How to get the license in West Virginia

Updated on December 21, 2023


Obtaining the proper business license is a crucial step when establishing a company in West Virginia. This guide will provide an overview of business licensing requirements in West Virginia, detail the process of acquiring licenses, and share tips for remaining compliant after securing your license.

We’ll cover topics like who needs a business license in West Virginia, the costs and documents involved, instructions for applying online or by mail, special licensing considerations for certain business types and locations, registering your business name and trademarks, acquiring necessary tax permits, and more. Read on to learn everything you need to legally operate your West Virginia business!

Who Needs a Business License in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, any person or company conducting business activities within the state is required to obtain a state business license in most cases. This includes activities like selling products or services, leasing commercial property, operating amusement devices, and more.

Some specific examples of businesses required to be licensed:

  • Retailers and wholesalers
  • Restaurants, bars, hotels, and other hospitality businesses
  • Service providers like contractors, electricians, cleaning services
  • Professional services including legal, accounting, real estate
  • Auto and mechanical repair shops
  • Rental property owners and managers

Any business or person found to be operating without the proper license in West Virginia can face penalties like civil fines up to $100 per violation. Criminal charges may also be pursued for multiple or willful violations.

Understanding West Virginia Business Licenses

West Virginia issues several types of statewide business licenses. The correct license type will depend on your industry, business activities, location, and whether you collect/remit sales tax.

Some common license types include:

  • General state business license – For retail, service, rental, contractor businesses
  • Tax permit – For sales tax collection / remittance
  • Building permit – For new construction / renovations

Additionally, specific industries and locations have added licensing requirements:

  • Agriculture – Nursery dealer, produce wholesaler licenses
  • Tourism – Hotel, motel, and restaurant licenses (state health permits also needed)
  • Alcohol, tobacco, contests / games – Additional permit / bonding required
  • Professional services – Individual occupational licenses at state level

The state also allows cities to issue their own general business licenses. If located in a city like West Virginia City, you may need both state and city business licenses. The state application process guides business owners to any needed local licenses.

Preparing to Apply for a Business License

Before applying, take time to identify the appropriate WV state and local license(s) required for your business situation and activities. The West Virginia One Stop Business Portal licensing wizard can assist with this.

You’ll also need to gather documentation proving business and owner identity. This includes items like:

  • Driver’s license / ID
  • Social security number
  • Tax IDs like EIN
  • Business formation documents (corporation papers, LLC articles, etc)
  • Assumed business name registration / DBA certificate

Be prepared for licensing costs, which vary by license type. Fees are generally $30 on the lower end, but can exceed $100+ depending on your business activities. The portal provides fee estimates.

Step-by-Step Process to Apply

West Virginia offers both online and paper licensing applications. We recommend applying through the convenient One Stop Business Portal whenever possible.

To apply online:

  1. Visit
  2. Click “Register/Apply Online” then “Apply for New License”
  3. Create secure online account
  4. Use the licensing wizard to determine the needed licenses
  5. Select the license type and start the application
  6. Provide ownership, business activity, and location details
  7. Upload or email the required documents
  8. Pay fees using a credit card or eCheck

You can track your status and view/print licenses from your portal account. Processing aims for 10 business days.

To submit paper applications:

Print forms from the portal then mail with documentation and payment. This extends processing times.

After Submitting Your Application

Once submitted, first-time license approval typically takes 5-10 business days if submitted online. Paper applications take 4-6 weeks.

Log into your portal account to check the processing status. If application deficits arise, the state licensing authority will contact you if you need clarification or additional details.

If your license is unfortunately denied, the state will send an official notice by mail detailing the reasons for rejection and provide instructions on correction and appeal options if desired.

Maintaining Compliance

To remain legally compliant in West Virginia once licensed, you must:

  • Prominently display printed licenses in the licensed business location. Keep digital copies available for mobile businesses like contractors.
  • Notify the state of relevant business changes like new ownership, tax ID changes, relocations, etc within 30 days
  • Report employee count changes affecting workers comp insurance requirements
  • Renew licenses annually by set deadlines to avoid disruptions
  • Remit sales tax by the monthly or quarterly due dates
  • Maintain necessary insurance coverage levels if required
  • Adhere to all license terms and permitted business activities

Failure to meet these requirements risks monetary penalties or business closure.

