How to Get a Business License

Apply for state and federal business licenses, as well as specialized permits, to ensure that your company is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

How to Get a Business License
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Overview
Every type of business, including home-based operations, requires a license. Without one, you put your company in jeopardy and can incur costly fines. The type of license and/or permit you need is dependent on what your industry is and where you are located, so you may need just one basic permit or a combination of federal, state and specialized permits. By accessing the United States Government's business website, you can get all the information needed to navigate through the requirements and start your business.
Step 1
Go to Business.gov (see Resources) to determine your business licensing needs for your area.
Step 2
Click the "Register, Licenses & Permits" link on the right-hand side and then select the "Licenses & Permits" sublink that appears underneath.
Step 3
Enter your city and state or zip code and select your business type from the drop-down menu. Specialized operations including auto dealerships, child care services and restaurants require a special type of permit; otherwise, if your business does not fit these types of categories, select the "General Licensing" option. Click the "Search" button when ready.
Step 4
Review the resulting page and follow the links for "State Licenses and Permits." Follow any instructions on your state's website for applying for the license and any specialized permits required.
skill
1
tip
Before starting a home-based business, find out your city's zoning laws to ensure your operation will be in compliance with the rules set for your location.
tips
Before starting a home-based business, find out your city's zoning laws to ensure your operation will be in compliance with the rules set for your location.
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Resources
resource
Business Licenses and Permits | Business.gov
resource
U.S. Small Business Administration