How to File Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in West Virginia

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in West Virginia is easy — and the first task is filing your Articles of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the 17 steps required to file the Articles of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in West Virginia.

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Getting Started

To start a 501(c)(3)-eligible nonprofit corporation in West Virginia, you must file the Articles of Incorporation With Non-Profit IRS Attachment (Form CD-1NP). This guide covers each step you must take to fill out this document successfully and get on the right track to forming a West Virginia nonprofit. 

If you don’t plan to apply for 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you should instead file the general Articles of Incorporation (Form CD-1). 

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name
Step 2: Provide Your Nonprofit’s Principal Office Address
Step 3: Provide a Physical Business Address
Step 4: Choose a Registered Agent
Step 5: Provide Your Nonprofit’s Email Address
Step 6: (Optional) Include Your Nonprofit’s Website Address
Step 7: Disclose Ownership of Other Businesses
Step 8: Indicate Your Corporation Type
Step 9: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose
Step 10: Confirm Any Members
Step 11: List Your Incorporator Information
Step 12: Disclose If the Nonprofit Is “Veteran-Owned”
Step 13: List Any Acreage Owned by the Nonprofit
Step 14: Add Contact Information and an Incorporator Signature
Step 15: Complete the Customer Order Request Form
Step 16: Provide Any Additional Attachments
Step 17: File Formation Documents

(Check out our other guides for a look at how to start a nonprofit organization or how to file articles of incorporation in other states.)

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

The first step to filling out your West Virginia Articles of Incorporation is to list your nonprofit corporation’s name. You also must check the box in this section to indicate that name includes one of the required corporate name endings.

If you haven’t gone through the process of establishing a name for your organization, here are the requirements for naming a nonprofit in West Virginia:

  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of West Virginia, including any reserved names. 
  • Your nonprofit’s name must include an identifier, such as “Corporation,” “Company,” “Incorporated,” “Limited,” “Corp.,” “Co.,” “Inc.,” or “Ltd.”
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t imply an intent or purpose other than what’s stated in the Articles of Incorporation.

Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in West Virginia, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in West Virginia

Search the Availability of Your Name

After selecting potential names — ideally, at least four or five — it’s important to search for their availability in your state. You can do this by conducting the four recommended searches outlined below, or use our 501(c)(3) Lookup Table.

West Virginia Business Entity Search

To operate in West Virginia, a nonprofit corporation must have a unique name. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the West Virginia business entity search tool.

Domain Name Search

We strongly recommend that you also check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL). Even if you don’t plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring that domain name. It’s a free search.

Federal Trademark Search

You can easily check if someone already trademarked your chosen nonprofit name by using the federal Trademark Electronic Search System. This is important even if you don’t plan to incorporate your nonprofit right away.

Once you confirm that no one else already trademarked your chosen name, you can apply for a trademark for your nonprofit.

Web and Social Media Search

A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors as well as clients that will use your services. That makes it important to search the web and popular social media platforms for your desired name before registering it to ensure it’s available on all the platforms where you plan to promote your organization.

Step 2: Provide Your Nonprofit’s Principal Office Address

In article two, provide the address of your nonprofit corporation’s principal office. Be sure to include the street address, county, and a mailing address for the principal office if it differs from that office’s street address.

Step 3: Provide a Physical Business Address

Next, provide the physical address of your nonprofit corporation’s principal place of business in West Virginia, if any. This also must include the street address, county, and a mailing address if it differs from that physical address.

Step 4: Choose a Registered Agent

registered agent isn’t required to file the Articles of Incorporation in West Virginia. But, the benefits of having a registered agent include accepting and forwarding service of process for the corporation as well as serving as a point of contact for the entity. Either an individual or a business entity within West Virginia may fill this role. 

To complete this section, you must provide the below information. Otherwise, the state will send all documents to the principal office address you provided in Article Two.

  • Your registered agent’s name
  • Your registered agent’s street address

Recommended: Using an affordable registered agent service offers many benefits. For more information on choosing a registered agent service, read our full guide

Step 5: Provide Your Nonprofit’s Email Address

Next, provide the email address where you prefer to receive business correspondence like annual notices. 

Step 6: (Optional) Include Your Nonprofit’s Website Address

You may choose to include your nonprofit corporation’s website address, if available, in this section. But, this isn’t required.

Step 7: Disclose Ownership of Other Businesses

If your nonprofit’s incorporators own other businesses in West Virginia, check the “yes” box in this section and disclose the number of those businesses and the number of counties in which they conduct operations. If your incorporators don’t own any other businesses in the state — or choose not to disclose this information — then check the “no” or “decline to answer” box. 

Step 8: Indicate Your Corporation Type

Check the box in this section to indicate you’re forming a nonprofit/nonstock corporation. 

