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How to start an LLC in Virginia in 7 steps

how to start an llc in virginia

Starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Virginia can be an exciting venture for new entrepreneurs. This article will guide you through the process of forming an LLC, from how to name a business to weighing the costs and benefits involved. Whether you're an experienced business owner or new to the world of business, understanding how to start an LLC 

As we dive into the ins and outs of how to start your own business, remember that starting an LLC is more than just legal paperwork; it's about creating a stable business. 

How to start an LLC in Virginia in 7 steps

01. Pick your business name

To start a business in Virginia, the first step is selecting a name for your LLC. This process is not only creative but also has legal implications. Your business name must be unique and should not be the same as or too similar to other names on record with the Virginia Secretary of State. To comply with state requirements regarding naming a business, make sure that your chosen name ends with "LLC," "L.L.C.," or "Limited Liability Company."

Create a unique business name that also meets the necessary legal standards with these helpful tips:

  • Use the Virginia Secretary of State's online database to search for existing business names. 

  • Avoid restricted words that could confuse your LLC with a government name or agency.

  • Perform a domain search if you plan to also focus on building a website.

Tip: Consider using a business name generator to create a unique and memorable name for your LLC.

02. Choose your registered agent

Every LLC in Virginia must have a registered agent, an individual or company that agrees to accept legal papers on behalf of your LLC. Your registered agent must be available during regular business hours and have a physical address in Virginia.

Need help setting up your LLC? Wix has partnered with LegalZoom, the No. 1 choice for online business formation to help you start, run and grow your business.

starting an llc in virginia legal zoom

 03. Obtain state business permits

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need specific permits or licenses to register your business in Virginia. These could range from general business licenses to industry-specific permits. You'll need to check with your local and state agencies to understand exactly which permits your LLC requires. The next steps will involve filling out the required paperwork and paying any filing fees.

For example, if want to start a sports card business in the state.  In order to legally operate, you will need a business license from the Virginia Department of Taxation. For businesses that sell goods or services, a sales tax certificate is also required. 

04. File Articles of Organization

Articles of Organization are a critical document that officially creates your LLC in Virginia. You'll file this with the Virginia Secretary of State, either online or by mail.

  • Gather your business information: You'll need details like your LLC's name, registered agent information and management structure.

  • Fill out Form LLC1011: This is the specific form used for filing an LLC's Articles of Organization in Virginia.

  • Submit and pay fees: Complete the submission process by paying the $100 filing fee. 

05. Draft your LLC operating agreement

While not legally required in Virginia, creating an operating agreement is a smart move for anyone starting an LLC. This internal document outlines ownership structures, member roles and operational procedures. It also helps maintain limited liability status by proving that your LLC is a separate business entity.

06. Apply for an EIN and pay relevant taxes

When starting an LLC an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is mandatory. It’s necessary for hiring employees, opening bank accounts and filing taxes. You can apply for one via the IRS website or through the mail. Once you have your EIN you'll need to understand the state-specific taxes relevant to forming an LLC in Virginia. In Virginia for an LLC owner these include a 15.3% self-employed tax (12.4% social security, 2.9% Medicare). 

07. Organize annual reports

In some states, annual reports are mandatory filings that keep your company's information up-to-date with the state government. If your LLC is taxed as a sole proprietorship or a partnership, it is exempt from the annual report requirement in Virginia, however you do have to pay an annual registration fee of $50 to stay in business.

In addition to taxes, just about every LLC is required to file an annual report, which includes basic legal information and activities from the previous year. You may owe filing and renewal fees along with your report. Tax season is also a good time to make sure that your registered agent, licenses, and permits are all set for the upcoming year. Shylene D’Addario, VP and associate general counsel at LegalZoom

How much does it cost to start an LLC in Virginia

Starting an LLC in Virginia comes with certain costs that you need to plan for. Here's a breakdown of the expenses you'll likely encounter during the process:

Filing Articles of Organization

This is the fee you pay when you file your Articles of Organization with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. This is a one-time cost that is mandatory for all new LLCs. For an LLC it costs $100.

Registered agent fee

If you choose to hire a professional registered agent, they'LL charge a fee for their services. This cost varies depending on the agent you select.

Business permits and licenses

The cost for these will depend on the specific type of business you're starting and where it's located. Some businesses may require multiple licenses, which can increase the total cost.

Annual registration fee

Virginia requires LLCs to pay an annual registration fee to keep your business in good standing with the state. This is $50.

Legal or financial consulting fees

If you seek professional advice during the formation process, these services will add to your startup costs.

Domain registration and website creation

Establishing an online presence via a website is crucial in today's market. Costs here include domain registration and potentially hiring a web designer or using a website builder like Wix.

Business insurance

Depending on your industry, you might need various types of insurance to protect your LLC. For example if you're starting a homecare business in the state you'll need liability insurance, third party crime insurance or a blanket fidelity bond.

Who can start an LLC in Virginia

To form an LLC in Virginia, there are some eligibility criteria that need to be met. The main ones are:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to form an LLC in Virginia.

  • There's no requirement for you to be a Virginia resident. You can start an LLC in Virginia whether you live in the state, elsewhere in the United States, or even in another country.

  • You don't need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to start an LLC in Virginia. However, non-residents may have additional requirements, such as obtaining an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) from the IRS if they don't have a Social Security Number.

  • Almost any type of business can be an LLC. However, certain professions may require additional licenses or may not be allowed to form an LLC.

  • There's no minimum or maximum number of members required to start an LLC in Virginia. You can start it on your own as a single-member LLC or with multiple members.

Benefits of starting an LLC in Virginia

When you form an LLC in Virginia, you unlock numerous advantages that many business owners find appealing. Some of the main benefits include:

Limited liability protection

As the name suggests, an LLC provides limited liability to its owners. This means your personal assets are typically protected if your business is sued or incurs debt.

Pass-through taxation

LLCs often benefit from pass-through taxation where the business itself isn't taxed. Instead, profits and losses pass through to the owners' personal tax returns, potentially leading to tax savings.

Flexibility in management

Unlike corporations, LLCs have fewer formalities and can be managed by the members or appointed managers, providing flexibility in how the business is run.

Ease of formation

Compared to other business entities, forming and maintaining an LLC in Virginia is relatively straightforward with fewer formalities and paperwork.

Credibility with customers and partners

Having 'LLC' after your business name can enhance your credibility with potential customers, suppliers and financial institutions. You can then opt for an .llc domain for your website to reinforce this credibility. 

benefits of starting an llc in virginia

Disadvantages of starting an LLC in Virginia

When thinking about starting an LLC in Virginia, it's key to balance the perks and possible downsides. Knowing these drawbacks will guide you in deciding if an LLC suits your business needs. Here are a few hurdles you might face with an LLC in Virginia:

Self-employment taxes

Members of an LLC are considered self-employed and must pay self-employment taxes on their share of the profits.

Annual fees

Virginia requires LLCs to pay an annual registration fee which is an ongoing cost that sole proprietorships do not have.

Limited growth potential

If you plan on seeking investors or going public in the future, an LLC may not be the best choice as it's more difficult to transfer ownership and attract investment compared to a corporation.

Profit distribution rules

In some cases, all members of an LLC must share profits equally regardless of their individual investment amount unless otherwise stated in the operating agreement.

Paperwork and regulations

While less than a corporation, there's still paperwork involved in starting and maintaining an LLC such as filing annual reports and renewing licenses.

You've formed your LLC in Virginia, now what?

Once you've set up an LLC in Virginia, the journey of building and expanding your business is just beginning. After forming your LLC, keep these steps in mind:

  • Keep your personal and business finances separate by opening a bank account solely for your LLC. This simplifies accounting and tax filing and helps maintain your liability protection.

  • Protect your LLC with the right insurance policies. Depending on your business, this might include general liability insurance, professional liability insurance, or product liability insurance.

  • Ensure you remain in good standing with the state by filing any required annual reports and renewing permits or licenses as needed.

  • Understand your tax obligations at both the state and federal levels. Set aside money for taxes throughout the year to avoid surprises during tax season.

  • Create a logo with a logo maker, establish a brand voice and build a website to present a cohesive image to customers. 

  • Implement a good accounting system. Good financial management is essential for any business. Set up an accounting system that allows you to track expenses, profits and financial growth accurately.

For more information on how to start an LLC by state

How to start an LLC in Virginia FAQ

How long does it take to form an LLC in Virginia?

The time it takes can vary. If you file online, the process can be completed in a few business days. Mailed applications may take several weeks.

Can I reserve a business name before forming my LLC?

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