West Virginia LLC
Everything You Need to Know About West Virginia LLCs:
West Virginia LLC Formation Options
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How to Start an LLC in West Virginia
To start an LLC in West Virginia, you’ll need to do three things: appoint a registered agent, choose a name for your business, and file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State, Business & Licensing Division. You can file the document online or by mail. The articles cost $100 to file ($130.68 once you add in tax department registration and treasury fee). Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your West Virginia LLC.
According to WV Code § 31B-1-108 (2019), every West Virginia LLC may appoint a registered agent. You don’t need to hire a registered agent, but if you do, make sure your registered agent will list their address on your articles wherever possible to ensure maximum privacy.
If you’re starting a new business, you probably already know what you want to name your LLC. But you’ll need to know if your preferred name is available. To find out, visit https://apps.wv.gov/SOS/BusinessEntitySearch/ and search until you find the perfect name for your LLC.
Once you know who your registered agent will be and what your LLC name is, you’re ready to file your West Virginia Articles of Organization. Follow along with our filing instructions below:
Filing the West Virginia LLC Articles of Organization
Learn more about each Articles of Organization requirement below. Note that the information you provide becomes part of the public record—permanently.
Or skip the form entirely and hire us to form your West Virginia LLC. We provide a free business address to list whenever possible throughout the filing to better keep your personal address private.
1. Company Name
You have to include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC.” You can’t include words that would make people think you’re a different business entity like “corporation.”
2. LLC Type
Note whether your business will be a regular LLC or a professional LLC. Professional LLCs provide state-licensed services (think doctors and lawyers) and must provide additional paperwork to verify their licensure. Tip: Most LLCs aren’t professional LLCs.
3. Principal Office and Mailing Address
List the street address of your principal place of business. If you want your mail to go to a place other than your principal office (like a PO Box), you can enter a mailing address as well. These addresses will be part of the permanent public record of your West Virginia LLC. Tip: Hire us as your registered agent and you can use our West Virginia address as your principal office address and mailing address.
4. Designated Office
This West Virginia street address is the in-state contact location of record for the LLC (it can be the same or different from your principal office). Tip: When you hire Northwest, our address will go here.
5. Agent for Service of Process
Your West Virginia registered agent (aka “agent for service of process”) is the person you authorize to accept legal notifications for your West Virginia LLC. You can list an individual (such as yourself) or a business (like Northwest).
6. Business Email
This is the email where you’ll receive your annual report notices. Like everything else in your articles, this information will be part of the public record—meaning your email will likely be sold and resold by data buyers. Not interested in slogging through mountains of junk mail? We allow our clients to put our email here to save you from endless annoyances.
7. Website Address
If you want to put your website address, you can, but this is optional.
8. Number of WV Businesses
This section asks if you have multiple West Virginia businesses (and then requests more details if you answer “yes.”). This section is also optional (you can tick the “decline to answer box”).
9. West Virginia LLC Organizers
Your organizer signs and submits your Articles of Organization. While organizers don’t have to be anyone in your LLC, they do have to include their name and address. We’ll be your organizer when you hire Northwest.
How long do you want your LLC to last? If you want your business to continue indefinitely, choose “at-will.” If you’d prefer an end-date for your LLC, choose “term” and enter how many years you’d like your LLC to exist. Tip: Most LLCs choose “at-will.”
11. LLC Management
You must indicate whether your LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. In a member-managed LLCs, the members (owners) share decision-making powers. In a manager-managed LLC, members give those powers to one or more managers instead. You’ll also need to list the names and street addresses of members (if member-managed) or managers (if manager-managed). Hire us, and we can list our address here.
12. Member Liability
While one of the benefits of an LLC is limited liability (it’s even in the name!), if you want one or more members to be liable for specific debts or obligations, you can tick “yes” in this section.
Don’t worry; it’s not as existential as it sounds. The state wants to know what sort of specific business activities you plan to engage in (such as “art restoration” or “real estate”). If you plan to act as a litigation financier, you’ll need to include an additional application (Form LF-1).
14. Scrap Metal Dealers
If your LLC is a scrap metal dealer, there’s yet one more form to attach (Form SMD-1).
15. Other Provisions
While your operating agreement can cover anything you’d attach here (and would be easier to update if necessary), you’re free to attach provisions not inconsistent with law.
16. Pages Attached
If you’ve attached any pages to your articles, include the number of attached pages.
17. Effective Date
When do you want your business to start? Most LLCs opt to start upon filing, but if you’d prefer to push back your start date (maybe so it lines up with the beginning of a tax period), you can list an effective date up to 90 days in the future.
18. Veteran-Owned Organizations
If you meet the criteria listed in the West Virginia Code §59-1-2a and attach a Veteran Affairs Form to your Articles, some of your state filing fees will be waived.
19. Contact Person
The state wants to a name and phone number of a person they can reach if they have a question about your filing; however this is optional. You will need to have your organizer sign and date, however. Again, that’ll be us when you hire Northwest.
