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How to obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Laws and Regulations

Business Licenses and Permits

Every business needs one or more federal, state or local licenses or permits to operate. Licenses can range from a basic operating license to very specific permits, (e.g., environmental permits).

Regulations vary by industry, state and locality, so it's very important to understand the licensing rules where your business is located. Not complying with licensing and permitting regulations can lead to expensive fines and put your business at serious risk.

How to Get Licenses and Permits

Business.gov's Permit Me tool allows you to get a listing of federal, state and local permits, licenses, and registrations you?ll need to run a business.

In the search box below, type in the location of your business, and choose from a list of common small business types. Click "Search" and you'll get a results page showing federal, state and local licenses you'll need along with links to web pages, application forms and instructions. For local permits, links to local government websites and contact information are provided.

If your type of business is not listed, select "General Licensing" and follow the links to your state and local licensing agencies to find licensing requirements for your specific businesses.

Federal Licenses and Permits

If your business is involved in activities supervised and regulated by a federal agency, you may need to obtain a federal license.

State Licenses and Permits

Many types of businesses need to obtain some type of business or professional/occupational license or permit from a state government. Choose a state to find out about specific license and permit requirements in the state where your business is located.

Tips for Maintaining Your Business License

  • When signing up for a license, permit or registration, keep track of those that need to be renewed on a regular basis and keep a calendar of renewal dates.
  • Maintain a copy of all licensing applications and forms in your business records.
  • Make sure you follow rules for displaying your licenses or permits. Most states and localities require business to prominently display their business licenses so customers can see them.
  • If you are thinking of expanding your business, whether it be expanding your building or launching a new product or service, you may need additional business licenses.

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How to obtain Business Licenses and Permits