One of several crucial steps in the process of starting up a small business is obtaining the proper licenses and permits to legally operate in your area. Federal, state and local government entities use licenses and permits to track your business’ revenue for tax purposes and protect the public from potentially harmful business practices. Here we will talk about how to get a business license.

Professional licenses indicate your level of expertise in your particular field and are required for a range of occupations including physicians, plumbers, accountants, real estate agents, and cosmetologists.

These are unique than business registration requirements, which vary depending on your business entity. In this guide, you will learn which state business licenses you need and where you can find them.

An Overview of State Business Licences

how to get a business license


State-level regulatory agencies want you to acquire certain licenses and permits based on the type of services that you offer or products that you sell. Some states may require you to apply with your city or county. Here are a few examples of business licenses you may need to obtain:

(a) General business operating license

Some states require all business owners to obtain a general license to operate.

(b) Seller’s license

A state-regulated seller’s license would be required if you sell or lease items that would be subject to sales tax when sold at retail.

(c) Tax registration and permits

You would need to acquire the proper tax permits or register with the correct agency if your state requires it to collect taxes. For example, Texas business owners who sell or rent a personal property or sell taxable services must have a sales tax permit.

(d) Professional licenses

Professionals in certain industries need to be state certified to conduct business within the state. Safety professionals in North Carolina, for instance, need to be certified at the state level.

(e) Environmental permits

Businesses in industries such as oil and gas or forestry may have to comply with state environmental regulations. Permits could be required to operate.

Some industries are regulated as well and require additional licensing. If you run a business in an industry such as agriculture, alcohol, firearms and ammunition, fish and wildlife, or radio and television. Check with the related government departments, like the Department of Agriculture or Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, to apply for the appropriate permits. Most businesses typically have to comply with the U.S. Department of Labour’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration as well.

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Where to Obtain a Business Licence in Your State – A Step-by-Step Guide

To find out which licenses you need to run your business, you should check with the proper agency in your state. We have compiled a list of state organizations where you could find out more about which business licenses are essential.

Let’s take a look at these given below:

Obtaining a Business Licence in Alabama

If your business is based out of Alabama, check out AtlasAlabama, which is established to help start and expand small businesses. You can find information here about which businesses need occupational licenses, how to obtain a business tax number and many other useful resources.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Alaska

Small business owners who are based in Alaska should consult the Alaska Department of Commerce. Which provide a clear breakdown of what you need to license your business. You should also check their list for businesses that do not require a license in Alaska. You can easily file for a new license, or to renew a license online.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Arizona

Things to get a business license in the state of Arizona available on the Arizona Department of Revenue’s website. This website is designed to help businesses in Arizona comply with the state’s basic tax and licensing requirements. Agency’s licensing guide shows you where to go to find a state transaction privilege tax, regulatory, professional and special licensing or permits and local business and occupational licenses or permits.

Obtaining Business Licence in Arkansas

Visit the Owning a Business website for a comprehensive guide on all things related to starting and running a business legally in the state of Arkansas, including getting a license. The site also includes resources on registering a new business. It directs how to apply for an employer identification number, filing for workers’ compensation insurance and more.

Obtaining a Business Licence in California

Use CalGold as your go-to resource on how to get a business license and permit in California. Select your city or county, enter your business type and follow the instructions from there.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Colorado

The Colorado Business Express is the Centennial State’s online portal small business owners should use to apply for a business license either online or manually.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Connecticut

Small business owners in Connecticut should consult the state’s New Business Checklist for a guide on the appropriate way to start up and register their businesses. Skip ahead to Step 5 on the checklist, if you just need to know whether your business needs special licenses and permits and where to get a license in the state of Connecticut.

Obtaining Business Licence in Delaware

In order to register or renew a Delaware business license, go to the state’s One-Stop Business Registration & Licensing website. Through this online portal, a questionnaire will lead you to the appropriate forms to obtain the licensing you need.

How to get a Business Licence in the District of Columbia (DC)

All businesses in Washington, District of Columbia (DC) are required to have a license. Use the wizard tools on D.C. Business Center online guide to determine exactly which license you need in order to start your business. Read the Basic Business Licence guide to apply for a license.

