How to Get a Business License

In most states, you can get a business license online. We provide the information and resources you'll need to get federal, state, and local licenses and permits for your business, including a seller’s permit.

For a small fee, you can hire someone else to research and file for licenses and permits that your business might need. Visit our Best Business License Services to learn more.

Recommended: Visit our How to Start a Business guide for more help with planning, starting, and maintaining your business.

Get a Business License in Your State:


How to Apply for a Business License

You can typically get a business license online by applying with the correct licensing or regulatory agency for your business.

Business licensing requirements generally depend on your business’s activity and location (i.e., zoning requirements).

There are three main licensing jurisdictions:

  • State
  • Local
  • Federal

State Business Licensing

State-level permits and licenses vary depending on the state, but the most common one is the seller’s permit. A seller’s permit allows businesses to sell products within the jurisdiction of that state. Some states may refer to this as a “sales tax permit.”

Other state licensing and permits may include the following:

  • General business licenses
  • Doing business as (DBA) licenses
  • Zoning and construction permits
  • Health permits
  • Food service licenses
  • Liquor licenses
  • Medical licenses
  • Electrical permits
  • Fundraising licenses
  • Farming licenses
  • Real estate licenses

Find out more about licensing in your state by selecting your state below:

Local Business Licensing

Local business licenses and permits give your business the right to operate in your county or city. These licenses and permits will often vary depending on your location and your business structure.

If your business has locations in multiple cities or counties, then you may need multiple local business licenses or permits in addition to your primary place of business.

Like state-level licensing, local-level licensing and permits may include county- or city-specific variations of the following:

  • General business licenses
  • Zoning and construction permits
  • Health permits
  • Seller’s permits
  • Professional licenses

Check with your county or city officials to determine which licenses and permits your business may need.

Federal Business Licenses and Permits

You can get a business license by applying with the correct licensing and regulatory agency for your business. Business licensing requirements depend on your business’s activity and location (zoning requirements).

If your business conducts activities that are regulated by the federal government, you will need to apply for the appropriate business license or permit.

Choose a business activity below to learn how to apply:

Agriculture
Alcoholic beverages
Aviation
Firearms, ammunition, and explosives
Fish and wildlife
Commercial fisheries
Maritime transportation
Mining and drilling
Nuclear energy
Radio and television broadcasting
Transportation and logistics

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Recommended: Consider having a professional service help you research and apply for business licenses and permits.

Best Licensing Services

Business License FAQ

What is a business license?

A business license is a permit issued to businesses by a government office that allows the business to operate in a particular area. They can be issued by federal, state, or local governments. There are typically different licensing requirements for different businesses and different locations.

What are the types of business licenses?

There are many types of business licenses. These include licenses at the local, state, and federal levels, licenses related to sales tax and other taxes, and specific licenses for various professions. There are also environmental licenses, zoning permits, and more.

Is there a national business license?

Most businesses don’t need a federal business license, but some industries, including broadcasting, investment advising, and drug manufacturing, do have federal regulations and licenses.

Is an EIN the same as a business license?

No. An employer identification number (EIN) is issued by the IRS to identify and keep track of businesses, but it does not license them to operate.

Is an LLC considered a business license?

No. An LLC is a type of business structure. While you are required to register as an LLC, it is not a business license.

Who needs a business license?

The requirements for who needs a business license vary depending on your location. Check out our state business licensing guides and contact your state and local government offices for more information.

What licenses do I need to open a business?

Different places have different business licensing requirements. It may also depend on what type of business you have. Some states require all businesses to have a license, while others only require them for certain taxes or not at all. A business may also need federal or local licenses.

What is a seller’s permit?

A seller’s permit is the common name for a license or permit that allows you to sell products or services. Most states have some version of a seller’s permit.

What businesses do not require a license?

Business licensing requirements vary by location. Check with your state and local government offices for more information.

How much does a business license cost?

The cost of business licenses varies. However, they are often free or under $100 (but specialty business licenses sometimes cost more).

How do I get a business license?

The process for obtaining a business license varies depending on your location and the type of license you need. Check out our state business license guides for more information.

Do all states require a business license?

Most states do require a business license. Choose your state to learn more.

Do I have to renew my business license?

The renewal requirements for business licenses vary. Check out our state business licensing guides and contact your state and local government offices for more information.

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