How to Get a Virginia Business License

by W D Adkins; Updated September 26, 2017

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, applying for a business license is the final step in the process of obtaining the permits, registrations, and other licenses required for your particular business. A Virginia business license is actually issued by your local (city or county) government, but they will not process your application until you have completed the preliminary steps. You will need to get a Virginia business license for each business location. Fortunately, most of the preliminary documentation you must have is used for all locations, so you won’t need to go through the entire process for each license.

Items you will need

  • Federal Employer Identification Number
  • State sales tax and use number
  • Registered business name
  • Required professional/trade permits and licenses
Step 1

Begin by checking with your local zoning commission to be sure your proposed business location is zoned for your type of business. In some cases you will need a special permit (to serve food or alcohol, for example). If it’s a home based business, you need to check to see if your business activities are allowed in a residential setting.

Step 2

Apply to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You need an EIN to file and pay federal payroll taxes, including Social Security, Medicare, and FUTA (unemployment) taxes. You may download the application and instructions from the IRS website (IRS.gov).

Step 3

Contact the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Registration to obtain any required licenses and certifications. Some business activities (such as health care and skilled trades) require specific educational credentials and/or certification. Their phone number is (804) 367-8500.

Step 4

Register your business name. Sometimes called a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) a registered business name is required if you are doing business under any name other than your own. It allows you to accept checks and make other transactions in the name of the business. Once you have registered your business name, it cannot be used by anyone else. Contact the Virginia State Corporation Commission at (804) 371-9733 (outside Richmond 1-866-772-2551) for details and the county office where you need to apply for a FBN.

Step 5

Get a Sales and Use Tax number from the Virginia Department of Taxation You can contact them at (804) 367-8037. You also must file with the Virginia Employment Commission to arrange payment of state unemployment (SUTA) taxes. Their phone number is (804) 786-1485. Finally, arrange for worker’s compensation insurance through the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission (toll free number 1-877-664-2566).

Step 6

Get a Virginia business license from your city or county once you have obtained all the necessary documents (Steps 1-5). Normally this is handled through the local tax revenue office and your business license will also serve as your local tax identification number.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.