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West Virginia DBA

How to Get a Trade Name in West Virginia

DBA stands for “doing business as,” and a West Virginia DBA is any name that a West Virginia business uses that isn’t its legal name. West Virginia calls DBAs “trade names,” but the terms are interchangeable. West Virginia sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations can use a trade name for social media accounts, marketing materials, and to open a business bank account. Getting a DBA in West Virginia involves getting a state tax certificate, performing a business name search, and filing state paperwork to register your DBA name with the state. We’ll show you how to do it.

Your West Virginia DBA Guide:

What is a West Virginia DBA (Trade Name)?

A DBA is essentially a nickname for your business that you can use in place of your legal business name. Registering a West Virginia trade name (DBA) will allow your business to operate under a name that isn’t its legal name. If you’re in business as a sole proprietor, your business’s name is your legal name. Likewise, a general partnership’s legal business name is the last names of the owners. Getting a DBA is the most affordable and easiest way for both types of businesses to use a business name that makes your business look and sound professional.

However, it is important to note that a DBA is not a legal entity that offers any sort of asset protection. It’s just another name that you can use for your business operations. To get asset protection, you’ll need to form a West Virginia LLC or corporation.

Why Register a West Virginia DBA?

A West Virginia DBA is only required if your business plans to use a name other than its legal business name. Many business owners keep it simple and stick with their legal business name. But in case you’re thinking about getting a West Virginia DBA, here are a few reasons why that may be just what your business needs.

You want a better business name. Getting a West Virginia DBA can allow you to operate your business using a name that better identifies what your business does. Imagine you’re a sole proprietor who has a business walking dogs. With no DBA, you’re in business using your full name. A catchy DBA name like “Christoper Walkin’ Dog Walkin’” could attract more customers. When a potential customer searches online for dog walkers, your DBA, not your name, is more likely to catch their eye. As an added bonus, West Virginia doesn’t charge sole proprietors and general partnerships for normal trade name registration (5-10 day processing). Even better, your West Virginia DBA doesn’t need to be renewed, so now it’s your DBA forever, for free.

You use your website domain name as your business name. Let’s imagine that you run a taco truck business under your legal business name, “Best West Tacos, LLC.” If your website domain name is “” and you primarily engage in business activity using your domain name, you’ll need to register your domain name as a DBA.

You want to expand your business. A DBA can help your business if it is adding new products or services. Imagine you have a business selling tacos from a truck. You’re operating your taco business under one business name, but you want to add a second truck and sell hamburgers. A DBA just might be on the menu. Getting a DBA for your hamburger truck will not only distinguish it from your taco business, but you’ll be able to use your new DBA on a business bank account to keep your taco sales separate from your hamburger sales. What’s more, your hamburger truck DBA can also be used for marketing on social media, paying vendors, and even accepting payments from customers. In essence a West Virginia DBA can help you expand your business with minimal paperwork and fees.

Tip: Registering a West Virginia trade name doesn’t guarantee that another business won’t use it. For stronger legal rights to your name, you can apply to trademark your DBA name at the federal level. Here’s how to apply for a trademark.

How to Register a DBA in West Virginia

To get a DBA in West Virginia you’ll need to make sure you have the proper state tax registration for your business. From there you’ll check state records to see if the DBA you want to use isn’t already taken. Next up is filling out and filing the proper application depending on your business type. Once that’s all done, you’ll have your West Virginia trade name (DBA). Here are the steps:

Get a West Virginia Business Registration Certificate

Every business, including sole proprietorships, must register with the West Virginia Tax Division for a Business Registration Certificate. If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably already have a tax certificate and can skip this step. If you don’t have a state tax certificate, you’ll need to get one before you can register your West Virginia trade name.

You can get your Business Registration Certificate by applying online through the West Virginia Tax Division website or by filing a West Virginia New Business Registration Application by mail. The certificate costs $30.

See if Your Trade Name is Available

Your trade name (DBA) must be unique among business names in West Virginia. To find out if the name you’d like to use is available, you can use the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Business Organization Search.

