A West Virginia business license gives your Limited Liability Company (LLC) permission to operate in a certain location or within a specific industry.
Besides the state-level Business Registration Certificate, your West Virginia LLC may need additional business licenses or permits.
Business Registration Certificate (aka State Business License)
Every LLC in West Virginia is required to get a Business Registration Certificate. This is also known as “West Virginia Business Registration”.
You can also think of this as a “General State Business License”.
Your West Virginia LLC can’t do business in the state until you have a Business Registration Certificate.
The fee is $30 and this application gets filed with the West Virginia State Tax Department.
See West Virginia LLC Cost to learn more about required fees.
Note: If you followed our West Virginia Articles of Organization online filing instructions to form your LLC, you’ve already obtained your Business Registration Certificate. If you didn’t follow those instructions (or you already have an LLC), we provide step-by-step instructions for getting your Business Registration Certificate by mail.
Are there any other state business licenses?
Yes, there are other state business licenses that may be required:
- Occupational License
- Professional License
- Other State Agency License
- County License
- City License
- Federal License
We’ll explain each of these below.
Tip: Save time by hiring an expert. We recommend using IncFile ($99) to handle the business license research for you.
Occupational Licenses from the Division of Labor
Industries which pose more risk during operation require an Occupational License from the West Virginia Division of Labor.
Some examples are:
- Contractor license
- HVAC technician license
- Plumber license
- Crane operators license
- Measurement service license
- Elevator safety license
- Amusement rides and attractions license
- Zipline and canopy tour license
- Polygraph examiner license
- Bedding and upholstery license
- High pressure steam boiler permit
- Manufactured housing dealer/distributor license
- Psychophysiological examiner license
If you have any questions about these Occupational Licenses, you can contact the West Virginia Division of Labor at 304-558-7890.
Professional Licenses from State Licensing Boards
If you are a licensed professional – and you want to start your own business offering professional services – you’ll need to take extra steps when registering your business in West Virginia.
These professions include:
- Land Surveyors
- Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons
- Physicians and Podiatrists
- Social Workers
If this applies to you, you can’t form a regular LLC in West Virginia. You must form a Professional LLC (PLLC) instead.
How to form a Professional LLC (PLLC) in West Virginia
To form a Professional LLC in West Virginia, you first need to complete the West Virginia LLC Articles of Organization (Form LLD-1).
However, instead of sending it directly to the Secretary of State, you first need to send a copy of it to your State Licensing Board along with a Verification of Eligibility request form.
Your State Licensing Board will then review your paperwork and issue an Approval Letter. Depending on your board, this can take 1 to 2 weeks.
Once you have your Approval Letter, you’ll file it with your Articles of Organization. You have two filing options:
- File online: To file online, use the One Stop Business Portal (login). You’ll need to re-enter the information from your paper Articles of Organization form. And then upload your Approval Letter. Online filing completes your Business Registration Certificate, too.
- File by mail: Send your Articles of Organization, Approval Letter, and payment to the address on the Articles of Organization form. Note, if you file this way, you can’t get your Business Registration Certificate online and you’ll need to separately register for it by mail.
Pro Tip: We recommend filing online because it includes the Business Registration Certificate.
Your Professional LLC will then be approved in 5-10 business days.
If you have any questions about Professional LLCs, you can contact the West Virginia Secretary of State at 304-558-8000.
If you have any questions about Professional Licensing or obtaining an Approval Letter, you can contact your State Licensing Board.
Other State Agency Licenses
There are additional state-level licensing requirements for other industries.
Some examples include:
- Nursery license
- Agriculture license
- Securities and investment license
- Insurance license
- Restaurant license
- Grocery store license
- Alcohol license
- Hospice license
- Barbers license
- Timber license
- and more
Depending on the industry, these licenses are issued by various State Agencies.
We recommend looking through the Other Registration Requirements PDF to see if your business activity is subject to an additional license.
Is there a County-level General Business License requirement?
No, West Virginia doesn’t have any General Business Licenses at the county level.
However, a County-level Planning, Zoning, or Building permit may be required if you’re developing – or purchasing – real estate.
