If you googled how to start an LLC in West Virginia, and are feeling confused, don’t worry! This page covers everything you need to know, including step-by-step instructions.
Guide to starting an LLC in West Virginia
To start a West Virginia LLC, you’ll need to file the LLC Articles of Organization. This costs $100, and the fee is the same whether you file online or by mail.
This form gets filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State. And once it’s approved, your LLC officially goes into existence.
However, there are other steps to starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in West Virginia. For example, obtaining the required Business Registration Certificate for $30.
We break down the West Virginia LLC process step-by-step with pro-tips that we’ve learned over the years. The process is pretty simple, and you can start a West Virginia LLC today.
LLC Costs in West Virginia
|Articles of Organization||$100|
|Registered Agent||$0 or $125 per year|
|Business Registration Certificate||$30|
|City Business License||$10 - $20|
|Operating Agreement||Free on our website|
|EIN Number||Free from the IRS|
|Annual Report||$25 per year|
1. Search your LLC Name
First, make sure your West Virginia LLC Name is available in the state.
You can do this by using the Business Entity Search. You can search for your business name to compare it against existing businesses registered in West Virginia. You need to do this because two businesses in the state can’t have the same name.
Next, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the business name requirements in West Virginia.
Section 31B-1-105 of the West Virginia LLC Act has a few rules and requirements for naming Limited Liability Companies that you need to know.
The West Virginia Secretary of State requires that your Limited Liability Company use a proper designator at the end of its name. Acceptable LLC designators in West Virginia include:
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Company
- Ltd. Liability Co.
Tip: Most people choose “LLC”.
Your LLC name cannot include a designator that makes it sound like a different type of business structure. For example, your name cannot use the words or abbreviations Corporation, Corp., Inc., Incorporated, or Foundation. There are other rules too, like not making your LLC name sound like a government agency.
Tip: We recommend that you confirm your LLC name is available before starting to file your LLC paperwork. You can call the Secretary of State at 304-558-8000 for an informal check on whether your business name is available.
2. Review West Virginia Registered Agent Rules
The next step is to choose if you want a West Virginia Registered Agent for your LLC.
A West Virginia Registered Agent is a person or company who accepts legal mail (called Service of Process) on behalf of your West Virginia Limited Liability Company.
A Registered Agent isn’t required in West Virginia…
You might have heard that every West Virginia LLC needs a Registered Agent. However, this isn’t true (and most websites don’t disclose this).
Registered Agents aren’t required in West Virginia because Service of Process gets delivered to the West Virginia Secretary of State. And then the Secretary of State forwards it to the LLC.
For most people forming their LLC themselves, there really isn’t a reason to list a Registered Agent in their LLC paperwork. And by doing so, you can save over $100 per year.
On the other hand, if you want to hire a company to form your LLC, you can hire a Registered Agent Service.
If you want to hire a company to start your LLC, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent. Northwest has excellent customer service and they’ve been in business for more than 20 years. If you hire them to form your LLC, Northwest will also be your Registered Agent.
Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned and uploaded to your online account. Hiring Northwest can also help keep your address off public records and protect your privacy.
3. Get an EIN for your West Virginia LLC
The next step is to get an EIN Number (aka FEIN or Federal Employer Identification Number) from the IRS website for your LLC.
Your EIN Number is used to:
- identify your LLC for tax purposes
- pay business taxes
- apply for the required Business Registration Certificate
- open a business bank account
And if applicable, to:
- handle employee payroll
- get a business credit card or loan
- apply for business licenses and permits
Important: In most states, you should get an EIN only after your LLC is approved. However, because of the way the online filing system is built in West Virginia, you’ll need to get your EIN before submitting your LLC paperwork.
But before getting an EIN for your LLC, make sure you have called the Secretary of State to check whether your LLC name is available. After you get an informal name approval, apply for your EIN with the IRS.
Getting an Employer Identification Number (Federal Tax ID Number) is completely free. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues Federal Tax ID Numbers at no charge.
How to get an EIN
US Citizens and US Residents: If you have a SSN (Social Security Number) or ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), we recommend applying for an EIN online. We have step-by-step instructions here: Apply for an EIN online.
Non-US Residents: If you don’t have an SSN or ITIN, you can still get an EIN for your LLC. You just can’t apply online. Instead, you need to apply by mail or fax. We have step-by-step instructions here: How to get an EIN without an SSN or ITIN.
4. File West Virginia Articles of Organization
To form an LLC, you need to file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.
The West Virginia Articles of Organization filing fee is $100. This is a one-time fee to create your LLC.
While you can file the Articles of Organization online or by mail, we recommend filing online. This is because it’s easier and you can apply for your required Business Registration Certificate at the same time.
We’ll walk you through the online filing step-by-step in our West Virginia Articles of Organization lesson.
LLC approval time
The approval time for a West Virginia LLC is usually 5-10 business days. Please see How long does it take to get an LLC in West Virginia to check for any delays.
5. Get your West Virginia Business Registration Certificate
All West Virginia LLCs must get a Business Registration Certificate from the State Tax Department. The Certificate acts as a general business license, and allows you to conduct business in West Virginia.
It costs $30 to obtain the Certificate.
Recommendation: If you follow our instructions mentioned in #4, the online filing includes the Certificate application. This is the easiest way to do it.
