How to obtain a business license in Virginia

Updated on December 21, 2023


Securing a business license is critical for lawful operation in Virginia. This guide offers in-depth insights into licensing requirements, application processes, costs, necessary documents, compliance, and special industry considerations in Virginia.

Who Needs a Business License in Virginia

Most commercial business entities require licensing in VA including retailers, restaurants, contractors, consultants, healthcare providers, rental property owners, and independent professionals.

Penalties for non-compliance include fines up to $2,500 per violation, stop order on unlawful operations, criminal charges and permanent closure.

Understanding Virginia Business Licenses

Common Virginia licenses needed:

  • Local business licenses – Needed in most city/county districts
  • Sales tax registration – To charge, collect and remit sales taxes
  • Professional registrations – For occupations like law, real estate, nursing etc
  • Specialized permits – Agriculture, gaming, liquor, cannabis etc

Preparing to Apply for a License

Utilize Virginia’s Quick License Center to determine necessary permits and registrations. Prepare business formation documents, ownership details, lease agreements, and financial statements. Fees vary by license type.

Step-By-Step Guide to Apply

To apply for licenses in Virginia, visit the Quick License Center, use the License & Permit Search tool, select your required licenses, provide business information, pay fees, and await approval.

To apply online:

  1. Access Virginia’s Quick License Center
  2. Run the License & Permit Search tool
  3. Select required license types
  4. Provide requested business and owner details
  5. Pay fees
  6. Obtain approvals

After Submitting an Application

Online applications typically process within 15 days. Check your status via the Quick License Center dashboard.

If issues arise, administrators contact applicants by phone or email to resolve concerns.

Maintaining Compliance

To remain legally compliant in Virginia once approved:

  • Prominently display licenses at place of business
  • Complete renewal applications annually
  • Remit timely tax, licensing and permit payments
  • Maintain required insurance policies
  • Report changes in ownership, activities, locations

Obtaining Federal Registrations

Typical federal registrations also needed:

  • Employer ID Number (EIN)
  • Trademarks and copyright protections

Special Considerations

Verify specific licensing requirements for businesses like liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, and water system operators with Virginia regulatory agencies.

Registering Your Business Name

File trade name certificates via the Virginia Secretary of State if operating under “Doing Business As” names.

Virginia Tax Permits

Common tax registrations include Business Registration Certificates, Seller’s Permits, and Food & Beverage Tax Certificates.


Who Needs a Virginia Business License?

Most commercial entities in Virginia, including retailers, contractors, and hospitality companies, require a license.

What Do Licenses Cost in Virginia?

License fees range from $30 to over $500, depending on the type of license. Multiyear discounts are sometimes available.

Final Thoughts

Adhering to licensing protocols in Virginia is essential for legal operation and avoiding penalties. Utilize digital registration options for efficient processing.

Priyank Singh

Priyank Singh, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Stilt, specializes in technology-driven financial solutions. He is having experience of starting FinTech Company, understanding regulations and coming up with creative solutions to solve difficult problems.