The DBA you choose must also meet West Virginia’s naming guidelines. This means that your DBA name:

  • Must be distinguishable from any other name already registered in the state.
  • Cannot include an entity identifier like “LLC,” or “Inc.” unless it is that entity type.

If you want to double-check the availability of your DBA name, you should consider doing a simple online search for your DBA name in West Virginia. You can also check with the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to see if your DBA name has been federally trademarked.

Complete the Application for Trade Name

There are two separate applications based on what type of business you are operating. Sole proprietors and general partnerships will fill out and file one form. All other entities will file another. Here’s what that looks like.

For sole proprietors and general partnerships:

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships must file a Trade Name (DBA) Registration with the West Virginia Secretary of State.

You’ll need to include:

  • the full names and addresses of all business owners
  • the trade name(s) you’d like to register
  • contact name, email, phone number, and signature

Registration is free for standard processing (5-10 business days). Expedited options are available for a fee.

For LLCs, corporations, and other registered entities:

Businesses registered with the state, including LLCs, corporations, LPs, LLPs, and business trusts, are required to file an Application for Trade Name (DBA) with the Secretary of State. Your application must contain:

  • your company’s legal business name
  • your desired trade name
  • the address of your principal office
  • the name, address, and title of the person filing your application
  • franchise declaration, if applicable
  • business contact person name and phone number
  • signature of the person filing the application

Note: If your business is a franchise, you’ll need to attach the first page and the signature page of your franchise agreement.

Submit the Application and Pay the Filing Fee

The application costs $25 to file for standard processing (5-10 business days), though there are expedited options. West Virginia also offers business owners a variety of filing options.

West Virginia One Stop Business Portal

Standard processing:
Expedited processing:

(304) 558-8381

By mail or in person:
Charleston Office
1615 Washington Street East
Charleston, WV 25311

Clarksburg Office
200 West Main Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301

Martinsburg Office
229 E. Martin Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401

Expedited processing is available, though some restraints may apply based on the time of day you apply (full details are given on the applications themselves). Sole proprietors and general partnerships pay no fee. All other business types pay $25 for regular processing (5-10 days).

Expedited filing fees are:

  • $25 for 24-hour processing (Email, Fax, Online)
  • $250 for 2-hour processing (Fax, Online)
  • $500 for 1-hour processing (Walk-in, Online)

Filing a West Virginia DBA vs. Starting a Business

A DBA is just a nickname for a business and not an entity on its own. A business is an entity that sells goods or services. You can’t have a DBA without a business.

Because filing a DBA doesn’t create a separate business entity, you’ll need to use your legal business name on government and legal documents. This includes filing your taxes and signing contracts. On contracts, you’ll actually need to list your legal business name and your DBA to clearly identify your business to whoever you’re contracting with.

There are two ways to start a business in West Virginia:

Sell something: Making sales is how many businesses get started. If you’re selling baseball cards on eBay, you’re in business. A sole proprietor is a one person business who sells goods or services without forming a separate business entity with the state. A general partnership is two or more people selling goods or services. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are popular because they have a low barrier to entry, but they offer no legal separation between you and your business. This means that if your business goes bankrupt or gets sued, your personal assets and the assets of your partners could be used to satisfy any debts.

Formally register with the state: If you’re looking for a more formal business entity like an LLC or corporation, you’ll need to file paperwork with the state, and pay state filing fees. Registering your business with the state creates a separate legal entity from the business owners, which in turn provides liability protections you won’t get with a sole proprietorship or general partnership.

West Virginia DBA vs. West Virginia LLC 

A West Virginia DBA gives your business a nickname that it can use for things like a business bank account, social media accounts, a website domain name, paying vendors, and even accepting payment from customers. When you form a West Virginia LLC, your business becomes a distinct legal entity, separate from its owners. It’s this separation that protects the assets (401k, car, house, savings) of the business owners in case of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. While LLCs can use DBAs to expand operations or do business with a different name, DBAs alone do not offer any asset protection.

