Legal and Regulatory

How to Get a Business License

While relatively few industries are regulated by the federal government, almost all types of businesses require permits or licenses issued by the state. Some of these permits and licenses are for tax purposes, while others aim to protect the safety and health of customers and the general public. Below, we put together the basic steps you’ll need to take to get a business license.

  1. Visit your state's website to find out which permits and licenses you need. Usually you can download them from the site or go to your City Hall and pick them up in person.

  2. Complete an application, online, in person or through the mail - this will vary depending on your business location. Typically, you will be asked

    • Business name and ownership information

    • Business address

    • Square footage of the business location (if applicable)

    • Detailed description of all business activities conducted on, and off, the business location

    • Identification from all of applicants/owners, such as a valid driver’s license, state ID card, or other government-issued photo ID

    • Your Department of Revenue Number (if applicable)

    • Employer IDentification number (EID) (if applicable)

    • Some business license applications require a fingerprint-based criminal history investigation. There is usually fees associated

      • Every owner

      • Any person with a 25% or more interest in the business

      • Every on-site manager

    • A separate license is required for each separate business location (if applicable)

  3. Pay the filing fee. Each city has its own requirements regarding the filing fee that goes with your business license.

  4. After you apply, a zoning review may conducted to determine if your business activity is permitted in the zoning designation of your business location. You can use the online interactive zoning map to check any business location zoning designation ahead of time.

  5. Depending upon the license type, an inspection may be required by one or more City departments prior to license issuance. Please check our Business Licenses web page for information regarding the specific inspection requirements of business licenses.

For more information on federal requirements for licenses and permits, visit the Small Business Administration.