Newport News, VA

You can’t wait to start your business. If only you could skip all the “Legal stuff”.


How to start your LLC in Newport News, VA

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE by Michael Bradley Updated: January 3, 2023
Name your LLC
Appoint a Registered Agent
2 - 3 days
File Articles of Organization
Draft an Operating Agreement
Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number)

Why form an LLC in Newport News, VA?

The shipbuilding capabilities of Newport News are well-known. But if you take a look under the surface, you’ll notice its central location and low-tax environment promote commerce. The growing tech scene complements thriving healthcare, logistics, and banking industries.

Choosing to start a business in Newport News might be an easy decision. But to transform your idea into a functioning enterprise, you need to create a legal entity. And we’re here to help guide the way. This article provides everything you need to form an LLC in Newport News, Virginia.

We’ll cover:

  • The five easy-to-follow steps to form a Newport News, Virginia LLC
  • Information you need about the local licenses, permits, and resources
  • Extra steps to take after forming a Newport News LLC

LLC Formation Process in a Nutshell

1. Name your LLC

How to pick a name for a Virginia LLC? One of the initial steps to creating any business is deciding on a name. Many people consider the marketing aspect. But you’ll also need to follow legal guidelines.

Virginia Code section 13.1-1012 lists the applicable law. You must include one of the following in the name of any Virginia LLC:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Company
  • Abbreviations of either option

Another critical component of an LLC name is to avoid using terms that you aren’t authorized to perform. This includes many highly-regulated industries, such as legal, medical, or professional services.

You’ll also need to ensure the LLC name is not already in use. Use the State Corporation Commission’s business entity search. It can help you discover what is already taken. Keep clear of closely-related names that may confuse people.

A common technique for many entities is the use of doing-business-as (DBA) names. These allow you to operate under a different name. For example, “Newport News Home Painting LLC” can use “Newport News Premier Painters.”

Even if you don’t want to launch a website, it’s a good idea to consider the available domain names (URLs). Seasoned business owners know that it’s best to get matching domain names right away.


2. Appoint a Registered Agent

What is a registered agent? Virginia law requires LLCs to appoint a registered agent. This critical role serves as the main point of contact for the LLC.

One of the primary functions is to receive legal service of process. If your LLC gets sued, the paperwork goes to the registered agent. Failing to see these notices can have grave consequences.

You can be your own registered agent or you can hire someone else, such as a service or attorney to fill the role. Many experienced business owners choose to use a registered agent service. It helps avoid problems down the road.

Electing yourself as the registered agent has the following advantages:

  • It’s cheap: You can get around an extra expense by doing it yourself.
  • It’s simple: There’s only one address to update.
  • It’s reliable: Urgent documents come straight to you.

But there are some downsides to appointing yourself as the registered agent. These include:

  • No privacy: The registered agent’s information is public. The State Corporation Commission posts them on its website.
  • Junk mail/spam: You’ll have to sort through junk mail without missing key notices.
  • No breaks: Registered agents must be available during business hours. They don’t get time off.
  • Business interruptions: Your customers could witness you getting served with a lawsuit. This may tarnish your reputation.
  • It’s your fault if you miss something: If you make a mistake or miss a notice, it’s on you. There’s no one else to fall back to.

To avoid the many pitfalls, we recommend hiring a registered agent service. They’ll sort your mail and keep your address confidential. Registered agent services cost around $100-$150 per year. Attorneys can charge up to $500 per year to be registered agents.

If you choose to start your LLC by using a business formation company, they often include a registered agent service in their packages. Feel free to take a look at our registered agent recommendations article for more information.

$0 - $100

3. File Articles of Organization

What are the Articles of Organization for a Virginia LLC? It’s time to grab a cup of coffee if you’re dozing off. This step is what transforms your business idea into a legal entity.

Without filing the Articles of Organization, your LLC doesn’t exist. But once filed and processed, the entity pops into the world. And you’re much closer to opening the doors to your new business.

Virginia makes the process easy. Some people are under the impression that you need to use an attorney to complete this step. It’s likely more straightforward than you believe.

The applicable law is under section 13.1-1011. It specifies that the Articles of Organization for a Virginia LLC must include:

  • The LLC’s name
  • The principal office location
  • The registered agent’s name and address

Virginia has a simple fillable form that helps streamline the process. Be prepared to pay a $100 filing fee and wait two to three business days for processing.

If you need to form your LLC in a rush, you can pay for expedited processing. An extra $100 gets next-day service or $200 for same-day service.

