There are many benefits to forming a limited liability company (LLC) in West Virginia, especially for young entrepreneurs and military veterans. An LLC offers protection for your personal assets by keeping them separate from your business dealings. This business structure provides more flexibility than a traditional corporation setup and comes with tax benefits, as well. Check out our comprehensive step-by-step guide below to find all the information you need to get your LLC up and running.
There are six basic steps to starting your LLC in West Virginia. You’ll need to register with more than one state agency to meet all the law’s requirements. First, you’ll complete your registration with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. Then, you’ll need to apply to the Department of Tax and Revenue. You may need additional licenses and permits depending on your business activities and where your operations will take place
Step 1: Name Your West Virginia LLC
If you’re ready to start a new business, you’ve put some thought into how to name your LLC. Now is the time to narrow down which name you would like to use. State law guides the naming of businesses in West Virginia, so you’ll need to make sure that the name you choose abides by these requirements:
- The name must be distinguishable from any other company already registered with the state.
- The name must be different from any other reserved or registered name.
- The name must end with “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company,” “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” “L.C.,” or “LC.” Additional acceptable abbreviations include “Ltd.” for “Limited” and “Co.” for “Company.”
To check if your name is available, you’ll need to conduct a name availability search online via the Business Organization Search. This search checks what you’ve entered against the records of registered names with the West Virginia Secretary of State. You may also call the Secretary of State Business Division at (304) 558-8000 for assistance. The staff can do an informal, nonbinding name check for you.
Once you’ve made sure your LLC name is available in West Virginia and on the internet, you have the option of reserving it so that no one else can use it before you can officially launch your business. An LLC name reservation with the Secretary of State protects your company’s name for 120 days from the filing date.
The fee for filing an LLC name reservation is $15. It’s important to note and remember a unique West Virginia requirement: The person who reserves the name on the state’s application must be the same person who signs the initial business startup documents.
You’ll have to submit the completed filing to one of the business centers listed on the application.
Another thing to consider after you register your LLC name is whether you want to use a trade name. In West Virginia, a trade name is any name under which you conduct business that is different from your LLC’s official and legal name. This type of name is also known as a “doing business as” (DBA) name, true name, and fictitious name. An LLC only needs to use a trade name if you want to:
- Operate under a completely different name
- Use a shortened version of the official name
- Drop the ending “Limited Liability Company” or any abbreviation of such
There are no limits to the number of trade names a company or person can register. The cost for trade name registration with the state is $25. The registration allows you to operate under this name, but it offers no protection against others using the same name to do business.
You may want to file for a West Virginia trademark or a service mark registration to protect your business name or trade name once it’s in use. It costs $50 for up to two classifications, and then $50 for each additional classification. To register with West Virginia, you’ll need to:
- Determine who has the right to register the mark
- Decide if the mark is acceptable in the state
- Search the state database to see if the mark is available
- Complete and file the trademark application
It’s also wise to check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to see if the trademark is already registered at the federal level. This government office is where you can register your trademark or service mark nationwide. While it’s often easier and quicker to register a trademark at the state level, the federal level can provide broader protection, especially if you plan on doing business outside of West Virginia.
Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent in West Virginia
A registered agent, also known as an agent for service of process, is a person or business entity appointed to receive legal correspondence on your company’s behalf. Taxes, service of process (lawsuits), and other legal documents are received by your agent only during normal business hours. It’s their job to be available to receive notices, which helps your LLC stay in compliance.
You can be your own registered agent, but you may not want to be. Having to always be available to receive legal correspondence can keep you tied down to the office, unable to go meet with clients or take vacations, and being served with a lawsuit in front of clients is never good for business. ZenBusiness can connect you with a registered agent service that will provide you with more privacy, security, and peace of mind.
You’ll designate your registered agent and detail their contact information in your Articles of Organization, as explained in the next step.