How to get a Business Licence in Florida

You can get information on how to get a business license in Florida on the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation website, which features a dedicated online small business license portal. Simply click on your business type from the available list and follow the instructions from there.

How to get a Business Licence in Georgia

Many businesses in Georgia can now apply for business licenses online, so check the state’s online licensure applications list to find out whether your business makes the cut. After that, you can submit an application for a new license in the state of Georgia through the online portal. Take a look at Georgia’s business licenses webpage for a simple overview of your business’ licensing needs.

How to get a Business Licence in Hawaii

Hawaii’s Business Express portal automates the process of registering your business online. All you need is your account information. Then follow the Wizard questions to figure out which licenses and permits you need to apply for any business licenses.

How to get a Business Licence in Idaho

Take a look at’s licensing, permitting and regulations webpage to search for regulation information and apply for licenses online. Note that Idaho does not have a state license (all business licenses are issued locally), so only the businesses that need special licensing can apply through the online portal. You can also search’s online services by your business type for any related information on how to get a business license through your local institutions.

How to get a Business Licence in Illinois

For starting a new business take a look at the Illinois Department of Commerce’s First Stop Business Info Centre to access resources for writing a business plan, setting up your legal structure, registering your business. Then, find out how to get a license through their registration, license and permit applications resources.

How to get a Business Licence in Indiana

The state of Indiana does not have a single, comprehensive business license. However, every business that operates in Indiana is required to fulfill regulatory requirements, potentially at several state levels. The state’s Business Owner Guide the best resource for a business license. And help to sort out the information you need, according to your industry.

Obtaining Business Licence in Iowa

The state of Iowa does not require general business licenses. Rather, licensing requirements are based on the nature of your business or profession. You can search the Iowa Business Licence Information Centre’s database in order to determine which licenses are required by your specific business. You can also visit the Iowa Business Information Centre’s regulatory subsection for a shortlist of general licensing tips.

Obtaining Business Licence in Kansas

In order to register a business in the state of Kansas, visit the Kansas Business Centre’s Operating Your Business subsection for information on how to obtain a license in your state.

Obtaining Business Licence in Kentucky

Kentucky does not have a single, statewide license for all businesses, but certain businesses will need special permits or licenses. Check out the Kentucky One Stop Business Portal for information on starting and running your business, and head to their page on the occupational licenses and permits that apply to your business.

You need to create an account on the site first to apply for a business license and take advantage of the site’s online license resources.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Louisiana

Visit Louisiana’s Business Services page to start the process of obtaining your required licenses for the state. You will need to create a GeauxBiz account to access their start-up services, which includes a business license checklist.

Obtaining Business Licence in Maine

All business licenses in the state of Maine are operated in town or city level. Therefore, you will need to contact your local town office directly to find out what your business needs. Visit the Local Government portal for the contact information you will need.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Maryland

The Maryland Department of Commerce has compiled an online database so that you can perform a statewide and county-level Maryland business license search and determine what license you might need in order to operate your business in the state. You can also consult the Department of Labour, Licensing and Regulation’s directory of services to contact the licensing agent that applies to your industry.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Massachusetts

Take a look at Massachusetts state’s Starting a New Business guide for advice, resources, and information about legal requirements you need to get your business off the ground. Jump to their Business Licenses and Permits page to find out if your business or profession needs special business licensing or permits in order to legally operate in the state.

Obtaining Business Licence in Michigan

Not each and every business in Michigan is required to be licensed by the state. Business licenses are required for certain vocations or occupations that may be conducted within a business. And local governments may also require business licenses. Find out if your new venture could require a state license or permit through the online business licensing search. Also, check out the state’s guidebook and step-by-step outline for how to start a business in Michigan.