To save time and avoid the hassle of LLC filings, all seasoned entrepreneurs use LLC formation services. For recommendations, check out our article on the best LLC services.

2 - 3 days

4. Draft an Operating Agreement

Does my Virginia LLC need an operating agreement? Virginia does not require LLCs to have operating agreements. But sensible business owners create one regardless to protect their business and interests.

An operating agreement is a private contract between LLC members. It spells out how the LLC functions and handles many situations. Without one, the LLC falls back to state law which might not align with your desires.

To ensure your business operates as you intend, it’s worth executing an operating agreement. It specifies the rights and responsibilities of members and managers. It also lays out ways to add or remove members.

The best operating agreements cover any situation the business might encounter. Owners can customize them according to their wishes and expectations, including:

  • They determine the rights and duties of LLC members. If one LLC member is responsible for running the business or managing the books, the operating agreement should say so.
  • They say whether the LLC has a member or non-member manager and what the manager has the right to do. Managers also have special duties to the company and its members. The operating agreement should state these.
  • They outline what the LLC is legally able to do. The operating agreement should also set down how the company is allowed to conduct its business from day to day.
  • They say how new members can join the company. They also have rules about how exiting members can leave.
  • They set down how and when profits are paid to members. They can also create different types of membership and payment schemes.
  • They say whether members or managers are in charge. They also say how to hire and fire managers.
  • They say how and under what circumstances the LLC should end. You might not want to dissolve your business now, but you might in the future. It’s best to think about it and plan before it becomes an issue.
  • They say how to change the rules. You may need to amend your operating agreement in the future. The operating agreement should set down the rules for making changes.

You can include operating agreements with your Articles of Organization filed with Virginia. But if the time comes when you want to change the agreement, you’ll have to pay the state a fee to do so.

We recommend drafting separate operating agreements to avoid this fee. You do not need to file them with the state as they are private contracts. But having them in writing helps ensure the legal viability.

The best LLC formation services provide operating agreement templates for as little as $50. These take care of most of the heavy lifting and we recommend using them.


5. Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number)

Do I need to get an EIN? The Internal Revenue Service uses Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to track the tax information of businesses for federal tax purposes. They are essentially like Social Security Numbers for businesses.

The IRS requires certain businesses to get an EIN. These include any of the following:

  • If the LLC has more than one member;
  • The LLC hires any employees; or
  • It follows C-corporation or S-corporation taxation rules.

Even if you don’t fall under one of these qualifications, getting an EIN is beneficial for your business. For example, some states require having one for state tax purposes, and banks often require them to open a business bank account for your LLC.

The IRS has made the process easy through its online EIN application. It only takes about five minutes to complete and is entirely free of charge. It’s not worth hiring someone to do this unless it’s part of a wider LLC formation package.

Read More: How to get an Employer Identification Number in Virginia


Cheapest way to start your LLC

Do it Yourself
Gain personal knowledge
Lower upfront cost
You're losing money when you consider how much time it takes
There's the risk of making a mistake
It's a headache
Potential price
Potential time
5+ days
Formation Service
Very easy to use
Affordable ($39 for an LLC)
Same-day filing
Highly reliable
Not ideal for complex LLCs
Potential price
Potential time
30 min
A lawyer can help you manage risk
Offers more customization when you need it
Costs more than any other method
Finding one takes time
Slower compared to formation services
Potential price
> $400
Potential time
5+ days

Licenses and Permits in Newport News, VA

Any business has to be aware of the necessary licenses and permits. These can come from state and city-level officials. The needs can differ based on the activity involved, but it’s critical to get what is needed before starting up.


Virginia does not offer a general business license. But many regulated business activities require approval.

Review the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to see if your business needs a license.


After tackling the State’s needs, turn to the local requirements. The City of Newport News issues many licenses and permits for commercial operations.

Most entities have to pay a Business License Tax. Check to see if you need a Certificate of Use and Occupancy as well.

Certain businesses need to get extra licenses and permits. These apply to many activities, such as:

  • construction contractors,
  • short-term rentals, and
  • food trucks.

Reach out to the City officials to verify you get what your business needs. It’s crucial to get the necessary approval before conducting operations.

Support for Small Businesses in Newport News, VA

Learning from others is a shortcut to success. By leveraging the experience of leaders, you can catapult your business ahead. Seasoned entrepreneurs are eager to share valuable advice.

