West Virginia Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

Last updated: March 18th, 2024
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If you’re planning to start a new business in the state of West Virginia, then the first step in the process is conducting a business name search.

This initial step will allow you to determine whether your preferred or desired name is indeed available for business registration.

Additionally, the business search function allows you to access various details on any business registered with the state.

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to conduct a West Virginia business entity search.

West Virginia search tips

Make use of the following guidelines when conducting your West Virginia business entity search:

  • If entering the entire business name, if the name contains multiple words and it does not return any results, then enter just one or two keywords of the name.
  • Uppercase and lowercase are irrelevant, and irrespective of which option you choose to use, it will give you the exact same results.
  • Punctuation marks and special characters will negatively affect the search results, so do not enter them even if the name contains them.
  • Use the percentage symbol (%) as a wildcard for improved results.
  • The search results will also return fictitious names if they are registered with the state.
  • The West Virginia business search on the business services webpage does not give you the option to refine your search using the starts with, soundex, or exact match option.

Advanced search option

If you’ve got more information pertaining to an entity aside from just the business name, then you may conduct an Advanced Search.

The Advanced Search option allows you to use a number of search criteria in the search type, such as the street, city, county, state, organization type, etc.

The West Virginia business name search allows you to look up entities using the following search types:

  • Organization name
  • Agent/officer name

Business search by organization name

To begin your business search, refer to the West Virginia Secretary of State Online Services webpage.

Enter the organization name

Enter the name of the organization into the search bar.

Click “Search” or hit Enter on your keyboard.

Review the results

If results match the name or keyword you entered, they will be displayed in a table on this page. The information you’ll have access to on the results page includes:

  • Organization name
  • Organization ID
  • Type
  • Effective date
  • Established date
  • Termination date
  • Charter
  • Class

Review additional business information

For further information on any specific entity, simply click on the name of the business, and it will take you to the business summary page.

On the business summary page, you’ll have access to further information on the specific entity, such as the Business purpose, addresses, officers’ information, DBA information, etc.

Business search by agent/office name

While on the same page, you may search companies by the registered agent, also known as the service of process agent, and officer’s name.

Enter the agent/officer’s name

Enter the agent’s or officer’s name into the search bar and click on “Search.”

Review the results

If matching results are available, be it partial or exact matches, they will come up in the table. 

The information you’ll have access to include:

  • Organization name
  • Organization ID
  • Type
  • Effective date
  • Established date
  • Termination date
  • Charter
  • Class

Review additional business information

Click on the business entity’s name to access the same information you did when conducting the “business search by organization.”

West Virginia search results

Irrespective of your search criteria, you will be able to view the following information:

  • Organization name
  • Organization ID
  • Type
  • Effective date
  • Established date
  • Termination date
  • Charter
  • Class
  • Business purpose
  • Charter county
  • Charter state
  • At will term years
  • Capital stock
  • Control number
  • Authorized shares (if applicable)
  • Excess acres
  • Par value
  • Young entrepreneur
  • Member managed
  • Mailing address
  • Principal office address
  • Notice of process address
  • Officers details
  • Annual reports filed

Copies of documents and certificates

In West Virginia, business documents or documents filed with the Business Filings Division are public information. If you’re requesting documents from an older company, then you should know that there may be times when certain records must be retrieved from archived files to complete the record.

It will cost $1 to receive plain copies, and this is for the first page. Thereafter, you’ll pay an additional $.50 for each page, and provided a search not exceeding 15 minutes is required.

There are no additional costs, provided the business documents do not need to be retrieved from archives. When sent by email, there’s no charge for sending plain copies. However, search charges are an additional charge.

Available records include:

  • Dissolutions, cancellations, terminations, withdrawals,
  • Trade name registrations
  • Conversions
  • Mergers
  • Amendments, including name changes
  • Original articles
  • Applications or registrations for Certificate of Authority
  • Screen prints of certain data, including formation date, type, status, addresses, directors and officers, agent for service of process, mergers, summaries of amendments, and other details, are also available

In terms of other documentation that’s not normally filed with the Secretary of State, such as bylaws, you need to request directly from the company.

How to order plain copies

One of the fastest methods to obtain plain copies of business documents is to request them via telephone at 304 – 558 – 8000 and ask for the copies to be emailed to you.

Alternatively, you may complete the Customer Order Request Form and select the processing time such as:

Expedite Service – Please note that additional expedite fee may be applicable

  • 1-Hour – $500.00
  • 2-Hour – $250.00
  • 24-Hour – $25.00

Standard processing takes 5-10 business days

Thereafter, submit the documents to the office of the Secretary of State using one of the following methods:

  • In person – include payment where applicable by check, money order, cash, or credit card
  • Via mail – include payment by money order or check
  • By fax at 304-558-8381
  • By email to [email protected] if you are opting for the standard processing
  • Alternatively, use [email protected] for expedited service.
  • Make your payment by using their e-Payment system or credit card.

How to request certified copies of records

All documents may be certified upon request. However, it will cost $15 when certified company formation documents and an additional $5 for each additional document filing or amendment. Based on the data available, the staff will determine the cost of the documents.

Request certified copies of business documents on file with the Secretary of State by completing the Copy Order Request Form and selecting the processing time such as:

Expedite Service – Please note that additional expedite fee may be applicable

  • 1-Hour – $500.00
  • 2-Hour – $250.00
  • 24-Hour – $25.00

Standard processing takes 5-10 business days.

Once completed, file the form using one of the following methods:

  • In-person – use payment by cash, check, money order, or credit card,
  • Via mail – include payment via money order or check
  • By fax at 304-558-8381
  • By email to [email protected] if you are opting for the standard processing.
  • Alternatively, use [email protected] for expedited service.
  • Make your payment by using their e-Payment system or credit card.

