Starting a business can be both exciting and somewhat stressful with the many legal requirements you must fulfill, including choosing and registering your business name. Fortunately, registering a business name in Virginia is a straightforward process that must be completed before you actually use your business name.
Choose a business name, if you haven’t already done so. A strong business name is easy-to-remember, easy to pronounce, easy to spell and it should reflect your what your business entails.
Determine whether your business name is already taken in the Commonwealth of Virginia. To check the availability of your business name, you must contact the Virginia State Corporation Commission at 1-866-722-2551.
Print out the Name Registration Form, which can be found at the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.
Fill out the Name Registration Form if your business name is available in Virginia. Be sure that you fill out the form completely and accurately.
Do not sign the Name Registration Form until you take it to a notary public. You will be required to have the form notarized, at which time you will sign the Name Registration Form in front of the notary public.
Mail the Name Registration Form and the $7.50 registration fee to Organization Registrar; Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth; P.O. Box 2454; Richmond, Virginia 23218.
Use your business name when you are notified by the Commonwealth that your name has been successfully registered.
Renew your business name registration with the Commonwealth every year. You must renew your business name by December 31 of the current year, including the $7.50 fee with your renewal registration.
When the Clerk’s Office checks to determine if your business name is already in use, it will drop such suffixes as LLC, Inc. and company. You must contact the Virginia State Corporation Commission, at 1-866-722-2551, if you want to check your business name’s availability. Currently, business owners in Virginia cannot verify business name availability online. The only way a business name, that includes the words "bank" or "trust," can be used is if the actual business is banking or it’s a trust company. If your business name is not available, the Clerk’s Office will inform you that the name is not available and will return your paperwork. You should then brainstorm a second business name and check with the Clerk’s Office to determine if it is available. If you aren’t 100 percent certain that you want to register a particular business name, you can reserve it with the State Corporation Commission, for 120 days, for a $10 fee.