Information for New Businesses


There are many things to consider when beginning a business in Fairfax County. Is a business license required? Depending on the type of business, you may be required to obtain additional licenses and/or permits. If you are planning to operate the business under a name other than your own, you will need to register with the Clerk of Court. In addition, you must file for business personal property taxes. The following information is a summary of information relevant to beginning a new business in Fairfax County. You may obtain additional information about businesses in Fairfax County from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

Businesses located in the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna (except contractors) are not subject to County BPOL tax, but you should check with these jurisdictions for license tax requirements. Businesses located in the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna are required to file tangible personal property with the County.

Links to Other Jurisdictions:

Business, Professional and Occupational Licenses (BPOL)

  • New businesses must file a business license application within 75 days of the date business began.
    • If gross receipts are $10,000 or less, there is no fee or license requirement. However some businesses may insist on obtaining a license for business purposes, i.e.… opening a bank account, qualifying as a wholesale merchant, etc.
    • For businesses with gross receipts from $10,001 to $50,000, a flat fee of $30 is assessed.
    • For businesses with gross receipts from $50,001 to $100,000, a flat fee of $50 is assessed.
    • For businesses with gross receipts of $100,001 or greater, the tax rate is determined by the business classification. (Refer to the BPOL Rate Schedule to determine the tax rate for each business classification.)
  • Businesses, professions, trades, and occupations are assessed a license tax based on gross receipts (or purchases, for wholesale merchants) for the prior year. Individuals engaging in most home occupations and self employment must also file if receipts are greater than $10,000.
  • Applicants may apply for a business license either by mail or in person at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 223, Fairfax, Virginia 22035. Applications are also available from this website. The Department of Tax Administration requires the following information in order to obtain a business license: owner name, trade name, business address, nature (description) of business, estimated first year gross receipts, and begin date.
  • The County's BPOL Ordinance requires an estimate for the first partial and the subsequent first full calendar year of operation. Although the first two years of operation require an estimate of gross receipts (or purchases, for wholesale merchants), in reality the taxpayer is taxed on actual gross receipts since adjustments are made at the end of each tax year during the estimating phase.

For more information on BPOL requirements, please see the following pages: Business/Professional/Occupational Licenses, Business Taxes - Frequently Asked Questions, BPOL Ordinance.

Business Personal Property Tax

  • Regardless of gross income/purchases, if the business had tangible personal property and that property was located in Fairfax County on January 1 of the current year, a Return of Tangible Personal Property must be filed by May 1 of the current year with the Department of Tax Administration.
  • Applicants may file for Personal Property tax either by mail or in person at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 223, Fairfax, Virginia 22035. Applications are also available from this website.
  • The Code of Virginia §58.1-3500, states that, "Tangible personal property shall consist of all personal property not otherwise classified by §58.1-1100 as intangible personal property or by §58.1-3510 as merchants capital." §58.1-3503(17) defines tangible personal property as; "All tangible personal property employed in a trade or business." This includes desks, chairs, computers and all other tangible personal property used in a business.
  • Company-owned vehicles are subject to the filing requirement for Motor Vehicles.
  • The current tax rate for personal property is $4.57 per $100 of assessed value. The method of valuing business personal property shall be determined by means of a percentage or percentages of the original cost.

For more information on Business Personal Property tax requirements, go to one of the following pages: Business Personal Property, Business Taxes - Frequently Asked Questions.

Other Licenses, Permits, Registrations, and Tax Requirements

Trade Name Registration

  • Any business operating under a name other than that of the owner must register with the Clerk of Court. When registering a trade name it is recommended that the charter and fictitious names book be reviewed to determine if the name is already in use within the County. The Virginia Code requires registration so that information regarding the names used are available to the public. If incorporating, a company must register with the Virginia State Corporation Commission before it can register a "doing business as" trade name with the Clerk's office.
  • Registration of a trade name with the County does not protect the use of the name. However, names of companies incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia are protected. A corporate name may not be the same as, or confusingly similar to, that of any other corporation doing business in Virginia. The filing fee for a trade name is $10.00 and must be paid in cash. Trade name registration takes place Monday through Friday 8 a.m. through 3:45 p.m. in the Public Services Division of the Fairfax County Circuit Court Clerk's Office.

Contractor Licenses

  • State contractor licenses are required for all practicing electricians, mechanics, plumbers and home improvement contractors. Additionally, home improvement contractors with Class C state contractor licenses must obtain a license issued from Fairfax County.

  • For more information, contact:
    Land Disturbance and Post Occupancy Branch
    Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
    12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 111
    Fairfax, Virginia 22035-5504
    703-324-1300
    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/

Food Service Permit

  • The Fairfax County Health Department issues permits for food service establishments. The department conducts pre-opening and routine inspections to ensure compliance with Chapter 43 of the Fairfax County Code (service and operation; requirements governing food establishments).

  • Permits are not automatically transferred. When an existing food establishment is purchased, a new application for a food service permit is required. When a new building is involved, the permit process involves other County agencies, Therefore, process times vary. No fee is required.

  • Every permitted food establishment in Fairfax County must have a County-licensed food service manager on duty at all times. Contact Northern Virginia Community College at 703-323-3000 for information regarding Food Service Manager certificate courses.

  • For more information, contact:
    Division of Environmental Health
    Fairfax County Health Department
    10777 Main Street, Suite 111
    Fairfax, Virginia 22030
    703-246-2444//703-385-9568 fax
    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd

Home Child Care Facility Permits, Day Care Centers

  • Any person who provides child care for up to five children in their home for compensation must obtain a Fairfax County Home Child Care Facility Permit from the Fairfax County Department of Family Services Office for Children.
  • For more information, contact:
    Fairfax County Department of Family Services
    Office for Children
    Division of Community Education and Provider Services
    12011 Government Center Parkway, 8th Floor
    Fairfax, Virginia 22035
    703-324-8100
    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ofc/ApplyPermit1.htm

Alcoholic Beverage License

  • Retail outlets (convenience stores, drug stores, grocery stores, hotels and restaurants) selling alcoholic beverages must be licensed by the Virginia ABC Board and the Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration.
  • For more information, contact:
    Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration
    12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 223
    Fairfax, Virginia 22035
    Tel: 703-222-8234, Fax: 703-324-3500
    Form: County License 9-0A

    Virginia ABC Board
    Northern Virginia Regional Office
    6308 Grovedale Drive
    Alexandria, Virginia 22310
    Tel: 703-313-4432, Fax: 703-313-4444
    http://www.abc.state.va.us

Certificate of Authority for Firms Incorporated Outside of Virginia

  • A Corporation incorporated outside of Virginia but doing business in Virginia must obtain a Certificate of Authority. This certificate and a recently certified copy of its certificate or articles of incorporation must be filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Payment of the following fees is also required:
    • Entrance Fee: The entrance fee for a stock corporation is based on the number of authorized shares of stock shown in the charter. The rates are $50 for every 25,000 shares of stock or fraction thereof up to 1 million shares, and $2,500 for more than 1 million shares of stock. Nonstock corporations and foreign corporations organized without capital stock pay a $50 entrance fee.
    • Filing Fee: The fee for obtaining a Certificate of Authority is $25.
  • For more information, contact:
    Virginia State Corporation Commission
    Clerk's Office
    P.O. Box 1197
    Richmond, Virginia 23218
    Tel: 804-371-9733
    http://www.scc.virginia.gov

Incorporation

  • To become incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia, an organization must file articles of incorporation with the Virginia State Corporation Commission and pay the required fees. Statutory references can be found in the Code of Virginia Stock Corporation Act. Titles 13-1-601 through 13.1-780.
  • General guidelines include the following:
    • Incorporations do not have to be Virginia residents.
    • To get started, corporations are not required to have stockholders or minimum paid-in cash.
    • The corporate name must include the word "corporation," "company," "incorporated," or "limited."
    • The corporate name cannot be the same as, or similar to, the corporate name of another registered Virginia business.
    • Businesses incorporated in Virginia must maintain a registered office within the state.
    • Corporations doing business in Virginia must submit an annual report to the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
  • The following fees apply to Virginia Corporations:
    • Entrance Fee: The entrance fee for a stock corporation is based on the number of authorized shares of stock shown in the charter. The rates are $50 for every 25,000 shares of stock or fraction thereof up to 1 million shares, and $2,500 for more than 1 million shares of stock. Nonstock corporations and foreign corporations organized without capital stock pay a $50 entrance fee.
    • Filing Fee: The fee for obtaining a Certificate of Authority is $25.

