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The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a smart entity choice for many start-up businesses. The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes. With a little research, you can learn how to form an LLC in Virginia without an attorney.
Unlike a sole proprietorship or partnership where the small business owner can be personally liable for lawsuits against the business, the LLC is a separate legal structure, protecting for the business owner’s personal assets.
Besides the liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides several other benefits over the sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation because of the multiple tax options, ease of administration and management flexibility.
Forming an LLC in Virginia can be both affordable and is simple enough for most people to start on their own. That said, it’s not a bad idea to have a legal professional like While the filing is pretty straightforward, it’s nice to have some support if you have questions, alerts when the annual report is due, forms like operating agreements, banking resolutions and more. There are companies like IncFile or ZenBusiness and others that do all of this for as little as $49.
To form a Limited Liability Company in Virginia, file the Articles of Organization with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The LLC filing fee is $100.
Approval for the LLC is typically less than two weeks when filing by mail and filing online through the eFile Express approval is immediate.
HOW TO FILE THE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION AND FORM A VIRGINIA LLC
The steps for filing online or by mail are largely the same. The screenshots show how to file online with the eFile Express system as the filing is instant.
- Create an account on the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s website.
- Next, click on “Form a Virginia Limited Liability Company“.
Step 1: Entity Name
Enter the name you want for the LLC. The name of the LLC also has to differ from other entity names registered with the State Corporation Commission. You can also check on available LLC names in Virginia before going through the filing process to be sure the one you want is available.
The name of the LLC must also include a designator at the end of the business name. A designator describes what type of business entity it is. Available designators include:
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Company
A comma may be used after the business name and before the designator. “Cowboy Cleaners LLC” and “Cowboy Cleaners, LLC” are both acceptable.
Enter the name along with the designator you would like to use and click on “Check Name” If the name is distinguishable a message will show up saying “Proposed Entity Name is distinguishable”. If the name you select is not distinguishable, the message will say “Name is not distinguishable from another entity in the Commission records” and a new name will need to be selected.
Step 2: Registered Agent
A Registered Agent in Virginia must be identified before forming an LLC. The Registered Agent can either be a resident of Virginia (Select “an individual who is a resident of Virginia” button) or a business or Registered Agent service (Select “a corporation or limited liability company that is authorized or registered to transact business in Virginia” button). The Registered Agent must have a physical address in the state (PO Boxes are not allowed) and act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc on behalf of the LLC.
Even though the business owner can be the registered agent, their name and address become public record and with that comes a loss of privacy. This is more important for some entrepreneurs, especially when they are doing business from home.
Step 3: Principal Address
In this section, enter the street address, city, state and zip code of the initial principal office. This address can be the physical address of the LLC or it can be the address where the business records are stored. You may not use a PO Box for the designated office.
Step 4: Signature
Have an individual forming the LLC to accept the terms and conditions and sign. Click the “Document Preview” button to review the document.
Step 5: Review
Review that all the information is correct. If there are no corrections, click “Pay and File”
Step 6: Pay and File
Pay and file the Articles of Organization.
If filing online, the LLC will be approved immediately.
That concludes the basics of forming an LLC in Virginia. Remember, even though you can do it yourself, there is more to an LLC than just the filing. If you have questions, work with an attorney or a specialized entity formation company such as IncFile or ZenBusiness to make sure everything is done correctly.
While not required, an Operating Agreement is recommended in many cases. An Operating Agreement is a legal document outlining the roles and responsibilities for the members of the LLC. Read more about when an LLC needs an Operating Agreement.
After filing the LLC, be sure to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN is basically a social security number for a business and will be needed before opening a business bank account. There is no cost to apply and it takes about 5 minutes to get. See how to apply for an EIN.
Last, before starting a business in Virginia, you may still need to apply for business licenses, sales tax permits, self-employment taxes and more in Virginia. See the Guide to Starting a Business in Virginia for more information.