Welcome to the Start a Business guide to business filing in West Virginia. The purpose of our tutorials is to navigate prospective business owners and operators through the registration process put in place by the Secretary of State. Whether forming a partnership, a corporation or a limited liability company, our step-by-step guides have you covered. All business entities will be able to benefit from the Business 4 West Virginia online portal, a website that allows the business filer to submit their information to not only the Secretary of State but also to the State Tax Department and the Unemployment Compensation Division. Our webpages also feature the requisite PDFs and descriptions of their contents for those who wish to file through the mail. Scroll down and peruse the various tutorials linked throughout this page to gain a full understanding what’s in store for you going forward.
Start an Entity
Search for a Name
The Business Entity Search function on the government website allows individuals to search the name database for any business on file with the West Virginia Secretary of State. This function is often used when researching the availability of an entity name prior to registration, a step that we recommend each business filer takes once an designation has been chosen. The business entity search can also be used to gain access to a business’s filing history and general business details of each entity on file with the Secretary of State. For instance, if you have forgotten your organization ID, you will be able to retrieve it in just a few simple steps with the help of this search tool.
West Virginia Online Account
Those choosing to file online will be required to first create an online account with the Business 4 West Virginia portal. The account creation process should take less than a minute or two and will enable you to file with the Secretary of State, the State Tax Department, and the Unemployment Compensation Division simultaneously once the account has been set up. Though the online filing process takes a while to complete, it covers all bases and enables your entity to begin operations immediately after your application is accepted.
How to File in West Virginia
Step 1– The first step that we would recommend is ensuring that your operating name is indeed available for use in the state of West Virginia. Any business entity which has a name that might be considered indistinguishable or deceptively similar to yours will most likely cause your application to be rejected upon submission. To perform this inquiry, use the Business Entity Search function. This would also be a good time to perform a Name Reservation ($15) if you need additional time (120 days) in which to file.
Step 2 – We suggest that, after securing your entity name, you proceed by downloading your filing forms or by navigating to the online portal and accessing them electronically. Most business entities will have the ability to choose between filing options. Click on the link below which corresponds with the entity type you plan on registering to gain insight into its filing specifications.
- Domestic Profit Corporation
- Domestic Non-Profit Corporation
- Foreign Profit Corporation
- Foreign Non-Profit Corporation
- Domestic Limited Partnership
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership
- Foreign Limited Partnership
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership
Step 3 – Once the filing forms have been completed, online or by PDF, you will be able to prepare the filing fee (full list found below). If you have chosen to use the online portal, you will be required to pay your filing fee by credit card. Those submitting their applications in the mail will need to pay by check made out to the West Virginia Secretary of State. If you are filing as a foreign entity, you will also be asked to attach a certificate of good standing or like document which has been issued by the appropriate authority in your jurisdiction of initial formation. Send all paper filings to the below address.
Secretary of State
Bldg. 1, Suite 157-K
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston, WV 25305
- Domestic Profit Corporation- $50
- Domestic Non-Profit Corporation- $25
- Foreign Profit Corporation- $100
- Foreign Non-Profit Corporation- $50
Limited Liability Company
- Domestic Limited Liability Company-$100
- Foreign Limited Liability Company-$150
- Domestic Limited Partnership- $100
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership- $250
- Foreign Limited Partnership- $150
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership- $500
When preparing for registration, it’s often a good idea to file for a Name Reservation in order to ensure that your chosen operating name will not be used in the time it takes you to get your affairs in order. In West Virginia this filing must be accomplished through the mail despite the extensive online portal that has been made available for the registration of business entities. When submitting your documents, you must provide a check made out to the West Virginia Secretary of State which covers the $15 filing fee. If your application is accepted, your name will be secured for a period of 120 days.
Certificate of Existence
In the state of West Virginia, the process of purchasing a Certificate of Existence is extremely straight forward. You will be required to search for your name using the Business Entity Search and navigate to your business details page where you should see the link to purchase the Certificate of Existence. After this, all that will be asked of you is some very basic information and your credit card details in order to purchase this document (filing fee: $10). Generally, a Certificate of Existence is used when entities are expanding to foreign jurisdictions and need to prove their existence or good standing. It is not uncommon for financial institutions to also demand this certificate when financing is requested of them.
West Virginia state law has not made it mandatory for new businesses to register with the use of a corporate bylaw, an operating agreement or a partnership agreement. These agreements will instead be filed internally at the entity’s principle office and with each signing party. The purpose of a document of this nature is to delineate the rules and regulations by which your entity is to function, which will provide a clear representation of the relationship between each managing member and the entity itself. Furthermore, any logistical or financial provision that has not already been stated in the original formation documents can be relayed here to ensure that there is absolutely clarity in regards to the company’s internal affairs. Click on the link below which matches the entity you plan on forming to gain access to our free templates, available for download in both MS Word format and Adobe PDF.
Employer Identification Number
When forming a new entity, it is often required of you to apply for an Employer Identification Number. This identifier is issued by the Internal Revenue Service to all employers (entities as well as individuals) that pay withheld taxes on their employees in the United States. Once obtained, the employer can then apply for financing, legally hire employees, open bank accounts and otherwise perform financial transactions as an independent entity. Consider the EIN as the corporate equivalent to the Social Security Number. For more information on the application process, both Online and through the mail, click on this link to be brought to our step-by-step guide.