Follow our free guide to form an LLC in West Virginia

The West Virginia LLC formation process includes several steps that can seem complicated; however, our comprehensive guide will walk you through all parts of starting your own LLC in West Virginia.

Pros and Cons of Forming an LLC in West Virginia


Pros

No Filing Fee for Veterans & Young Entrepreneurs
West Virginia offers a filing fee waiver for some businesses owners — veterans and young entrepreneurs (ages 18 - 29) may qualify to be exempt from paying the $100 filing fee.

No Corporate/Franchise Taxes
West Virginia does not impose any corporate or franchise tax on LLCs. The only taxes owed on the LLC’s revenue is the personal income tax paid by the members.

Equality Opportunities
West Virginia tops the list for states with the lowest employment and salary gap for minorities and women. According to a recent report, the state leads the rest of the nation with the lowest income gap between genders and education gap between races.

Cons

Lagging Economy
According, to US News, West Virginia is one of the lowest-ranked states in the nation (#47). One of the main reasons is the state’s sluggish economy, including a negative job growth rate (-0.3% vs 1.6%) and high unemployment (5.3% vs .0%).

High Poverty Rate
West Virginia’s poverty rate is a shocking 5% higher than the national average (19.1% vs 14%);  almost 350,000 residents earn below the national poverty level of $12,000. The poverty rate has climbed almost 3% since 2017.

Less Privacy for Owners
West Virginia law requires the LLC members/manager to be listed in the Articles of Organization.

Cost of Doing Business

  • $100 filing fee
  • $25 annual report
  • No corporate/franchise tax

Phase One: Starting Your West Virginia LLC

The first phase of setting up your LLC in West Virginia involves laying the groundwork for your new business. Begin the process with the following steps:

Step 1: Name Your West Virginia LLC

Forming your West Virginia LLC begins with selecting a business name. Keep in mind that both state and federal governments have guidelines concerning which words can/cannot be used in business names.

Tip: Use a free business name search tool to ensure your company’s desired name is available. If the name is unavailable, try a free business name generator to help ideate alternative names.

Business Name Guidelines

  • The official name of your business must end with: Limited Liability Company, Limited Company, LLC, or L.L.C.
  • Your business name cannot be intentionally misleading to consumers
  • The name of your new LLC must not be similar to another organization’s name/trademark

Restrictions

  • “Lottery” and “Bank” are ineligible for use (any state)
  • Terms that represent educational or Veterans’ organizations are restricted
  • Terms related to the Armed Forces or civil servants (police, EMT, fire)

LLC business names associated with government and/or financial entities are not always restricted - it depends on the state. Additional paperwork may be required.

URL Availability
After choosing a name for your LLC, you should also create an online presence for your new business. Check out domain name availability at a number of online web services sites.

Step 2: Establish Ownership

The owners of an LLC are referred to as members and managers. All LLCs will have members, but not every LLC will have managers —  the difference depends on the management structure of the business.

LLC Management Structures:

  • Member-managed: All members participate in operating and making decisions for the LLC
  • Manager-managed: An appointed manager oversees the daily operations of the LLC while the members are less involved. 

West Virginia LLC Member Guidelines

Required Number of Members
There must be at least one member or manager to form an LLC in West Virginia.

Member Disclosure Requirements
All managers/members of the LLC must be included in the Articles of Organization.

Age Restrictions
LLC members in West Virginia may be of any age.

Residence Restrictions
There are no residency restrictions imposed on LLC members in West Virginia.

Step 3: Find a Registered Agent in West Virginia

The registered agent is necessary for all LLCs formed in West Virginia. In fact, your business cannot be official without the registered agent.

What is a registered agent?
A registered agent is a person or business who is authorized to accept official government mail and service of process notices on behalf of the LLC.

Why do you need a registered agent?
State law mandates that you appoint a registered agent so that your LLC has a consistent contact person.

What are the main requirements for a registered agent?

  • The registered agent must have a physical address — not a P.O. Box
  • The registered agent must be available during business hours

Who can be a registered agent in West Virginia?

  • A WV resident with a physical address
  • An LLC or corporation that is licensed to do business in West Virginia

Is the registered agent’s contact information publicly accessible?
The name and contact information of the LLC’s registered agent is a matter of public record.  

Can I be my own registered agent for my business?
You are legally allowed to be your own registered agent as long as you have a physical address in West Virginia.

Is being my own registered agent discouraged?
LLC business owners risk compromising their personal information if they choose to be their own registered agent.

Tip: Avoid the hassles and choose Swyft Filings to fill the registered agent needs for small businesses in West Virginia. Find more information here.

Step 4: File the Articles of Organization

The most important step in creating an LLC in West Virginia is filing the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.

What is the Articles of Organization?
The Articles of Organization is a legally binding document that officially and legally forms your LLC through the Secretary of State.

Why do I need the Articles of Organization?
Your LLC business in West Virginia will not be legally recognized by the Secretary of State without filing this document. Consider the Articles of Organization as part of your LLC’s foundation.

What is the cost of filing the Articles of Organization?
The filing fee for West Virginia is $100.

Please Note: West Virginia may grant a filing fee waiver for any new business formed by a veteran(s) or young entrepreneur(s) between 18 — 29 years.  

What information is included in the Articles of Organization?

  • The name and address of the LLC
  • The name and location of the registered agent
  • The names of all members/managers
  • The name of the organizer — if applicable
  • The chosen LLC management structure
  • The duration of the LLC

Additional West Virginia Filing Information — Professional LLCs

Certain professional service businesses in West Virginia may form a specific type of LLC known as a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC).

