How to Get a License to Do Business

Business Licenses Information
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What is a business license?

A business license is a local business registration that is issued to all businesses in a city or municipality. A business license does not usually require an inspection. In comparison with a business permit, a business license is issued by a city or municipality.

Business permits are more about public safety (like a building permit), and that's why permits typically require an inspection. For example, a health department permit requires an inspection of the facility (like a restaurant), while a business license for a restaurant would not typically require an inspection. 

The most important thing to remember about business licenses

Business licenses are issued by cities and municipalities, and every city and town in the U.S. is different in what they require, who must get a business license, and how much the license costs. Contact your city's licensing department directly to find out. To find the address of city and county offices, see this listing in Business.USA.Gov. 

How is a business license different from a DBA (Fictitious name)?

A business license is required of all businesses, while a DBA (fictitious name)registration is required only if the business is operating under a name different from the name of the owner.

What types of businesses need a business license?

Businesses which are not registered with the state (as a corporation, partnership, or LLC) are typically sole proprietorships. If you are operating a sole proprietorship, from your home or another location in your city, you will need a business permit from the city. You may also need additional permits, such as zoning permits or health permits. If you are an independent contractor working at another company's location, you probably don't need a business license, but cities differ in what they require, so it's better to call and find out.

Do I need a business license if I have already registered my business with my state, as a corporation, partnership, or LLC?

Businesses that have registered with their state may not need a local city business license, but it's good to check with the city anyway. If you are starting a limited liability company, partnership, or corporation, you probably will not need this license. You may still need a trader's license or seller's permit.

If I have a business license, do I need other permits or licenses from the city?

Talk to the city when you get your business license and explain what kind of business you are running and where you are located. There are a number of other permits that might be required, based on your type of business and location, and every city is different. Here's a list of other licenses and permits your business may be required to get.