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Applying for a Business License


Successful entrepreneurs all began with a new approach to an old problem or the desire to step out on their own. But turning a brilliant idea into a realistic plan requires practical knowledge, for example where and how to apply for a business license. Licensing requirements vary according to a number of factors including the region or district in the U.S., professional licensing requirements and the type of business. In some cases, a business license must be in place before a business owner is allowed to open the doors and collect any revenues. These cases, for example an establishment serving alcoholic beverages, are strictly regulated. In other circumstances, for instance self employment, the license is desirable for tax purposes but may not prevent the business owner from getting started. By outlining the business requirements and evaluating how to apply, the process becomes a manageable task.

Business License Categories

The first step toward securing a business license involves identifying the jurisdiction and the type of license required. For example, anyone who does business with the federal government is required to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Online application forms are available through the IRS website where a new business owner will also find detailed information about tax regulations and accounting methods. State licensing requirements vary throughout the U.S. but they typically follow a similar pattern, for instance the need for an EIN to work with official state offices.

Business licenses and permits within each state may be categorized into resale licenses, professional business licenses or sole proprietorships. On either the federal or state level, businesses involved with hazardous materials, alcohol or pharmaceutical sales must wait until clearance has been granted. Regional or local business licenses are granted through county or city offices and can be researched through their websites. Application forms may be available online but an in person visit is normally required to show identification and proof of residency. Additional information through the Small Business Administration website provides a source to research state, local and federal business licensing regulations.

Identifying the Business License Requirements

Many professional businesses such as those in the medical field, legal or businesses that require specific skills and training require evidence of approved certification before a business license is granted. Real estate personnel, general contractors, cosmetologists and other skilled professionals must also show state approved certification prior to opening a business.

Business owners that intend to hire employees should refer to the states Department of Revenue or Labor for specific instructions. For the self employed person wanting to register their business name, many regions require publication in a local newspaper for a DBA (Doing Business As) listing.


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