Is It Legal to Run a Mobile Oil Change Business?

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In the United States, citizens are not prohibited from operating mobile oil change businesses. However, to do so legally, you need to obtain the necessary federal, state and local permits and licenses from the appropriate government agencies. Where you live will ultimately dictate the specific permits and licenses you need to operate your business legally. Business permits, licensing and regulatory compliance requirements vary from state to state. Fees vary from state to state as well.

Business Tax Registration

  • Most states require business operators to have a business license for tax-filing purposes. If you are in Columbus, Ohio, you may need one or more tax-specific identification numbers, licenses or permits for registering your mobile oil change business. Some of the additional tax identification numbers you may need include identification relating to income tax withholding, sales and use tax, and unemployment insurance tax if you have employees. Registering as a sole proprietorship in Ohio does not require state registration. However, most other areas do require state registration. Registering as a corporation, a limited liability company or a partnership requires incorporation filing.

Environmental Permit

  • As a mobile oil change business deals with automotive oil that has specific storage requirements, you may need to obtain one or more environmental permits and licenses. The exact permits and licenses you need depends on your local government requirements and your business plan. For example, if you are a mobile oil change business owner storing hazardous materials in Los Gatos City, Santa Clara County, California, you must file a hazardous materials business plan. You must also obtain a Hazardous Materials and Underground Storage Tank Permit if you are storing any hazardous materials in specified tanks, containers or storage facilities within city limits. Installing and closing storage tanks and facilities requires a separate permit in said city. You may also need to obtain an Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit if your facility discharges wastewater into the sewer system.

Other Requirements

  • If you are in Los Gatos City, Santa Clara County, California, you may need to pay an annual fire prevention inspection-of-facility fee. To find out whether you must pay this fee, you must contact your local fire protection district. Other requirements include filing a Business Property Statement reporting all of your equipment fixtures and supplies, as well as a “Doing Business As” if you are doing business under a name other than your real name. If you have or plan on having employees, if you are in a business partnership or if you are registered as a corporation, you must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service.

Good Advice

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA.gov) suggests that you keep track of the renewal schedules of your various permits and licenses. The Administration also states that it is important to follow the appropriate rules for displaying your permits or licenses. Learn your state’s rules for displaying permits and licenses for mobile oil change businesses. Expanding your business in any way, such as by offering a new product or providing an additional service, may require additional permits and licenses. To learn what permits and licenses you need to obtain to operate your mobile oil change business legally in your locality, contact your local business licensing office. To find out about your local business licensing office, visit SBA.gov. This government website compiles information on business licenses and permits at the state level.

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