Step 3: File West Virginia Articles of Organization
Your Articles of Organization form is a legal document that you must complete and file with the state to start your LLC in West Virginia officially. To file your Articles of Organization, you will need the following information:
- The name of the West Virginia LLC
- Whether the company will be an LLC or professional LLC (see list below)
- The address of the principal office of the company, including the county
- The address of the initial physical office of the company in West Virginia (if any)
- Mailing addresses of principal and physical offices if different from office addresses
- The name and address of the registered agent
- Email address for business correspondence
- Website address of business (if any)
- Information about any other business you own or operate in the state
- The name(s) and address(es) of the LLC organizer(s)
- Whether the LLC will operate indefinitely or for a set period
- Whether the LLC will be managed by members or managers, plus names and addresses of all members (if managed by members) or managers (if managed by managers)
- Whether LLC members of the company is liable for the debts, obligations, and liabilities of the company (most choose to have the company be liable)
- The purpose or purposes of forming your LLC (explains the type of business activities you’ll conduct)
- If the purpose of your LLC is to be a consumer litigation financier
- If the business is a scrap metal dealer
- Provisions that may be set forth in the Operating Agreement
- The requested effective date of the articles
- If the LLC is veteran-owned
- Contact person in case of any problems with the application
Your LLC is considered a professional limited liability company (PLLC) if you practice one of the following professions:
- Land surveyor
- Osteopathic physician or surgeon
- Social worker
The fee for filing your Articles of Organization is $100 unless you plan to be a veteran-owned organization. Veteran owners can have this fee waived if they meet certain requirements and file a waiver form. Veterans must submit a DD 214 form from the Department of Veterans Affairs with their Articles of Organization, too. Young entrepreneurs under the age of 30 also qualify to have this fee waived.
You can submit your Articles of Organization by email, fax, in person, or online.
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
An Operating Agreement is a document that outlines how your LLC will operate. It details all the rules, procedures, and regulations that all members and/or managers must abide by. West Virginia law doesn’t require you to file an agreement; however, creating one and having all members sign it can help protect personal assets and your company. The agreement can even help solve future issues between members.
An LLC Operating Agreement can include information such as:
- Each member’s initial investment in the company
- Distribution of profits and losses
- Member succession plans
- What events may cause the dissolution of the LLC and how to handle the dissolution
Step 5: Apply for an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a tax ID number issued to businesses by the IRS. Obtaining an EIN is necessary to do things such as hire employees, open a business bank account, and pay taxes. It’s a way for the government to identify your LLC and apply the proper taxes. You can apply online with the IRS or over the phone by calling the IRS Business and Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933.
Step 6: Obtain a West Virginia Business Registration Certificate
After completing your registration with the Secretary of State, but before conducting business in West Virginia, you must obtain a Business Registration Certificate from the State Tax Department for your LLC. You can file an application through the Business for West Virginia Online Portal. You can also file via mail by completing and sending a BUS-APP form to the Tax Commissioner at West Virginia State Tax Department Tax Account Administration Division Registration & Account Correction Unit P.O. Box 2666 Charleston, WV 25330-2666 The state charges a $30 registration tax, which will need to be submitted at the time of filing for your certificate. There’s an additional $1 fee when you file through the online portal.
How much does it cost to start an LLC in West Virginia?
The typical cost to legally start an LLC in West Virginia ranges from $130 to $220. These startup costs include the following documents and fees:
- Articles of Organization: $100
- Business Registration Certificate: $30
- Name reservation: $15
- Trade name reservation: $25
- State trademark registration: $50
The One-Stop Business Portal is where you can file your registration documents online. You’ll be charged an additional $1 online processing fee for all online filings. Expedited services are available; the fees range from $25 to $500, depending on the processing time you choose. West Virginia also requires LLCs to file an annual report online or by mail. The state prefers online filings, as they save time and immediately update your business records with the Secretary of State. Annual reports received by July 1 cost $25 to file. Late reports received after July 1 cost $75 due to the $50 late fee.
