Business registration in Virginia is a snap when you follow our step-by-step guide or let MyCompanyWorks register your VA business for you. Read below to find out why tens of thousands of companies have trusted MyCompanyWorks since 2001.
Virginia Business Facts
Virginia was named for Elizabeth I, England’s “Virgin Queen.” Its nickname is the Mother of States. It’s also known as The Old Dominion and the Mother of Presidents. All three nicknames are linked to Virginia’s position as one of the oldest settlements in the US, and one of the first states to join the US.
Virginia, oddly enough, is the birthplace of both college fraternities and streaking. The first-ever recorded person to streak across a campus was George William Crump, in 1804.
According to estimates, anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of all Internet traffic flows through data centers situated in Northern Virginia. These facilities occupy millions of square feet in the upper area of the state.
Tobacco is Virginia’s major cash crop and many of the people who live here earn their living from the tobacco industry.
Top industries in Virginia include architectural and engineering services, banking and lending, computer programming and systems design, food products, and shipbuilding. Several major military centers call Virginia home, and over 20 different bases are peppered throughout the state.
Major Companies in Virginia
It’s no surprise that the US Army is the largest business in Virginia. Other corporate heavy hitters are Dollar Tree, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, DXC Technology, Northrop Grumman, Bechtel, and Capital One.
Virginia Startup Environment
There are lots of incentives for both startups and existing businesses in Virginia With a state corporate income tax rate among the lowest in the nation at 6%, Virginia’s business-friendly policies are attractive for startups. Business incubators are gaining traction across the state, and local universities have recently seen increased enrollment in entrepreneurship classes. Further, Virginia’s economy is evolving from an agricultural core to a technological and manufacturing one – an excellent atmosphere for founders with innovative ideas. Arlington is also a hub for cutting-edge startups.
The three most popular options for small businesses are the Virginia LLC, Corporation, or DBA. Click here to learn more about business entities.
Virginia LLC – LLC is a common abbreviation for the Limited Liability Company business type. A Virginia LLC registration offers liability protection to owners and does not require a business tax return. Rather, income and expenses are reported on owners’ personal tax returns. The LLC has become increasingly popular over the years since it’s the simplest business type to form and manage. Annual filing costs can be higher than corporations, but overall this option offers personal liability protection and pass-through taxation, reducing the amount of paperwork required to keep your business in good standing.
Virginia DBA – abbreviation for “Doing Business As”. A DBA has a few different names, including Trade Name, Fictitious Name, or Assumed Business Name. DBAs allow sole-proprietors, LLCs, and Corporations to perform business under a name that is separate from personal names and other business functions.
NOTE: Filing a Virginia DBA does not offer liability protection or business tax benefits. It’s simply a way to separate a business from your personal name or other businesses functioning under the same LLC or Corporation.
Virginia Corporation – Registering your business as a corporation offers limited personal liability and pass-through taxation for S-corps. Shareholders, Directors, and Officers are appointed to manage corporations. The Corporation entity type is more complex to manage than a LLC or DBA, if you intend to have a lot of employees or raise business capital, the Virginia Corporation might be the ideal option. If you’re operating as a professional, such as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or accountant, you’re required to form a Professional Corporation. Requirements appear on our Virginia Corporation order form in the business purpose section.
Believe it or not, marketing your business starts with a name that plainly defines the nature of your business. Your business name becomes the company’s identity, so it’s critical to spend some time thinking about how you want to be known by the public. An effective Virginia business name and logo tell consumers what you’re selling without making them guess. Follow these steps to generate a timeless name that will grow with your business.
You can have fun with family friends when you’re considering the right business name. Write down all the words that define your company’s products or services. Then use those words to string together different names. You’ll want to avoid names that are hard to spell or remember. Also, keep in mind your products and services may change over time, so avoid picking names that are limited to your original offerings.
You can prevent a lot of confusion with other businesses, tax, and legal issues by checking the Internet for conflicting business names. Even if you’re set on a particular name, it’s best to pick another name if you find that it’s already in use. Marketing a unique business name is much easier than competing with existing businesses. Check business websites for your town/city, county, and state to clear local conflicts. You’ll also want to search Google and other search engines to see if your Virginia business name is available. This is especially important for online businesses and nationwide or international companies.
You can run potential business names through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) site to further prevent conflicts. Be sure to check different spellings and variations of your business name, as trademark searches can be complex and return many results. You can pay a trademark company to do a name search for you, but they charge high fees. In our experience, you can clear your own unique business name by checking government sites and search engines for conflicts.
Ready to register a business in VA? Our online business registration service will help you get started today!
Each state has its own requirements for registering a business. Now that you’ve chosen a business structure and picked your business name, here are the requirements to register your business in Virginia.
