Business License: The In’s and Out’s of Getting One

Applying for a business license is something you should do as soon after you decide to start your business as possible. There are different requirements for getting a business license at the federal, state/city and county levels. Each location is different in those requirements and there are even some locations that may not require you to have a business license, but you need to determine what your business requires by following and completing the steps below. 

Find information on starting your business, including applying for a business license by visiting the site of the Small Business Administration (   

There you will find links to help you determine, what if any, licensing requirements there are for your business based on the type of business you own. 

A few common licenses include: 

Basic Business License

This license allows you to conduct a business in your locality. Some places require it, others don’t, so check with your local and state taxing authorities to determine your individual case. 

Occupational & Professional License

There are certain professions that require you to carry a special license or certification to conduct business. Some of these businesses include:  

  • Accountants
  • Doctors
  • Barbers
  • Security Professionals
  • Other Professionals
  • Real Estate Agents 
  • Licensing Based On the Type of Products You Sell such as Insurance or Real Estate. 

Tax Registration

One of the biggest reasons a business license is required is for tax purposes. The type of business you run, along with other factors, will determine your tax rates at the state and federal level. It will also help to determine if you are exempt from taxes, such as sales.  

Trade or Doing Business As (DBA) Name

Many states require a special license if you are a sole proprietor doing business under a name other than your real name. You might also need to post a public announcement of the name in a printed media.  

Employer Registration

If you have, or plan to have employees, you’ll need an Employer identification Number (EIN). Check with your states Department of Revenue or Department of Labor. 

A business license is something that, if you’re required to have one, you should acquire as soon as possible. Some states can and will penalize business owners who operate a business without the proper license, so don’t delay in finding out what your business needs. The Small Business Administration (SBA) often hold business workshops to help business owners know what’s needed to operate the business. Check your state or to find a SBA location near you.