The following professions may form PLLCs:

  • Accountants
  • Attorneys
  • Physicians and Veterinarians
  • Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons
  • Podiatrists, Optometrists, Dentists
  • Chiropractors and Acupuncturists
  • Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors
  • Psychologists and Social Workers

A few points to consider:

  • All members of the PLLC must be licensed in the profession of the business.
  • The PLLC is only allowed to provide services for which the business was formed.
  • The members are still subject to whichever licensing boards govern the PLLC’s profession.

Step 5: Create an LLC Operating Agreement

The continued success of your West Virginia LLC depends on whether your new business has an LLC Operating Agreement. Though not required by law, this document is still essential in the formation process of your LLC.

What is an LLC Operating Agreement?
The LLC Operating Agreement is a legal document that defines the roles and rights of the LLC members/managers and clearly identifies the operating guidelines for the business.

Why do I need an LLC Operating Agreement?
The LLC Operating Agreement is essential to your business because it provides structure, protects assets from creditors, and reduces disputes and lawsuits among members.

Do I need to file the LLC Operating Agreement?
There is no need to file the Operating Agreement anywhere; it is for the benefit of your LLC and remains in-house.

What goes into an LLC Operating Agreement?
Every LLC Operating Agreement is unique to the business; however, most documents include the following information:

  • List of the members/managers and their roles
  • Designation of authority in the LLC
  • Initial capital contributions of the members
  • Voting designations and percentages of the members
  • Member transfer/addition rules and restrictions
  • Distribution of profits
  • Meeting schedule

Tip: Get a customized LLC Operating Agreement for your small business with Swyft Filings. Add structure to your LLC now.

Step 6: Register for an EIN

Most businesses formed in West Virginia must register for an EIN. Your LLC will not be able to conduct business without the EIN.

What is an EIN?
The EIN is a nine-digit number that identifies your business with the federal government and is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What does EIN stand for?
EIN is an acronym for Employer Identification Number. It is also known as a Federal Tax ID.

Are all businesses required to have an EIN?
Federal law dictates that certain types of business entities register for an EIN:

  • Any business with employees (even if owned by one person)
  • Any business with more than one member
  • A partnership (LLC or C-corp)

Please Note: A sole proprietorship is not required to have an EIN, but it is still recommended.

Why does my LLC business need an EIN?
The more common reasons you would need an EIN are:

  • To hire employees
  • To open a bank account in the U.S.
  • To file your company’s taxes
  • To pay independent contractors

In short, if you make money through your business and it has employees, you must have an EIN.

Is the EIN publicly listed?
The EIN for your LLC will be part of public record.

Can I use my Social Security Number as the EIN?
You can use your social security number as your business’s EIN; however, keep in mind that your EIN is public information.

Swyft Filings offers EIN services for small businesses in West Virginia. Find more information here.

Phase Two: Maintaining Your West Virginia LLC

The next phase of starting your LLC in West Virginia centers on getting your business ready to operate and meeting additional compliance requirements. The next steps are below:

Step 1: Register for West Virginia State Taxes

 West Virginia does not charge LLCs with a corporate or franchise tax. LLC members are still required to pay state and federal income taxes on their earnings.

State Income Taxes
West Virginia’s state income tax rates are listed in the table below:


Corporate Tax Information
You can also choose to have your LLC taxed as a corporation; if so, you will be responsible for paying the 6.5% corporate income tax rate on your business’s net income.

Additional Tax Information
Other taxes your LLC may need to pay:

  • Sales and Use Tax at 6%
  • Employee Withholding Tax
  • Unemployment Tax

Step 2: Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

All businesses operating in West Virginia must register for a Business Registration Certificate and pay the $30 registration fee. Some exemptions to fee may include:

  • A non-profit organization
  • An agriculture/farming business
  • Any US tax-exempt business

Additional licenses and permits required for an LLC in West Virginia can vary, depending on a number of variables:

  • Location (city and county)
  • Type of Business
  • Industry

Tip: If you would like to see more in-depth information on licenses and permits, please feel free to visit the content in our learning library that covers business licenses and permits.

Step 3: File an Annual Report

All businesses formed in West Virginia are required to file an annual report with the Secretary of State.

What is an annual report?
An annual report is a legal form that is filed with the Secretary of State to update/verify your business’s information.

What kind of information is in the annual report?
The information requested in the annual report is similar to what is in the Articles of Organization:

  • The name and address of the business
  • The name and address of the registered agent
  • The number of employees
  • The business’s EIN
  • The LLC’s domain name

Is the annual report part of public record?
The annual report filed on behalf of your LLC is a matter of public record.

Fees and Due Date

Fee: $25
Due Date: July 1st
Frequency: Every year
Implications of Late Filings: $50 late fee

Swyft Filings helps you stay compliant by providing stress-free solutions. File your annual report with us today.

Step 4: Request a Certificate of Good Standing

After your West Virginia LLC is set up and ready to go, the last step is to obtain a Certificate of Good Standing.

What is a Certificate of Good Standing?
The Certificate of Good Standing is an official notification that affirms your business is properly formed with the state government.

Who issues the Certificate of Good Standing?
The Certificate of Good Standing is generally issued by the Secretary of State.

When can I request a Certificate of Good Standing for my business?
Your LLC can obtain a Certificate of Good Standing after your business is officially formed.

Why do I need a Certificate of Good Standing?
Having a Certificate of Good Standing gives credibility to your new LLC for banks, financial institutions, and other businesses.

Does the Certificate of Good Standing have an expiration date?
The Certificate of Good Standing does not expire/does not need to be renewed.

Swyft Filings can create a Certificate of Good Standing for your West Virginia LLC. Click here for more information.

Additional West Virginia Resources