How to Start an LLC in West Virginia (2024 Guide)
Wondering how to start an LLC in West Virginia? We’ve got you covered.
To get started, you'll need to pick a suitable business name, choose a registered agent, and file your Articles of Organization with the West Virginia Secretary of State ($100 processing fee).
You can do this independently, consult with a business attorney for specialized legal guidance, or join the other 65% of our readers and hire a specialized West Virginia LLC formation service (recommended).
Northwest ($29 + State Fees)
LegalZoom ($249 + State Fees)
How to Form an LLC in West Virginia in 6 Steps
In order to form your LLC in West Virginia, there are certain steps you’ll need to complete:
- Name Your West Virginia LLC
- Choose an Agent of Process
- File the Articles of West Virginia
- Create an LLC Operating Agreement
- Obtain an EIN
- File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report
Step 1: Name Your West Virginia LLC
Before you get started, you will need to pick a suitable name for your West Virginia LLC.
This will need to comply with all applicable naming requirements under West Virginia law and be both succinct and memorable, as this will make it easily searchable by your potential clients.
1. Important Naming Guidelines for West Virginia LLCs:
- Your name must include the ending “Limited Liability Company” or “Limited Company” , or the abbreviations “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, “LC”, or “L.C.”. Keep in mind that “Limited” can be abbreviated into “Ltd” and “Company” can be abbreviated into “Co.”
- Your name cannot include words that imply that it's affiliated with a state or government body. Examples of such words include State Department, Treasury, and FBI.
- Your name cannot include certain restricted words (e.g., Architect, Dentist, Accountant, etc.) unless it’s a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) and has received written approval from the relevant state body.
For more information, have a look at West Virginia’s Official LLC Naming Guidelines.
2. Is the name available in West Virginia?
To check whether your desired name has already been taken by another business entity in West Virginia, you can perform a business name search on the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website.
If you’re not going to start your LLC right away, it might be a good idea to consider reserving your name for up to 120 days by filing a Name Reservation application and paying the $15 filing fee.
For more information, you can have a look at our West Virginia LLC Name Search guide.
3. Is the URL available?
We recommend that you check to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to start a business website right away, this is an extremely important step as it will prevent others from acquiring it, potentially saving you both time and money in the long term.
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Once you have verified your name is available, you may now select a professional service to complete the LLC formation process for you.
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FAQ: Naming a West Virginia LLC
LLC is short for “limited liability company.” It is a simple business structure that offers more flexibility than a traditional corporation while still providing legal protection for your personal assets. Read our What is a Limited Liability Company guide for more information.
Or, watch our two-minute video: What is an LLC?
You must follow the West Virginia LLC naming guidelines when choosing a name for your LLC:
- Include the phrase "limited liability company" or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Do not use words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, State Department, CIA, etc.).
- Receive the proper licensing when using the words such as lawyer or doctor.
If you are having trouble coming up with a name for your LLC, use our LLC Name Generator. That will not only find a unique name for your business but an available URL to match.
Most LLCs do not need a DBA, known as a trade name in West Virginia. The name of the LLC can serve as your company’s brand name and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under another name.
To learn more about DBAs in your state, read our How to File a DBA guide.
Step 2: Choose an Agent of Process in West Virginia
After you find the right name for your LLC, you will need to nominate a West Virginia Agent of Process. This is known as a registered agent in states outside of West Virginia, and is a necessary step in your Articles of Organization (i.e., the document used to file and register your LLC with the Secretary of State).
What is an agent of process? An agent of process is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important tax forms, legal documents, notice of lawsuits, and official government correspondence on behalf of your business. You can think of your West Virginia registered agent as your business’s primary point of contact with the state.
Who can be an agent of process? An agent of process must be a resident of West Virginia or a corporation — such as a registered agent service — that is authorized to transact business in the state of West Virginia. Other common choices for registered agents include LLC members (e.g., yourself, a partner, etc.), and business attorneys.
FAQ: Nominating a Registered Agent
You can choose to act as your own agent of process, appoint a different member of your LLC (if applicable), work with a business attorney, or hire a professional registered agent service (recommended). Keep in mind that the registered agent address you include in your Articles of Organization will become publicly searchable.