Obtaining Federal Registrations for Your Business

Along with state and local business licenses, most businesses must acquire certain federal registrations. Key federal registrations include:

Employer Identification Number (EIN) Registration

Required for businesses with employees, corporations, LLCs, and partnerships. The EIN is used to identify your business to the IRS and acts like a Social Security number for companies. You can apply directly on the IRS site.

Goods & Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) Registration

For businesses selling internationally to Canada. Needed to collect appropriate sales tax. File Form RC1 through the Canada Revenue Agency.

Copyright and Trademark Registrations

Optional for protecting intellectual property like logos, branding, written content, product designs, and more. File applications through the US Copyright Office and US Patent and Trademark Office.

Special Considerations for Certain Businesses

Depending on your specific business activities, additional licensing or permits may be required:

Construction Businesses

Business license plus register with the WV Contractor Licensing Board and obtain necessary individual trade specialty licenses (electrical, HVAC, plumbing).

Food Services

Business license, health permit, food handler training certification. Some cities have additional regulations.


Business licenses for hotels, B&Bs, and short-term rentals. Must register with the WV Division of Tourism and meet safety regulations.

Alcohol Sales

Liquor licenses through ABCA and beer and wine licenses. Require additional security and responsible beverage service training.

Professional Services

Individual occupational licenses mandated in fields like healthcare, accounting, legal services, real estate, cosmetology. Must meet experience, exam, and continuing education requirements.

Registering Your Business Name and Trademark

To operate under a business name or “Doing Business As” name, you must register your chosen name through the WV Secretary of State. You will receive a certificate of assumed business name.

Additionally, formally registering trademarks and service marks through the USPTO provides legal benefits if you aim to grow regionally or nationally in the future.

Permit Business Registration in West Virginia

Along with broader business licenses, West Virginia also requires acquisition of tax and sector-specific permits:

Self Tax Permit

Any business selling taxable goods or services must register for sales tax and excise tax permits. Enables business tax filings and payments for state sales and use taxes and consumers taxes.


Hospitality, restaurants, auto rentals, and more need to obtain permits through WV State Tax Department. Enables tax reporting compliance.

You must notify the Tax Department regarding changes to ownership, business activities, locations that impact your tax obligations in West Virginia.


Who Needs to Obtain a Business License in West Virginia?

In most cases, any person or company conducting business activities in WV needs a state business license, including retailers, restaurants, service providers, rental property owners, and more. Some city licenses are also required.

How Much Will it Cost to Obtain a Business License in West Virginia?

Costs vary from $30 to $100+ depending on your business activities. Most general business licenses fall within $50 to $75. Examples: LLC license $30, retail business w/ sales tax $100.

How Long Does It Take to Get a West Virginia Business License?

Online applications typically take 5-10 business days for approval. Paper applications extend the process to 4-6 weeks.

What Documents Do I Need to Apply for an West Virginia Business License?

Identification, business registration certificates, permits and licenses in other states (if applicable), bank letter, lease agreements, and business plan.

Can I Apply for an West Virginia Business License Online?

Yes, the West Virginia One Stop Online Business Portal allows registration and application for most business license types through their convenient online system.

What Happens if I Operate Without a License in West Virginia?

Penalties exist, including civil fines up to $100 per violation. Criminal charges are possible for willful unlicensed operations. Fines increase for multiple offenses.

Do I Need to Renew My West Virginia Business License?

Yes, business licenses in WV must be renewed annually by the expiration date to maintain operating compliance.

Are There Different Licensing Requirements for Different Cities in West Virginia?

Yes, some cities require you to obtain an additional municipal business license even if you have the state registration. Check with the local government office.

Additional Resources

For more help understanding West Virginia licensing requirements or applying for your business license, utilize the following resources:

You can also contact the West Virginia Business License Office at 304-558-8000 for assistance.

Final Thoughts

Obtaining the necessary licensing for your startup or growing business may seem daunting. However, West Virginia provides online systems and resources to simplify the process. A methodical approach to identifying the specific permits, registrations, and licenses needed for your situation will set your business up for smooth legal operations and compliance. Don’t hesitate to utilize the support materials provided throughout this guide whenever questions pop up along your entrepreneurial journey. With the proper licenses, you can focus more on your passion for serving West Virginian customers and community members.

Always confirm the fee and timeline with the West Virginia Government Office as it might change or other legal sources to confirm; this article is for information purposes only.

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.