How to Start an LLC in West Virginia: Cost and Registration Steps 2022

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Last updated September 5, 2022
Written by Dmytro Kondratiev
Editor, lawyer
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how to start an LLC in West Virginia

To open a limited liability company in the United States, you will need to fill out a set of documents referred to as the Articles of Organization (namely, FORM LLD-1) and file it with the Secretary of State. You can do this by downloading and printing the form from the official website and sending a hard copy to the Secretary. Or you can also file online.  

Read on to find out how to form an LLC in West Virginia step by step and what is required to get a strong foundation for your business growth in 2022. 

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1. Choose a Business Name for Your West Virginia LLC Registration

When filing your WV LLC Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State, one of the first sections you’ll need to fill out is your business name. 

Here’s a list of all things you need to consider when choosing your LLC name: 

  • Depending on your business niche, your chosen business name should reflect your products/services and be clear to your target audience;
  • Indicate your business structure (LLC). You will need to add the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (“LLC,” “LC,” or “L.L.C”); 
  • The name should reflect the real purpose of the company. Don’t include the words “trust,” “bank,” or “insurance” in the name if your LLC is not a bank or an insurance agency;
  • Don’t use professional words/phrases without special permission. For example, don’t include the word “engineering” if there is no professional engineer with a certificate or license in your company;
  • Make sure that your company will not be confused with any governmental organization (the words “federal,” “city,” “township,” “government,” and the like are restricted); 
  • Your LLC name should be unique and distinguishable, i.e. not similar to any other name of any business already operating within the state. 
Tip: Prepare 4-5 name options that you think are most suitable for your LLC and check them on the Secretary of State’s website.  

When starting an LLC in West Virginia, the state has no unique requirements regarding business names. You will only need to comply with the common ones for all limited liability companies in the U.S.

Domain, DBA, and Trademark

Make sure you reserve a domain name for your website to promote your products or services online now and not after the West Virginia LLC registration. It’s important (although not obligatory) to get a domain name that matches the official LLC name. This way, your customers will be able to find your company’s website much faster. 

You should also register a trademark ($50) for your LLC to legally protect your brand name and logo. Once you choose a suitable mark, before filling out the application, make sure it’s acceptable in West Virginia (visit this page to see WV-specific restrictions on trademark registration).

Filing a DBA (doing business as) will cost you $25. However, a DBA will only allow you to run your business operations using a fictitious name for promotional purposes, whereas a trademark will protect your business branding. 

2. Appoint a Resident Agent for Your WV LLC

When it comes to the question of how to start an LLC in West Virginia, under WV law §31D-5-501, every limited liability company is required to appoint an RA to run business in the state. 

Absolutely anyone can be your RA, as this position does not require any special training. Thus, this can be your LLC member, a family member, or yourself. 

A registered agent is engaged in the following:

  • Accepting service of process;
  • Managing important documents on behalf of your company;
  • Communicating and receiving tax/legal notifications from the state.

Thus, it’s best to hire an outside professional for the job. For example, this can be a reputable RA service or a business formation company that knows exactly how to set up an LLC in West Virginia. 

On Being Your Own Registered Agent

RAs in West Virginia should:

  • Be 18 years old or older;
  • Have a physical address in the state (not just a P.O. box);
  • Be always available in the office during normal business hours to accept legal and state documents on behalf of the LLC. 

When you are your own RA, the only advantage is that you don’t have to pay anyone else for the services. However, in this case, your business is likely to suffer. Here are a few examples:

  • Example #1: You won’t have any vacations, outside meetings, or sick leaves. If any important mail is missed, you may become subject to fines or even lawsuits;
  • Example #2: You can receive a lawsuit filed against your company during your meeting with potential partners, investors, or clients. This can seriously damage your reputation.

Registered Agent Responsibilities 

To find the most suitable RA company, make sure you compare its ratings with other similar companies on reputable review sites. This will help you find the best service provider in terms of price and quality. 

In general, such companies offer the following services to their clients:

  • Timely notifications. Your RA’s physical office address will be required in the Certificate to file with the Secretary of State. The agent is responsible for receiving, scanning, and sending notifications to you every time new mail arrives; 
  • Privacy and reputation. All mail and notifications from the state will be sent exclusively to your registered agent’s address; 
  • Consultations. Many RA services offer legal advice on a variety of business-related issues.

3. Prepare and Fill Out the Articles of Organization for Your LLC in West Virginia

When forming an LLC in West Virginia, you will need to fill out and file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. 

