Whether you’re researching the availability of a business name or checking the status of a business entity the West Virginia Secretary of State website has the information you are looking for.
The Secretary of State Business Entity Database provides information on corporations and LLCs registered in West Virginia. The names of sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not centralized. Instead, they are registered with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the business is located.
There is no fee to search the database.
What information can be looked up?
The database search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:
- Business Name
- Entity Type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
- Status – Active means the entity is in good standing and all reports and filing fees are up to date. “Inactive” results may be available to register.
- Principal Office Address – This could be the physical address of the business or it could be an address where business records are stored.
- Eff Date – Date the entity first became active with the state.
- Fil Date – Date the entity was first filed with the Secretary of State
- Officers – Names of the officers and their title
How to do a West Virginia Business Name Search
Visit the West Virginia Secretary of State website.
Enter the name you would like to use in the “Organization Name” field. In this example, we will look up “Cleaning Queens”.
Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Cleaning Queens”. To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in West Virginia, the name must be distinguishable from the other names registered. If you were looking to form an LLC with this name you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.
To find more information about any of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Details” column to see a detailed report.
While the name “Cleaning Queens” by itself may not be available, other variants are such as “Cleaning Queens of West Virginia”. Searching for this business name brings a result that says “No Records Found”. Even if the name looks like it is available the Secretary of State will do their own search to avoid confusing potential customers with a business name that sounds like someone else’s. Typically words that sound alike but are spelled differently and even abbreviations will make names show up as available but won’t be approved.
These are the basics of searching for a business name in West Virginia. Even when the name of the business you want looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will make a final determination at the time of filing to ensure the name you picked isn’t too similar to other registered names.
How do I form an LLC?
Before starting your business and forming an LLC, be sure to do the business entity search first to make sure the name is available to use. Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form a West Virginia LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.
While not required in West Virginia, an Operating Agreement, which contains the rules for how the LLC operates, may be a document worth considering especially for multi-member LLCs.
After forming a Limited Liability Company, be sure to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is a “social security number” for the business. There is no cost to get one through the IRS.
After forming the LLC, West Virginia business licenses and permits may still be necessary.