However, if you already have a West Virginia LLC – or you hired a company to form your LLC – you’ll need to separately apply for your Certificate. And this can only be done via the mail-in application. We have filing instructions on this page: West Virginia Business Registration Certificate.
Tip: If you aren’t sure whether your LLC already has a Business Registration Certificate, you can call the West Virginia State Tax Department at 304-558-3333.
6. Create your LLC Operating Agreement
A West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement is a written contract that establishes who owns the LLC and how much of the LLC each person owns.
Operating Agreements can also explain:
- how taxes are paid
- how profits are distributed
- how the LLC is managed
- and the business purpose of the LLC
We recommend that both Single-Member LLCs and Multi-Member LLCs have an Operating Agreement.
In case of a lawsuit, an LLC Operating Agreement can help prove that your LLC is being run properly as a separate legal entity.
You don’t need to send your Operating Agreement to any state or federal agency. It also doesn’t need to be notarized. Just keep a copy with your LLC’s business records and make sure all Members have a copy.
Your Operating Agreement can be flexible. You can make changes as needed, as long as all of the Members agree.
7. File your West Virginia LLC Annual Report
All LLCs in the state must file a West Virginia LLC Annual Report every year.
The Annual Report filing fee is $25 per year.
And your LLC Annual Report is due by June 30th 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 February 15, 2023, your first Annual Report is due by June 30, 2024.
How to file an LLC Annual Report: You can file your LLC Annual Report online using the One Stop Business Portal. Complete the form and submit your $25 payment.
After your Limited Liability Company is formed
After your LLC is formed, there are some additional steps.
LLC business bank account
You’ll want to open a business bank account for an 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 by keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances.
Business credit card
The bank will give you a debit card after opening a business bank account for an LLC. However, you may also want to get a business credit card to earn rewards. This is also helpful in keeping business expenses separate from personal expenses.
Website and domain name
You can check if your business name is available as a domain name. You can search your domain name with GoDaddy below.
Find a domain name
West Virginia City Business License
Besides the Certificate (State Business License), your LLC may need additional business licenses or permits.
City Business License: Most cities in West Virginia require businesses in their municipality to obtain a City General Business License. The fees vary, but are typically $10 to $20.
Besides a City Business License, if your business activities are governed by a licensing board (like for a Professional Limited Liability Company) or another state agency, you may need to get an additional business license.
You can learn more about all of these in West Virginia additional business licenses.
If you’d rather not use your mobile or home phone number for your business, you can get a business phone number from Phone.com.
West Virginia Secretary of State
If you have any questions about starting an LLC in West Virginia, you can contact the Secretary of State:
West Virginia Secretary of State
Business & Licensing Division
Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm Eastern Time
West Virginia LLC Frequently Asked Questions
You’ll also need to get a West Virginia Business License (aka Business Registration Certificate) and the fee for this is $30.
See LLC Cost in West Virginia to learn more about the fees you’ll pay when starting a Limited Liability Company in WV.
If you have an LLC formed in another state, but you want to do business in West Virginia, you’ll need to register your out-of-state LLC in West Virginia. This is known as a Foreign LLC registration. You can find Foreign LLC fees on this page: Foreign LLC fees by state.
You can get an LLC in West Virginia by filing online or by mail. We recommend the online filing because the Business License application is included, and (since you don’t have to wait for the mail) the approval time is faster.
Check the Articles of Organization (#4) above, where we link out to step-by-step instructions for the online filing.
For example, search for “Rose Gardens” instead of “The Rose Gardens LLC”.
The Business Organization Search will show you any business entity names that might conflict with yours.
You can learn more in our West Virginia LLC name lesson.
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 of the business.
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 common business structure than a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership.
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 report and pay the taxes on their personal tax return.
And West Virginia LLC taxes are very similar, since the state honors the federal tax treatment of LLCs. To learn more, please see How are LLCs taxed.
An Operating Agreement is an “internal document”, meaning you just need to keep a copy for yourself and give a copy to any other LLC Members.
You don’t need to send your Operating Agreement to the West Virginia Secretary of State. You also don’t need to send it to the IRS.
Operating Agreements may be required when you open a business bank account. We recommend calling the bank ahead of time to see which documents you’ll need.
A Registered Agent is a person or company who accepts legal documents (called Service of Process) for your business entity.
Unlike other states, West Virginia law doesn’t require a company to have a Registered Agent.
If you’re forming your LLC yourself, we recommend not listing a Registered Agent. You’ll still receive any Service of Process and notices from the state.
If you hire a company to start your LLC, they’ll automatically list themselves as your Registered Agent. In that case, any mail that is sent to them for your LLC will be scanned and uploaded to your online account.
If you want to hire a company to form your LLC, we recommend using Northwest Registered Agent. Northwest offers affordable pricing and has excellent customer service.
Or check out our list of Best LLC Services to see other options for LLC filing companies that can be your Registered Agent Service.
However, the most important factors in deciding where to start a business are where you live and where you’re doing business.
Meaning, if you are a West Virginia resident, then you should start your business there. 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.
For more information, please see Best state to form an LLC.
West Virginia Small Business Development Center
West Virginia Secretary of State: Start My Business
West Virginia Secretary of State: Register Your Business
West Virginia Secretary of State: Research Your Business Plan
West Virginia Secretary of State: New Business Startup Wizard
West Virginia Secretary of State: Start a West Virginia Business