How to Start a Business in Virginia
Guide to Starting a Business in Virginia
You’re ready to start your own Virginia business, and we’re ready to provide you with a complete guide on how to be successful every step of the way!
This guide walks you through all the steps to consider from beginning to end when starting an LLC or corporation in Virginia, including any helpful information you may need along the way such as prices, timeframes, forms, and links to helpful resources.
Starting a business in Virginia is straightforward and affordable. The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) files your business formation documents received in about one business day, which legally creates your business. The business formation filing fees run an LLC $100, and a corporation about $75 (more if you authorize over 25k shares). The SCC provides business owners with an eFile system called the Clerk’s Information System (CIS), which processes business documents in real time and provides helpful resources.
Use Our Services to Start Your Business
Although starting your own business in Virginia is more clear-cut than other states, the process is still a complex one, requiring time-intensive paperwork and several different fees. It’s easy to make one mistake that could lead to losing a significant amount of time and money.
Instead, use our Virginia LLC formation or Virginia incorporation services for just an extra $100 on top of Virginia’s state fees! After we form your company, we are there to provide you ongoing support whenever you may need it along your business journey.
On that note, we can also serve as your Virginia registered agent service for only $49 per year. Both business formation and registered agent service are our thing, and our friendly and experienced staff are more than happy to get your business started off right.
Hire Us Today!
Steps to Set up a Business in Virginia
There’s a remarkably long list of steps to take when you start your own business in Virginia, but don’t let it discourage you!
Below we’ve outlined the bigger and most essential steps you’ll need to take, along with an abundance of links to resources and ways our business can help your business.
- Decide on a Suitable Business Structure
- Choose Your Business Name
- Designate Your Virginia Registered Agent
- Get a Proper Virginia Business Address
- Submit Your Articles of Organization or Incorporation
- Obtain Your Federal Tax Number (EIN)
- Create Your Operating Agreement or Bylaws
- Look Into City & State Business Licenses
- Open up a Company Bank Account & Credit Card
- Build Your Online Presence
- Schedule Your First Business Meeting
- Forming a Holding Company in Virginia
Each step will need to be highly customized to fit your unique business needs, so we recommend talking to a professional in your business area to ensure the best possible success you can achieve.
Decide on a Suitable Business Structure
It’s important to remember that each state has its own laws for LLCs and corporations. Here’s a quick background on the default structure of LLCs and corporations, and how they are unique in Virginia.
- Easier overall maintenance
- Pass-through tax entity (no double-taxation like corporations)
- Flexibility in structure, management, and profit allocation (can split based on ownership or otherwise)
- Double-taxation allows for reinvesting profits back into the company
- Investors prefer putting their money into stock
- High level of prestige
Virginia LLCs and Virginia Corporations
- Both have strong limited liability compared to other states
- Corporations can issue stock to new shareholders whenever the board desires
- LLCs can admit a new member (who holds economic interest) only if a majority of the existing members agree.
- Most state statute default rules for LLCs can be changed by an Operating Agreement, although the same thing cannot be said about corporations with their Bylaws.
For more details about these entities, visit our Virginia LLC Formation and Virginia Incorporation pages.
For more detailed tax information on Virginia businesses, check out the Virginia SCC’s Virginia Tax page.
Choose Your Business Name
One of the most exciting first steps you get to take as a entrepreneur is choosing your company’s name. You’ll want to consider your target audience, your brand, and your future (consider if the name will age well).
During your brainstorming, remember there are a few minor rules for business names in Virginia.
- LLC names must include the phrase “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company,” or an abbreviation of those.
- Corporation names must include the phrase “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation of those.
- Name must be different from any other business entity on file with the SCC.
You can check and make sure that the name you want is unique by searching the SCC’s Virginia Name Check Availability page.
Designate Your Virginia Registered Agent
All businesses in Virginia are required to have a registered agent (occasionally still referred to as its old title, resident agent) in Virginia to receive service of process on their behalf. If your company is sued, your Virginia registered agent will be the main point of contact for the state, and will ensure that your company is properly notified.
Official notices and documents from the State of Virginia, such as the annual report, will also be sent to the Virginia registered agent.
Your Virginia registered agent legally must maintain normal business hours at a business office (or registered office), be available during those business hours to receive service of process, and have a physical address in Virginia (a PO Box is not acceptable).
Who should you designate for your Virginia registered agent needs? Well, we recommend our service here at Virginia Registered Agent Services LLC! We charge just a flat $49 for 1 year of registered agent service.
Once you’re signed up, you’ll be logged into your online account and have all the necessary forms pre-populated with our Virginia registered agent information on them and ready to file anytime. In less than 10 minutes, you’ll have what you need, and understand what to do with it.
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Get a Proper Virginia Business Address
A Virginia business address is a physical address that you can use anywhere on your business formation documents where an address is required, in place of your personal addresses.
