What Kind of Business License Does an Interior Designer Need?


An interior designer works directly with clients to develop an interior plan for decor, whether it is for personal homes, a small clinic or larger office buildings. If you plan on starting a small business as an interior designer, you must follow the legal requirements for this profession as outlined by the state where your interior design business is located. Some states have strict licensing requirements for interior designers due to the building codes and regulations.

Interior Design Certification

Before you start planning your business operations, you must get certified as an interior designer by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. This council is in place to protect the public welfare by only granting the certification to those interior designers who show expertise and experience in creating aesthetically pleasing and functional spaces for people. The certification examination requirements include both education and practical work experience in design.

General Business License

A business license is needed in some states, regardless of your business name or operating structure. Other states are more lenient in regards to the business license, although it does add credibility to your business if you have a license. Check with your local county office to determine the legal business license requirements in your state. While states such as Florida and Minnesota require all operating businesses to get licensed, other states such as Mississippi and Maine have specific requirements based on the name of the business and the operating structure.

Tax Licenses

You will need to pay taxes on your earnings as an interior designer, as you are getting payments for your designing services. Part of your business registration requirements will be to get a seller’s permit, which serves for your sales and use taxes. Income tax withholding is another tax you must pay to the state where you are operating your design business. If you choose not to use your personal social security number to pay your federal taxes, or if you are operating your design business as a corporation, you must apply for a federal employer identification number, commonly called a FEIN, with the IRS.

Local Business Permits

Part of your interior designing marketing strategy may include doing local marketing by using road signs or doing signage in local and public areas. Based on the county where your interior design business is located, you may need a permit for putting up signs, frequently called a signage permit. This is issued by your local county office. If you plan on having a local office where you meet with clients, an alarm permit from your local county police or fire department is beneficial in case of fire or burglars.

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