The steps to register a business name in VA are rather easy, but you must follow all the steps carefully so that you do not miss any important deadlines or fee payments.

How to Form an LLC in Virginia

The following steps need to be taken when you want to register an LLC in Virginia:

1. Pick a name for your LLC. Under state law, you must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation. The name also needs to be distinguishable from the names of businesses that are already in existence with the state. The names will be checked for availability in the state database. You can reserve your name for 120 days by filing an Application for Reservation or for Renewal of Reservation of a Business Entity Name in Virginia and pay a filing fee of $100. If you choose to use a business name that is not the same as your legal name, you will have to register an assumed name certificate in the county where you intend to operate. You will register your assumed name with the county clerk’s office.

2. File the Articles of Organization. An LLC in Virginia is created by filing Form LLC-1011 with the state corporations commission. The articles have to include the name and address of the LLC along with the contact information for the LLC’s registered agent. You can file your articles online or by mail. The fee to file is $100.

3. Name a registered agent. All Virginal LLCs need to have a registered agent for process service in the state. This person or business will agree to accept any legal papers on behalf of the LLC, should it be sued.

4. Create an operating agreement. Operating agreements are not required by the state, but they are very helpful. You do not need to file anything with the state.

5. Follow all regulatory and tax requirements. A sole proprietor that wants to have employees needs to get an Employer Identification Number, also known as an EIN. This number is provided by the IRS and is used for reporting taxes. Any business that has employees has to report any wages to the IRS using an EIN. You can get an EIN by registering online with the IRS. You also need to get any licenses, zoning clearances, or permits necessary for your business. These will vary based on the nature of your business.

6. Pay your annual registration fees. LLCs in Virginia will need to pay an annual registration fee of $50. Your LLC’s registered agent will be mailed an assessment notice at the address you provide. If the fee is late, there will be an additional $25 penalty.

Next Steps in Forming a Sole Proprietorship

  • Open a business account at your bank. You should use your fictitious business name and your EIN. This should be completely separate from your personal finances.
  • Get general liability insurance. Since a sole proprietor will be held personally liable for all debts of a business, this insurance can be a form of protection in the event of a loss of money or lawsuit settlement.

File a DBA in Virginia

If you want your business to function using a name other than the one you chose to form the business, you will need to register the new name. You will need to file for a “doing business as”, or DBA. It is illegal to operate a business with a fictitious name if it has not been registered as a DBA. Not doing so can result in a $2,500 fine, a year in prison, or even both. By filing your DBA, you can get your chosen business name on all of your banking accounts, contracts, and the like.

You need to first decide what name you want to use and make sure it is available to use. To find out, you will need to search the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission entity search.

Keep in mind there are some restrictions on the names that may be used. A business may not use a DBA that will not properly represent the geographical area. It also may not be similar to other business names that are already registered. You also need to avoid using any name that could be seen as fraudulent or deceptive. This includes adding “Inc.” to a business name that is not actually incorporated.

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