Obtaining a Business License
Now that you’ve decided what type of business you would like to go in, it’s time to make it official. All businesses need at least one local, state or federal license to legally operate in the United States, so the next step is to obtain a business license for the state in which you would like to do business, which is actually a fairly quick and easy process.
Laws vary state-to-state, but typically your state’s secretary of state’s Web site is where you should begin. Conduct a simple search in your favorite search engine to find the Web address for your secretary of state. Once you have arrived on the appropriate site, there will be various business licenses available for you to choose from.
After choosing the appropriate license(s), you will be taken to a screen that will enable you to download the forms you need to apply for your license. Fill out all of the forms associated with applying for your particular license. Prior to submitting your application, make a copy to keep for your records. Some states allow you to submit forms electronically, while others require forms to be mailed. Either way, make sure the full fees are submitted with your application. After your application is submitted, the approval process generally will take a few weeks to complete. Once your license is approved, you will receive your business license in the mail, and can begin conducting business.
Make sure you take note of whether the license must be renewed on a regular basis. If so, keep track of the renewal dates and be sure to renew your license prior to expiration, as there are serious penalties and fines for businesses that operate without appropriate licenses. Also keep a copy of your license for your business records. Many states require business owners to display their licenses so they are visible to customers and clients. If this is a requirement for your particular license, be sure to do so, as not displaying a license when it is required is also considered a serious violation.
It is important to note, if you ever expand your business or its products and/or service offerings, you may need additional licenses. Prior to any expansion projects, you may want to check to see if any additional licenses are required for your business, just to play it safe. If your business is involved in activities supervised and regulated by a federal agency, you will probably also need to obtain a federal license, according to the Small Business Administration.
Do I Need a Business License?
If you’ve just started a new business, you’re probably aware that you’ll need one or more business licenses. But what you may not be aware of is that the term “business license” doesn’t refer to a specific, unique document; there may be any number of licenses or permits that your company needs in order to remain in compliant. Here, we’ll go over the process for determining your business license requirements, the types of licences and permits out there, and the most effective ways for you to keep your business in compliance.
How business license requirements are determined
Your business license and permit requirements depend on a few things:
- Your entity type (whether you’re a corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, or other type of entity)
- The purpose of your business (there are industry-specific permits and licenses)
- The specific requirements of your city, county, and state
In some cases, if you are engaged in any federally regulated activities, you might also need a permit or license from the federal level.
Types of business licenses and permits
There are an astonishing amount of business licenses and permits out there, for nearly every type of business available. The following list, while nowhere near comprehensive, contains a sampling of some of the business licenses available:
- Alcohol and tobacco permit
- Bakery license
- Body piercing license
- Childcare license
- Collections agency license
- Cosmetology license
- Engineering license
- Environmental permit
- Food/beverage license
- Pest control license
- Real estate license
- Restaurant license
- Sidewalk cafe permit
- Taxi service permit
- Waste transportation license
Note that each state differs in terminology, as well as requirements, so it’s important to take your time with your research.
How to obtain your necessary licenses and permits
There are a few different ways to go about determining your license and permit requirements.
1. Contact your state and local governments for their requirements.
Your state’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of State, or Department of Licensing may have the information you need; if you’re not sure what department of your state deals with business licenses, try the Corporations Division for guidance. At the county level, try contacting your County Clerk or your County Treasurer / Tax Collector’s office. At the city level, try your City or Town Hall.
2. Hire a corporate attorney.
If you don’t wish to do all of the legwork yourself, you can have a corporate attorney determine what your type of business might need as far as licenses and permits.
3. Hire a third-party filing service.
A third-party filing service will be cheaper than a corporate attorney or legal adviser, since you’re not paying for legal advice; many third parties have an electronic database of business licenses and permits, and they can easily run your company through their system and let you know what you’re required to file in order to stay in compliance. Typically, you will receive a list of the required forms; many third-party services even provide you with the forms themselves.
Types of Business Licenses and Permits
The last thing you want to find out after starting your business is that you have failed to conform to the law by not filing for the right permits for your business. Before establishing a small business, you should pay attention to your town, city, and county regulations. In most locations, every business needs a basic license which is sometimes called a tax registration certificate. Apart from this, other permits and licenses may be required as well.
