What Business Licenses and Permits are Needed in West Virginia?

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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.

Business License – There is no general state of West Virginia business license, however many cities require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. 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 the city limits of Charleston 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 from Planning/Zoning Department, Building Department and the Fire Department.

The cost of the registration starts at $20 for the General Business License and may be higher depending on the activities of the business.

Huntington A Municipal Business License is required before starting a business or operating in the city limits of Huntington.  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 and 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 cost of the business license is $10.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN or Employer Identification Number.  The EIN is the business equivalent for 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.

Learn how to apply for an EIN.

West Virginia 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.

Professional License – A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services.  A few common professions 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.

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 a few of the most common business licenses, but there are way too many licenses and permits in West Virginia for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, check with the City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.  Additionally, there are companies like IncFile or CorpNet that can do the research to ensure you have the proper federal, state and local licenses.