When you use any personal address on your business formation documents, it becomes publicly available online. Losing privacy of your personal addresses allows any client or random person to find, and you’re guaranteed to get a bevy of junk mail for years to come, just to name a few implications.
Instead, use our Virginia business address service when you hire us to be your registered agent, start your LLC, or start your corporation. Our business address will save you an incredible amount of privacy, time, and sanity in your already-hectic life of being a business owner.
Submit Your Business Formation Forms
The step in this whole process that literally creates your business into legal existence is filing the Virginia Articles of Organization or Virginia Articles of Incorporation.
The Articles of Organization comes with a one-time state filing fee of $100. You can file online or by mail or online. We recommend filing online with the Virginia SCC’s CIS online filing tool for the most secure and quickest business formation.
As we mentioned before, its important to make sure this is taken care of correctly the first time out to save you a significant amount of time and money. To ensure your privacy and sanity stay in tact, we recommend our business formation services. Sign up here and you’ll be sure to start your business off without a hitch!
Obtain Your Federal Tax Number (EIN)
Your federal tax ID number is known as the Employer Identification Number, or EIN (occasionally referred to as the Federal Employer Identification Number, or FEIN). The EIN is needed for things like filing tax returns, bank accounts, and some business permits, just to name a few.
An EIN is easy to obtain through the IRS Employer Id Number webpage, and doesn’t cost anything. If you hire us to form your business, you can choose to have us apply for your EIN on your behalf as part of the package we offer.
Create Your Operating Agreement or Bylaws
Virginia is one of the few states that doesn’t legally require businesses to create and adopt either corporate bylaws or LLC operating agreements.
However, we want to make it clear: Having an operating agreement or bylaws is highly advised.
Arguably the most important documents your Virginia business can adopt, the corporate bylaws and LLC operating agreement reduces potentially harmful risks to your company, legally and otherwise. Whether it’s constant confusion and stress for all the members or shareholders or the business itself failing because of irreversible damage and lawsuits, having an operating agreement or bylaws adopted will save your company.
When you hire us to form your business, we’ll include free basic bylaws and operating agreement templates, as well templates for initial resolutions, stock certificates, and a resolution to open a business bank account.
Look into City & State Business Licenses
State Business Licenses
While there is no general state business license that all businesses must have, there may still be professional, occupational, or specialty licenses or permits required by the state for your company. Occupations such as barber, engineer, or real estate agent are a few examples of industries that require special licensing or certification.
Local Business Licenses
Local business licenses and permits are usually determined and set by the city or county itself in Virginia. For example, a business subject to inspection (such as a restaurant) may need additional or different licenses, depending on the city or county where it’s located. Get in touch with your local city or county government to find out exact details.
Check out Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) page for detailed information.
Sign up for Business Insurance
It’s legally required for Virginia businesses with two or more employees to carry Worker’s Compensation insurance. This doesn’t include members of an LLC, who are exempt from this law. Even if your business hires subcontractors, the subcontractor’s employees may need to be included when figuring the total number of your employees.
If your business involves a commercial lease, you may need Commercial General Liability insurance (also referred to as simply Business Liability insurance). This heavily depends on your business industry, and it’s best to speak to a professional about this potentially mandatory insurance.
There are plenty of insurance types available that aren’t legally required. A few of these optional insurance types include:
- Professional Liability insurance
- Cyber Liability insurance
- Commercial Auto insurance
- Employee Disability insurance
- Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance
As mentioned earlier, be sure to speak to a professional insurance agent or lawyer to understand all the options, and how important they may be to ensuring your business is as safe as possible.
Open Up a Company Bank Account
Separation of your business banking and your personal banking is one of the key ways to demonstrate the separation of yourself from your business. This practice can help maintain your business’s limited liability and prevent piercing of the corporate veil.
Just choose the bank you prefer and ask them about the paperwork and steps to take to open a business bank account with them. Some banks will want to see more than others, including things like your company’s business plan. Some benefits of having a business bank account include the following:
- Protecting your limited liability
- Accurately identifying business expenses and tax deductions
- Accepting client or customer credit card payments
- Easily managing business transactions – writing checks, collecting receipts, etc.
Schedule Your First Business Meeting
We recommend all Virginia businesses hold an official first meeting to discuss and settle any business matters, and tie up loose ends. These matters can include the organizational resolutions, which are adopted actions related to the organization and incorporation of a company such as authorizing share issuance, appointing directors, or purchasing real estate.
Common business matters to discuss and authorize can include the following:
- Electing officers or other governors and agreeing on salaries
- Finalizing the bylaws or operating agreements
- Discussing the business bank account and who will have access
Use Virginia Registered Agent Services
Here at Virginia Registered Agent Services, we’re a small company with a longstanding history of business formation and registered agent services. We’ve been in the game a long time, and we love what we do. We’re the most affordable and efficient business service here in Virginia. Hire us for your business and see for yourself!