To make the LLC registration West Virginia process quick and cost-efficient, take a good look at the Articles of Organization form to know what information you will need to prepare and submit to the Secretary of State. 

Your Articles of Organization must state the following information:

  • Your LLC name; 
  • The address of the principal office (optional) and mailing address; 
  • The name and address of your registered agent;
  • Names and addresses of each of your LLC organizers and managing members (i.e. members that can sign documents on behalf of your company);
  • Is your LLC an “at-will” company or a “term” company (are you going to operate an LLC for an indefinite period (“perpetual” LLC) or close it after a specific term (in years);
  • LLC management structure type (member-managed or manager-managed);
  • Liability type for all or specified debts, obligations, or liabilities of the LLC;
  • Purpose(s) of the LLC (e.g. “real estate,” “commercial design,” “legal advice,” etc.);
  • Additional LLC address details (the physical and mailing address of the LLC, a website (if any), and the email address of your business); 
  • The effective date of the LLC (the date and time of filing in the Secretary of State’s office or a specific date and time); 
  • If your LLC is “veteran-owned” (to receive tax benefits); 
  • Signature and contact information of the signer.
Once you fill out the Articles of Organization form, you want to check it twice for accuracy and include the filing fee ($100) receipt for confirmation. According to the official website, “The articles of organization may be filed with the Business & Licensing Division online on www.business4wv.com or by mail. Under standard processing, mail-in and online filings are processed by the division within 5-10 business days from the date the filing fee is received.”

How to Create an LLC in West Virginia: Ways to File with the Secretary of State 

In WV, you can file your Certificate online on the official website of the state, by mail, or by fax. 

Online applications will be processed faster. However, to access the necessary form, you must first register on the website, i.e. create an account. After that, you want to go to the “Register a Business” section and fill out all the necessary fields. 

In the same section, if you plan to submit documents by mail, you can also download the form in PDF and print it.  

Mail the complete form to any of the following offices:

Charleston OfficeOne-Stop Business Center
1615 Washington St. E.
Charleston, WV 25311
Clarksburg OfficeNorth Central WV Business Center
200 W. Main St.
Clarksburg, WV 26301
Martinsburg OfficeEastern Panhandle Business Center
229 E. Martin St.
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Fax(304) 558-8381 
Email[email protected]

Note that businesses in the medical cannabis niche cannot apply online. This can only be done by mail or in person at any of the Secretary of State’s offices. 

For more information, call 304-558-8000.  

4. Create a West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement 

An Operating Agreement (OA) is like an internal contract between all the members of the LLC, which: 

  • Includes rules, regulations, and provisions of the company; 
  • Outlines its financial and functional decisions.

According to West Virginia Code § 31B – 1-103, “all members of a limited liability company may enter into an operating agreement, which need not be in writing, to regulate the affairs of the company and the conduct of its business, and to govern relations among the members, managers, and company.” 

Why should I write my OA?

West Virginia is not among the states that are required to have an OA, and it may seem like you can simply prepare a verbal agreement. However, a written OA provides the following benefits:

  • You will need to open a separate business bank account to split your personal and  LLC assets. In most cases, banks ask LLCs to provide a copy of the OA; 
  • Having an OA adds flexibility to state laws and regulations. Once you spell out your specific LLC rules and provisions in the document, they will remain valid even if/when the laws and regulations of the state change;
  • An OA helps regulate conflicts, misunderstandings, and disputes that may occur within the LLC. Also, you want to set clear responsibilities and rights for all your LLC members to avoid any confusion and/or lawsuit in the future. 

Do I need an OA for a single-member LLC? 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a single-member or multiple-member LLC – you will need an OA in both cases. This document acts as a protective shield for your business, allowing you to customize your LLC’s terms according to the specific needs of its members. Your business will also become more flexible in terms of your state’s default laws. 

As your company grows, you may want to expand in the future. For this, you will need to attract investors to the project – this is where the OA will become an indispensable tool. 

What’s included in an Operating Agreement?