In order to check on any County-level Permit requirements, you can contact your County Clerk using the West Virginia County Clerk Directory.
Is there a City-level General Business License requirement?
Yes, nearly all cities in West Virginia require businesses in their municipality to obtain a City General Business License.
The fees for these City Licenses will vary, but here are a few examples:
- Charleston general business license costs $20
- Huntington municipal business licenses costs $20
- Morgantown municipal business licenses costs $20
- Parkersburg general business license costs $10
- (You’ll need to call the city to get the application form)
- Wheeling general business license costs $15
- Martinsburg general business license costs $15
Additionally, depending on your LLC’s business activities, you may need an additional city-level business license. For example, if you sell alcohol, have a food truck, or sell jewelry.
In order to determine your City Business License requirements, you can contact your city using the Municipal Contacts directory.
Does my business need a federal business license?
Most businesses in West Virginia don’t need a federal business license.
However, certain regulated industries may need a federal business license:
|If your business…||Contact this agency about business licenses|
|Transports animals, plants or biotechnology over state lines||Department of Agriculture|
|Imports or exports animal products, wildlife, or products derived from wildlife (including fish)||Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Fishes commercially||Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Broadcasts on radio or TV||Federal Communications Commission|
|Makes alcohol and sells it at a retail store||Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau|
|Makes or sells firearms, ammunition or explosives||Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives|
|Transports cargo by sea||Federal Maritime Commission|
|Transports goods or people by air||Federal Aviation Administration|
If your business isn’t one of these special cases, then the only federal requirements are that your LLC get a West Virginia EIN Number (aka Federal Employer Identification Number) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and that you file taxes.
West Virginia Business License FAQs
Yes. Every business in West Virginia needs to file a Business Registration with the State Tax Department.
Additionally, you’ll need to get a General Business License from your city.
And there may be other licenses needed depending on what industry you’re in.
The Business Registration Certificate costs $30. This is a one-time fee paid to the State Tax Department. The Business Registration Certificate is valid forever, and doesn’t need to be renewed unless your LLC changes its business name or business location.
However, you must pay the $30 fee for each Business Registration Certificate. So if you have multiple business locations or multiple businesses, you will pay the $30 fee for each one.
And a general City Business License will cost $10-$20.
No, an LLC is not a business license. They are two completely different things.
An LLC is a type of business structure created by filing a document with the state government.
And a business license (or Business Registration Certificate) is a document that gives a person or a company the right to transact business. It doesn’t create an LLC.
Sometimes a new business owner chooses to operate as a Sole Proprietorship in West Virginia instead of an LLC.
Even if you’re just trying out a business idea as a Sole Proprietorship, you still must apply for a Business Registration Certificate in West Virginia. And you also need to get a City Business License.
How much it costs to register a business entity depends on which business structure you choose. Some business structures need to file paperwork with the Secretary of State in order to be created.
Sole Proprietorship: You don’t have to file anything with the Secretary of State, but you will pay $30 for the Business Registration Certificate from the State Tax Department.
General Partnership: You don’t have to file anything with the Secretary of State, but you will pay $30 for the Business Registration Certificate from the State Tax Department.
Limited Liability Company: A West Virginia LLC costs $100. This is the fee to file the LLC Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. And you must pay $30 for the Business Registration Certificate from the State Tax Department.
Corporation: Filing the Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State costs $100. And you must pay $30 for the Business Registration Certificate from the State Tax Department.
Note: You may also have other West Virginia business costs, like a city business license, a DBA filing fee, accounting fees, and sales tax returns.
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in West Virginia:
- Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your West Virginia Registered Agent
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- File the West Virginia LLC Articles of Organization
- Get your Business Registration Certificate
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Open an LLC bank account
Next Step: Operating Agreement
After you’ve researched any additional business licensing requirements for your LLC, you can proceed to the next lesson: West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement.
West Virginia Secretary of State: Professional Licensing Boards
West Virginia Secretary of State: Other Registration Requirements
West Virginia One Stop: Occupational, Professional, and Special Licenses and Permits
West Virginia State Tax Department: Information & Instructions for Business Registration