Woman Standing Next to BookcaseOne of the first things you need to do when you start a business is apply for any and all business permits and licenses that you’re required to have.

The 411 on Business Permits and Licenses

Every state, county, and city has requirements for the companies that do business there. It can be challenging to keep up with requirements at every level, but if you fail to apply for the appropriate business permits, your company could be fined or even shut down.

The purpose of business licenses and permits is to ensure that the businesses in your community are following certain regulations and procedures in their operations. For example, every single restaurant in your town has to have a Food & Beverage license in order to serve food and drinks. License holders are required to take a food safety course so they know the proper way to prepare and store foods, and keep their customers safe.

How to Get a Business License or Permit

Start your search at the state level by visiting your state’s Secretary of State website. Now, you may find information and forms for the permits or licenses you need there, or you may be sent to another site the way you are led from California’s Secretary of State page to CalGold, a site with information on licensing. This is a great resource for California businesses, because it gives you all the details for permits you need to apply for at the city, county, regional, state, and federal levels.

If your state doesn’t have such a handy tool, once you find out which state licenses you need from your Secretary of State site, look for your county’s website (clue: it will end with .gov). Click on the Business tab if there is one. Here, you should find all the information for licenses required at the county level.

Now drill down one level further. Find your city’s website and do the same. Typically you are able to apply for the business license online. You may need to provide details like your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.

You’ll also need to pay the business license fee, which can range from $15 to several hundred dollars.

Planning Ahead

It’s important to note that it may take several weeks (or longer) to get your business license approved. Longer if you also need to have an inspection, the way you would if you run a restaurant.

You cannot begin operating your business until you have your business license approved. So if you’re starting a new business, give yourself enough time before your open date to secure those business licenses.

It’s a lot of legwork, but having the right business licenses and permits is essential to help your business succeed. If you’re strapped for time, you can always hire CorpNet to research the business licenses you need and help you apply for them. We know how to get a business license for you; after all, we’ve helped thousands of small business owners just like you!


At CorpNet, we’ve started businesses of all types in every state. We can help you secure the licenses and permits you need to start a business. Contact us today to make sure you’re compliant with your business licenses and permits!