Your LLC’s operating agreement will depend on the niche of your business, and you can prepare it without the help of an attorney. However, if your LLC has several members, then it’s still recommended to involve an expert. In general, an OA contains the following points: 

  • Business purposes. Describe your company’s main purposes for which your LLC is created and the nature of your business. Also, describe your main product or service. Mention that your product or service is for lawful purposes;
  • Ownership interests are usually the same as their respective capital investments. If you have any partners, describe how you will divide the shares;
  • Duration of the LLC. If there’s a specific dissolution date planned for your LLC, you should indicate it in the OA;
  • Responsibilities, rights, and capital investments of the LLC members and managers. Specify who will be responsible for accounting and the type of contributions (e.g. money contributions, those of services or property) your LLC members will need to make;
  • Profits and losses distribution. Describe how profits and losses will be distributed among the members; 
  • The voting procedure of the LLC members. Indicate your LLC members’ voting powers and if they are disproportionate or if each LLC member is entitled to a single vote; 
  • Adding new members to the LLC. State the terms and procedures for adding new members to the LLC and who will be able to do it;
  • LLC management structure. Specify if it will be a member-managed or manager-managed company;
  • Transfer of members’ rights. Describe what happens if any member of the LLC leaves, becomes disabled, wishes to sell his/her interest, or passes away; 
  • LLC dissolution. Describe the steps to be taken to dissolve the limited liability company, as well as how debts and assets will be distributed among the members.  

Since there is no need to file an OA with the Secretary of State, you will not have to wait for approval or pay any fees. However, each initial member of the LLC must agree with and sign their copy of the OA. You should also store the original document with your other important business documents in the principal office.

5. Get an EIN for Your LLC in West Virginia

As soon as you get to know how to get an LLC in West Virginia, you will come across the necessity of getting an EIN (employer identification number) for tax purposes. The 9-digit number is required by the IRS to identify your LLC as a taxable entity. An EIN also allows you to hire employees for your LLC. But that’s not the only reason why you need one. 

Why does your LLC need an EIN? 

Getting an EIN is a good idea because the 9-digit number will act as your “corporate veil.” If you want to protect your personal assets in case of any lawsuit against your company, you will need to open a separate bank account for your LLC. And most U.S. banks require an EIN for this. Other reasons include the following:

  • An EIN can protect you from ID theft. If you are a single-member LLC that uses an SSN, your personal data might be stolen by fraudsters. An EIN significantly reduces such a threat;
  • Without an EIN, you will not be able to hire employees. The same goes for business loans from a bank. 

How and where to get an EIN? 

When you think about how to apply for LLC in West Virginia, think about how you want to get a tax number for your company at the same time. 

You can always get an EIN for free, even though some business formation services charge for the service. 

That said, you can get an EIN independently on the IRS website. Simply download, print, and fill out Form SS-4, or apply online and get your EIN in minutes.

You can fax the hard copy to 855-641-6935 or send it by mail to:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

For those who have no legal residence, principal office, or principal agency in any state: 

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN International Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax: 855-215-1627 (within the U.S.)

Fax: 304-707-9471 (outside the U.S.)

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Keep in mind, though, that in this case, you will need to wait up to 4 weeks. 

As for the information required to get an EIN, you will need to fill out the following fields: 

  • Trade name of the business;
  • Mailing address;
  • Street address (if different from mailing address);
  • The principal activity of your business;
  • Executor, administrator, trustee, “care of” name;
  • City, state, and ZIP code;
  • County and state where the principal business is located;
  • Name of the responsible party;
  • Reason for applying; 
  • The highest number of employees expected in the next 12 months;
  • Closing month of the accounting year, etc.

As mentioned earlier, if you apply online, the number will be assigned in a few minutes. Whereas, applications by mail imply getting the result within 4 weeks. 

LLC West Virginia Cost: How Much is an LLC in WV

So, how much does an LLC cost in West Virginia? Launching a limited liability company in any state usually costs a lot less when compared to launching a corporation. Still, it’s not free. Thus, if you plan to open your own LLC, you should know how much a West Virginia LLC costs. 

Articles of Organization for Domestic LLCs: Registration Fee 

The WV state filing fee is probably the first fee you’ll incur before your set up your LLC. The fee is $100 for both online filings and through other channels:

  • In-person,
  • By mail;
  • By fax.

Additionally, you may want to reserve a business name, which will cost you $15. In VW, name reservations are available for up to 120 days. Simply fill out and file an Application for Name Reservation with the WV Secretary of State, Business and Licensing Division. 

Don’t forget about your initial annual report (Statement of Information). WV requires all LLCs operating within the state to file annual reports between January 1 and July 1 of each year following the calendar year in which the LLC was registered. Such reports allow the state to be aware of the current status of your LLC. The filing fee is:

  • $25 (hard copy);
  • $26 (online). 

If the deadline was overdue, you will have to pay a fine of $50. 

Filing the Articles of Organization for a Foreign LLC 

If you want to set up a West Virginia Foreign LLC, the cost will be $150 for foreign LLCs in WV (+ an extra $1 if you’re filing online) for online applications, by mail or fax. However, the $25 fee for filing your annual report will remain unchanged.