Read more about being your own agent of process.
Generally speaking, yes.
This is because using a professional registered agent service is an affordable way of ensuring that you do not accidentally miss important legal notifications from the Secretary of State. It can also help protect your privacy (since your registered agent’s address will become publicly available).
Step 3: File Your West Virginia LLC Articles of Organization
To register your West Virginia LLC, you'll need to file Form LLD-1: Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. You can do this online, by mail, or by fax.
Before filing, make sure you have completed your Certificate of Formation correctly. You will need to have filled in the following sections:
- Your LLC’s name
- The LLC’s structure (e.g., standard LLC, professional LLC, etc.)
- The address of your LLC’s principal office
- The full name and address of your LLC’s agent of process
- The email address that the SOS will use to send your LLC business correspondence
- The business website address of your LLC (optional)
- The names and addresses of your LLC’s organizers
- Your LLC’s management structure (e.g., member-managed, manager-managed, etc.) and term
- The business purpose of your LLC
- Your LLC’s requested effective date (can be up to 90 days post-filing)
Note: Qualifying veteran-owned businesses in West Virginia can file the Articles of Organization for free. Section 18 of the Articles of Organization includes all conditions that must be met for an LLC to be considered “veteran-owned.”
File the Articles of Organization
OPTION 1: File Online With the West Virginia Secretary of StateFile Online
- OR -
OPTION 2: File Form LLD-1 by Mail, by Fax, by Email, or In PersonDownload Form
State Filing Cost: $100, payable to the West Virginia Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)
One-Stop Business Center
1615 Washington St. E.
Charleston, WV 25311
North Central WV Business Center
200 W. Main St.
Clarksburg, WV 26301
Eastern Panhandle Business Center
229 E. Martin St.
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Fax: (304) 558-8381
Qualifying veteran-owned businesses in West Virginia can file the Articles of Organization for free. See the form for a list of qualifications.
For help with completing the form, visit our West Virginia Articles of Organization guide.
Note: If you're expanding your existing business to the state of West Virginia, you'll need to register as a foreign limited liability company (LLC).
FAQ: Filing West Virginia LLC Documents
The standard processing time for the Articles of Organization in West Virginia is between five and 10 business days, according to the Secretary of State. Having said that, expedited services are available for an additional fee:
- 24-Hour: $25
- 2-Hour: $250
- 1-Hour: $500
Note: The Secretary of State reserves the right to extend the expedited period in times of “extreme volume, staff shortages, or equipment malfunction”.
An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. A foreign limited liability company must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state.
Read our What Is a Foreign LLC article to learn more.
The total cost of starting a West Virginia LLC will depend on several factors, such as on whether you use an LLC formation service, reserve a business name, and/or use an expedited filing service.
Having said that, the cost of filing your formation documents with the Secretary of State is $100.
To learn more, read our guide on the cost to form a West Virginia LLC.
Step 4: Create a West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is not required for forming an LLC in West Virginia, but it's a good practice to have one.
What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.
Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.
For more information on operating agreements, read our West Virginia LLC operating agreement guide.
FAQ: Creating a West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.
Step 5: Get an EIN for West Virginia LLC EIN
You can get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for free. It is used to identify a business entity and keep track of a business’s tax reporting. It is essentially a Social Security number (SSN) for the company.
If you are filing your LLC online, getting an EIN is included in the registration process on the WV One Stop Business Portal.
Why do I need an EIN? An EIN number is required for the following:
- To open a business bank account for the company
- For federal and state tax purposes
- To hire employees for the company
Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail.
FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: You do not need an SSN to get an EIN. Learn more here.
Get an EIN
Option 1: Request an EIN from the IRS
- OR -
Option 2: Apply for an EIN by Mail or Fax
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Fax: (855) 641-6935
FAQ: Getting an EIN
A Social Security number is not required to get an EIN. You can simply fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Learn more here about applying as an international applicant.
All LLCs with employees, or any LLC with more than one member, must have an EIN. This is required by the IRS.
Learn why we recommend always getting an EIN and how to get one for free in our Do I Need an EIN for an LLC guide.
