Deciding the Business Structure

The first decision in forming a new business requires choosing the legal business structure to form - sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability company, etc. The business structure you choose influences everything including daily operations, taxes, and how much of your personal assets are at risk. Changing a business structure after it has been established can be very time consuming and costly involving multiple application procedures and various filing fees, so be sure to plan accordingly when making your decision. The structure you choose will depend on various factors, such as:

  • the number of people who will control the company
  • how business operation decisions are to be made
  • considerations involving legal and tax implications
  • liability issues
  • management structure
  • the ability to transfer ownership.

Visit the following links to learn more about the various business structures and their features:

The lists below include the possible business structures from which to choose when forming a business and the state agency through which the business must initially be registered. When a business entity forms through the West Virginia Secretary of State, it must also complete a business registration with the State Tax Department.

WV State Tax Department Logo

West Virginia State Tax Department

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • ​General Partnership ​
  • Joint Venture ​
  • Association
WV Secretary of State Logo

West Virginia Secretary of State

  • Corporation (profit or non-profit) ​
  • ​Benefit Corporation (profit only)
  • Cooperative Association (agriculture or broadband)
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • ​Limited Partnership (LP)
  • ​Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC)
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) ​
  • Voluntary Association
  • Business Trust
  • ​Unincorporated Nonprofit Association

New Business Startup Wizard

Unsure which business structure to choose? Use the Secretary of State's New Business Startup Wizard to help guide you in the right direction when selecting a business structure to suit your business needs. The Office of the Secretary of State can advise you on the type of business structures available, however, we cannot advise you on which structure to form. Legal Disclaimer: This tool is intended as a guide only and is not offered as professional legal or tax advice. We strongly recommend that you consult with an attorney and/or certified public accountant to determine the best business structure to choose when forming a business.

America's SBDC WV

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

Another excellent resource for business start-up information and assistance is the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Many of their services are provided at no cost to the public and they specialize in coaching and mentoring new business applicants throughout the life of the business. For more information or to speak with a business specialist, visit West Virginia SBDC online or call 1-888-WVA-SBDC (1-888-982-7232).

Occupation, Professional and Special Licenses and Permits

In some cases, you may be required to obtain special licenses before you register your business. For example:

  • Are you a licensed professional starting a professional limited liability company, medical or legal corporation? If so, you must apply for approval from your professional licensing board first. For example, the Secretary of State cannot accept a PLLC registration without the required verification of eligibility authorization from the appropriate state licensing board. See section on Occupational, Professional and Special Licenses and Permits for professional licensing board contact information.
  • Are you beginning a business that will require special licensing, such as the sale of lottery tickets, alcoholic beverages or other regulated materials or services? Find the appropriate contacts in the Special Licenses and Permits section and check on the requirements and limitations that may apply. For example, rules of the licensing agencies may affect the type of business you choose, or who may serve as officers of the new business.
WV State Tax Department

State Tax Department

Business Registration

Before engaging in business activity in West Virginia, every individual or business entity must obtain a West Virginia business registration certificate from the State Tax Department. Business activity is broadly defined. Learn more about the requirements by visiting the West Virginia State Tax Department Business Registration.

State Tax Calendar

It's important to know the tax calendar due dates associated with the filing frequency assigned by the West Virginia State Tax Department. This way you'll be prepared and can plan accordingly.

Business Tax Due Date Changes

West Virginia has changed some of the due dates for the filing of returns by corporations, partnerships and composite returns to reflect some of the due date changes made at the federal level. These changes are effective for returns filed for tax years beginning after December 31, 2015. Review the highlights of the changes here.

WV Division of Labor

Division of Labor

The following is a list of business activities that require registration or licensure with the West Virginia Division of Labor

Construction Business with Employees Wage Bond Requirements

With the exception of those companies that qualify for an exemption, every employer engaged in commercial construction or the severance, production or transportation of minerals (excluding railroads and water transporters) in West Virginia must post a wage bond with the Division of Labor to protect the wages and benefits of its employees. For more information, visit the Wage Bonding page. Email or call (304) 558-7890.

Business Servicing Devices that Measure Volume and/or Mass of Commodities or Fuel

Any business operating in WV servicing or installing weighing or measuring devices to be placed back in service for legal trade must have accurate and traceable standards and certify that each agent who performs work is trained in the applicable area of expertise. They are also required to notify the Division of Labor’s Weights & Measures office within 24 hours of servicing or conducting repairs to devices. For more information, visit the Weights and Measures page. Email or call (304) 722-0602.

Businesses Servicing/Installing Elevators

Any business operating in WV servicing or installing elevators may be required to obtain a contractor license. For more information, visit the Contractor Licensing page. Email: Phone: (304) 558-7890.

If employing elevator mechanics, those employees must obtain an elevator mechanic license. For more information, visit the Elevator Safety page. Email or call (304) 558-7890.

Businesses Operating Amusement Rides and Attractions or Zipline and/or Canopy Tours

Any business in WV operating amusement rides & attractions or zipline and/or canopy tours must acquire a permit for each attraction, canopy tour, ride or zipline from the Division of Labor and have them inspected before initial operation and on a yearly basis. For more information, visit the Amusement Rides and Attractions or Zipline and Canopy Tour page. Email or call (304) 558-7890.

Businesses Manufacturing, Renovating and Sterilizing Bedding and/or Upholstery Materials

All manufacturers, renovators and sterilizers of bedding and/or upholstery materials are required to register with the Division of Labor. For more information, visit the Bedding and Upholstery page. Email or call (304) 722-0602.

WorkForce WV

WorkForce West Virginia

Looking for qualified employees for your business? Or perhaps you're needing to file Unemployment Compensation for your existing employee base? The place to begin your search is WorkForce West Virginia, the one-stop center for all your workforce resource needs. Employers can post job listings, search for qualified employees, analyze labor market information, locate business services and register their required unemployment compensation account.

WV State Seal