How to Get a Business License in WI
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 Wisconsin Business Licensing
Most businesses in Wisconsin must complete the Business Tax Registration. This allows businesses to register for several different tax permits, including the main state-level permit or license in Wisconsin, the seller’s permit.
You must obtain a seller's permit if you:
- Are engaged in business in Wisconsin
- Intend to sell or lease tangible personal property or services that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail.
Visit the Department of Revenue to obtain a seller’s permit.
Additionally, businesses in certain professions and industries may need other specific licenses or permits. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services and Department of Health Services provide additional information about many of these licensed professions.
Local Wisconsin Business Licensing
In Wisconsin, you may need other licenses or permits from your local government depending on your business activity or location.
Steps for Obtaining a Business License in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Seller’s Permit
You can register for a Wisconsin seller’s permit online or by mail. This is done as part of the Wisconsin Business Tax Registration.
There are two ways to register online, depending on your business type and situation. If any of the following apply, you should register with the Department of Revenue:
- Your business is a:
- Sole proprietorship
- Non-Wisconsin LLC or corporation
- You already registered directly with the Department of Financial Institutions
All other businesses, including Wisconsin LLCs, should use the One Stop Business Registration Portal, which registers your business with various state government agencies.
Other Wisconsin Business Licenses
The processes for obtaining other licenses and permits vary. Check with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services and Department of Health Services for information about many different Wisconsin professional licenses, and contact your local county or town government office for more information about how to get local licenses.
The Wisconsin Business Tax Registration, which includes the seller’s permit, must be renewed every two years. There is a $10 renewal fee. The state will send a Notice of Amount Due for Business Tax Registration and a Business Tax Registration (BTR) Certificate in the mail prior to the expiration date.
Check with the relevant state or local government office for the renewal requirements for any other license or permit 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
WI 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 Wisconsin business license?
Businesses that sell goods or services subject to the state sales tax need a Wisconsin seller’s permit. Businesses in certain locations or professions may need other specific 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.
How much does a Wisconsin business license cost?
The fee for the Wisconsin Business Tax Registration is $20, plus a $10 renewal fee every two years. The cost of other licenses and permits varies.
How do I get a Wisconsin business license?
Do I have to renew my Wisconsin business license?
A Wisconsin seller’s permit must be renewed every two years. Check with the relevant state or local government office for the renewal requirements for any other license or permit your business may have.