Why Have a Registered Agent Form Your West Virginia LLC?
Professionals in West Virginia hire registered agent services like Northwest Registered Agent to start an LLC—but why?
Standard filing companies don’t have employees or offices in every state. But as a national registered agent, it’s a requirement for us, which is a benefit for our clients. We have our own office in Hinton, WV. We’re on a first name basis with the people who work in the Business & Licensing Division. We know all the fastest filing methods, which translates to fast, professional service—without extra fees.
As your registered agent, we list our Hinton registered office address on your LLC’s formation documents. Why? If you’re starting a business from your apartment in Charleston, do you really want your apartment address as your business address? (Hint: the answer is no.) We’ll list our address, so you don’t have to list yours. Plus, we never sell your data. We don’t list your personal information on filings if we don’t have to. It’s all standard and part of our commitment to Privacy by Default®.
Free Mail Forwarding and Business Address
We already accept your legal mail—so why not take it a step further? In every state, we include limited digital mail forwarding for your regular mail too (5 pieces of regular mail a year; $15 a doc after that). Plus, you can list our address as your business address. That means you can have all business mail routed through our office. With both mail forwarding and a business address included, you get a level of security unmatched in the formation industry.
We know the in’s and out’s of each state—and we use this knowledge to help you when you need it most. Our team of Corporate Guides® has over 200 local business experts. You can call or email us for answers to all your questions about your LLC in West Virginia. Our Corporate Guides are dedicated solely to helping you with your business—not selling you services or meeting quotas.
What Do I Do After My West Virginia LLC Is Formed?
After your West Virginia Articles of Organization are approved, you still have a few more important steps to take, including getting an EIN, drafting an operating agreement, opening a bank account, funding the LLC and learning about state reporting and tax requirements.
Get an EIN
An EIN (“Employer Identification Number”) is a federal tax ID assigned to your business by the IRS. The IRS uses your EIN to easily identify your business on tax filings.
Does a West Virginia LLC need an EIN?
Plan to hire employees, be taxed as an S corp, or file certain federal excise taxes? You’re required to obtain a federal tax ID. There are plenty of other reasons to get an EIN as well. West Virginia is a state that certainly loves its paperwork. From your Business Registration Certificate to local licenses (and even just to open a business bank account), you’ll be asked for your EIN again and again. Sure, you could use your personal social security number in some of these situations, but why put your personal data at risk?
How do I get an EIN for my LLC?
You can apply for an EIN directly from the IRS at no cost. Most businesses are able to apply online, but if you don’t have a social security number, you’ll need to apply with a paper form. Want one less thing to do? Add on EIN service when you hire us, and we’ll get your EIN for you. Or choose our VIP service—an EIN is included.
Write an LLC Operating Agreement
Operating agreements put into writing how your business actually operates—how much each member invested, how profits and losses will be allocated, how voting works, and what happens if there’s a dispute or if the whole business (knock on wood) falls apart.
Do I need an operating agreement for a West Virginia LLC?
West Virginia doesn’t legally require an operating agreement. According to state statute §WV Code § 31B-1-103 (2019), members MAY enter into an operating agreement—but the law doesn’t declare that they must.
That said, an operating agreement isn’t just annoying paperwork. It’s one of your LLC’s most important internal documents, and creating one can help your LLC with everything from opening a bank account to handling major events from mergers to dissolution.
What should be in an operating agreement?
An operating agreement should explain how the business will handle “big picture” situations—everything from allocating profits and losses to dissolving the business. Below is a list of common topics that operating agreements should cover.
Profits, losses, and distributions
Voting rights, decision-making powers, and management
Transfer of membership interest
Dissolving the business
Your operating agreement can cover pretty much anything as long as it isn’t contrary to West Virginia law. Topics not allowed to be changed in the operating agreement are listed in the West Virginia statute WV Code § 31B-1-103 (2019), which forbids actions such as restricting access to records and eliminating obligations of good faith.
How do I write an operating agreement?
To write an operating agreement, you need to address how your business will handle money, members, votes, management, and more. Not sure how to get started? At Northwest, we’re here to help your LLC get off on the right foot. When you hire us, we provide your business with a free LLC operating agreement, specific to your management style. We’ve spent years developing these agreements and other free LLC forms—which have been used by over a million LLCs.
Open an LLC Bank Account
Your LLC needs its own bank account. Why? An LLC gets its limited liability from being a distinct entity, separate from its members. If you mix personal and business finances, you could lose your liability protections.
How do I open a bank account for my West Virginia LLC?
To open a bank account for your West Virginia LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
A copy of the West Virginia LLC Articles of Organization
The LLC operating agreement
The LLC’s EIN
If there are multiple members in the LLC, you may also want to bring an LLC resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the members to open the account in the name of the LLC. Northwest can help with this as well—LLC bank resolutions are one of the many free legal forms we provide to ensure you can get your LLC started fast.
