Business Licenses

Business Licenses


Regardless of your business form, everyone who conducts a business is required to obtain a business license. Licenses and permit requirements vary by state and locality and by the type of business you conduct. Your business may also be required to submit tax applications and to collect and deposit sales or excise taxes. If you fail to obtain required licenses and permits, you may be subject to various fines, penalties and civil liabilities.

We research the general business license requirements of your formation state and the city or county where your principal business is located. We will obtain the necessary information from you and complete the business application form. Where permitted, we will file the form for you. Otherwise, we will send the completed form to you with instructions for submitting it to the appropriate agency to obtain your required general business license.

Important Limitations: (1) Your business may require additional specialty licenses or permits due to the nature of business you conduct. These are not included in our Business License service. (2) Our Business License service is separate from our entity formation services. If you are forming a new entity, you may select our Business License service as an additional optional service.

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Am I required to obtain a business license from my state or the city where my business is located?

Every city will require a general business license as well as specialty permits and licenses. A general business license is also required by some states, such as Nevada. The state and city business licenses must both be obtained where both jurisdictions require them. In Nevada, for example, the business license fee is a flat $200 annually. If business is conducted in Las Vegas, a city of Las Vegas business license must also be obtained and the fee is based on gross revenue of the business.

What is considered a "specialty" license?

While every business is required by a state and/or local jurisdiction where the business is located to have a general business license, other licenses or permits are required only if a certain type of service is provided or products are sold. For example, specialty business license or permits are required to operate a taxi, beauty salon, sell tobacco or alcoholic beverages, sell taxable goods or services, and many more.

What is the difference between a business license and a DBA?

A business license is a requirement of a state and/or local jurisdiction and authorizes a person or company to conduct a business. A DBA or "doing business as" is a requirement for a person or company to file a registration document with a state or local jurisdiction notifying that public that they are using an assumed or fictitious name to conduct their business. A DBA is not always required while a general business license is required.

Does a business license allow me to sell taxable services or products and purchase products without paying sales taxes?

No. A business that sells goods or services for which sales taxes must be charged and collected and deposited with the state is required to have a seller's permit. A seller's permit will not always be required if a business does not provide taxable products or services. The application process for a seller's permit is separate from a general business license.

Are there any special requirements to obtain a business license?

To obtain a general business license, the standard procedure is to submit a completed application and pay the required application fee. The application is typically reviewed by fire, safety, and building and planning departments to determine whether any regulations apply and ensure compliance, and then a general business license is issued.

If a business engages in certain types of sales or services, specialty permits or licenses may be required because of the need for additional scrutiny of certain types of businesses or the need to enforce additional regulations that don't apply to businesses in general. A general business license may be withheld if the applying business has not obtained other professional licenses that may be required, such as selling insurance, acting as a mortgage broker, etc.

How much is the application fee for a business license?

Each jurisdiction sets its own application fee and has its own requirements and forms. In some cases, the application fee is a fixed amount, regardless of the type of business. Quite commonly, the business license application fee (and subsequent annual business license fees or taxes) are based on gross sales of the business. Fees may be a specified amount within a certain range of sales or be a percentage of all sales. Different rates are often applied depending on whether the revenue is generated by sales or products or services.

Do I need to obtain a business license if I operate a home-based business?

Requirements for obtaining a business are determined by each jurisdiction, but it is not common for a business to be exempted from a general business license because it is home-based. On the contrary, it is important that review local zoning requirements and any homeowners' association restrictions that may restrict or regulate the operation of a home-based business.

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