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As a business owner, you are responsible for making sure your business has the proper federal, state and local licenses and permits to operate legally. A business license ensures you are legitimately doing business in a particular locale. Every new business must apply for a business license. But, don't be fooled, your corporation or LLC may need more than one license, or permit, to fully operate at the state level.

At Incfile we take the guesswork out of how to obtain a business license and the necessary permits.

What is a Business License?

A business license authorizes a company to "do business" in a certain geographical jurisdiction. It is a certificate that authenticates your company is properly registered with the particular county or city in which your office(s) are located.

When you apply for a business license, keep in mind that there are instances with certain types of businesses and certain locations that require additional paperwork for permits. We discuss both the types of licenses and permits below. If you'd like to research your license and permit requirements yourself, you can get started with Incfile's Business License Search Tool, which will tell you the basic requirements for your state and industry.

What Licenses Does My Business Need?

There are two categories of business licenses, namely federal and state. This is just the first step in operating legally in both your jurisdiction and in the country.

The federal government often requires a license to be obtained when you have a very specialized industry or one with a high level of liability. Some examples include serving alcohol, running a fishery, opening a gun shop, or transporting live animals across state lines.

The state government always requires a license to operate within your particular locale and rules can differ based on whether your LLC or corporation is inside city limits or not. For example, you'll need to research whether you can have particular types of home businesses, especially when living in the city or a multi-family dwelling.

How Do I Know What Permits My Business Needs?

Permits are an additional requirement for many businesses and are needed in the following circumstances.

  • Your LLC or corporation plans to serve alcohol or food
  • You will need to build or add a structure to your company's building.
  • Your business is going to construct a building or structure on new land.
  • Your LLC plans to put up an exterior sign.
  • You want to designate street parking for your business.
  • Your industry is governed by a state association.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, therefore, working with Incfile to identify every situation is a key factor in starting your business off right.

How Do I Apply For A Business License?

1

You'll need to get a license for a small fee to operate a business at the address of location.

2

Next, your company will need an Assumed Name under which to register, or you can incorporate your business and use your formal name.

3

Then, if you operate from home or plan to remodel a space, for example, you'll need to obtain permits to do so. Other permits covering serving alcohol, displaying a sign on the building exterior and even parking for your business might also be a requirement. A great place to research your local zoning and operating laws is the nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
4

Finally, a business must register with the state tax office and submit appropriate taxes on the schedule indicated by your secretary of state.

Registered Agents
Business licensing requirements vary from state to state, county to county and city to city.
Government agencies frequently update their forms and change requirements for supporting documents.  To make it easier, our trusted licensing partner will provide you with fresh forms and updates you with the latest licensing requirements to protect your business. 

Your customized Business License Research Package will be emailed to you 3 - 4 weeks from  your company being filed by the state.  

As part of the Business License Research Package, a licensing expert will...

Business licenses

Determine all business licenses and permits required at the federal, state, county and municipal level.

Select Package

Provide you with the proper license/permit applications.

What You Need

List filing instructions, supporting document requirements, and fees.

Incfile's Business License Research Package

With Incfile's Business License Research Package, you'll have everything you need to apply for your licenses and meet the requirements for your business.

Registered Agents

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