Start A Business

This page highlights the information covered in our brochure “Starting a Business in Charles Town”, Click below to view the brochure.

Starting a Business in Charles Town
DSC09526-300x169Business Registration and LicensesStarting a business can require several different licenses and registrations, depending on your type of business. In order to obtain a Charles Town business license, you will need to provide a copy of your WV Business Registration Certificate. You receive your WV Business Registration Certificate via the mail from the state of WV once you have successfully registered your business with the state. You can register your new business with the state online via

  1. WV Secretary of State – Your business registration process starts here with establishment of your business as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, LLC or a form of corporation.
  2. A Business License from the City of Charles Town is required to begin the local process of review and approval. Forms are available on the website for the business license. For more information on obtaining a business license from the City of Charles Town, call 304-724-2311 or searching this site.
Depending upon the nature of your business, you will need to provide the following information before you can obtain a City business license. Below are a few examples:

  • If you are selling food, provide a copy of your Jefferson County Health Department Inspection and Food Handlers Permit.
  • If you are selling alcohol, provide a copy of your WV ABC license. For more info, call 800-642-8208 or visit
  • If you are a contractor, provide a copy of your WV State Contractors License. Without a copy of your state license, you will be restricted to projects that are less than $2,500.00 . For more info call 304-558-7890 ext. 10473 or visit The West Virginia Department of Labor.
  • If your business involves childcare services (daycare), you must present a copy of your West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources permit. This can be obtained by contacting the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources at (304) 724 2600 or visiting the website
Health DepartmentMany types of businesses from restaurants, bars, and bed and breakfasts, daycare facilities, and hair/skin salons require approval and inspection from the health department or other boards.

In order to obtain a city business license for these types of businesses, please submit a copy of your Jefferson County Health Department Inspection and permit or state board certification/license for your type of business. Contact or call 304-728-8416 for Jefferson County Health Dept. For other businesses contact your state board.
City ZoningWhether you plan to rent a space or buy a building, it is important to know what type of businesses can be based in your location. You should always first determine your zoning and check to assure your proposed business will comply with that zoning. If you are renting, you will want to check with the City before you sign your lease. For more information contact 304-724-3248.

A Zoning Use Permit is required. It is a 20.00 permit fee. Click here for the application.

Be advised that some uses, particularly those in the downtown area, may be affected by additional standards, which you will need to consider as part of your plan, particularly the following standards from the Supplemental Standards of the Zoning Ordinance may apply:

Article 1323(G) encroachments;
Article 1323(N) outdoor cafes;
Article 1323(O) Outdoor display and sale of Merchandise;
Article 1323(W) design standards.
Building PermitsIf you are doing any construction or renovations to your business location, you may need a building permit from the City of Charles Town, these permits are issued by The Community Development Department. Contact 304-724-3248 for more information. A building permit application can be found here.

Charles Town has adopted both the West Virginia State Building Code and the National Electrical Code. A West Virginia licensed contractor is required for any work performed on the building. Other than general maintenance, business or building owners cannot work on their own building.
Sign PermitDowntown-Signs-145-225x300A sign permit is required in Charles Town to put a sign above/on your business. Depending on where your business is located, City Staff may be able to approve the sign or the Historic Landmarks Commission may need to approve the sign. Application may be for an individual sign permit, in the case of a small business needing only one sign, or a Signage Plan, where an entire lot is covered. These provisions are very detailed as to size and placement of signage, so make sure your planned signage is in compliance. The standards and sizes of signs are the same regardless of if you are in or out of the Historic Overlay District.

For a sign application not in the Historic Overlay District, click here.

For a sign application in the Historic Overlay District, click here.
Local Business-Related TaxesThere are several taxes that may affect your business. Real Estate taxes are for building owners, paid at the county level. Personal Property taxes collected by WV includes furnishings, inventory, machinery, equipment, fixtures, supplies, and tools. Visit for more information or if you have not received your personal property form.

The City of Charles Town requires Business and Occupations (B&O) taxes paid each July 31st and January 31st. The tax rates are specific to your business and also include rates if you are receiving rent for your property within the City of Charles Town. More information on B&O taxes and the filing process can be found by searching the City website, or by calling 304-725-2311.

As of July 1, 2015 there is a 1% city wide sales tax collected within the City of Charles Town. This can be paid online along with your WV sales taxes at