How to Incorporate in West Virginia

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If you’re looking to incorporate in West Virginia, you’re in the right place. This guide will help you file formation documents, get tax identification numbers, and set up your company records.

Paperwork Cost Time
  • Form CD-1: West Virginia Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form 2553: S-Corp Election, if desired
  • Form WV/BUS-APP: West Virginia Office of Business Registration
  • Incorporation: $50
  • State tax registration: $30.
  • Incorporation: ~1-2 business days mail or online.
  1. Choose a corporate structure

    Incorporating means starting a corporation. If you want to form an LLC, please see "How to Form an LLC in West Virginia".

    Is your corporation for-profit or not-for-profit? If you are starting a nonprofit, please see "How to Start a Non-Profit Organization in West Virginia".

    C-Corp and S-Corp refer to taxation with the IRS, not to legal structures. Your corporation is taxed as a C-Corp unless you file an election to be taxed as an S-Corp (explained below).

  2. Check Name Availability

    The legal name of your corporation may not conflict with any other registered name. Check availability of your desired name by conducting a name search.

    Name Search: West Virginia Secretary of State - Business and Licensing Division
    Name Reservation: Optional
    Suffix Requirements:

    Must contain the word "corporation", "incorporated", "company" or "limited", or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co." or "ltd.", or words or abbreviations of like import in another language. 
    West Virginia Code §31D-4-401

  3. Appoint a Registered Agent

    Identify the corporation’s West Virginia registered agent. This individual or company receives notice of lawsuit and other legal service for the corporation.

  4. File West Virginia Articles of Incorporation

    File the articles of incorporation to create your corporation.

    Agency:West Virginia Secretary of State - Business and Licensing Division
    Form:

    Form CD-1: Articles of Incorporation

    Filing Method:

    Mail or online.

    Agency Fee:

    $100 ($30 tax registration fee also applies if filed online)

    Law:

    West Virginia Code - Chapter 31D: West Virginia Business Corporation Act

    Notes:
    • The incorporation fee is waived for Veteran-owned and Young Entrepreneur corporations. 
    • File the original and one copy that will be returned to you.
  5. Establish Bylaws & Corporate Records

    Your corporation must keep correct and complete books and records.

    A corporation shall keep as permanent records minutes of all meetings of its shareholders and board of directors, a record of all actions taken by the shareholders or board of directors without a meeting and a record of all actions taken by a committee of the board of directors in place of the board of directors on behalf of the corporation.
    W. Va. Code §31D-16-1601

    Your filed articles of incorporation are the first document for your corporate records. Your corporation will generate many other official records such as bylaws, meeting minutes, and your EIN.

    Office supplies intended for a corporation will help you stay organized and save time. Optionally, get a corporate record book, seal, and document templates.

    Draft bylaws (potentially using a template) which is the governing document for the corporation. The bylaws of a corporation may contain any provision for managing the business and regulating the affairs of the corporation that is not inconsistent with law or the articles of incorporation (W. Va. Code §31D-2-205). You will review and ratify the bylaws at your first board of directors meeting.

  6. Appoint Initial Directors

    The initial directors serve on the board until the annual meeting of shareholders (when directors are elected to the board). If the initial directors are not named in the articles of incorporation, they are appointed by the incorporator. The incorporator documents and signs this action for the corporate records.

  7. Hold Organizational Meeting

    Hold the organizational meeting of the incorporators or initial directors in compliance with W. Va. Code §31D-2-204. Keep minutes of this meeting.

    The following state laws apply unless overridden by the organizational documents, where permissible.

    Directors Officers
    • Number: One or more required.
    • Qualifications: None.
    • Quorum: Majority of directors, unless bylaws or articles of incorporations fix a different number. No less than one third.
    • As provided in the bylaws.
  8. Issue Stock Certificates

    The owners may be issued stock certificates to serve as proof of ownership in the corporation. Remember to hold the first annual meeting of the shareholders (the owners of the corporation) according to bylaws and keep minutes of this meeting.

    The following state laws apply unless overridden by the organizational documents, where permissible.

    Shareholders Annual Shareholder Meeting
    • Qualifications: N/A
    • Stock Certificate: Optional, but shareholder must receive a writing with the same information.
    • Voting Trusts Allowed: Yes.
    • Required: Yes.
    • Action by written consent: Allowed if consent is unanimous among all entitled to vote on the action.
  9. Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

    Your corporation must obtain an EIN regardless of whether it will hire employees.

    Submit to: Internal Revenue Service
    http://www.irs.gov/
    Form: IRS Form SS-4
    Guidance: IRS Pub 1635: Understanding Your EIN
    Filing Method: Mail, phone, fax, or apply online with the IRS
    Fee: $0
    Turnaround: Immediately online
    Notes: The IRS website is only available during certain hours. Print your EIN before closing your session.
  10. Get West Virginia State Tax Identification Numbers/Accounts

    West Virginia offers a consolidated state tax registration application for new businesses.


    Agency:West Virginia State Tax Department
    Form:Form WV/BUS-APP: West Virginia Office of Business Registration (form begins on page 7)
    Filing Method:Mail or online
    Agency Fee:$30
    Fact Checked:5/12/20
  11. Consider Electing S-Corp Taxation

    By default, your corporation is taxed as a C-Corporation. Some corporations, especially smaller ones, benefit from electing S-Corp tax treatment:

    • C-Corps suffer from double taxation: the corporation pays taxes on profits then members pay taxes on their distributions. If profits exceed $250,000 per owner, you provide employee benefits, or you will re-invest most of your profit in the business, you may benefit from the low tax rates on retained earnings under C-Corp treatment.
    • S-Corp treatment avoids double-taxation. It is generally the best choice for small businesses. To accomplish this, file Form 2553: S-Corp Election with the IRS.
  12. Obtain Business Licenses & Permits

    To run your business legally, you must obtain applicable licenses and permits. The easiest way to navigate the wide range of federal, state, and local requirements is to search by your business type and locality using the Small Business Administration Business License & Permit look-up tool.


    West Virginia Business License

    Not required



    General Business License licensure is not required on the State level in West Virginia.

    West Virginia does not have a general business license at the state level, but local licenses are often required.

  13. Ongoing Filings to Maintain Your Corporation

    You must file federal and state tax returns. You must also file:

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