How to Apply for a Business License in the United States. A legal document that grants you the right to operate a business in your city. Depending on your business, there are other licenses that may also be required.
Most small-business owners require only a local business license, which allows the business to operate within the city and county where it’s located. This business license is either a municipal license, if your business is located within a city, or a county license if you’re located in an unincorporated area of the county. If you intend to open multiple locations or conduct business in different cities or counties, you’ll need to apply for a license in each of those jurisdictions.
Some cities and counties don’t require a business to obtain a license, while others collect a business-licensing fee on an annual basis. In addition to the license fee, some cities receive a percentage of a business’ gross sales as well as sales taxes if the business is required to collect them.
A business license is needed by anyone who is opening up their own business or organization. It is required by law in every state, whether you are running the business out of your home or in another facility.
Procedure to Apply for a Business License in the United States
- Determine where to get your business license. You’ll need to get a license from the city in which you’re planning to operate your business.
- Know your business code. Different business types have different codes, and you’ll need to know this information to get a license. Different codes will require specific application processes, and every city has its own set of requirements. You may need nothing more than a simple Assumed Business Name (often called a DBA), or you may want to start a corporation.
- Locate the forms you’ll need to fill out. Whether you go directly to your city’s website or use the SBA as a resource, you’ll be presented with an extensive list of business entity types for your state.
- Fill out the forms. You may do this online or print the forms and fill them out by hand. Some states make provisions for performing these functions directly online, but will generally require you to create an account before being able to do so.
Required Documents to Apply for a Business License in the United States
- Type of business
- Contact information
- Federal ID number
- Number of employees
Required Information to Apply for a Business License in the United States
A form of positive identification is the main thing you will need to get a business license.
- Driver’s License
- State issued identification card
- military ID (if applicable)
- Social Security number
The time it takes to process your license will vary, depending on the type of business entity you are creating. For example, a DBA might take just a couple days, whereas a corporation could take up to 2 weeks. Each state will vary.
Each city has its own requirements regarding the filing fee that goes with your business license. It usually ranges from $50 – $400 or more, depending on what type of business you’re operating. There may be an additional processing fee of $25 or so as well. You are required to pay related licensing fees or taxes upon completion of the license application. Keep in mind that you may need multiple licenses too. For example, you may be required to have a state business license as well as a license to operate in your specific county or city. Each license will require paying separate fees or taxes.
Although most businesses don’t require a federal license or permit, these do:
Preparation of meat products
Selling alcohol, tobacco, or firearms
Office Locations & Contacts
Check your local court/clerks office. You can check at http://www.uscourts.gov/court_locator.aspx
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