How to Get a Business License in NC
You can get a business license online or by mail by applying with the correct licensing or regulatory agency for your business.
Business licensing requirements generally depend on your business’s activity and location (zoning requirements).
There are three main licensing jurisdictions:
State of North Carolina Business Licensing
The main state-level permit or license in North Carolina is the Certificate of Registration, which is sometimes called a seller’s permit.
You must obtain a North Carolina Certificate of Registration if you:
- Sell tangible personal property at retail
- Sell and provide taxable services
- Rent or lease taxable tangible personal property in the state
- Sell certain digital property
- Operate a dry cleaner or laundry
- Provide rentals of accommodations
- Sell taxable service contracts
- Charge admission to an entertainment activity
- Make marketplace-facilitated sales
Visit the Department of Revenue to obtain a Certificate of Registration.
Additionally, businesses in certain professions or industries are required to have specific state licenses or permits. The Department of Commerce hosts a North Carolina Business & Occupational License Database of all the different state licenses as well as contact information for the relevant state government offices.
Local North Carolina Business Licensing
In North Carolina, you may need other licenses or permits from your local government depending on your business activity or location.
For example, the City of Charlotte doesn’t have a general business license, but it requires all new businesses that collect and remit taxes to submit a New Business Registration Form. The city also requires certain types of businesses to have specialty licenses.
Steps for Obtaining a Business License in North Carolina
North Carolina Certificate of Registration
You can register for a North Carolina Certificate of Registration online or by mail.
Other North Carolina Business Licenses
You do not need to renew your North Carolina Certificate of Registration. Check with the relevant state, municipal, or county government office for renewal requirements for other licenses your business may have.
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:
Firearms, ammunition, and explosives
Fish and wildlife
Mining and drilling
Radio and television broadcasting
Transportation and logistics
NC 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 North Carolina business license?
Any business that sells certain taxable goods or services needs a seller’s permit, known in North Carolina as a Certificate of Registration. Businesses in certain professions or locations may need additional licenses.
What licenses do I need to open a business in North Carolina?
Most businesses at least need a Certificate of Registration, or seller’s permit. Businesses in certain professions or locations may need additional 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. In North Carolina, this is called a Certificate of Registration.
How much does a North Carolina business license cost?
There is no fee for a North Carolina Certificate of Registration. The cost of other licenses varies.
How do I get a North Carolina business license?
You can register for a North Carolina Certificate of Registration online with the North Carolina Department of Revenue website or by mail. The process for obtaining other licenses varies.