How to Get a Business License in New Jersey

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States have very specific requirements that they expect businesses to follow. The safety and health of consumers is at stake when companies sell goods and services. This is why business owners must apply and be accepted for a business license before beginning operations. Luckily, the state of New Jersey has a pretty straightforward process for applying for a business license.

Visit the New Jersey Commerce Commission website (see Resources). You can also call the Commerce Commission at (866) 534-7789 or visit the office, which is located on the second floor of the State House in Trenton, New Jersey.

Determine the specific type of license you need to operate your business legally. To do this you must first identify your business type and narrow it down to a specific category. For instance, saying you are in the food business is not enough—Is it a retail grocery store, or a wholesale, distributing or restaurant business? If you are starting a restaurant business you will need a "Food, Retail Establishment" license. If you plan to warehouse food that will be distributed to retailers, you will need a "Food--Warehouse" business license.

Scan the New Jersey License and Certification Guide (see Resources) to find your business category and determine the requirements that need to be met for your specific business license. (In some cases, you may not need a license to operate a certain type of business; you may need a permit or special certification instead.)

If you confirm that you do in fact need a business license to operate your business in the state of New Jersey, take note of the state agency that handles the licensing for that industry (also located on the New Jersey License and Certification Guide). Call the agency directly to get the forms to become a licensed business in the state.

Fill out the forms carefully and completely and send them via certified mail (or walk them in) to the agency that handles your licensing requirements. Don't forget to include any fees related to your specific business license. The fees for a business license range from free to as high as $1,400, depending on the industry.

Know that you may be required to take classes or tests and/or have a representative from the state agency come out to inspect your premises before you are granted your New Jersey business license.

Tips & Warnings

  • In addition to obtaining your specific business license, you also need to register your business with the state of New Jersey. You must also contact your local town courthouse or municipal building to see if there are any additional requirements for operating a business in that specific area. Keep in mind that, in most cases, the business license is granted to the person who is running the business, not the business as an entity. The individual business owner who holds the license is responsible for ensuring that the business is being operated according to state rules and regulations.

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