Steps to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in West Virginia
- Search for any necessary West Virginia general business licenses
- Obtain applicable federal licenses for your West Virginia business
- Check for West Virginia permits and licenses
- Check with the city or county for local licensing in West Virginia
- Search for applicable West Virginia professional licenses
- Obtain any other necessary West Virginia business licenses and permits
- Apply for West Virginia home-based business licenses
- Maintain your West Virginia licenses and permits
Almost every business requires some sort of license or permit to operate and stay in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. Nevertheless, the number of available licenses and permits can seem very overwhelming for business owners.
Not sure how to get started? Use our guide below to learn more about business licenses and permits in West Virginia and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.
What is a business license?
Business licenses exist at the federal, state, and local levels. Additionally, the requirements and fees for licenses and permits depend on various factors such as:
- The business’s location
- Industry of operation
- Business activities conducted by your company
Unfortunately, no database exists that compiles all these necessary licenses and permits into one centralized location. Thus, business owners face the difficult task of locating and applying for the licenses and permits they need to operate.
Fortunately, we offer services that can help business owners locate the licenses and permits they need. Whether you want to form a West Virginia corporation or limited liability company (LLC), our services can help you take care of the formalities, so you can focus on operating your business.
Step 1: Search for any necessary West Virginia general business licenses
Some states require all businesses to secure a general business license before they can conduct any business activities within the state.
West Virginia requires every individual and business entity engaged in business activities within the state to obtain a West Virginia business registration certificate from the State Tax Department.
Remember, obtaining a business registration certificate is not the same as registering your business with the West Virginia Secretary of State. These are two distinct steps that are required for West Virginia businesses.
Step 2: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your West Virginia business
State licensing and permitting requirements are not the only ones to be aware of. The federal government also regulates certain industries. If your business operates in one of these federally regulated industries, you may need to obtain federal licenses in addition to state and local licenses and permits.
- The agricultural industry encompasses the import or transport of animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology, or plants across state lines. The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates the agricultural industry and is also responsible for issuing any necessary licenses and permits.
- The nuclear energy industry encompasses businesses that produce commercial nuclear energy, businesses that are fuel cycle facilities, and businesses involved in the distribution and disposal of nuclear materials. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates the nuclear industry and is responsible for issuing any necessary licenses.
- The aviation industry encompasses businesses that operate aircraft, transport goods or people via the air, or perform aircraft maintenance. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the aviation industry and issues the necessary certificates to pilots and other airmen and certifies airports and air carriers.
- The fish and wildlife industry governs businesses that engage in any wildlife-related activity, including the import or export of wildlife and derivative products. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates this industry and issues any requisite permits.
- The alcoholic beverage industry involves the manufacture, wholesale, import, or sale of alcoholic beverages at retail locations. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulates this industry and issues permits for these activities.
- The radio and television broadcasting industry involves businesses that broadcast information by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable. The Federal Communications Commission regulates the radio and television broadcasting industry and issues any necessary licenses.
- The commercial fishing industry includes businesses that engage in any kind of commercial fishing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service regulates and issues the fishing permits necessary for this industry.
- The firearms, ammunition, and explosives industry involves any business that manufactures, deals, or imports firearms, ammunition, and explosives. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, also called the ATF, regulates this industry. The ATF issues any licenses necessary to engage in the industry.
- The mining and drilling industry includes businesses involved in drilling for natural gas, oil, or other mineral resources on federal lands. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement regulates the mining and drilling industry and issues the permits that are necessary to engage in such related activities.
- The maritime transportation industry involves businesses that provide ocean transportation or facilitate the shipment of cargo by sea. The Federal Maritime Commission regulates this industry and issues any required licenses.
Not all businesses will be regulated by a federal agency. But even if that’s the case, make sure to comply with any applicable state and local licensing requirements.
Step 3: Check for West Virginia permits and licenses
States impose state-level license and permit requirements on businesses that operate within their boundaries. If your business refuses to comply with state licensing requirements, it can result in various state agencies imposing penalties against your business. Thus, it’s important to know what industries are regulated and subject to state licensing requirements.
Examples of licenses and permits that are required in West Virginia at the state level include:
- Bingo and raffle licenses
- Cemetery registration
- Collection agencies
- Drug paraphernalia license
- Telemarketer registration
- Transient vendor license
This is not an exhaustive list of required licenses and/or permits for West Virginia businesses. In fact, there are many other state-regulated licenses and permits you may need to acquire.
For a comprehensive list of state licensing requirements in West Virginia, visit the Secretary of State website for more information.
Step 4: Check with the city or county for local licensing in West Virginia
In addition to federal and state requirements, you’ll also need to comply with any applicable local licensing requirements. Many local governments regulate the licensure requirements of businesses that operate in their area.
It can be difficult to find information about licensing at the local level. However, you can check your county and city website, the county clerk’s office, and the local tax office for more detailed information.
Step 5: Search for applicable West Virginia professional licenses
Additionally, you may need a specific license based on your particular profession. Professionals with license requirements in West Virginia include:
- Land surveyors
- Osteopathic physicians and surgeons
- Physicians and podiatrists
- Social workers
State regulatory boards will govern these professions and issue licenses to eligible members. If your profession does require licensure to operate your business, make sure to appropriately obtain and keep current such licensure.
Step 6: Obtain any other necessary West Virginia business licenses and permits
Other potential business licenses and permits your business might be required to obtain include those related to:
- Sales, use, and service tax license
- Construction permits
- Outdoor business signage
- Zoning and building permits
If you’re not sure whether your business needs these licenses and permits to operate, contact the appropriate state or local agency for more information.
Step 7: Apply for West Virginia home-based business licenses
If you plan to operate a business out of your home, make sure to verify what licenses and permits are required, if any, by the local agencies that regulate the city where your business is located. Possible examples of home-based business licenses and permits include those for fire, zoning, and signage.
Step 8: Maintain your West Virginia licenses and permits
Once you obtain all the required licenses and permits to operate your business, you also have to ensure that the permits/licenses stay current.
Many licenses and permits expire after a set period of time. Letting a license or permit expire can lead to your business receiving fines and falling out of good standing with the state. Thus, make sure to stay up to date.
Keep your West Virginia business compliant by obtaining the required licenses and permits today
With so many requirements related to licenses and permits for your corporation or LLC, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate this on your own.
With our Business Licenses service, we help you identify the local, state, and federal licenses and permits that you need to run your business. We’ll also send you a report that outlines what permits and licenses are required for your business to stay legally compliant.
Let us do the research for you so that you can get back to focusing on running and growing your business.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
- Do all West Virginia businesses need a license?
Yes, all West Virginia businesses must obtain a business registration certificate from the State Tax Department.
- Can you sell things without a license in West Virginia?
There are certain things that require a license to sell in West Virginia. For example, to sell raffle boards and games, drug-related items, fireworks/sparklers, or certain novelties, you must have a specific license.
- Is it legal to run a business from home in West Virginia?
Yes, it is legal to run a business from home in West Virginia. Local governments regulate home-based businesses within their boundaries and issue the necessary approval to operate a business out of your home.
- What kind of license do I need for an online business in West Virginia?
West Virginia doesn’t require any specific license for online businesses. Nevertheless, make sure to comply with any other licensing requirements that pertain to the operations and location of your business.
- Do I need a license to collect sales tax in West Virginia?
Yes. Specifically, you will need a Consumers Sales and Use Tax License to collect sales tax in West Virginia.