Business licenses and permits are issued at all levels of government – federal, state and local (city, county, or town). Depending upon the kind of business you are running, you may need to apply for licenses at multiple levels. For example, if you decide to open a restaurant in the city of San Francisco, you will need a business license and health permit from the city of San Francisco, sales tax license from the state of California and a federal tax ID number from the U.S. federal government.
Not sure what kind of license or permit you need for your business venture? Well, as usual, we’ve made it simple for you. Below is a quick checklist covering the most common federal, state, and local licenses and permits you may need to acquire before commencing business:
Business License – This is the basic license that you will need to operate a business legally. If the business is located within city limits, a license must be obtained from the city; if outside, it is procured from the county. Contact your city’s business license department to file an application. Also remember that you need to pay an annual fee.
Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Also known as a tax identification number, this is required for almost all types of businesses. Depending on where your business is located, you may also need to acquire a similar tax identification number from your state.
Zoning and Land Use Permits – Before you start your business, you have to find out if the space you are going to use is properly zoned for the kind of usage that is planned. You may need a zoning compliance permit. Zoning laws regulate off-street parking, waste disposal, and the size, construction and placement of signs.
Health Department Permits – If your business involves the preparation and/or sale of food, you will need a county health department permit. Note that the health department will inspect your facilities before issuing one.
Sales Tax License – This license is essential before you can sell almost any product or service in any state.
Fire Department Permits – Businesses such as restaurants, day-care centers or any other that attract a large crowd need a permit from the fire department.
Special State-Issued Business Licenses or Permits – You may need special licenses if your business involves the sale of certain types of products including liquor, lottery tickets, gasoline and firearms.
Special State-Issued Occupational / Professional Licenses – In many states, people in certain occupations must have licenses or occupational permits. State licensing is typically required for auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, building contractors, collection agents, insurance agents, real estate brokers, repossessors and personal service providers (beauticians, cosmetologists, therapists and masseurs). If you are thinking of starting any of these businesses, you will have to pass state examinations in order to get the permit. Contact your state government offices to get a complete list of occupations that require licensing.
Special Federal Business Licenses or Permits – You may also require special business licenses from the federal government if your business involves investment advising, drug manufacturing, preparation of meat products, broadcasting, manufacturing tobacco, alcohol or firearms.
Licensing and permit requirements for small businesses vary from state to state; it is therefore a good idea for you to contact your state and local government to determine the specific obligations for your new business.
Obtaining a Business License – How to Start a Business
Obtaining a Business License
Obtaining a business license is critical for a business to open its doors and stay open. A business license shows that the business is allowed to operate in a jurisdiction. Without the appropriate licenses, the business (and its owners) runs the risk of breaking the laws and regulations governing their businesses which can cause serious civil and criminal penalties for the owners. If the business is incorporated, generally the owners have liability protection which limits the personal risk of financial ruin. If a business owner does not secure the proper licenses, permits and registrations for the business, he may lose the valuable liability protections afforded by the incorporation of the business.
Obtaining a Business License is Simple and Can Be Done in One Day
The cost of a business license can drastically range from $25 to over $125 depending on your city. You should expect to pay a fee every year to renew your license. Contact your local city hall to direct you to the appropriate department.
Some cities have a website where you can download and fill out the “Business License” form in advance. This is highly suggested since wait lines in person can vary from a few minutes to an hour depending on your location. The form may request you provide your corporate filing number. If you have not received your Articles of Incorporation back from the state secretary then you will not have a corporate number yet. You can also check your state secretary website to see if your corporation is on file yet. Some cities may require you to apply as a sole proprietor and then update your license when you have your corporation number. Other cities may accept a copy of your articles, with an understanding of your corporate number to be updated later when available.
When filling out the business license form you will be asked to provide the address for the physical location of the business and the address for mail to be sent. If your business is a retail store, warehouse, or leased office suite, your physical and mailing address are the same. If you setup a virtual office from a company that offers virtual office services, then your physical and mailing address are considered the same because the virtual office address is a place where you could physically meet your clients. If you chose to rent a private mailbox, then you may have to also provide your home address or wherever your place of business is. This is important to note because the physical business location will appear on your business license and is made available to the public.
