How to Start an LLC in West Virginia

Written by: Kevelyn Rodriguez

Last updated:

West Virginia LLC is one of the most simple, cost-effective, and quick business structures to form. Even so, navigating the formation process can seem daunting without clear guidance and an actionable plan.

In this How to Start an LLC in West Virginia guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to form your LLC, from the steps you’ll need to take to get started to maintaining your structure.

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West Virginia LLC

In order to form an LLC in West Virginia, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Name Your West Virginia LLC
  2. Pick a West Virginia Registered Agent
  3. Submit Your LLC’s Articles of Organization
  4. Create a West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN
  6. File Your BOI Report

In the sections below, we’ve broken down each of these steps in more detail.

Step 1: Name Your West Virginia LLC

The first thing you’ll need to do before getting started is picking the right name for your LLC. This is important because your business’s name will need to represent your brand accurately, as well as be as memorable as possible.

In West Virginia, all LLC names need to abide by the following statutory guidelines in order to be accepted by the Secretary of State:

  • Distinctiveness: Your LLC name must be unique and not deceptively similar to any existing business names registered in the state. It should be distinguishable on its own merit, without relying on differences in business structure designations (e.g., LLC, Inc., Corp, etc.), punctuation, or the use of articles and/or conjunctions
  • LLC Designation: Your name must end with a designator that indicates it’s an LLC. This can be the words “Limited Liability Company”, “Limited Company”, or a suitable abbreviation (e.g., LLC, L.L.C., LC, Ltd., etc.)
  • Restricted Words: Your LLC will need to receive written approval in order to include certain words in its name, such as those relating to specific professions and/or government entities

We always recommend conducting a name availability search as early as possible; you can do this using the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Business Organization Search tool.

Keep in mind that even though picking an LLC name in itself has no cost, there are certain fees that can be associated with the overall process.

Reserve an LLC Name

If you’re not yet ready to launch your business and still need a little more time, you can choose to reserve your desired LLC name for later by submitting an Application for Name Reservation with the West Virginia Secretary of State ($15 fee). This will keep anyone from being able to take the name you plan to use for 120 days.

If you need any longer than this, you will have to renew your LLC’s name reservation once it expires.

Register a DBA Name

Another potential cost associated with naming your LLC is a “doing business as” (or DBA) name. This is essentially a nickname that you can choose to register for your business to operate under — particularly if you’re not content with your LLC’s legal name.

Registering a DBA name can be done by filing Form NR-3 through the West Virginia Secretary of State’s One Stop Business Portal; this registration incurs a $25 processing fee.

It should be noted that DBA names in Virginia do not expire, so you will only need to complete this process once.

Buy a Domain Name

Finally, you’ll want to focus on securing a good domain name (which is your website’s URL address) for your business. For this, try to focus on choosing one that’s easy for customers to remember, relevant to your business, and accurately reflects your brand.

After confirming the domain name you want to use is actually available, you can purchase it through a trusted registrar.

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Step 2: Pick a Registered Agent

The next step you’ll need to take toward forming your LLC is to pick a registered agent.

This is an individual or business entity that accepts legal correspondence on behalf of your business, such as service of process, notice of lawsuits, and official government communications; you’re required to continuously maintain one as long as your LLC is active.

Your registered agent will need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • Have a registered office in West Virginia
  • Be an individual who resides in West Virginia or a business entity authorized to transact business in West Virginia with a business office identical to the registered office

Keep in mind that you can choose to act as your own registered agent if you’re looking to save money, though we don’t typically recommend this as you’re much more likely to suffer fines and penalties due to non-compliance than if you just hire a professional service.

On top of this, you’ll lose any anonymity your LLC would have given you since your name, address, and contact information will be publicly available.

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Step 3: Submit Your LLC’s Articles of Organization

In West Virginia, the Articles of Organization is the filing document that you’ll need to submit with the Secretary of State in order to officially register your LLC.

You will need to include the following information when submitting your Articles of Organization:

  • The name of your LLC
  • The business address of your initial designated office (must be in West Virginia) and the mailing address of your principal office
  • The name and address of your LLC’s initial agent for service of process
  • The name and address of each organizer and each member authorized to execute instruments on behalf of your LLC
  • Whether your company is to be a term company and, if so, the specified term
  • Whether your company is to be manager-managed and, if so, the name and address of each initial manager
  • The purpose or purposes for which your LLC is organized
  • An email address for informational notices and annual filing reminders, unless there is a technical inability to comply

Your LLC’s Articles of Organization can be submitted either electronically through West Virginia’s One Stop Business Portal or by downloading this form and mailing it one of the addresses listed below.

Charleston Office One-Stop Business Center: 13 Kanawha Blvd. West Suite 201 Charleston, WV 25302 Phone: (304) 558-8000 Fax: (304) 558-8381 Hours: Mon. – Fri. 8:30a – 5:00p EST

Clarksburg Office North Central WV Business Center: 153 West Main Street Suite G- Third Floor Clarksburg, WV 26301 Phone: (304) 367-2775 Fax: (304) 627-2243 Hours: Mon. -Fri. 9:00a – 5:00p EST

Martinsburg Office Eastern Panhandle Business Center: 229 E. Martin Street Martinsburg, WV 25401 Phone: (304) 356-2654 Fax: (304) 260-4360 Hours: Mon. – Fri. 9:00a – 5:00p EST

Regardless of how you choose to submit your Articles of Organization, you will need to pay a $100 filing fee in order to have your application processed.