Business name availability

Even if the name you’re searching for does not show up in the search results, there is no guarantee that it will be available at the time of filing. Only the Department of State’s Office can confirm name availability, and this can only occur at the time of business registration.

However, one of the most common reasons for business filings being rejected is that the name you’ve proposed is already in use in West Virginia. Therefore, it’s imperative that you check the availability of the name with the state agency that registers your specific business structure prior to filing.

Name availability for the following structures may be confirmed by the Business Division at 304-558-8000. This allows you to conduct a nonbinding, informal name check.

Additionally, the business organization search allows you to check business name availability for the following structures:

  • Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC/PLLC)
  • Business Trust
  • Limited Partnership (LP)
  • Voluntary Association
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Cooperative Association (agricultural or broadband internet services)
  • Unincorporated Non-Profit Association

Take the following steps to ensure the name is available when filing through the Secretary of State.

Additionally, it is highly recommended that you adhere to West Virginia naming rules when deciding on your business name. When it comes to name restrictions, ensure that the name of your choice is not violating any particular business organization type.

When forming the following business structures, keep the following rules in mind:

  • Corporation – Include the words company, Inc., corporation, foundation, or limited
  • Limited liability company – Limited company, Limited liability company, LLC, LC, Co
  • Professional limited liability company – Professional LLC, Professional limited liability company, Professional L.L.C.
  • Limited partnership – Limited partnership, LP
  • Limited liability partnership – Limited liability partnership, LLP

Additionally, ensure that the name is distinguishable from any other West Virginia registered name.

Once you’ve found a name for your business and you’re ready to initiate the business registration process, the quickest way to get the ball rolling is to use the One Stop Business Portal. After creating an account and logging on, you can pay the relevant fees and register your business name in the state.

Domain name availability

After deciding on the ideal name for your business, it’s time to start thinking about a domain name as well. Domain names carry a lot of weight in the day of the Internet, and it is imperative that you have a catchy domain name that people will remember.

When considering domain names, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • The name should be distinguishable from other domain names as far as possible
  • The name should also be short so that it is easy to remember
  • Ensure that the name is easy to pronounce as well
  • It’s recommended that you avoid the use of doubled letters, numbers, and hyphens so that the name remains easy to say and also remember.
  • You also want to ensure that no other business entity in the state of West Virginia has already trademarked your desired domain name.
  • Registered popular extensions like .org and .com.

One of the best ways to check domain name availability is to use a professional service like Namechk.com.

Namechk.com provides suggestions in the event that your preferred name is already in use and is also helpful when it comes to filtering your options. It does this by checking your domain name against a number of platforms, including 100 social media networks like:

  • Tumblr
  • Yelp
  • WordPress
  • YouTube

Fictitious business name search

If you plan on conducting business under another name from your business entity name, then you’ll need to register a West Virginia DBA name. DBAs are known as ” doing business as” fictitious, trade, or assumed names.

However, it allows you to conduct business under a name aside from your legal name. Your West Virginia DBA can be a totally different name, a short name from your legal entity name, or a name that simply drops the corporate name ending.

It’s also recommended that you choose a DBA that is easy to remember and short.

The state does have requirements when it comes to DBA names as follows:

  • The fictitious name should not include entity suffixes like a corporation, LLC, etc., unless it’s the type of business structure being represented.
  • The fictitious name must be distinguishable and unique from other DBAs in the state
  • The fictitious name must not include words such as engineering, insurance, banking, or any other words affiliated with financial institutions unless your business provides these services.

Once you’ve decided on a fictitious name for your business, you can go ahead and file a West Virginia DBA name either online with the WV One Stop Business Portal or via mail to the following address:

Charleston Office
One-Stop Business Center
1615 Washington Street East
Charleston, WV 25311

Depending on your business structure, you’ll need to complete different sets of forms for trade name registration. So ensure that you complete the relevant form for your business entity type.

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships will need to complete a Form TN-1.

If you’re forming a limited liability partnership, limited partnership, LLC, corporation, business trust, or voluntary association, then you must complete Form NR-3. This form comes with a $25 filing fee, and you need to include the following information:

  • The legal name of the business, as registered with the West Virginia Secretary of State
  • The trade name you want registered
  • The office address of the business or the business’s principal address
  • The address (not po box), phone number, and signature of the person with authority to file the fictitious name application
  • The phone number, email, and name of the contact person


Are there any similarities between limited liability Partnerships and limited liability companies?

Both limited liability companies and partnerships share several similarities for business owners looking for the ideal company structure. Both of these structures share similar income distribution and tax reporting formats. Additionally, they both are easier to set up and operate than corporations.

What does my business need to do to obtain a Certificate of Good Standing?

In order to obtain a Certificate of Good Standing from the state, your business needs to be in good standing. What this basically means is that you will need to file the relevant paperwork, including tax returns, etc., even if there is no money coming in or going out of your business. Therefore, the certificate serves as evidence that your business is authorized to transact in the state.

How do for-profit corporations and nonprofits differ?

While there are a huge number of differences between nonprofits and for-profit corporations, they do have a few similarities. One of them is that they both make income. Both types of corporations generate income that is reinvested back into the company or organization to continue operations and support their causes.

How do I register a DBA name in West Virginia?

In order to register a DBA or fictitious name in West Virginia, you’ll need to complete Form TN-1 if you’re a sole proprietorship or general partnership or Form NR-3 if you are a limited liability company or corporation. Additionally, you’ll need to pay a $25 filing fee.

What purpose does the UCC serve?

The Uniform Commercial Code, also known as the UCC, is a complete set of laws that govern all commercial transactions based in the US. It is a uniformly adopted state law; however, it’s not federal law. Ultimately, it plays an important role in regulating interstate transactions of a business.

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