Business Licenses

The first thing you will need to acquire is your business license.   When you file your license application, the city planning or zoning department will check to make sure your area is zoned for the purpose you want to use it for and that there are enough parking spaces to meet the codes.

If you’re planning to start a business in your home, you should investigate zoning ordinances carefully. Residential neighborhoods can have strict zoning regulations preventing business use of the home.


State Licenses

In many states, people in certain occupations must have licenses or occupational permits. Often, they have to pass state examinations before they can get these permits and conduct business. States usually require licensing for auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, building contractors, insurance agents, real estate brokers, and anyone who provides personal services (i.e., hair stylists, cosmetologists, doctors, and nurses).


Federal Licenses

In most cases you will not be required to obtain a federal license. However, there are a few types of businesses that do require federal licensing, including meat processors, radio and television stations, and investment advisory services.


Sales Tax License

If you are selling any taxable goods, before opening your doors for operation it will be important to obtain any necessary sales tax licenses. It’s important to know the rules in the states and localities where you operate your business because, if you are a retailer, you must collect state sales tax on each sale you make.


Fire Department Permit

You may need to get a permit from your fire department if your business uses any flammable materials or if your business will be open to the public.

In some cities, you have to get this permit before you open for business. Other areas don’t require permits, but will schedule periodic inspections of your business to ensure you meet fire safety regulations.


Air and Water Pollution Control Permit

Many cities now have departments that work to control air and water pollution. Environmental protection regulations may also require you to get approval before doing any construction or beginning operation.


Sign Permit

Some cities and suburbs have sign ordinances that restrict the size, location, and, sometimes, the lighting and type of sign you can use outside your business. Make sure to check regulations and secure the written approval of your landlord before you invest in having a sign designed and installed.


County Permits

County governments often require the same types of permits and licenses as cities. If your business is outside any city or town’s jurisdiction, these permits may apply to you.


Health Department Permits

If you plan to sell food, either directly to customers (i.e. a restaurant) or as a wholesaler to other retailers, you’ll need a county health department permit. The health department will want to inspect your facilities before issuing the permit.

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