West Virginia DBAs don’t need to be renewed, and for West Virginia sole proprietors and general partnerships, DBAs are free. A West Virginia DBA is truly the easiest and most affordable way for a business owner to give their business a name. However, if you’re looking to register a legal business name and protect your assets, a West Virginia LLC is your best option. Northwest can help you start a West Virginia LLC today!

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West Virginia DBA FAQs

Is a DBA required in West Virginia?

Yes. If your business plans to operate in West Virginia under a name other than its legal business name, you’re required to register a DBA with the Secretary of State.

How do I get a DBA in West Virginia?

If you’re a sole proprietor or in a general partnership, you’ll file a free Trade Name Registration application with the West Virginia Secretary of State. If you are state-registered business like an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit, you’ll file a an Application for Trade Name with the state and pay $25. However, before filling out any paperwork, you’ll need to obtain a West Virginia Business Registration Certificate from West Virginia’s Tax Division ($30).

How much does it cost to get a DBA in West Virginia?

Sole proprietors and general partnerships pay nothing for regular filings (5-10 business days). LLCs, corporations, and other state-registered formal entities pay $25 for regular filings. Any type of business can pay extra for expedited processing: $25 for 24-hour processing, $250 for 2-hour processing, or $500 for 1-hour processing.

How long does it take to get a West Virginia DBA?

It takes West Virginia about 5-10 business days to approve your trade name. If filing by mail you’ll need to account for additional postal time. West Virginia also offers expedited processing of 24 hours, 2 hours, or 1 hour, but you’ll pay for it.

Do I need to renew my West Virginia DBA?

No. A West Virginia DBA lasts as long as your business, or until you cancel it.

Can I cancel my DBA in West Virginia?

Yes, but the form you’ll file depends on what kind of business entity you are. For sole proprietorships and general partnerships, you’ll submit Trade Name (DBA) Withdrawal, which is free to file. If you own a registered business like an LLC or corporation, you’ll need to file Certificate of Withdrawal of Trade Name and pay a $25 fee.

Can I change or update my DBA name in West Virginia?

West Virginia does not allow for DBA name changes. To update your DBA name in West Virginia you’ll need to cancel your original DBA and register a new DBA.

Do I need a separate bank account for my DBA?

Not necessarily, but some business owners use a separate bank account for their DBA because it helps to keep their finances organized. It’s up to the business owner whether or not they want to open a separate bank account for their DBA.

Do I need a separate EIN for my DBA?

No. A DBA is just a name for a business, and not an actual business itself. But if your business has employees, you’ll need to get an EIN.

How many DBAs can I have in West Virginia?

There is no limit to the number of DBAs you can have in West Virginia, but you’ll need to go through the same filing process for each one.

Can I sign a contract with my DBA?

For a contract to hold up in court, it must be signed with your legal business name. However, you should list both your legal and DBA names on any contract you sign so that your business is properly identified.

Can I buy a domain name under my DBA?

That depends on your domain registrar. Some allow businesses to buy domain names under a DBA and some don’t. Find a registrar that will allow purchases under a DBA if you don’t want to get a domain name with your legal business name.

What is my business’s legal name?

The legal name of your business is the name that you put on state and federal documents, particularly tax filings.

  • Sole proprietors. The legal business name is the name the sole proprietor.
  • General partnerships. The legal business name is each of the partners’ last names or a name the partnership gave itself in its written partnership agreement.
  • Formal business entities. The legal business names of incorporated businesses like LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits is the name that appears on state formation documents.

How can I keep my personal information off the public record?

DBA filings are public record. This means the information you write down on your application can be searched by anyone. The best way to keep your personal information out of the public eye and off West Virginia’s public record is to hire a West Virginia registered agent and form an LLC. When you hire Northwest Registered Agent to form your LLC, we’ll you use our name and address on state filings wherever allowed, helping to keep your personal information as private as possible, which helps you live privately.

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