Additional licenses and permits may be required depending on the business you are in. Your local city hall will be able to provide you with all the appropriate information.
Business License: Understanding Your Requirements
When you’re starting a business, you’ll probably find that business licenses are a requirement. It’s easy to assume that after you’ve filed your formation document with the state, you’re good to go — but this is not the case. You will likely have specific business license requirements. These requirements will depend on a few factors:
- State regulations
- County regulations
- City/township regulations
- Your business structure (corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, and so on)
- Your industry (a real estate agent will need a very different license than a bar or a hospital)
- Additional requirements specific to any agency you may deal with in the future due to your unique circumstance
What type of business licenses do I need for my business?
There are a few ways you can determine your specific requirements:
- Contact your state, county, and city/township jurisdictions to determine each level of government’s requirements.
The best place to start would be to contact the Department of Business Services or Corporations Division of your Secretary of State. They will take care of any state-level licenses you may need, and they may point you in the right direction for the rest of the levels of government. Then, try your County Clerk or Clerk of Courts. Finally, try City Hall.
- Hire a corporate attorney.
A lawyer can look at your specific circumstance and do the necessary research to keep you in compliance.
- Use a business license service.
Third-party license services use a system with which they can do comprehensive research to determine your business license requirements in a matter of minutes, and they can do so for a much lower cost than that of paying a lawyer for his or her time. The great business license services, an example of which is CSC Global, will provide not only a list of the license requirements, but the license applications themselves, along with filing instructions and deadlines.
Ultimately, ensuring that your business is in compliance with the regulations of all three jurisdictions is your own responsibility. Take control of your business licenses and get yourself back in compliance.
Catering Business License – 5 Tips To Obtain Your License
If you are thinking about starting your own catering business, you should make it legal right from the start by obtaining a business license. Some people focus too much on the food, catering supplies, equipment, and marketing that they tend to neglect getting a license. This could be a big problem and you will have no choice but to close down your business if you are caught operating without a business permit. You might also need to pay a penalty.
To prevent these things from happening, it is important that you secure your business license before you open.
Here are the 5 Tips to Obtaining Your Catering Business License.
1. You should contact your local municipal office and ask about the licensing of catering businesses. You can call them or visit them in person. You should also research about the state rules involving this type of business. States usually have different rules and regulations about certain matters.
2. List down all the documents that you need to submit. You need to request for an application form. You need to fill it out as truthfully as you can and you need to submit it among all the other requirements. Make sure that you do not leave any blanks to avoid hassles and troubles.
3. Decide whether you want to submit your application form online or in person. Applying online is much faster. However, if you have further questions, you should consider submitting the form in person so that you can ask the regulating officer about your inquiries.
4. You have to prepare an application fee. This is usually around $100 but this also depends from state to state. You can ask about the fee upon obtaining the application form.
5. Once you have submitted everything, all you need to do is to wait for the officer to contact you whether your application has been approved or not. Your application will be investigated so it may take some time before the whole process will be finished.
These are the basic steps for obtaining a catering business license. Do not forget to secure a permit or a license before you start running your catering business.
Getting Small Business Licenses and Permits
When setting out a business, it is very easy to get mixed up and overlook some very crucial things, whose absence would spell doom to the operation of the business. Some of these things are the licenses and the operation permits. A business license makes you recognized by law; that you are operating legally where you are located. The process can be quite frustrating at times, especially if you are dealing with authorities that are out to frustrate your business efforts.
Among the licenses that you are supposed to apply for is the business license, which gives you the legal ground on which to carry out your operations in a given location. The type of business you wish to operate must be acceptable within that area. For example, you may not be allowed to operate a pub near an elementary school. It is therefore in order to first visit the city planning commission to check if your business is in line with the requirements.
You need also to visit the fire department to get a permit. This is especially so if you are dealing with flammable items like textiles or plastics and if your premises will be opened to the general public. The permit will act as a good basis for compensation if a fire breaks out and destroys your goods. Other types of businesses that are subject to be under the scrutiny of the fire department are restaurants and day care centers which have a lot of people coming together at any one time.
