Register and License Your Business

No matter what kind of business you will be developing, you’ll need to address legal structure and Employee Identification Number.


Legal structure

You’ll want to make sure your business is licensed to operate in West Virginia. The first step is to decide what kind of business entity (legal structure) is best for you. For a description of the pros and cons of the various legal structures, go to the Secretary of State’s forms of business organization information.


Employee Identification Number (EIN or FEIN)

Employers with employees, business partnerships, and corporations must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Even if you are a sole proprietor and don’t have employees, it is still good practice to obtain an EIN.   You may need the EIN for some government forms, banks often require it for loans and it can be used instead of your personal Social Security Number to protect against identity theft.  Please note:  The WV Secretary of State strongly recommends contacting their office before applying for your EIN to avoid any possible name duplications that would require you to re-file.

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) online


The general process

Step 1: Create a business plan

For any business, the first step is to turn your basic idea into a written, viable plan of action. A well-thought out business plan is necessary for obtaining loans and is a model for your success. Refer to BusinessLink business planning section for more assistance.

Step 2: Decide on your business structure and register your business name

Careful consideration must be given to the management, structural and tax implications of your decision. While not a replacement for sound legal or tax advice, see forms of business organization.

  • To register a business name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership: Contact your local county recorder where you intend to do business.
  • To file a Corporation, LLC, LLP, or Limited Partnership, contact the Secretary of State’s office for application forms and filing requirements. This process is made more simple by the WV Secretary of State One Stop Business Portal New Business Start-Up Wizard. This award winning online tool will walk you through the process step by step with a series of questions.

Step 3: Get license requirements

The State may require additional license or business registration paperwork to be completed. It is also important to check with city/town & county governments where you intend to do business to determine licensing requirements.

Step 4: Obtain the necessary tax information

Taxation for small businesses may be simple or complex, depending on the size and business structure. The tax liability for each business will be different and you should consult your attorney and accountant regarding comprehensive tax planning.

Step 5: Identify sources of financing

Refer to the financing section of the website for more information.  Also use the Resource Navigator to do a search for organizations that provide financing.

Step 6: Learn about employer reporting requirements and responsibilities

As an employer, you will be responsible for additional employment insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. This includes applying for federal and state withholding numbers.

Use the West Virginia Secretary of State One Stop Business Portal!

The fastest, most convenient way for entrepreneurs in West Virginia to register their business is using the online process available through the One Stop Business Portal. You may pay the filing fees using a debit or credit card or ACH electronic check.
Online filing completes your registration with:
  • West Virginia Secretary of State
  • West Virginia State Tax Department, and
  • WorkForce West Virginia (Unemployment Compensation).
Download the Business Registration Instructions to review and/or print a hard copy of the online filing instructions for your convenience. If you have an immediate need your business registration filing, the West Virginia Secretary of State offers Expedited Registration to accelerate the process for an additional fee. At the entrepreneur’s discretion, the work can be expedited in as little as one hour.
Note: You must first register with the Internal Revenue Service to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) before registering your business online through the One Stop Business Portal.
Filing required business registrations with all the state agencies is now fast and easy through the West Virginia Secretary of State’s One Stop Business Portal.
For more assistance with this portal, please contact the WV Secretary of State Business and Licensing staff at (304) 558-8000 or go online to The WV One Stop Business Portal.
Additionally, entrepreneurs can get in person help at the One Stop Business Center.
One Stop Business Center
The WV Secretary of State makes registration easy with the One Stop Business Center

One Stop Business Center
1615 Washington Street, East
Charleston, WV 25311
Phone: (304) 558-8000

Hours of Operation
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Secretary of State
Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.