Obtaining Business Licence in Minnesota

Some types of businesses operate in the state of Minnesota without licenses but others require certain licensing and permits. You can use the Minnesota online business license tool to search for required licenses by topic, agency, or index.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Mississippi

Mississippi does not license all businesses at a state level. Depending on your business activities, though, you might need state and local permits to legally run your business. Take a look at the Mississippi Small Business Development Centre’s FAQs for a list of common small business license questions in the state, including licensing concerns. They recommend consulting the SBA business license and search tool and also checking with your town or city clerk to stay up to date on local license requirements. Also, be sure to check out the state’s Business One-Stop Shop for more startup resources.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Missouri

The Missouri Business Portal lets you register your business with the Secretary of State and Department of Revenue simultaneously. This resource also provides a list of occupations that require licensing. And suggest you contact your county or city government to learn more about local licensing requirements.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Montana

The state of Montana provides professional licensing and licenses for industries that specifically require state regulations. Another business licensing in Montana is handled at a local level. Check out this list of Montana state licenses by industry. For more information, consult Montana’s Small Business Development Centre Network business licensing page.

Obtaining Business Licence in Nebraska

The Nebraska Licensing Division oversees collection agencies, debt management agencies, credit services organizations, private detectives, truth and deception examiners, athlete agents and non-recourse civil litigation funding companies. If your business encompasses any of these activities, follow the links on their website to get your required business licensing. Whether or not your business is any of the above, check with your local government to see if you will need additional licenses.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Nevada

If you are a small business owner in the state of Nevada, check out the SilverFlume Business Portal. This statewide business portal has a step-by-step online guide to starting your business in Nevada. And how to secure the appropriate business licensing in the state.

Obtaining Business Licence in New Hampshire

You will need to contact your local city or town clerk’s office to find out about local requirements to run a business in New Hampshire. For information on how to get a business license or permit, visit the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration licensing FAQs webpage.

Obtaining a Business Licence in New Jersey

The New Jersey Business Action Centre is the online NJ business license resource that makes it easy for you to find the licenses and permits you need. You can also browse through the New Jersey Licence and Certification Guide, which alphabetically lists all businesses and occupations that require permits, certifications, or licensing, plus the government agency you will need to contact in order to obtain that requirement.

Obtaining a Business Licence in New Mexico

Business licensing requirements in New Mexico vary according to your county or municipality, so it is best to contact your local city or town clerk’s office directly. If your business requires a special license or permit from the state, you can apply for a business license online. Take a look at the New Mexico Economic Development business development page for more information on starting your business in this state.

Obtaining a Business Licence in New York

In order to get a business license in New York, start with the Business Wizard to determine which New York State licenses are necessary to get your business up and how to obtain a business license that you need.

Obtaining Business Licence in North Carolina

The State of North Carolina does not issue general business licenses, but your business might be subject to state, city, county, or federal requirements. You also may need a special license if your business requires occupational licenses. The state provides business counselors to get a business license.

Obtaining Business Licence in North Dakota

Here you can find information on the small business licenses. You might need on the North Dakota New Business Registration’s licensing information webpage.

Obtaining Business Licence in Ohio

The Ohio Small Business Development Centre’s guide informs you of the legal structure variations involved in business licensing. All businesses are also required to register with the Ohio Secretary of State. Search the Ohio licenses and permits index to find the exact licenses you for your business.

Obtaining Business Licence in Oklahoma

Oklahoma does not require general business licenses, but there are a few industries that need special licensing in order to operate in this state. Refer to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce Business Licensing and Operating Requirements page for a list of the types of licenses you will need by industry, as well as other employer requirements, such as workers’ compensation insurance.

Obtaining Business Licence in Oregon

Consult the Oregon Secretary of State’s webpage on starting a business in Oregon for a state-specific game plan on opening up shop. Skip to step six if you are mostly interested in learning about the licenses, permits, or certifications you need in Oregon, it will direct you to Business Xpress License Directory, an online portal which lets you search for information on how to get a business license in the state.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Pennsylvania

The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs in Pennsylvania offers an online business licenses portal called the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS), where you can easily apply for a business license, renew an existing license and every other licensing action you may need to take to operate your business in Pennsylvania.

Obtaining Business Licence in Rhode Island

You can find forms for business licenses in Rhode Island through the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation webpage. Here, you can look up types of licenses according to industry, register for a new license online, or renew an existing license online. Even before that, though, take a look at the start or qualify to do business in Rhode Island page to make sure you are following all the necessary steps to legally opening up a business in this state.

