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How to Secure Business Licenses and Permits, and Where to Get Them

Aug 30, 2021

Permits and licenses are essential in starting and maintaining a business across various industries. Once you gather everything you need, it’s time to get licenses and permits. Getting a permit for construction isn’t always easy. There are a few organizations that provide information about current business and permits. You can also go directly to the Department of Buildings website to apply for building permits both online and in-person.

So, suppose you’re at a point where you’re planning to start a business. In that case, you should look at where you can secure these permits and licenses, know how to get them, and even the fine details included in ensuring that it’s compliant with state laws on business operations.

With that said, check out this article for everything you need to know about securing business licenses and permits.

A Quick Overview of a Business License

Business licenses are regulatory documents issued by the federal state government and government agencies in your locale that permits individuals to operate businesses within a specific jurisdiction.

In some cases, some businesses must have more than one license, depending on state regulations for the industry type and the business’s location.

However, acquiring a business license doesn’t mean declaring your business entity, like registering or declaring a corporation. So, it’s essential that, when launching a business model, you are well aware of what your state requires, like the fees and paperwork necessary for doing so.

In addition, securing a business license isn’t a one-way ticket. So, you can be denied a license for many reasons like incomplete or outdated application forms, unsigned or wrongly signed documents, and even non-compliance with the instructions indicated in the application forms.

In these cases, it’s best to consult a licensing agency to obtain the most updated forms and clarify the instructions in securing the permit.

Moreover, business licenses are in person at a city level, which entails a tax registration certificate. This certificate honors your business as recognized economically and commercially in the city as compliant and legitimate to operate in the city.

Lastly, your business type will tell you the type and number of business licenses you must secure alongside the business operations’ location and needs.

What Business Permit Types Do I Have to Secure?

The US Federal Government usually requires permits for very specialized industries. For example, these very specialized industries may be alcohol manufacturing, agriculture, fisheries, and gun shops.

Special permits are needed for these industries because they have distinct niches or high liability levels, making the process more tedious than the rest. So, it’s best to look at the SBA list for industries and their respective license requirements.

Moreover, with the various laws and state regulations among the fifty states, you will encounter many variations in processing business licenses and permits.

However, there are consistencies across the US regarding issuing business permits according to types. Such as liquor and alcohol control regulates the sale and distribution of alcoholic drinks as a commercial venture in the country.

With that said, these are the most common business license and permit types you may encounter when licensing your business:

Natural Resource Permits and Licenses

These recognize your business as an entity that complies with environmental protection, specifically air and water pollution protection, and is required when venturing commercially with hazardous materials.

Construction and Land Use Permits

For businesses planning to construct buildings, warehouses, or any structure, this permit is required. However, land use permits will depend on your locale’s zoning laws.

Moreover, storefronts, factories, commercial kitchens, and other infrastructures for the business will need the appropriately outfitted space and corresponds to legal codes.

Building Exterior and Signages Licenses

For businesses running stores and offices in uptown or downtown areas and planning to model the exterior or add signages, a license is required to regulate the placement and size of signages and façade designs. So, it’s best to bear this in mind when deciding upon business location branding.

Parking Permits

Those who need to have a street parking space will need to secure a parking permit from the city government for company vehicles. However, parking lot constructions are under construction and land use permits.

Other Industry-Specific Certifications and Licenses

These are licenses that are required when operating industry-specific businesses, like a salon or a fitness gym. Moreover, businesses that sell food may require permits from your local health and sanitation departments to operate.

With that said, some of the industry- and state-specific business licenses you may encounter are:

Sales Tax Permits

For retail businesses, online or in-store, may need to secure sales tax permits to operate. However, this depends on every state, as some need to have all retail businesses declare and collect sales taxes. In addition, this permit is also called a seller’s permit in other states.

Home Occupation Permits

If you’re running a business operating from your home, a home occupation permit may be required by your state. In this case, you can connect with your local commerce chamber or department about home occupation permits.

Professional/Occupational Licenses

Some states require professionals to obtain licenses that reflect their business venture according to the profession. Some examples would be setting up clinics, daycare centers, and consultancies. These will be required to have special professional licenses to operate in the area.

However, this license requirement varies from state to state, so it is best to check with your local professional regulatory or commercial licensors for more info.

DBA Licenses or Permits

Some states require you to register your business and obtain a license for any “doing business as” or DBA businesses. These businesses are those that run under a fictitious business name.

Federal and State TIN

Some businesses per state must apply for an employer ID, or EIN, also known as a tax ID or TIN. In addition, some state or city governments may require you to secure a state TIN as well. You can connect with your local internal revenue department for more information about federal and state tax IDs.

Fire Regulation and Safety Permits

If your business requires a furnace or any machine deemed explosive, or if you are selling or using flammable materials to operate, your local fire department must grant you a fire regulation and safety permit.

Aside from this, businesses with commercial spaces intended for public gatherings must secure the same permit.

Liquor Licenses

Businesses that operate with liquor sales or distribution, such as bars, wine shops, etc., are also required to have a liquor or alcohol license. On the other hand, if you manufacture alcoholic beverages as a business, you must secure a federal permit to operate.

Health and Sanitation Permits

Food manufacturing and distribution businesses must secure health and sanitation permits. Likewise, businesses that handle food preparation and handling must secure the same.

In most US states, a general business license is a primary requirement for you to obtain the rest of the licenses and permits. This license is usually given when you begin to register your business in your locale.


Why Do You Need to Get a Business License and Permits?

It’s all about compliance with the law. As much as everyone has the right and freedom to own and operate a business, the need to regulate business ventures allows everyone to have a fair share of the economic and commercial opportunities in every state.

Aside from this, business permits and licenses protect your business from legal risks should anything go wrong with its operations.

So, after securing these permits, have them updated from time to time as much as possible. Some states require businesses to update business information and other critical commercial details on an annual basis.

In some cases, others may ask you to have it done semi-annually or quarterly. Nevertheless, regardless of where you’re operating, it’s best to keep permits and licenses updated and be in liaison with your state commercial regulators and business licensors.

Overall, the best thing you can do when securing licenses and permits for your business is to contact your local licensing agency.

While it’s alright to secure them on your own, a licensing agency can help expedite the process and ensure that every aspect of your business is registered, permitted, and recognized by the state to avoid legal consequences.

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