How to Start an LLC in West Virginia
To start an LLC in West Virginia, you must file Articles of Organization with the Business & Licensing Division. You can file the document online, by mail, in person, by fax, or even by email. The Articles of Organization cost $100 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your West Virginia LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting a West Virginia LLC Guide:
West Virginia LLC Filing Options
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West Virginia Articles of Organization free download. When you're done filling out the form, submit it to your state.
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West Virginia Articles of Organization Requirements
To form a West Virginia LLC, you must complete and file the Articles of Organization with the Business & Licensing Division.
West Virginia has one of the longest, most confusing LLC Articles of Organization forms out there—the packet you can download from the Secretary of State Office is NINE pages of tiny print. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.
Your name must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation. Tip: Most businesses keep it short and sweet with “LLC.”
Note whether your business will be a regular LLC or a professional LLC. Professional LLCs provide state-licensed services (think doctors and lawyers). Tip: Most LLCs aren’t professional.
List the street address of your principal place of business. This address 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.
If you want your mail to go to a place other than your principal office (like a PO Box), you can enter the address here. Tip: Don’t want to risk exposing your mail (or sorting through all the junk that comes with a public address)? Save yourself the headaches and hire Northwest. We’ll get your mail and scan it to you the same day we receive it.
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.
Your 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). Tip: We recommend Northwest.
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.
If you want to put your website address, you can, but this is optional.
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”).
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. Tip: 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.”
West Virginia requires members’ names and street addresses (no PO Boxes).
Your LLC can either be member-managed or manager-managed. Most LLCs are member-managed, but if you’d prefer to turn over decision-making powers to managers, you can choose “manager-managed” (good if you don’t plan to run day-to-day operations, not great if you want to decide how things run). If you choose manager-managed, you’ll also have to list the names and addresses of the managers.
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 happen to be a scrap metal dealer, you’ll also need to attach a special registration form.
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.
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.
How much does it cost to start a West Virginia LLC?
The Business & Licensing Division charges a $100 fee for West Virginia LLC Articles of Organization ($125 for 24-hour expediting).
Hire Northwest, and your total, out-the-door cost is $325 ($350 expedited), including state filing fees, registered agent service, and loads of useful forms.
How long does it take to start a West Virginia LLC?
Unexpedited filings take around 5-10 business days. 24-hour expediting is available for $25.
If you really, really need your LLC fast, you can email or fax your filing and cough up an extra FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS for 1-hour expediting (or$250 for 2-hour processing).
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we typically have your expedited West Virginia LLC formed within 2 business days.
Who can be a West Virginia LLC Agent for Service of Process?
West Virginia Code §31B-1-108 states that your agent can be an individual West Virginia resident (such as yourself) or an LLC or corporation authorized to do business in West Virginia (such as Northwest).
Hiring Northwest has some major perks. We accept, scan and send you your legal documents in real time, so you can stay on top of your business wherever you are (no worrying about missing a process server when you’re in meetings or out wooing investors). We also have free tools to help you maintain your LLC, and we’ll send you free compliance reminders so you don’t forget key business filings. For a long list of all our benefits, check out our West Virginia registered agent page.
Create the West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement
Do I need an Operating Agreement?
Absolutely. Technically, there’s no legal requirement for your West Virginia LLC to have an operating agreement, but it’d be crazy not to have one. People tend to put their focus on public state and local filings because there are obvious penalties for failing to meet government regulations. The consequences of blowing off an operating agreement may be less apparent, but they are all-too-real.
Why is an Operating Agreement important?
Your operating agreement defines the terms of your business. It’s the document that states who owns the business and what each person invested. It spells out how profits and losses are allocated and what happens if there’s a dispute. It even explains what happens if you shut the whole business down. It may be a private document, but it holds legal weight—and it’s useful for more than just members and managers. Even just to open a bank account for your West Virginia LLC, your bank will almost certainly request your operating agreement. Lenders, investors and partners will want to see it too. You don’t want to wait until you absolutely need one to hurriedly slap together an operating agreement. Give these major decisions the time and consideration your LLC deserves.
Do I have to write the Operating Agreement?
Not sure where to start? Let Northwest help. When you hire Northwest to form your West Virginia LLC, we give you a free operating agreement specific to your management style. We give you other free forms as well: membership certificates, resolutions and more. We’ve spent years refining our forms, and we’re pretty proud—over a million LLCs have used our free LLC forms to help form and maintain their businesses. Take a look:
Get a West Virginia LLC EIN
Do I have to get a tax ID number (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? EINs are free from the IRS. Can’t be bothered with yet another application? Hire Northwest to get your EIN for you when you sign up for our services.
Open a Bank Account for Your 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 West Virginia 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.
We recommend calling your bank ahead of time before going in and asking what their requirements are. Most banks don’t open business accounts nearly as frequently as personal accounts, so some bankers may be unfamiliar with their own bank’s requirements. As frustrating as that may be for you, calling ahead will help save you from being super annoyed when you walk into the bank.
Obtain a Business License
Does a West Virginia LLC need a business license?
Yes. Before engaging in any business in West Virginia, businesses are required to obtain a Business Registration Certificate. Businesses submit an application and pay a one-time $30 fee to the State Tax Department.
Some counties and municipalities also have their own general licensing requirements. For example, any business with a physical location in the City of Charleston is required to shell out a minimum of $20 for a general business license.
File West Virginia LLC Reports
What is a West Virginia LLC Annual Report?
Your West Virginia LLC Annual Report is a mandatory form you file each year to update your LLC’s contact and ownership information with the state. The report and $25 fee are due by July 1st each year. 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. Worried you’ll forget? Northwest can help. We send reminder notifications to our clients to help make sure they’re not surprised by annoying late fees (or worse). You can even wash your hands of this report entirely—just hire us to file your Annual Report for you.
How much does an LLC in West Virginia cost each year?
There’s a $25 fee to file the West Virginia LLC Annual Report.
Pay the LLC Taxes
What are the West Virginia LLC taxes?
The West Virginia personal net income tax rates are:
3%: $0 to $9,999
4%: $10,000 to $24,999
4.5%: $7,600 to $125,000
6%: $40,000 to $59,999
6.5%: $60,000 +
The state sales tax is 6%. Cities can add up to 1%, making the average total sales tax rate 6.135%.
West Virginia previously had a Business Franchise Tax that applied to LLCs, but this ended in 2015.