What are the benefits of an LLC in West Virginia?
West Virginia is a scenic state that’s rich in American history. It’s centrally located on the East Coast, within an eight-hour driving distance of many major metropolitan areas. Over half of the U.S. population can be easily reached within a day from the Mountain State.
West Virginia strongly supports young entrepreneurs and U.S. military veterans, so the state makes it more affordable for them to start an LLC in West Virginia. Business owners who are West Virginia residents and under the age of 30 qualify for a free filing of their LLC’s Articles of Organization. Proof of age and residency will be required to qualify.
The Boots to Business waiver is an initiative by the state to help veterans transition from military to civilian life. To qualify as a veteran-owned LLC, the veteran must be honorably discharged or discharged under honorable conditions.
The state law also requires that at least 51% of the business must be owned by a veteran. To file as a veteran-owned LLC, follow the instructions on your Articles of Organization form, as you’ll need to supply additional documentation to qualify.
Other benefits of forming a West Virginia LLC include:
- No double taxation
- Protection of personal assets
- More flexibility in management
How is a West Virginia LLC taxed?
In West Virginia, a limited liability company is taxed as a partnership or corporation. It depends on how you elect your LLC to be taxed for federal income tax. When you apply for your West Virginia Business Registration Certificate, the State Tax Department will establish a tax account for your LLC. They’ll provide you with the appropriate tax reporting forms, so you will know which West Virginia business taxes you’ll need to pay.
West Virginia LLC FAQs
What is the processing time to form my West Virginia LLC?
You can form your West Virginia LLC by mail or in person, but it is faster and easier to do so online. The Secretary of State’s office encourages filing online through the One-Stop Business Portal. You’ll receive real-time updates as your forms are processed. The office also offers expedited processing times for the following fees: 24-hour for $25, two-hour for $250, and one-hour for $500.
Do I need to file an Operating Agreement with the state of West Virginia?
No, you don’t need to file your Operating Agreement with the state; however, it’s recommended that you have one to run your business and further protect your assets.
What tax structure should I choose for my West Virginia LLC?
As an LLC in West Virginia, you can choose whether you want to be taxed as a partnership or corporation. Whichever you choose, you must also be taxed as such at the federal level. There are pros and cons to each tax structure. It’s best to speak with an expert about which tax structure is most beneficial for your situation.
Does West Virginia allow a Series LLC?
No, West Virginia doesn’t allow a Series LLC. This business structure has one main LLC under which multiple LLCs can be organized.
Which licenses and insurance are required for an LLC in West Virginia?
You may need to apply for special business licenses and permits from the West Virginia Department of Labor, depending on the type of business you plan to operate. If your LLC provides professional services, such as accounting or chiropractic care, you must communicate with your state licensing board. They’ll need to complete a Verification of Eligibility form to file with your Articles of Organizations.rnrnHere is a full list of businesses that require additional registration with the state. Check with your local county clerk and municipal office to see if you need any further local licenses and/or permits to operate legally within the area’s limits. You are responsible for determining whatever licensing your LLC needs, whether it’s federal, state, local, or industry-specific, so you’ll need to do some research or hire someone to conduct the research for you.rnrnAs for insurance, West Virginia law requires all employers to maintain workers’ compensation. You can file for this insurance with the state’s Offices of the Insurance Commissioner Employer Coverage Unit. Employers will also have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax with WorkForce West Virginia. rnrnIf your business owns vehicles, you’ll be required to have commercial auto insurance. Construction and private investigator/security businesses have unique requirements.rnrnAs for optional insurance coverage, there are many types from which to choose. Property, liability, and criminal coverage are typical choices for most small businesses. Life insurance, health insurance, and disability coverage can also be considered. It’s best to talk to a trusted insurance provider to explore your options.
How do I dissolve my West Virginia LLC?
You must file an Articles of Termination form with the Secretary of State’s office to dissolve your West Virginia LLC. The cost to do so is $25.