Q: I have an LLC in Virginia, but need to know if a business license gets sent to me, or if I need to apply for one on my own?
Thank you to a client from Virginia for this great question! Welcome to being a business owner, where the paperwork never stops. Business licenses are just another factor to consider when starting a business. Most Virginia businesses will need to get a state tax license, and probably some type of local licensing. Professional and federal licenses need to be considered as well. Follow our guide to obtaining business licenses in Virginia to get an idea of what kind of licensing and permits your business might require.
Virginia Sales Tax Certificate
While Virginia doesn’t have a general business license, it does have a tax certificate that you’ll need to apply for. It’s called the Virginia Sales Tax Certificate, and it will allow your business to collect sales tax from customers. Without this certificate, you can’t operate your business.
How do I get a Virginia Sales Tax Certificate?
You can obtain a certificate by registering your business online with the Virginia Division of Taxation. If online filing isn’t your thing, you can complete and print a paper copy of the Virginia Department of Taxation Business Registration (Form R-1) application.
You’ll need to include the basic information:
- Business type, name, address, and contact information.
- Federal EIN number.
- Date business activities began or will begin.
- Projected monthly sales.
- Projected monthly taxable sales.
- Product or services to be sold or provided.
Not filing online? Send your application by mail or fax.
Virginia Department of Taxation
P.O. Box 1114
Richmond, VA 23218-1114
Once the state accepts your application, they’ll mail you a 15-digit sales tax account number and your Sales Tax Certificate of Registration that you’ll need to keep displayed at each business location.
How much does a Virginia Sales Tax Permit cost?
Nothing. There is currently no fee to register for a sales tax certificate in Virginia.
Professional Business Licenses
Professional licenses are often required for businesses that engage in activities that require extensive training in services like accounting, contracting, architecture, engineering, and other professions. Not sure if your business needs a professional license? Virginia’s Administrative Code (23VAC10-500-450) offers an “all encompassing list.” If your business is on the list, you’ll need to visit Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and apply for a license with the corresponding state agency. For instance, if you’re opening a salon, you’ll need to apply for a license with the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology. Interior designer? You’ll need to register with the Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects. Wow, what a mouthful!
How much does a Virginia professional license cost?
License fees vary. A land surveyor will pay $90. Interior designer? $45. Some professional licenses require renewal fees, as well as continuing education courses in order to maintain their license with the state.
Local Virginia Licenses
You aren’t done with business licenses just yet. Most counties and cities in Virginia will also require your business to obtain licensing from local officials. For starters, while your Virginia Sales Tax Certificate covers the state sales tax collection, you’ll also need to get a sales tax certificate in each county where you do business. For example, if your business is located in Fairfax County, you’ll be required to get a local Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL). That’s on top of being required to get specific local licenses to open a bar, sell churros from a food truck, or engage in construction contracting, among others.
Home-based business aren’t spared licensing requirements either. For instance, if you’re working out of your home as an Etsy seller, you’ll need to pony up $25 for a Home Occupation Permit in Augusta County. In Loudon County you’re looking at $165 for a Home Occupancy Permit.
Federal Licenses and Permits
Licenses don’t end at the local level. Sometimes businesses engage in federally regulated activities. If that’s the case, you’ll need to apply for a federal license or permit by contacting the appropriate government department. The requirements and fees for obtaining a license or permit are determined by the activities of your business. Common activities regulated by the federal government include:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Aviation, maritime or ground transportation and logistics
- Firearms, ammunition and explosives
- Fish and wildlife, including commercial fisheries
- Mining and drilling
- Nuclear energy
- Radio and television broadcasting
Some of these licenses and permits are only valid for a certain amount of time and will require renewal.
We cover all of this and more with our How to Start a Business in Virginia guide.