In West Virginia, just like in any other state, you can’t have an LLC without hiring an RA, which is a mandatory requirement. Depending on what kind of company you choose, the cost of RA services varies from $49 to $300 per year. 

Business Licenses and Permits 

To open LLC in West Virginia, you shouldn’t forget about your local requirements, i.e. the city where you will run your business. 

Therefore, you want to check with the following government agencies:

  • County, 
  • City, 
  • Local.

Make sure you get complete information on the necessary permits and business licenses. 

Operating Agreement 

An OA can be prepared on your own if you download the right template online. This won’t cost you a thing. For those who want to create a legally competent OA, it’s still best to address professionals who will cover all the peculiarities of the business and reduce any risks. 

Additional Expenses After Registration 

If you’re not setting up a veteran-owned LLC, then you will need to pay the following taxes:

  • Income tax – up to 6.5%;
  • Sales and use tax – 6%;
  • Federal self-employment tax – 15.3%;
  • Federal income tax (depends on business profits);
  • Taxes on employees and employers (tax calculation is based on wages, number of employees, etc.). 

Among other things, some types of licenses and permits that need to be renewed will incur additional costs. 

First Things to Take Care of After Creating an LLC in West Virginia

Getting approval from the Secretary of State for your LLC is great, but you still have a few important steps to take. So, having made the operating agreement and obtained a tax number, let’s move on: 

Open a Bank Account and Get a Credit Card

You don’t want to mix your personal and business assets. A separate bank account for your business will help you keep your LLC profits/expenses separated from your own finances. 

This way, you won’t have to worry about having your property or finances taken away by any court due to your LLC’s debts or lawsuits filed against your company.

Accounting

How do you plan to handle accounting on your own? This is where you definitely don’t want to save. In most cases, an in-house accountant will help manage the finances of the company in the long run and avoid potential legal risks.

Business Licenses and Permits

As mentioned earlier, after setting up an LLC in West Virginia, some business niches will need to obtain special permits and/or licenses to legally operate within the state. 

Check with your state and local government to find out exactly what you need to remain compliant.

Insurance Policies

No matter what services or products your LLC provides in the state, you will need to obtain certain insurance policies. There are different types of them, so what you need to do is consult experts in your niche about which policy is right for your business. 

One thing for sure – to protect yourself and your employees from lawsuits, you will need to obtain the following ones:

  • Workers Compensations Insurance;
  • General Liability Insurance.

Automation 

Businesses today actively use a variety of advanced software tools to automate and optimize work processes. Check your competitors’ solutions and determine your software requirements to find the best option for your LLC.

Online Presence

Starting your own website and promoting your services/products online is a great idea. However, you will need to think about registering a domain name that will match your brand name. Also, don’t forget about other promotion channels through which you can attract customers and partners: 

  • Social media;
  • Marketplaces;
  • Review sites, etc. 

Keep Your Company Compliant

After creating an LLC in West Virginia, it’s important to remain in good standing with the state, as well as maintain a reputation before your clients, partners, and potential investors alike. Otherwise, you can expect fines, lawsuits, or even a ban on commercial activity in the state. 

Talking about annual reports, in West Virginia, they must be filed by both domestic and foreign LLCs. Each year before July 1, the firm must send a letter to the Secretary of State with basic information about the company, including the following:

  • The address of the company;
  • Registered agent information;
  • Names and addresses of LLC members or managers;
  • A number of LLC members. 

A document filed after the due date, in addition to a $50 fine, will also damage your business reputation. 

Also, make sure you keep track of your business licenses and permits when they expire. As the expiration date approaches, prepare the necessary documents for renewal. 

Minute Book 

Create your own minute book with important business documents, including the following: 

  • Articles of Organization;
  • Operating agreement;
  • Meeting minutes;
  • Account book, etc. 

This way, you will not have to worry during your next tax audit. 

In addition, your LLC minute book, along with your organizational meeting minutes, may also be requested by potential buyers and investors. 

Start an LLC

A limited liability company is a welcoming legal structure for many businesses. Start an LLC is easy. Select your state to start.

Select your state
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio

Conclusion

As you can see, creating an LLC in West Virginia is not as complicated as it may seem at first glance. Even a first-timer can handle the registration process. Nevertheless, the most advantageous option is to hire experienced formation West Virginia services. 

This way, you will have experts on board who will make sure there are no mistakes in your registration documents, save your time, and handle everything on their own, from name reservation to your LLC compliance with the state. 

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