There are many things to consider when beginning a business in Fairfax County. The following information summarizes what you need to know about starting a new business in Fairfax County.
Contact the Business Experience program—called BizEx for short—for help understanding and navigating Fairfax County’s permit, review, inspection and license processes. It’s a one-stop shop for anyone starting or growing a small business.
You may obtain additional information about businesses in Fairfax County from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
Businesses located in the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church, and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna (except contractors) are not subject to Fairfax County Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax, but you should contact those jurisdictions for business license tax requirements. Businesses located in the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna are required to file business tangible property with Fairfax 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. Businesses may apply for a business license either by mail, email, fax, or in person. Applications are available on the Department of Tax Administration (DTA) website, along with our contact information.
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. For detailed information on BPOL requirements, please go to one of the following pages: Understanding BPOL Tax, Business Taxes - Frequently Asked Questions.
Business Tangible Property Tax (BPP)
All businesses operating in Fairfax County must file business tangible property if the property was located in Fairfax County on January 1 of the current year. A Business Return of Tangible Personal Property must be filed with DTA by May 1 and taxes paid by October 5 of the current year. Businesses may file for Business Tangible Property Tax either by mail, email, fax, or in person. Applications are available on the DTA website, along with our contact information. For detailed information on Business Tangible Property Tax requirements, go to one of the following pages: Understanding Business Tangible Property and Vehicles, Business Taxes - Frequently Asked Questions.
Other Licenses, Permits, Registrations, and Tax Requirements
Some businesses are required to obtain additional licenses and permits. Contact information for other state and county agencies who administer these licenses and permits is available from our website.
Trade Name Registration:
Any business operating under a name other than that of the owner must register with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
On January 1, 2020, the Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk’s Office stopped accepting new Certificates of assumed or fictitious names (also known as Trade Names). All new Certificates of assumed or fictitious names are filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. You may contact the Virginia State Corporation Commission for questions regarding the filing of new Certificates of assumed or fictitious names. The Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk’s Office accepts Trade Name Dissolutions (also known as Certificates of Release) for filing, if the original Certificate of assumed or fictitious name was filed with the Fairfax Circuit Court.
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 the Fairfax County Land Development Services.
Worker’s Compensation Insurance:
Contractors are required to provide written certification at the time of any application for issuance or reissuance of a business license that they are in compliance with workers’ compensation requirements and will remain in compliance during the effective period of the business license. (Code of Virginia § 58.1-3714)
Non-Residential Use Permit (Non-Rup) Home Occupational:
Businesses are also required to obtain a residential or non-residential use permit from the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.
Food Service Permit:
The Fairfax County Health Department issues permits for food service establishments.
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.
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 (DTA).
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.
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 partnerships and limited partnerships are formed through legal agreements that comply with the Code of Virginia § 50-73.1-73.77.
Employer Identification Number:
The Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or the Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to business entities operating in the United States for the purposes of identification[SD16] .
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 Cable and Consumer Services.
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.
Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board:
The Virginia Department of Taxation issues, to authorized stamping agents, a Dual VA-NVCTB stamp that must be affixed to all cigarette packages sold or distributed in the jurisdictions of the Board. Prior to selling any cigarettes from your retail location, you should check with the taxation office of the jurisdiction where your business is located to ensure that all proper business licenses have been obtained.
Commercial Swimming Pools:
Owners or managers of commercial swimming pools should contact the Fairfax County Department of Health for appropriate permits.
Short-Term Daily Rental (STDR) Tax:
Only certified short-term daily rental businesses are authorized and required to collect, file, and remit the STDR tax. A business is engaged in short-term daily rental if at least 80 percent 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. Short-term daily rental businesses are required to apply for certification annually and file tax returns quarterly.
Other County Licenses:
County licenses for fortune tellers (and others with similar occupations), bondsman, dance hall operators, owners of establishments serving mixed alcoholic beverage, auto graveyards, circuses, and carnivals are issued by DTA.