One more important permit that you might not do without is the air and water pollution control permit. This has to do with the environment. Your type of business has to be seen that it is not tampering with the natural resources in any way. You must have a way in which to dispose off waste materials without polluting the environment. If you really must dispose the waste into rivers or the air, then you really need this permit. Others that you need to be aware of are the sign permits, county permits, sales tax licenses and state licenses.
Get a Home-Based Business License
Owning and operating your own home-based business is great. You can wake up whenever you want and avoid the terrible everyday task of sitting through traffic jams on the way to and from work. You are your own boss so you can pretty much do whatever you want and make money doing it. You have nobody telling you what to do so it is all up to you to make money and sell the product or service you are selling. However, having a home business might sound easy, but there are a few things you need to be aware of when starting a business from home, and one of those this is a home-based business license.
Zoning laws can vary depending on the community. It all can depend on the nature of your business and weather you have other employees, hours of operation, parking and other things. It pays to check out the zoning laws as soon as you start thinking about having a home business. Some zoning laws completely prohibit all home-based businesses. And then others, if they allow it, may have restrictions that can include restricting parking, limit the hours of operation, the amount of space used, and other things.
If you live in a condominium or cooperative things can be different for that as well. Some can have special rules for this type of planned unit development and can be restrictive than operating out of a house.
The number of people who start a home-based business can expand incredibly quickly. Because of this, many communities will require you to have a home-based business license regardless of the amount of revenue or if the home-based business is full time or part time. It is incredibly important to do the research before you even start the business because you do not want to get in trouble for not doing something you need to do.
Everyone may dream to be able to be their own boss and do whatever they want to do to make money. Yes, the idea and getting the business started is very important, but also doing your research can help. Figuring out the zoning laws and getting your business license will avoid getting in trouble in the future. It is all worth it in the end because I can only imagine how good it feels to be able to do work in your pajamas like you just crawled out of bed.
Obtaining Small Business License In Florida
Imagine a trip to the beautiful land of palm trees and the blue ocean kissing white sandy beaches every day and all the time! Yes, we are talking about gorgeous Florida! After you get a taste of what life by the sea can do to your health and life, you decide to make Florida a part of your life. And to do that, you decide to start your small business in Florida. But the first step is obtaining small business license in Florida.
Be it home business, online business or retail business, obtaining small business license in Florida is as easy as it can get. Every state in the USA has its own laws of allowing outsiders to open business. And fortunately, none of the states discourage you to start business on its soil.
Given below are few tips that would be of great help to you:
1. Kind of business – First of all you need to determine the kind of business that you want to get in to before applying for a small business license. This is because different type of business may have different kinds of procedures to obtain small business license. The type of business license you need to apply for will depend on the kind of business you want to get in to.
2. Application form – This is the first step to get hold of a small business license in Florida. You need to apply for a license and for that you need to fill an application form. You can even apply for small business license in Florida online.
3. Content of the application form – The form asks for all your personal details and your Social Security Number. The forms ask you about your experience in your field of work and what you intend to do in Florida.
4. Name of your firm – You need to have a name with which you will register your business. It is not possible to obtain small business license in Florida without the name of a firm.
5. Completing the application form – You must fill in all the details in the application form is you want to obtain a license for your small business. Incomplete application will not be granted license.
6. Submit all relevant documents – You may be asked to submit certain important documents when you file for an application to get a small business license in Florida. Make sure that all documents are provided.
7. Comply with all legal formalities – you have to comply with all the required legal formalities if you want to obtain a small business license.
8. Registration – Business license registration services are available throughout the country. You only need to find out the number and give them a call. Stay put after that, and watch everything happening smoothly and without any hassle. Professionals will contact you and come down to your place or office and get your form filled up.
9. Cost of obtaining license – The other most important question you may have in your mind about obtaining small business license in Florida is the costs required to acquire the license. You will be pleasantly surprised to know that registration can be free of cost. What you need to pay is the annual tax. That may vary from $10 to $200, depending on the state in the US.
10. Wait for your license – After having applied for the license, you simply have to wait for the license to arrive.