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. Not only do we inform you of the necessities, we offer to do the
paperwork for you.
Get the Business License Research Package
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
- 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.
Have Incfile Research for You
Do The Research Yourself
How Do I Apply For A Business License?
- You'll need to get a license for a small fee to operate a business at the address of
- Next, your company will need an Assumed Name under which to register, or you can incorporate your business and use your
- 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
- Finally, a business must register with the state tax office and submit appropriate
taxes on the schedule indicated by your secretary of state.
Business License and Permit Requirements by State
Every state has different licensing needs based on the type of business you've
incorporated, where it's located and the government rules in that state. We will
research your business license needs for you with our Business License Research Package, but you
can also do initial research yourself with the following resources: