What Business Licenses and Permits are Needed in Virginia?

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Starting a business in 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 Virginia.

Business License – There is no general state of 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. 

Virginia Beach – All businesses operating in the city limits of Virginia Beach, even home-based businesses are required to file a business license application with the Commissioner of Revenue.

Norfolk All businesses and professional operations must purchase a business license before starting in Norfolk. 

The cost of a business license is based on the estimated annual revenues of the business. Businesses under $100,000 will be assessed a minimum business license fee of $50. Businesses over $100,000 will have a tax rate based on the type of business activities (contractors, retail, repair/personal/business services, financial/real estate/professional services and wholesale businesses)

Cheaspeake – The Cheaspeake Commissioner of the Revenue assesses business license taxes on any business activity conducted in the city limits of Chesapeake. All businesses must purchase a license before starting operations.

Richmond – Before starting a business or conducting business activities in Richmond, a New Business License Application will need to be filed.  The cost of a business license varies depending on the gross receipts of the business and type of activities performed by the business.

Newport News – Within 30 days of starting a business, a Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) will need to be applied for through the Commissioner of Revenue.

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.

Virginia Business Registration – Most businesses will need to register with Virginia Department of Taxation to receive a Virginia Tax Account Number.  As a part of the registration process, businesses selling products at retail and/or offering certain services will register for a Sales Tax Certificate.

Sales Tax Certificate of Exemption – Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Virginia Sales Tax Certificate of Exemption (also called a Resale Certificate) 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 Virginia include; home inspectors, landscapers, nail technicians, tattooists and many more.   Additional information, fees and licensing requirements for professions are available from the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

In addition to professional licenses, businesses in a variety of industries such as food establishments, daycares, salvage yards and many others require licensing.

Contractor License – The DPOR Board for Contractors licenses businesses that are engaged in the construction, removal, repair, or improvement of facilities on property owned by others. 

Fictitious 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 Fictitious Trade Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in each county or city where business is to be conducted.

These are a few of the most common business licenses, but there are way too many licenses and permits in 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.