How to Get a Business License

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Obtaining a business license can be complicated and time-consuming. With thousands of licensing requirements for various business types, the best place to start is with a local business license. From there you will have most of the information needed to obtain the required business licenses.

Things You'll Need

  • Address of business location
  • Business name
  • Tax identification number
  • Estimated gross income for the year
  • Personal state issued Identification
  • Proof of address
  • Dues to pay for licensing fees
  • Business licenses are state-issued, so the guidelines and requirements differ. If the business is running out of a building or performs government-restricted services, a license may not be required. To find out more, contact the county clerk's office.

  • Find out if the location of your business is zoned for business. A business license will require you to include an address you work out of. Most towns have areas that do not allow some types of business in specific locations. For example, a liquor store must be a certain distance from schools. Call city hall and ask for the Occupational License Department to if the zoning laws are in your favor.

  • Name the business. You may choose to use your legal name or come up with a fictional name for the business. A fictional name must first be registered with the Internal Revenue Service. The paperwork is commonly done through the county clerk's office.

  • To obtain a business license, you must have a Employee Information Number or Federal Tax Identification number. To find more information about an EIN and to apply for one, go to irs.gov. Businesses ran by sole proprietors, without employees, may not need a EIN.

  • To complete information on a business license form you must estimate the gross receipts of your business. This must be done to estimate how much you will pay for your business license and how much taxes you will need to hold back monthly.

  • To complete the business license forms, go to your local Business License Bureau. As well as the information above, you will need to bring identification and proof of business address. Fees for licensing will be collected at this time. Each state has different fees.

Tips & Warnings

  • Talk with the business license department to determine if your business requires further licensing or permits.
  • Many business with employees need local, county and state licenses.
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