Partnerships

  • General partnerships and limited partnerships are formed through legal agreements that comply with the Virginia Code section 50-73.1-73.77. Applications must be filed and recorded through the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The Virginia State Corporation Commission then notifies the Clerk's Office of the Fairfax County Circuit Court.
  • Fees are as follows:
    $100 filing fee made payable to State Corporation Commission.
    $20 recording fee made payable to the Clerk's Office of the Fairfax County Circuit Court.
  • Submit checks and applications to:
    Virginia State Corporation Commission
    P. O. Box 1197
    Richmond, Virginia 23218-1197
    Tel: 804-371-9733; Toll free in Virginia: 866-722-2551
    http://www.scc.virginia.gov

Employer Identification Number

  • Required if any of the following conditions exist:
    • Business is incorporated;
    • Business is a nonprofit organization;
    • Business is a partnership;
    • Business is a plan administrator;
    • Business is a trust or estate;
    • Business pays wages to one or more employees;
    • Business is required to pay excise or highway use taxes;
    • Business is required to file any document with the Internal Revenue Service; or
    • Business is required to withhold taxes on income (other than wages) paid to nonresident alien (unless specifically exempt by special visa).

Taxi and Solicitors Licenses

  • Taxicab operators and drivers, precious metal dealers, solicitors/peddlers, massage parlor operators and pawnbrokers receive licenses through the Fairfax County Department of Telecommunications and Consumer Services.
  • For more information, contact:
    Fairfax County Department of Telecommunications and Consumer Services
    12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 127
    Fairfax, Virginia 22035
    Tel: 703-324-5966, Fax: 703-449-8659

Sales and Use Tax (Fairfax County and Virginia)

  • Fairfax County, and all other cities and counties in Virginia, levy a 1 percent sales and use tax. Localities that make up the Northern Virginia (which includes Fairfax County) and Hampton Roads regions levy an additional 0.7 percent sales and use tax for transportation. This tax is collected at the point of sale and at the same time as the state's 4.3 percent sales and use tax, for a total of 6.0 percent.
  • The Virginia Department of Taxation uses Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) codes to identify where a business is located and where their sales take place. FIPS codes are a standardized set of numeric codes to ensure uniform identification of geographic entities such as cities, counties and towns. Use the Virginia Department of Taxation's FIPS Lookup tool to determine your correct code.
  • Distributors do not pay the tax on items purchased for resale. Research and development firms do not pay the tax on items used directly and exclusively in research. Manufacturers receive exemptions for items used in production. Other exemptions include custom computer software, certain advertising materials and pollution control devices. Business entities may be required to collect as well as pay this tax.

Miscellaneous License/Permits

  • County licenses for fortune tellers (and others with similar occupations), bondsman, dance hall operators, owners of establishments serving mixed drinks, auto graveyards, circuses and carnivals are issued by the Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration. Owners or managers of commercial swimming pools should contact the Fairfax County Department of Health for appropriate permits.
  • For more information, contact:
    Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration
    12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 223
    Fairfax, Virginia 22035
    Tel: 703-222-8234
    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dta

    Fairfax County Department of Health
    Consumer Services Division
    10777 Main Street, Suite 111
    Fairfax, Virginia 22030
    Tel: 703-246-2444, Fax: 703-385-9568
    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/HD/eh

Short Term Daily Rental Tax

  • Only certified short term daily rental businesses are authorized and required to collect, file, and remit the short term daily rental tax. A business is engaged in short term daily rental if at least 80% of the gross receipts in any year are for rentals of 92 consecutive days or less including rentals to persons affiliated with the renter, and the rental does not include any personal services.
  • In order for a business to become a certified short-term daily rental business it is required to apply for certification annually.

 


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