Obtaining a Business Licence in South Carolina

There is no single South Carolina state license requirement. Almost every city and town requires their own types of business licenses. Go to the state’s official webpage on licenses, permits, and registration in South Carolina to find the link that will instruct you how to get a license, according to your business type and needs. You can also head over to South Carolina Business One Stop to access portals on starting, running, expanding and doing business in the state.

Obtaining a Business Licence in South Dakota

You will find links to various guides and checklists encompassing all the information you need to know to operate your business. They also provide a PDF on licensing and registering your business in South Dakota, which lists licensing requirements for common departments. Certain departments may require additional licenses, however, so it is best to inquire directly with your relevant agency.

Obtaining Business Licence in Tennessee

According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, if you are subject to the Tennessee business tax, you will need to obtain a business license from your county clerk. If you operate an in-state business that generates more than $3,000 in sales, you must obtain either a ‘minimal activity license’ or a ‘standard business license’ from your county or municipal clerk. There are a few caveats within those requirements, too, so be sure to carefully read the Tennessee business registration and licensing web page.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Texas

To get a business license in Texas you can start with the Secretary of State’s website for guides and resources to starting a business in Texas. This site actually directs users to the SBA’s page on applying for licenses and permits in Texas. Alternatively, you can check out the official website and refer to the “Work” tab. That directs you right to a portal to apply for or renew a professional license. And additional resources for starting and running a business in your state.

Obtaining a Business Licence in Utah

Visit the Utah government requirements website to get a business license. Then scroll down to the Business Registration and Licensing Regulations section. For the overview consult the Utah business licensing and registration guide. You will also find a list of cities for a business license. In addition to the state’s general business license.

Obtaining Business Licence in Vermont

The Vermont Secretary of State webpage directs you to the SBA’s portal on applying for licenses and permits. They suggest visiting the Vermont professional regulations page where you can consult a list of professions that require Vermont licenses. And access the state’s online licensing portal.

Obtaining Business Licence in Virginia

To launch a business in Virginia, check out the starting a business in Virginia step-by-step guide. Referring to step 4 shows you how to obtain a business license in the state of Virginia. Begins with consulting an informational page on applying for a Virginia business license. Then, you can quickly apply for any relevant licenses, permits, or certificates online through Virginia’s Business One-Stop portal.

How to get a business Licence in Washington

Consult the State of Washington online business licensing service to access several resources on applying for a business license. You can receive a customized licensing solution through the Washington business licensing wizard.

How to get a business Licence in West Virginia

Best bet is to visit the state’s online business portal to search for a West Virginia business license. You will be directed to the specific agencies that administer the licenses, permits, registrations and other authorizations for business. You will need to register for an account to access the portal.

How to get a Business Licence in Wisconsin

Visit the business portal to access useful resource for business in this state. But for licensing concerns specifically, scroll down to the Licences and Permits link under the page’s Government Resources section. You will be directed to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection license list, which lists industries alphabetically and provides the phone number.  You can contact to apply for or renew your license.

How to get a Business Licence in Wyoming

The Wyoming business permitting and licensing online guide tells you everything you need to know about permit requirements. You can also contact the Wyoming Business Outreach Coordinator directly if you have more questions.

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Additional Business Licence Requirements You May Face

While your industry is most likely to determine which permits and licenses you need, your business location could be a factor. You may have to abide by your city’s zoning and land use permits that regulate where auto dealers or food trucks, for instance, conduct business. You can research a location you have in mind in your city to see if it is compatible with business.

Home-based businesses have to comply with additional regulations from local entities. To run a home-based business, you may need a home occupation permit to comply with city and county zoning laws. If your neighborhood is not zoned for the business activity you may have to take an extra step.

And apply for a conditional-use permit as well. Construction or signage for home-based businesses requires permission from local government entities. You may be limited in the size and type of sign you can place on your property. You may also need a permit to make major home renovations for business purposes.

Homeowner associations also set rules for home-based businesses. The organization can restrict what type of business you operate out of your house. Check your HOA guidelines before launching a home-based business.

How To Get A Business Licences – The Bottom Line

Delays in license or permit approval could slow down your best efforts for the business. And operating without the proper paperwork could result in penalties for your business. Be sure to check with federal, state and local organizations to make sure you have the right business licenses. If you have additional questions about a business license you could reach out to your local Small Business Development Centre.

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