TIP: Speak to your tax advisor about this important issue because it adds complexity to your LLC most people would rather avoid.
In Virginia, it is a crime to operate with a fictitious business name without filing for a DBA. This could result in a penalty of up to $2,500, up to one year in prison, or both.
Our Tax partners can help you decide which Virginia business structure is right for your company.
All LLCs and Corporations that hire employees must have an Employer Identification Number, which is assigned by the IRS. DBAs are not required to have an EIN, but if you don’t have one, you’ll be forced to use your personal Social Security number on business, tax, and legal documents. Using an EIN can help prevent identity theft, so we recommend applying for one.
TIP: EINs are available with all our Virginia formation packages.
It may not seem important, but keeping your personal and business expenses separate is critical if you want to avoid tax and legal issues. When used correctly, a business bank account and business credit accounts will help you keep business matters separate from personal matters. Business credit cards will help you begin to build your company’s credit profile (corporation or LLC required). With good credit, a company can qualify for larger loans and lines of credit. You can either work with a bank where you already have a relationship or reach out to banks that specialize in business accounts. Requirements vary, but in general, you’ll probably need filed formation paperwork, an Employer Identification Number, and a business resolution that authorizes your company to open the account (signed by the owners, members, officers, or directors, etc.).
TIP: Click here to view a list of our recommended banks in our Vendor Network.
TIP: All Virginia business packages include a free banking solution.
You can prevent a lot of future hassles if you set up a paper or digital filing system and bookkeeping software. If you have the money you can hire someone to handle these tasks for you. All Virginia businesses are responsible for taxes, so keeping track from the start of business will help you make proper calculations and timely payments.
Most business documents should be stored for three years. This includes a list of all owners and addresses, copies of all formation documents, financial statements, annual reports, amendments, or changes to the company. All Tax and Corporate Filings should be stored for at least seven years, if you’re filing regular tax returns. Businesses that don’t file timely tax returns are always subject to audit, so you’ll need to keep your records indefinitely. View our “Accounting & Financial Management” section for help with setting up an accounting system and purchasing accounting software.
All Virginia businesses will need to apply for at least a state business license, but your type of business may also require local and county licensing or permits as well. You can check with local and state government authorities for all the requirements, or you can order a Business Licence Compliance package to save time and money.
Once you have your Employer Identification Number (EIN) and business licenses and permits, you can start the interview and hiring process. You can post online ads on social media or employment websites like Indeed.com for free. You’ll also need to set up a payroll system or hire a service to manage payroll for you. Read our Employees and Payroll guide to get started. Our recommended Payroll Providers can help you get payroll up and running quickly.
You can check with a local insurance agent or search for business insurance providers online. Most VA businesses are required to carry general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance if they employ workers. You may also want to carry a business policy with owner’s insurance to further protect assets. Any of our recommended insurance providers can answer your questions and help you apply.
You may be responsible for most or even all of the work when you start your company. As you grow, you’ll need to train others to manage tasks and run parts of your business. Every business should have a system to process orders, pay bills, pay employees, pay taxes, maintain recurring tasks. By writing procedures and documenting processes, you could put someone to work quickly when you’re away or out sick, or when you need to train someone to take over. Our Manage Your Company guide will help you set up business systems and organize your processes.
Marketing is critical to every successful business. It’s not enough to just build your business and wait for customers. Your business should have a unique logo to go with your business name. It’s also a good idea to set up social media accounts where you can post promotions and attract sales. Creating a marketing plan for your products and services will help you target the ideal customer and track your progress. Need help? Our Marketing & Sales guide has useful tips and links to helpful tools and resources.
DBA: There are no additional requirements for DBAs in Virginia.
LLC: Virginia LLCs are required to file an annual report on or before the last day of their anniversary month. The filing fee is $50.
Corporation: Virginia corporations are required to file an annual report on or before the last day of the anniversary month of incorporation. The filing fee is $100.
Corporations are also required to keep the following items within their corporate records at their principal place of business:
Franchise Taxes: A franchise tax is imposed on the net capital of all banks and trust companies. Other businesses do not need to pay a franchise tax.
Click here to view our MyCompanyWorks Premium™ service which can automate most of your ongoing compliance tasks.
Our Virginia filing team will help you get started as quickly as possible.
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218
Virginia Taxation & Labor Departments
Virginia State Startup Resources
1. Virginia Small Business Administration
2. SCORE Mentors
SCORE is an excellent hub of active and retired business people who volunteer to support startup businesses. Connecting with a local SCORE mentor can help to avoid pitfalls that are common among startup businesses.
3. Virginia State Legal Statutes:
5. Virginia Angel Investors
6. Virginia Business News
7. Virginia State Small Business Development Center
Register as a “Green” business and connect with other local businesses.
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