Here is a list of local organizations dedicated to helping businesses thrive:

Next Steps After you Register your LLC

Once you reach this point, you have formed your LLC and are well on your way to running a successful operation. But don’t run out of steam yet. These next steps are worth taking care of right away.

  • Register a Matching Domain

    The internet is a central tool for many modern businesses and customers. Even if you don’t want to launch a website right away, it’s worth getting a domain name (URL) for your business.

    If you don’t, other people can snatch the domain name that matches your LLC name. These can be competitors looking to stifle competition. Or domain squatters, who buy the domain names so they can resell them at a markup down the road.

    Registering domain names is a quick, affordable and straightforward process. Most domain names cost around $20-$50 per year. Secure the rights to your domain name before someone else does.

  • File for a DBA (Doing Business As)

    It’s not always easy coming up with the perfect LLC name. Another useful tool is a doing-business-as (DBA) name. These are sometimes called fictitious names or trade names.

    These allow business owners to operate under something different from the LLC’s name. For example, “Newport News Metal Fabricators LLC” can use “Newport News Machining Services.”

    This common tactic is not difficult to use. But there are some legal requirements under sections 59.1-69 and 59.1-70. You must file a certificate with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

    There is a simple fill-in form you can use to complete this process. A $10 fee applies.

  • Stay Compliant

    There are a few other steps that your LLC may need to take care of regularly. Some states require annual reports, but Virginia only has a $50 annual registration fee to pay. You can use the online portal to complete this task.

    Tax requirements are another concern. Most LLCs receive pass-through taxation. This means the income flows through to the tax returns of the members.

    If your LLC hires any employees, you’ll need to pay Virginia employer taxes. Many Virginia LLCs will also have to pay sales and use tax.

    This is also a great time to open a business bank account to keep your finances separate. A qualified CPA can be well worth the cost to navigate the complex tax code and accounting needs.

    Now is a great time to consider purchasing insurance coverage. These include general liability, workers’ compensation, and commercial property insurance, plus many others.

LLC Formation FAQs

What are the benefits of an LLC?

Most importantly, having an LLC will ensure your personal assets are protected if your business cannot pay its debts. Running your business through an LLC can also provide you with better tax treatment. In addition, LLCs have fewer and less complicated reporting requirements compared to other types of businesses, making them particularly suitable for smaller businesses.

Do I have to form an LLC to start a business?

It is not strictly necessary to form an LLC in order to start a business. You can engage in business as a sole proprietorship instead. However, in that case, your personal assets may be at risk if your business takes on too much debt or loses a lawsuit in court.

How much does it generally cost to form an LLC?

It doesn’t cost much to set up an LLC for your business. In most states, you will need to pay less than $150 to register your new LLC with the local state authorities. In some states, you may need to pay some additional costs later on, for example, when filing an annual report or filing for a DBA.

How long does it take to form an LLC?

The time it takes to have your LLC approved can vary wildly depending on the state, the filing method you used and if you opted for expedited filing. In some states, you can have your LLC approved in as little as one day, while in others, it may take weeks or even months.

If you want the fastest possible turnaround time, you should consider using online filing and pay for expedited service, if available.

How will my LLC be taxed?

The IRS and most state tax authorities treat LLCs as “pass-through” entities. This means that your LLC does not pay taxes directly (as corporations do). Instead, the tax burden is passed through to the members of your LLC. The members will then include profits and losses from the LLC’s business on their personal income tax returns.

In what state should I form my LLC?

It is generally best to form your LLC in your home state, where you will actually carry out your business. Some people believe that it is advantageous to form your LLC in Delaware or Nevada. In reality, you would then have to register with the authorities in your home state as a foreign LLC and pay additional fees – without much benefit in return.

Do I need to file for a DBA?

You are not generally required to file for a DBA (“Doing-Business-As”). However, most business owners choose to do so anyway. Getting a DBA will allow you to omit the letters LLC from your customer-facing business name. You can also have multiple names for your LLC if you want to run more than one business through your LLC.

Can I form an LLC if I am not a US citizen or US resident?

Yes, you can form an LLC for your business in any US state. There is no requirement for you to be a US citizen in order to form an LLC, nor do you need the right to reside in the US. If your business is going to own physical property in a given state, you may want to form your LLC in that state.

Do I need to hire an attorney to form an LLC for my business?

No, you don’t need to hire an attorney to form an LLC for you. It is generally much cheaper and straightforward to file the necessary paperwork yourself or to hire an affordable LLC formation service to handle the work on your behalf. However, you may want to consider hiring an attorney if your business is very complex.