How to form an LLC in West Virginia in 6 easy steps
Ready to set up a West Virginia LLC for your small business? LLC is the abbreviation for Limited Liability Company, and it’s one type of business structure for small business owners.
Forming an LLC in West Virginia isn’t overly complicated, but you must follow a series of steps to launch your small business with built-in legal protections.
1) Check if your business name is available
In addition to making sure you have LLC insurance to protect your company and personal assets, choosing a name is one of the most crucial steps to start an LLC.
How to choose a name
When choosing a name, think ahead about how your company conducts business. For example, will your company be under your name as an individual? Or would a branded business name be more suitable?
Consider if you will operate more than one business type. For example, suppose you provide land clearing in Charleston but also do tree trimming and lawn care services. If so, you may find a generic name like Smith Enterprises more suitable than something specific such as Smith and Son Land Clearing Service.
If you decide to narrow your services in the future, you can file a DBA (doing business as) to create a separate name for yourself within the legal protection of your LLC.
West Virginia LLC name guidelines
When choosing a name, it must:
- Be unique compared to other business names registered in the state
- Include a name ending such as “Limited Liability Company” (LLC, L.L.C,), or “Limited Company” (LC, L.C., Ltd. Co.)
- Not include words or phrases that the public could confuse with a government organization (Treasury, FBI, State Department)
Next, check the West Virginia Secretary of State website to determine if your preferred startup business name is available.
You can also call the Secretary of State Business Division at (304) 558-8000 to tentatively reserve your West Virginia LLC name. You’ll complete the Application for Name Reservation and pay a $15 state fee to secure your preferred business name for 120 days.
Now is an excellent time to determine whether your preferred business name is available as a domain name. Even if you’re not ready to launch a website yet, it's a smart move to anticipate your future online presence. If you wait, you could miss out on owning a domain name that matches your business.
2) Claim your name
Once you’ve settled on an available unique trade name, it is time to register with the appropriate agencies. West Virginia’s One Stop Business Portal is fast and convenient. It records your business formation with:
- West Virginia Secretary of State (if applicable)
- West Virginia State Tax Department
- WorkForce West Virginia (for Unemployment Compensation)
West Virginia Articles of Organization
You’ll also create and file your Articles of Organization with the West Virginia Secretary of State. Download and complete the West Virginia Articles of Organization of LLC form from the Secretary of State’s website.
The form will ask for your basic information, such as business name, mailing or physical street address, and whether the LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed:
- Member-managed is the more common option when members share responsibility for the day-to-day running of the business.
- Manager-managed is better in certain situations, such as when some members only want to be passive investors in the company or the business is too large or complex to share management among all members.
LLC filing fee
You’ll pay a $100 fee for your initial LLC state filing, though the filing fee is waived for veteran-owned business entities. The state accepts payment by check, credit card, or debit card—make sure to include the e-Payment Authorization form if paying by credit or debit.
If you’re pressed for time, you can spring for expedited approval:
- 24-hour approval: $25 fee
- 2-hour approval: $250 fee
- 1-hour approval: $500 fee
Otherwise, the state will process your request in 5 to 10 business days.
3) Write your operating agreement
Some states require LLCs to create an operating agreement—West Virginia does not. However, you may choose to have an operating agreement to establish rules, regulations, and provisions for your company’s financial and functional decisions.
How an operating agreement can help your LLC
An operating agreement ensures all owners understand the business structure. It can:
- Reduce future conflict that may come up as a result of undisclosed expectations
- Protect members from personal liability to the LLC
- Solidify the LLC's operating rules rather than defaulting to the general rules of the state
In the long run, operating agreements offer legitimacy and protect everyone involved.
For example, suppose you and your partner verbally agreed to ownership percentages, buyout rules, and payout schedules. But neither of you formalized those commitments on paper, and a conflict arises a few years down the line.
Because your LLC doesn’t have an operating agreement, the details may need to be sorted out in court—feelings are hurt, and an otherwise good partnership is dissolved.
How to create an operating agreement
To help you draft your document, you can find a variety of operating agreement templates online. Simply edit it to suit your business and partnership provisions.
However, a West Virginia LLC operating agreement is a binding legal document. The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests consulting with an attorney and an accountant to help with the financial and legal matters the agreement will include.
