ENTREPRENEURSHIP / FEB. 26, 2015
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How to Obtain a Business License Without Too Much Headache

If you’re planning on setting up a business, it’s important to know whether or not you need a business license. Some companies will need specific licenses in order to operate, and you need to do the research before you open your company. If you don’t have the license, you may be fined or even closed down – a serious problem for your business!

Here’s what you need to know about getting your business license:

Every Business Needs a License

You’re going to need a business license of some sort, no matter what kind of business you run. While the permit and license requirements will vary from business to business, the truth is that no business can operate without a permit. Don’t think you can skate by without one!

Federal Permits and Licenses

If the business you are operating is involved in activities that are regulated and/or supervised by a federal agency, you’re going to need a federal license/permit. Listed below are a few of the activities for which you may need a federal license:

  • Alcohol
  • Agriculture
  • Firearms, Explosives, and Ammunition
  • Aviation
  • Fish and Wildlife
  • Mining and Drilling
  • Maritime Transportation
  • Commercial Fisheries
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Transportation and Logistics

If your business falls under any of these categories, you will need a federal license. Find out more on the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

State Licenses

Every state has its own permit and license requirements, and you need to search the requirements according to your state.

The SBA website has a list of websites for all 50 states. These websites will provide you information on the licenses and permits you will need specifically for that state and you can use the tool to search for permits according to your zip code and the business you will be running.

You can also do a search on the website, without visiting the individual state websites. You may not have as many options in regards to business types, but it will be easier to find information without having to leave the SBA page.

Step-by-Step Guide to Business Licenses

Step 1: Visit the SBA website and find out about permits and licenses specific for your business, your state, and your zip code.

Step 2: Fill out the forms. You will usually be able to download the forms from the website where you will find the information on the permits, but you may need to visit the City Hall or your local chamber of commerce in some cities and states. The information you will need to provide may include:

  • The type of business
  • The address of the business
  • Name of the business owner (you)
  • Contact information for the business
  • Federal ID number
  • The number of employees

Step 3: Submit the forms. You will usually need to mail them to the proper government agency, and you can find the mailing address on the same page where you downloaded the forms.

Step 4: Pay the filing fees. There will always be a fee for the permit/license ranging from $50 to $500 – depending on the state and business type. You may need to pay a small processing fee, too.

If you’ve followed the steps above, all that’s left to do is wait for the license to arrive. It will take anywhere from two or three days to three or four weeks. Just be patient, follow any instructions provided by the agency issuing the license, and comply with any requests they may have.

Do this, and your business license should be in your hands in no time! 

Have you gotten your business license easily? Drop a comment below and tell us how you worked your magic!

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