Fund the LLC
Time to put some money in that new LLC bank account. What money? For starters, your initial contributions to your LLC’s capital. LLC members are owners, and each owner needs to pay for their membership interest to fund the LLC.
What is membership interest?
Membership interest is your percentage of ownership of the LLC. Membership interest is normally proportionate to your investment. So how does this work?
Imagine your LLC has 5 members. 4 members each invest $1,000 in the business. One member invests $6,000. The total contribution of all members is $10,000. The 4 members each own 10% of the business. The moneybags member who shelled out $6,000 owns 60% of the business.
Typically, this also means that the 4 members would each get 10% of any profits, and moneybags would get 60%. Exactly how profits and losses are allocated, however, can be adjusted in the operating agreement as long as changes are in line with IRS requirements and West Virginia laws.
File West Virginia Reports & Taxes
West Virginia LLCs are required to file a state report each year. This report is basically an information update you file so the state knows who currently runs things and how to contact your business. West Virginia LLCs are also subject to state tax filing requirements.
How much is the West Virginia Annual Report fee?
The fee for the West Virginia Annual Report is $25. Forget to file? The price triples with the addition of a $50 late fee—and if your report remains unfiled, the state can dissolve or revoke your LLC.
When is the West Virginia Annual Report due?
Your West Virginia Annual Report is by July 1st each year.
When you sign up for Northwest, we send you reminders for your annual report due dates. Want one less thing to worry about? With our business renewal service, we can complete and submit your annual report for you for $100 plus the state fee.
What should I know about West Virginia LLC taxes?
West Virginia has a progressive personal net income tax rate, which ranges between 3%-6.5%. The state also has a 6% sales tax—although cities and counties can stack on local sales taxes as well. The maximum total sales tax tops out at 7% (which you can find in Bluefield), but the average total sales tax is 6.114%.
West Virginia LLC FAQs
How can I submit the West Virginia LLC Articles of Organization?
You can file West Virginia articles by mail, but you’ll need to register with the Tax Department separately. Filing with the One Stop Business Portal combines that process. Mailed filings must be submitted in to the following address:
WV Secretary of State’s Office
State Capitol Building
Charleston, WV 25305
How much does it cost to start a West Virginia LLC?
The base filing fee is $100, but when filing online, you complete registrations with multiple agencies, including the tax department. The total online fee will come to $130.68. That’s $100 to the SoS, $30 to the tax department and$0.68 for a “treasury fee.” For 24-hour expediting, add $25.
Hire Northwest for a one-time fee of $355.68 ($380.68 for 1-day expediting. This includes state filing fees, a year of registered agent service, limited mail forwarding and loads of useful forms and tools to help get your West Virginia LLC up and running. Or, pay just $37 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
How long does it take to start a West Virginia LLC?
Filings average 10 days for processing. Expediting is available at $500 for 1 hour, $250 for 2 hour, and $25 for 24 hours increments for additional fees.
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your expedited West Virginia LLC formed within 24 hours.
Does a West Virginia LLC need a business license?
While West Virginia doesn’t have a state-level business license, some cities and counties require business licenses. For example, all businesses operating within the city limits of Charleston are required to have an annual business license.
Need an EIN or a certified copy of your formation docs for your license applications? Northwest can help. You can easily add on these items to your LLC formation order.
Can a West Virginia LLC help me live more privately?
Yes. While you can’t remove all ownership information from an West Virginia public filing (like you can in states like New Mexico, Delaware, and Wyoming), a West Virginia LLC can still help you reduce your public footprint. You can maintain a significant degree of address privacy by listing our address on public docs instead of your own. Check out our page on living privately with an LLC to learn more.
What is a foreign West Virginia LLC?
A foreign West Virginia LLC is any LLC formed outside of West Virginia but registered to do business in the state. For example, if you formed an LLC in Ohio but wanted to conduct business in West Virginia as well, you would register as a foreign LLC in West Virginia by filing an Application for Certificate of Authority with the West Virginia Secretary of State. The application must be accompanied by a certificate of good standing or certificate of existence from the domestic state of formation. Like domestic LLCs, foreign LLCs in the state have to file annual West Virginia annual reports. Northwest can register your foreign West Virginia LLC for you today!
How to Order LLC Formation Service
Our West Virginia LLC formation service is designed to be fast and easy—signing up takes just a couple minutes. Here’s how it works:
With Northwest, we give you flexibility on how to pay. You can pay all the fees up front (this includes one full year of registered agent service). Or, pay just $37 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option. With our VIP option, we also include an EIN. Just choose one of the buttons below, answer a few easy questions about your business and submit your payment.
We’ll prepare your West Virginia Articles of Organization and send them to the Secretary of State for approval. In the meantime, you’ll have immediate access to your online account, where you can find useful state forms, pre-populated with your business information.
Once the West Virginia Secretary of State has approved your filing, we notify you that your West Virginia LLC has been legally formed. You can now take any necessary next steps, like getting an EIN and opening a bank account.