4) File your annual report
State law requires every West Virginia LLC to file an annual report between January 1 and July 1. Note that West Virginia recognizes both domestic LLCs (in-state) and foreign LLCs (out-of-state)—both types must complete and submit an annual report to be in good standing.
LLC owners can file the annual report online through the state’s One Stop Business Portal. There’s a $25 annual report fee when you file. The state waives the filing fee for 4 consecutive years if your LLC is veteran-owned.
To file online:
- Visit the WV One Stop Business Portal
- Log into your account or choose to file as a guest
- Enter your business name in the search box
- Select your business from the name search results
- Follow the prompts to complete the filing process
After filing your report, the state issues a Certificate of Existence, commonly referred to as a certificate of "good standing.” However, if you’d rather delegate your company’s annual report, contact an attorney or registered agent service to arrange for them to do it for you.
5) Pay your taxes
Business taxes are a crucial piece of your West Virginia business. If you haven’t already, your company may need to register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by applying for an EIN on the IRS website.
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, works like a Social Security Number for your business. Getting a tax identification number for your LLC is essential—you’ll need it to pay taxes, open business bank accounts, apply for financing, and hire employees.
When it comes to income taxes, most single-member LLCs and multi-member LLCs are “pass-through entities.” As a pass-through entity, your LLC doesn’t pay income taxes itself—the tax responsibility passes through to the individual LLC members much like it would in a sole proprietorship.
However, you have the option to treat your business like an s corporation for tax purposes. If your LLC is taxed like an s-corp, it must file a separate tax return. West Virginia has a corporate income tax rate of 6.5%.
6) Wrap up other regulation and sales tax requirements
To set up a new business in West Virginia, you must be familiar with business licenses and permits, insurance regulations, sales tax requirements, and other local, state, and federal rules.
Licenses and permits
When forming a professional LLC, keep in mind that West Virginia requires some industries to have licensing or permits to conduct business:
- Restaurants and bars, as well as grocery stores
- General construction and contracting, engineers, land surveyors, and architects
- Servicing or installing elevators
- Lawyers, accountants, insurance agents, and financial services
- Doctor’s offices (dentists, chiropractors, physicians, surgeons, psychologists, social workers, and acupuncturists)
- Amusement rides and attractions
Insurance to protect your business
To protect your business and its employees, you may need small business insurance for West Virginia LLCs. For example, a workers’ compensation policy helps cover employee medical expenses if your staff becomes sick or injured from a work-related incident. Luckily, workers’ comp policies are easy to get online.
State tax department regulations
Sales tax is another important consideration. If required, you must collect and pay a 6% sales tax to the State Tax Department. West Virginia LLC owners must also obtain a Business Registration Certificate from the State Tax Department.
Other local, state, and federal regulations
Listing every possible rule, regulation, guideline, license, and permit you must follow or obtain is impossible. What you need to set up your LLC properly can depend on your industry, location, and business structure.
Following this guide is a good start—just make sure you get professional advice if you’re unsure what the next step is.
Get LLC insurance in minutes by following these steps
Congratulations on getting your LLC up and running! It’s an exciting step for a business owner. But there’s one more thing to consider— LLC insurance. When you shop for a policy with Huckleberry, you can customize your coverage without being weighed down by reams of paperwork. Here’s how:
- Visit Huckleberry.com and click “Instant Estimate” to start your no-commitment quote.
- Choose your industry to get the exact coverage you need for your business.
- Tell Huckleberry a little about your new LLC by answering a few questions about payroll estimates, business revenue, and other relevant information. (Don’t worry—we won’t ask you tough questions!)
- Instantly view your quotes for several small business insurance options that fit your needs.
- In a rush? We’ve got you covered with our quick estimator. For example, discover how much you’ll pay for workers’ comp coverage using our calculator.
If you are an entrepreneur and want to create a legal entity, West Virginia LLC may be your best option. It’s not complicated if you know the basics steps to follow, forms to fill out, and fees to pay.
The primary advantage of LLC formation is the liability protection it gives you. But don’t stop there—continue that protection with a smart small business insurance policy. When you shop for coverage with Huckleberry, you get fast, affordable protection with no paperwork and no hassle.