Your decision to start your own business likely took place over a period of time, giving you opportunities to think and plan before you take action. In addition to focusing on the details of your company, you also need to give proper attention to the bureaucratic details that most people detest. Business is business. The state and federal governments have a vested interest in the operation of your enterprise and require licensing and permits for a wide variety of businesses.
Requirements vary from state to state, and for specific type of businesses, but there’s no guesswork involved.
At the federal level, most business types must apply for an Employee Identification Number (EIN),
With a few exceptions, most businesses don’t need any other federal permit or license. If you are involved in broadcasting, drug manufacturing, ground transportation, investment advising, meat packaging, or the selling of alcohol, tobacco or firearms, you will need to contact the corresponding government department for operating requirements.
At the state level, requirements vary, depending on the business and the state. Below are some of the more common licenses and permits businesses need to file for. Keep in mind that individual city and county licenses may come into play too.
Additionally, you will not always have a copy of some of the legal documentation you may need and should consider keeping a certified copy of licenses or permits in your files.
This is the main document your business will need for tax purposes and conducting other basic business functions. Most states offer assistance in complying with requirements and applying for your business license on their official websites.
If your business will hire employees, contact your state Department of Revenue or Department of Labor to see if you’re required to contribute to unemployment insurance.
Licenses Based on Products Sold
Depending on the product you sell, liquor, lottery tickets, gasoline, or firearms, for example, your business may be subject to specific licensing requirements. Like obtaining a license to drive a car, there are just some things that should be weighed and measured before being authorized.
Occupations and Professions
This one is tricky, because the businesses that may require licenses are not so clear-cut. My friend was in business for more than two years before he learned that he needed an occupational license. He only found out when he filed to be an approved vendor for a specific county agency. Businesses that require occupational licensing are diverse, ranging from building contractors, physicians, appraisers and accountants to barbers, realtors, auctioneers, private investigators, funeral directors and cosmetologists. It’s best to check with licensing authorities for this one.
If your state has a state income tax, you’ll have to register and obtain an employer identification number from your state Department of Revenue or Treasury Department. If you’re in retail sales, you will need a sales tax license.
Trade Name Registration
If your business is strictly local, you’ll probably only need to register the business name with your state. Before you print letterhead and business cards, do a name search to ensure that the name you’ve got your heart set on is available. This will also help to protect your name from being used by another business.