an LLC business bank account
You’ll want to open a business bank account for your LLC.
This makes accounting and record-keeping much easier for your business finances.
Having a separate business bank account also maintains your personal liability protection. This is because it keeps your business entity finances separate from your personal finances.
File your West Virginia LLC Annual Report
All West Virginia LLCs must file an Annual Report every year.
The Annual Report keeps your LLC in good standing with the state.
How much does a West Virginia LLC Annual Report cost?
The Annual Report filing fee is $25 per year.
When is the Annual Report due?
All LLC Annual Reports are due by June 30, every year.
When is my first Annual Report due?
Your first Annual Report is due the year after your LLC was approved.
For example, if your LLC was approved on March 16, 2023, your first Annual Report is due by June 30, 2024.
How do I file my LLC Annual Report?
You can file your LLC’s Annual Report online using the state’s One Stop Business Portal.
Follow our step-by-step guide here: West Virginia LLC Annual Report.
File and pay West Virginia Business taxes
LLCs don’t pay federal taxes. Instead, the LLC Members pay the taxes for the LLC.
Said another way, the owners pay taxes for the LLC as a part of their personal tax return.
How will my LLC be taxed?
By default, a West Virginia LLC is taxed by the IRS based on the number of owners your LLC has:
- A Single-Member LLC is taxed like a Sole Proprietorship.
- A Multi-Member LLC is taxed like a Partnership.
Alternatively, you can ask the IRS to tax your LLC like a C-Corporation or S-Corporation.
Besides federal taxes, there are also state and local income taxes – and sales tax. Learn more in West Virginia LLC Taxes.
How to Start an LLC in West Virginia FAQs
Can I start an LLC online in West Virginia?
Yes, you can file your LLC online in West Virginia.
The Articles of Organization filing fee is $130 when you file online. This includes your Business Registration Certificate.
When you start your LLC online, it will be approved in 5-10 business days.
What are the benefits of an LLC?
The first benefit of an LLC is protecting your personal assets. Meaning, if your business is sued, your personal assets – like your home, cars, and bank accounts – are protected.
This protection applies to all LLC owners (called LLC Members). It doesn’t matter if you have a Single-Member LLC or Multi-Member LLC. All of the LLC owners are protected from the business debts and liabilities.
This type of protection wouldn’t apply if you operate as a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership. With these types of informal business structures, the owners aren’t protected in the event of a lawsuit. For that reason, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are a much more popular business structure.
Another benefit is LLC pass-through taxation. This means the LLC itself doesn’t pay federal income taxes. Instead, the profits “pass through” to the LLC Members. And the Members pay the taxes on their personal tax return.
And West Virginia state income taxes are very similar, since the state honors the federal tax treatment of your LLC.
To learn more, please see How are LLCs taxed.
Is West Virginia a good state to start an LLC?
Whether West Virginia is a good state to start an LLC depends on where you live – and where you’re doing business.
Meaning, if you live in or do business in West Virginia, then you should start your LLC in West Virginia. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business.
For example, if you form an LLC in Delaware, but live in and conduct business in West Virginia, you’ll also need to register your Delaware LLC in West Virginia (and pay extra fees). And you’ll end up paying West Virginia taxes anyway. This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
In summary, if you live in and conduct business in West Virginia, then yes, West Virginia is a good state to start a business. If you don’t live in and do business in West Virginia, then no, West Virginia isn’t a good state to start a business.
Real estate exception: If you’re purchasing real estate outside of West Virginia, you should form your LLC in the state where the property is located.
For more information, please see Best State to Form an LLC.
What is the difference between a Domestic LLC, a Foreign LLC, and a PLLC?
The main differences between Domestic LLCs, Foreign LLCs, and Professional LLCs are where they are formed and their business purpose.
A Domestic Limited Liability Company is an LLC that is formed in its “home state”, meaning, where the business owner lives and does business.
For example, if you live in and do business in Georgia, you would form your Domestic LLC in Georgia.
A Foreign Limited Liability Company is an LLC that is formed in a state that isn’t its home state. In this case, the term “foreign” simply means that the LLC is foreign to its “home state”.
For example, if you live in and do business in Georgia, you would form your Domestic LLC in Georgia. If you later expand into Florida, you would register your existing Georgia LLC as a Foreign LLC in Florida.
Said another way, LLCs are created at the state-level.
So if you want your LLC to do business in two separate states, you have to form or register an LLC in both states.
This works by forming a Domestic LLC in your home state, and a Foreign LLC in the other state.
What is a PLLC?
A Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) is a type of LLC formed for the purpose of providing “professional services”.
In this case, “professional” refers to business types that require special permissions (like a license, registration, or certification from the state) in order to do business legally.
For example, architects, attorneys, and social work counselors, doctors, and veterinarians often form their business practices as PLLCs.
You can read more about PLLCs, their availability, and their stricter requirements in: What’s a Professional LLC?
And for more information on Foreign and Domestic LLCs, please see: