Step 1) Verify & Secure Your Brand Name
To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording.
Your LLC name should contain the words ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company.’ Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ are also acceptable. If needed, file an Application for Reservation of a Business Name form with the VA Corp. Commission that's good for 120 days.
Filing Fee: $10
Remember, this isn’t optional in Virginia-- it’s mandatory.
Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use Weebly to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!
Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent
A Virginia Registered Agent is a certified individual or business entity that acts as an intermediary, receiving and helping to handle/process all official documents on your business' behalf. They must be reachable at VA street hours during all regular business hours, and be either a legal resident of the state or registered to conduct business.
That said, you can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get an agent free of charge when you start an LLC through a filing service like IncFile. They handle this along with so much more depending on your startup package.
Step 3) File Articles Of Incorporation
To officially and legally form a Virginia LLC, you have to file Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1011) with the Virginia State Corporations Commission. Just make sure not to file this until you're ready to set up shop.
You can file your articles through postal mail or online at the Virginia New Entity Formation page.
LLC Filing Fee: $100
Step 4) Get An EIN
All businesses in Virginia are required to get an EIN/FEIN, which is a Federal Employer Identification Number.
And yes, even solopreneurs with an LLC need one. This is for tax purposes as well as for setting up business bank accounts and other critical steps of the startup process.
You can obtain an EIN in a variety of ways, but the simplest is to get one free of charge quickly through the IRS Website.
Step 5) Open A Business Bank Account
Shop around and see which bank or credit union on the local/state/national level offers the most perks for your brand and is most convenient for you.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming your personal bank is your best option. How’s their online banking? What are their free deposit/withdrawal limits? How high are their monthly fees?
Where you choose to bank matters so don’t take it lightly. If this will be your first time setting up an LLC bank account, a) check out this quick breakdown of Business Checking Accounts, and b) keep your brand’s account completely separate from any other account of any kind.
Step 6) Draft An Operating Agreement
While this document isn’t mandatory or required by law, not having one is pretty darn foolish, even for solopreneurs.
Not only does it add a layer of protection for your brand (LLC status), but it also helps establish your company's own internal set of rules. This will help clarify any financial or managerial disputes that may arise later.
Furthermore, it supersedes any state default rules in cases where there’s a misunderstanding or problems arise in your LLC. To get started, consider checking out an online Operating Agreement Tool which you can customize yourself.
Step 7) Handle LLC Taxes & Licensing/Permits
Now's the point where you should ideally have a professional on your side or buckle down to do some research on your own.
Getting your business taxes and licenses are an important part of starting a Virginia LLC that's ready to operate in the state.
To get started, bookmark the Richmond district office of the Small Business Administration as well as the Virginia SBDC because they’re going to be go-to sources. If you need additional help, there’s a Business License Service we recommend. They determine everything required on federal, state, county and municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.
Need Help Forming an LLC?
If you'd like help forming an LLC in Virginia, feel free to read our reviews of the two most popular services available.