When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.
However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing the S corporation (S corp) status. To learn more, read our LLC vs. S Corp guide.
Step 6: File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report
Beginning January 2024, LLC owners will need to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Existing LLCs can file their report any time between January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, while new LLCs will need to file their report within 90 days of formation.
This contains similar information to that of your Articles of Organization, such as your LLC name and member information, and can be filed online for free. Failure to file an accurate report on time can result in a $500 per day fine.
Note: There are certain filing exemptions, such as for large companies (i.e., more than 20 full-time employees), tax-exempt entities, and publicly traded companies.
Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?
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Maintain Your West Virginia LLC
After you’ve successfully formed your LLC, there are a couple of steps you’ll need to periodically take in order to maintain it, including:
- Applying for a Business Registration Certificate
- Filing an annual report
- Sorting out your taxes
We’ve broken down how to complete each of these steps in greater detail below.
Apply for a Business Registration Certificate
Before beginning its operations in West Virginia, your LLC will need to obtain a Business Registration Certificate, which serves as a legal recognition of your business's right to conduct activities in the state. It can be obtained from the State Tax Department by applying online through the WV One Stop Business Portal or by filing BUS-APP with the Tax Commissioner by mail.
Keep in mind that this certificate will last indefinitely and will not need to be updated unless:
- The name of your LLC is legally changed
- Your LLC’s location changes
- The owners of your LLC change
- The Tax Commissioner revokes or suspends your certificate
Note: You’ll need a separate certificate for each business location within the state that engages with the public in any way.
File the Annual Report
In order to remain in good standing with the Secretary of State, LLCs based in West Virginia are required to file an annual report.
This is meant to ensure that your LLC’s information is up to date, including its name, tax ID, and principal mailing address.
You will need to file your LLC’s annual report — alongside a $25 filing fee — by June 30 of each year. If you miss this deadline, your LLC may face a fine or even suffer administrative dissolution.
Note: Your annual report can be filed online using the WV One Stop Business Portal.
Sort Out Your Taxes
Regardless of where your LLC is registered, you will be required to pay certain federal taxes. This includes corporation and employer taxes (for LLCs filing as a C corporation) and federal income tax and self-employment taxes (for LLCs taxed as pass-through entities).
In addition, there are a number of different taxes you’ll be required to pay at a local and state level, which can vary depending on the nature of your business.
Below are some of the most common West Virginia business taxes:
This group of taxes refers to the charges imposed by the state on the earnings of individuals and entities from business activity based in West Virginia. Depending on the tax structure of your LLC, you may need to pay the following taxes:
- Individual Income Tax: By default, an LLC’s members pay this tax at a rate that varies between 3% and 6.5% depending on the amount they receive in distributions from the business’s net earnings. The annual tax return for individual income tax is due by April 15.
- Corporate Net Income Tax: This flat tax of 6.5% is paid by LLCs that have opted to be taxed as C Corporations on their total net earnings from West Virginia sources. The annual return is due on the 15th day of the fourth month after the previous tax year ended, with estimated payments also due every quarter for businesses expected to make more than $10,000 in taxable income.
Individuals and businesses can file their state income tax returns online using the West Virginia Tax Division’s MyTaxes website.
Sales and Use Taxes
In West Virginia, sales tax is imposed at a statewide rate of 6% on the sale, lease, or rental of tangible personal property and certain services – though most food and food ingredients designed for “human consumption” are exempt.
In addition to this, localities in West Virginia are permitted to impose their own additional sales tax rates (up to a maximum of 1.00%). Currently, the average combined sales tax rate is 6.55% – though this will vary depending on where your LLC is based.
Before you can begin collecting and remitting sales taxes you’ll first need to first obtain a sales tax permit, which you’ll get by filing a business registration form with the State Tax Department.
Note: You’ll be required to file and pay electronically through the MyTaxes website if you’re paying more than $25,000 in sales taxes for the previous year.
Steps After LLC Formation
After forming your LLC, you will need to get a business bank account and website, obtain a business license (if applicable), and get business insurance, among other things.
Visit our After Forming an LLC guide to learn more.