101 on Business Licenses


Every day we are asked questions about business licenses. Generally, the business license is obtained in the city, township, county and/or state, and even on the federal level in many cases. The determining factor is usually whether your company is physically conducting business in the “jurisdiction”. Depending on your locality, you’ll file for two, three or four licenses, maybe more. Almost every company files for a license in at least one locality.

Licenses are just another way to tax companies, although the government agencies that require the licenses are quick to point out that without licensing the consumer would have no protection against unscrupulous rip-off artists, posing as reputable companies.

Licenses aren’t fair. Building contractors file in every little town they have customers in, yet internet mail order companies file only where they are located, even though they have customers in many localities. Since it’s a government mandated fee the local, state or federal government can raise the fee anytime they want to. That said, they are usually minimal in the overall scheme of things. Most locations charge a minimal fee to register for a license to operate there – sometimes as low as $25.00 per year.

At Harvard Business Services, we cannot file your business licenses for you, since our customers are located in tens of thousands of locations around the globe. Your best bet is to call your local city, county and state development departments to find out the local requirements for licensing, or check out the following:

I recently read a great article on business.gov called “A Start-Ups’ Guide to Business Licenses & Permits – Be Compliant from the Get-Go” that will better explain and help answer all your questions regarding permits and licenses. Below is an excerpt from the article:

“Most of us are aware of common business licensing laws-whether it’s a license to sell alcohol and food, or a permit to expand your business premises. But business licensing is a lot more complex and broad than it first appears.

Unfortunately, business license and permit violations occur all the time leading to costly penalties, tax problems, and even the closure of your operation.

So if you are starting a company-be sure not to overlook federal, state and local licensing requirements for your business or industry. Get the right license and permit in One Simple Step with “Permit Me”

Permit Me - this government-developed online tool helps small business owners understand their regulatory requirements by matching basic information about your business type and location to the state and local permits, licenses, and registrations you’ll need to run a business in your location.

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