How to Apply for a Business License in West Virginia

West Virginia Charleston | Swyft Filings

Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated October 17, 2023
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
Share this guide

Starting a new business in West Virginia has many obligations and requirements. Whether launching a large corporation or a small business, you must register your company with the IRS for income tax purposes, designate a registered agent, and submit formation documents.

Business licenses are just as important as registering your company. New business owners need to check with federal regulatory bodies for federal licenses, state agencies to see if they need specific state licenses, and local authorities for municipal business licenses.

This article will take you through all of the details of business licensing in West Virginia.

West Virginia Business License: Key Takeaways

  • All businesses in West Virginia must obtain a business registration certificate from the State Tax Department.

  • Depending on your business location, activities, and industries, you may need to obtain multiple federal, state, and local licenses.

  • Certain professions in West Virginia, such as contractors, lawyers, and technicians, require professional licenses.

Navigate West Virginia Business Licensing with Ease

Ensuring you have the right business licenses and permits is crucial. Let us manage the complexities for you, so you can stay focused on what you do best — running your business.

Apply For My Business Licenses

What Is a Business License?

Business licenses are essentially federal, state, or local government-issued permits. These permits enable you to do business within national, state, or city limits.

To start operating, a company must register with the state tax department, which will then issue a business registration certificate. This certificate will serve as the mandatory state license for all businesses in West Virginia.[1] However, most businesses will need additional licenses on the federal, state, and local levels.

Get Your West Virginia Business License in 8 Steps

The type of business licenses you’ll need will depend on factors like business location and activities. You can obtain all the necessary permits by following these eight simple steps.

Step 1: Apply for West Virginia General Business Licenses

When you start a business in West Virginia, you’ll need a business registration certificate. Although this permit isn’t called a general business license, it functions as such in practice. 

Applying for the certificate is relatively straightforward as you can do it online using the West Virginia One Stop Business Portal.[2]

Step 2: Apply for Federal Licenses for West Virginia Businesses

Businesses that operate on a federal level may be subject to special federal licensing. Similarly, if a company’s business activities are regulated federally, this type of licensing will be necessary.

Some industries under federal licensing regulations include trucking, broadcasting, and agriculture. These will require additional licenses from the relevant governing body, such as the Department of Agriculture.

Step 3: Search for West Virginia Permits and Licenses

The state of West Virginia requires some businesses to obtain special licenses for certain operations. You’ll need an additional license if you’re doing business in the following industries:

  • Selling or handling liquors

  • Distributing tobacco products

  • Selling food

  • Dealing with hazardous waste

The capitol building in the state of West Virginia | Swyft Filings

Step 4: Search for Local County or City West Virginia Business Licenses

Besides federal and state licenses, your West Virginia business might need permits from the local government to stay compliant with local regulations. These regulations may vary widely between counties, cities, and towns, so checking with local authority offices is a good idea.

The city of Charleston, for instance, requires permits for businesses operating from commercial locations. This is the Business License Certificate of Occupancy, and you can get it only upon Zoning, Fire Marshal, and Building Inspection approval. The city also mandates permits for food carts, peddlers, special events, and taxis or limousines.

In Huntington, many licenses in Charleston are also mandatory. Additional Huntington requirements include, for example, permits for outdoor dining establishments that utilize public surfaces.

Step 5: Search for West Virginia Professional Licenses

Some license requirements in West Virginia apply to specific professions. As defined by the Division of Labor, the following businesses need professional licenses. However, this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Contractors

  • Zipline operators

  • Elevator operators and maintenance services

  • Weight and measuring services

  • HVAC technicians

  • Amusement ride operators

  • Upholstery maintenance and manufacturing professionals

  • Plumbers

Step 6: Apply for a West Virginia Home-Based Business License

Most West Virginia cities and local authorities require home-based businesses to obtain special licenses. A local zoning office issues these permits according to particular regulations within the city or town.

Of course, home-based businesses also must get all other relevant licenses, permits, and certificates pertaining to their field of work. 

Step 7: Maintain Your West Virginia Business License

Each West Virginia business license you get will need to be renewed. How often you need to renew your license and which conditions apply for your company depends on your business type. 

One constant for all businesses will be that you must renew your license regularly to maintain good standing with state, local authorities, and the IRS.

We can help you do just that. You won’t need to worry about filing the right paperwork or handling specific obligations. Instead, our professionals will do all the heavy lifting in that regard and let you focus on the important aspects of your business.

Apply for a West Virginia Business License Online

When you consider every detail that requires your attention when getting a business license in West Virginia, the process can be quite daunting. It’s easy to make a mistake that may cost you additional time and resources down the line.

If possible errors and mishaps worry you, then getting expert help from Swyft Filings represents the best possible choice. You can use our filing service and let our experienced team take over the most complex licensing and business registration tasks.

Whether you need the basic filings with the West Virginia Secretary of State or want to take care of business license applications, we’ll ensure all your filings are submitted correctly and on time.

Stay Compliant in West Virginia Without the Hassle
  • Focus on Your Business: Dive into your passion while we handle the intricacies of acquiring the necessary local, state, and federal business licenses and permits.

  • Simplify Your Paperwork: Complete our straightforward questionnaire, and we’ll handle all the required filings for you, accurately and promptly.

  • Stay Compliant: Avoid the risks and severe repercussions of non-compliance. We’re here to ensure your business remains in good standing.

Begin My License Application Today


How do I get a business license in West Virginia?

When you start a business in West Virginia, you can apply with the West Virginia State Tax Department for a business registration certificate. You can find all required forms on the West Virginia Tax Division website. You should contact the appropriate county clerk, city officials, or federal authority for local and federal licenses.

Does West Virginia require a general business license?

Every business entity in West Virginia must submit a business registration application and get the corresponding certificate. The West Virginia business registration certificate can be viewed as a general business license; however, you may need additional federal, state, and local licenses.

Can you sell things in West Virginia without a license?

Any business that conducts sales or lease transactions needs a license to do so legally. The permit in question is the wholesale license; you’ll need it if you wish to sell tangible products or services. Certain businesses will be exempt from this requirement.

Do I need a special license for an online business in West Virginia?

You don't need a special license just because your business functions online. However, that doesn’t mean your company won’t need to get other licenses for specific areas of business or industries. 

Can I collect sales tax in West Virginia without a license?

You must register for a sales tax permit to collect sales and use tax in West Virginia. Sales tax collection without this permit would be illegal.

How much does a West Virginia business license cost?

Business registration certificates cost $30 regardless of your particular business type. Special and additional licensing will likely incur additional costs.

What’s the penalty for not having a business license in West Virginia?

Operating without a business registration certificate in West Virginia may subject you to different penalties. Most commonly, these penalties will be financial, but they might also entail lawsuits, potential business suspension, or even closure.


  1. License Lookup. “West Virginia Business License.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  2. West Virginia One Stop Business Portal. “Register Your Business.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

Originally published on October 05, 2023, and last edited on October 17, 2023.
business types

Learn more about each type of business

No matter the business type, Swyft Filings can help you form your new company.