How to Get a Business License 1-2-3
3 Steps to Getting a Business License:
In most cases, a company will need a business license to operate. The licenses and permits needed will
depend on the type of business and the location of the company.
1. Find out which licenses and permits are required by your city or
county. This is as easy as asking your local city or county government office. Most cities have their own
websites as well, and they have applications you can download or fill out and submit online. Sometimes, you
will need to visit your local government office to submit your application. Or you
can do it online.
Note: In addition to a general business license, you may be required to get additional
licenses and or permits from the state.
For instance, most states have a requirement that businesses obtain a special license to sell firearms. The
same applies when selling gasoline, tobacco or liquor.
If you work in a specific field, the state may require you to get a specialized license for that particular
profession, including real estate agents, appraisers and contractors.
2. Submit your application. Submitting
a business license application is fairly quick and painless. Forms are usually just a few pages and sometimes
only a single page. Basic information is needed, such as company name, contact details and location,
individuals affiliated with the company and type of establishment.
Below is a basic guideline of what you'll need to fill out a general business license application. Keep in
mind that each city, county and state will have its own licensing requirements. Some of the items listed may
not always be required, while some places may require additional information.
Information You'll Typically Need to Apply for a Business License
Reason for license application (ie.
opening a new business, adding a new location, changing trade name, changing location, etc.)
Structure of business (ie. sole
proprietor, corporation, partnership or LLC) (corporations and LLCs need a Federal Tax ID number)
Business trade name, address and phone
Have you registered your trade name
yet? Register your business name.
Date business opened, purchase
information if business was purchased.
Business owner names and
Business activities, products
Estimated gross annual
income of business
Bank name and branch
Number of employees you plan to
hire (companies with employees need to have a Federal Tax ID number)
3. Get your certificate. Once an application is approved, the business license
is generally mailed to the business owner within a few weeks. A temporary certificate is issued in the
meantime. Licenses typically need to be renewed annually, along with a renewal fee.
Note: You will need to register your business name, often called a fictitious business name
or DBA if you are not using your personal name for your business name. You register your business name at the
county clerks office, and actually you will need to do this before you apply for your business
license. Once you register your business name or DBA, you usually don't need to renew it for several years.
Get a Business License
"Do I Need a Business License for a Home Business ?"
Again, this depends on what your particular city or county requires. However, most home based businesses are
not excluded from having a license. Just because a company operates out of a home rather than a commercial
space does not mean that a license is not required.
How to Find Out if Your Home Business Needs a License:
Contact your local office: find your city's contact
information (listed by state). You can also find out which licenses and permits you need at the Small
Business Administration website.
Need Help with Your Business License Application?
You can also get help from BizFilings and apply online. They can research which
licenses you need and send you all applicable license, permit and tax registration applications. You also get
complete filing instructions.
Do You Need a Tax ID #?If you don't know if you need a Federal Tax ID
Number for your business, answer these questions. If you already have a Tax
ID Number, but have misplaced it, you can call the Business and Specialty Tax Line at (800) 829-4933 and have
them look it up for you.
How to Apply for a
Federal Tax ID Number
You get a Federal Tax ID Number, or Employer ID Number (EIN), from the IRS.
You can apply through their website, by phone, fax or mail. For fastest service, apply online. It can take up
to five weeks to get your EIN if you apply by mail.
The EIN you receive is your permanent number and can be used for business tasks such as opening a business
bank account, applying for a business license or filing a tax return.