Step 9: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose

In section A of article nine, describe your nonprofit corporation’s purpose. That purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics for your nonprofit to be eligible for 501(c)(3) status: 

  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Literary
  • Testing for public safety
  • Fostering national/international amateur sports competition
  • Preventing cruelty to animals/children

In section B of article nine, disclose whether or not your corporation is a scrap metal dealer by checking the applicable box.

Step 10: Confirm Any Members

Confirm whether or not your nonprofit corporation will have members by checking the corresponding box in article 10.

If your corporation will have members, you also must include the following information in this section (or use an attachment, if needed): 

  • The designation of the member class or classes
  • The manner of election or appointment of the members of each class
  • The qualifications and rights of the members of each class

Step 11: List Your Incorporator Information

An incorporator is any person who participates in the completion and submission of the Articles of Incorporation. You must have at least one incorporator and provide the name and address of each incorporator in this formation document. Use an attachment, if needed. 

Step 12: Disclose If the Nonprofit Is ‘Veteran-Owned’

Confirm whether or not your nonprofit is “veteran-owned” by checking the corresponding box. A qualifying “veteran-owned” business isn’t required to pay the state’s business registration fee. 

To qualify as a “veteran-owned” business, your nonprofit must meet these requirements: 

  • It has a “veteran” owner who’s honorably discharged or under honorable conditions
  • It must be at least 51 percent unconditionally owned by one or more veterans or, in the case of a publicly owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock is unconditionally owned by one or more veterans.
  • This filing will include a copy of the owner’s Veteran Affairs Form DD214 from the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records

Step 13: List Any Acreage Owned by the Nonprofit

In article 13, list the number of acres of land your nonprofit corporation holds or expects to hold in West Virginia.

Step 14: Add Contact Information and an Incorporator Signature

Include the name and phone number of an individual the state should contact in case there’s a problem with this filing. In addition, include the signature and printed name of the incorporator filing this formation document along with the date. 

Step 15: Complete the Customer Order Request Form

A completed Customer Order Request form is required to file the Articles of Incorporation in West Virginia. To complete this form, you must include the following information:

  • Your preferred processing time 
  • The name of your nonprofit entity 
  • A return address for this filing
  • A contact name and phone number
  • Your preferred method of return service (e.g., mail, fax, email)
  • An order description listing all items within this order and the associated fee breakdown
  • Your payment method (e.g., check, money order, credit card)

Step 16: Provide Any Additional Attachments

In order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, a nonprofit must have at least three directors not related to each other on its board of directors. Because the West Virginia formation document doesn’t include a section related to the organization’s initial board of directors, use an attachment to provide this information. 

When listing your nonprofit’s initial board of directors, follow these requirements: 

  • Don’t include any prefixes, such as “Mr.” or “Ms.”
  • If applicable, use titles of lineage.
  • If applicable, use designations like “M.D.” or “Ph.D.”

For a complete guide to forming your nonprofit’s board of directors, read our How to Develop a Board of Directors for a Nonprofit in West Virginia article.

Step 17: File Formation Documents

You can file your West Virginia Articles of Incorporation in four ways: online, by mail, by fax, by email, or in person.

File the West Virginia Articles of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With the WV Online Business Portal

File Online

– OR –

OPTION 2: File Form CD-1NP by Mail, by Fax, by Email, or In Person

Download Form

Fee: $25

Filing Addresses:

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

Clarksburg Office
North Central WV Business Center
200 West Main St.
Clarksburg, WV 26301

Martinsburg Office
Eastern Panhandle Business Center
229 E. Martin St.
Martinsburg, WV 25401

Fax: (304) 558-8381

Email: CorpFilings@wvsos.gov 

Note: If you intend to apply for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, you must include the “Statement Required by IRS to be Included in Articles of Incorporation, Restatement, or Amendment for 501(c)(3) Status Approval” as an attachment to your Articles of Incorporation filing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in West Virginia?

Filing the Articles of Incorporation With Non-Profit IRS Attachment for a domestic nonprofit in West Virginia costs $25.

How do I find nonprofits in West Virginia?

Use our handy West Virginia 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to find nonprofits in West Virginia. You can use this tool to see if your preferred nonprofit name is in use or not.

West Virginia Nonprofit Quick Links

IRS: Information for Charities and Nonprofits
IRS: Charity – Required Provisions for Organizing Documents
IRS: Form 990 Series for Tax-Exempt Organizations
IRS: Applying for Tax-Exempt Status
IRS: 501(c)(3) Compliance Guide
US Small Business Administration: Apply for Licenses and Permits
West Virginia Nonprofit Corporation Act
West Virginia State Tax Department: Charitable Gaming Licenses
West Virginia Business Registration Booklet
West Virginia Secretary of State: Business Division
West Virginia Secretary of State: Forms and Fees for Charitable Organizations
Workforce West Virginia: Employer Registration
WV One Stop Business Portal
West Virginia 501(c)(3) Lookup Table

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