What Business Licenses and Permits are Needed in West Virginia?
Starting a business in West Virginia will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in West Virginia.
Before applying for any licenses, the legal structure of the business will need to be established. Learn more about the differences between the sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
Related: Comparison of Business Entities
Learn more about forming an LLC in West Virginia
Also see: Steps to starting a business in West Virginia
General Business Licenses
There is no general state of West Virginia business license, however, many cities require businesses to be licensed. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does. Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements.
Charleston – All new businesses starting or operating in Charleston’s city limits will need to fill out the Business Registration Application from the Charleston Office of the City Collector. Businesses operating out of a physical location will need to have the building inspected by the Planning and Zoning Department, Building Department, and the Fire Department.
The registration cost starts at $20 for the General Business License and may be higher depending on the business activities.
Huntington – A Municipal Business License is required before starting a business or operating in Huntington’s city limits. The Business License Application is available through the Huntington Finance Division.
The cost of the business license starts at $20 and could be higher depending on the type of business. Businesses selling alcohol, video lottery, tattoo parlors, body piercing, and mobile food vendors have additional requirements. Businesses operating out of a physical location will need a Certificate of Occupancy before starting. If the business is being operated out of a personal residence, a Home Occupation Permit is required.
Parkersburg – To get a business license in Parkersburg, the business location has to be approved by the Zoning Office and an inspection from the Code Department and Fire Inspector. After approval, the business can obtain a Certificate of Occupancy and Business License.
The filing fee for a Parkersburg business license is $10.
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Building & Zoning Permits
Zoning – Depending on the location of the business, it’s important to verify whether the business needs an occupancy permit or has specific zoning regulations to follow. Depending on city requirements, home-based businesses may need to apply for a home occupation permit.
Building Permit – A building permit may be needed from the city or county building and planning department if there is any construction or renovations to a facility.
Signage Permit – Some municipalities require a permit before adding signage.
Business Registration Certificate
Any person or business engaging in business activity in West Virginia must obtain a Business Registration Certificate (sometimes known as a Business License) with the West Virginia State Tax Department before starting any business activities. This certificate is used to register for a West Virginia Sales Tax Permit.
Certificate of Exemption
Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a West Virginia Certificate of Exemption in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.
A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services. A few common occupations that require licensing in West Virginia include; accountants, cosmetologists, landscapers, massage therapists, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for professions in West Virginia are available from the West Virginia Association of Licensing Boards.
In addition to professional licenses from the Association of Licensing Boards, businesses in a variety of industries such as food establishments and daycares also require licensing.
A contractor’s license is needed for all businesses and individuals to work on any building project valued above $2,500. To get a license, a test is needed depending on the specialty, in addition to a Business & Law exam. Contact the West Virginia Division of Labor for more information.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN (also referred to as a FEIN, Federal Employer Identification Number, or Federal Tax ID Number). The EIN is the business equivalent of a Social Security Number for an individual. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number.
There is no cost for an EIN, and it only takes a few minutes to get.
Trade Name Registration
While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for a Trade Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the business is located.
These are just some of the most common business licenses a new business will need to register before starting. Before starting your business, be sure to check with City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.