How to Register a Business Name in Virginia

By Beth Williams

  • Overview

    Choosing a business name is one of the most important things you will do when starting your business. But, if you plan to operate your business under a fictitious name, a name other than your legal name, you are required by law to first register that business name with the Commonwealth of Virginia. According to Virginia Code, a business cannot legally operate in the Commonwealth until you have registered your business name with the State Corporation Commission.
    • Step 1

      Go to Virginia's Secretary of the Commonwealth's website, where you will find the Name Registration Form (see Resources below). Completely and accurately fill out the form if your business name is available in Virginia.
    • Step 2

      Find a notary public in your community by using the Virginia Notary Public Directory (see Resources below), where you will find notary publics in Virginia listed by county and city. Take the Name Registration Form to the notary public where he will witness as you sign the form then he will notarize it.

    • Step 3

      Write a check to the Secretary of the Commonwealth or purchase a money order for $7.50, the fee for registering your name with the Commonwealth. The $7.50 and the Name Registration Form should be mailed to the Organization Registrar at the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth; P.O. Box 2454; Richmond, VA 23218.
    • Step 4

      Do not use your business name until the Commonwealth advises you, with a letter in the mail, that the registration has been successful. Once you have received that confirmation, you can officially begin operating under your new business name.
    • Step 5

      Pay the registration fee of $7.50 annually, which will renew your name for another year. The renewal registration fee must be received by December 31 of each year and the Commonwealth will confirm that your registration has gone through via a notification letter in the mail.
    • Skill: Easy
    • Tip: Your business entity must be part of your name; that is, Your Business LLC or Your Business Inc.
    • Tip: Come up with several possible business names before you register your first choice. That way, if the business name you want to use is already taken, you can contact the Virginia State Corporation Commission quickly and get the registration process started again, without losing valuable time.
    • Tip: The only way to determine if your business name is being used in the Commonwealth is by calling 866-722-2551. Unlike some states, Virginia does not have an online name check available.
    • Warning:
    • Never use your business name until you are notified by mail that it has been successfully registered. If you have business cards printed, for example, and the business name is already being used, you have simply wasted money.

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