Step 4: Create a West Virginia LLC Operating Agreement

Once this is completed, the next step you’ll need to take is to create an operating agreement.

This is an internal document that clearly outlines the ownership and management structure of your company in order to reduce potential future conflict.

While this document isn’t legally mandated in West Virginia, all LLCs are recommended to have one as it can help maintain both: smooth operations and your LLC’s corporate veil.

A number of companies provide drafting services for operating agreements online, typically for a fee of around a few hundred dollars. However, it’s quite easy to sort this out by yourself if you want to save money, and you can even find a number of free templates online to help with this.

Step 5: Get an EIN

Even though it’s not a legal requirement (unless your LLC has employees or multiple members), all West Virginia LLCs should apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

This is a free, nine-digit number used by the IRS to identify your business and keep track of its tax reporting — much like a Social Security Number (SSN) for individuals.

You’ll need an EIN to be able to:

  • Hire employees
  • Open a business bank account
  • Apply for some business licenses/permits
  • Establish a line of credit

On top of this, using an EIN instead of a Social Security Number (SSN) helps to protect your personal information and safeguard your anonymity as the business owner of your LLC.

You can quickly apply for an EIN for your LLC online through the IRS website. You’re also able to submit a paper application using Form SS-4 either via fax to (855) 641-6935, or by mailing it to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Note: Don’t worry if you don’t already have an SSN, it’s not necessary to have one in order to apply for an EIN — instead, you can just leave Section 7b of the application blank and call the IRS on (267) 941-1099.

Step 6: File a BOI Report

Starting January 2024, the vast majority of LLC owners will be required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

This is part of an initiative by the U.S. government to stop individuals and entities engaging in illegal or unethical activities from being able to conceal this using “opaque ownership structures”, like shell companies, to hide their true identities.

Existing LLCs will be able to file this report anytime between January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, while new LLCs will have up to 90 days after the date they were initially formed to do so (30 days for LLCs formed after the start of 2025).

Keep in mind that failure to file your LLC’s BOI report on time can result in exorbitantly high fines (i.e., $591 per day) or even jail time (up to two years).

Note: Not every LLC owner is required to file a BOI report. For example, companies with more than 20 full-time employees, accounting firms, and banks are exempt. For a full list of filing exemptions, you can have a look at FinCEN’s website.

How to Maintain Your West Virginia LLC

In order to keep operating legally in the state of West Virginia, your LLC will need to keep up with its annual obligations — which we’ve discussed in greater detail below.

Submit an Annual Report

To keep your LLC’s registration in West Virginia valid, you will need to file an Annual Report with the Secretary of State between January 1 and June 30 each year.

You can submit this report either online through the Secretary of State’s One Stop Business Portal or by mailing the completed form to the Secretary of State’s office.

Keep in mind that you will need to pay a filing fee of $25 if you choose to submit by mail, or $26 if you file online.

It should be noted that veteran-owned entities are exempt from paying the filing fee for the first four years, although they will still be required to submit an Annual Report.

Note: Missing the June 30 deadline incurs a $50 penalty fee and may lead to the administrative dissolution of your LLC.

West Virginia vs Other States

West Virginia stands out for its supportive business environment, which offers distinct incentives that lower operational costs and foster growth.

While the initial costs to form a business are on par with national averages, West Virginia offers lower ongoing maintenance costs compared to most other states, making it an economically appealing choice for entrepreneurs.

Regardless, keep in mind that the best state to form your LLC is almost always the state that you will be operating in; this is because otherwise you’ll likely be required to register as a foreign LLC in your home state, meaning that you’ll need to pay registration and maintenance fees twice.

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West Virginia Secretary of State Contact Information

Mailing Address:

West Virginia Secretary of State
One-Stop Business Center
1615 Washington Street East
Charleston, WV 25311
Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Contact Information:

EmailBusiness@wvsos.gov
Phone: (304) 558-8000

How to Start an LLC in West Virginia FAQ

How much does it cost to start an LLC in WV?

To start an LLC in West Virginia, you will need to pay a $100 filing fee when you submit your LLC’s Articles of Organization.

Under West Virginia law, you may also need to secure a business license depending on your location and business-type — the cost of which will vary.

For more information, you can have a look at our West Virginia LLC Cost guide.

What do you need to start an LLC in West Virginia?

To start an LLC in West Virginia, you need to find a unique business name, appoint a registered agent with a West Virginia address, and submit your LLC’s Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.

For more information on this topic, you can have a look at our How to Start an LLC in West Virginia guide.

What are the benefits of owning an LLC?

Owning an LLC provides limited liability protection, separating personal assets from business debts. LLCs offer flexibility in taxation and management, and require fewer formalities than corporations.

Interested in getting started? You can check out our state-specific How to Start an LLC guide.

How are LLCs taxed in West Virginia?

By default, West Virginia LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities.

This means that all of the generated profit is “passed-through” to each LLC’s members, who then pay income tax individually.

Having said that, keep in mind that LLCs are extremely flexible and can elect to be taxed as either C Corps or S Corps instead.

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