If you are about to launch a start-up, you have no doubt asked yourself, “Do I need a business license?”
No matter what type of business you own—whether it’s in a physical storefront or based online—and regardless if it’s a small or large company, you are going to need to obtain and maintain a business license (possibly more than one).
Understanding business licenses can be difficult. This article seeks to answer some of the most common questions business owners have about when, why, and how to get a business license.
Keep in mind that it is not just new businesses that have to think about business licenses. Existing businesses must be mindful as well. Many situations could cause your company to fall out of compliance. The following are circumstances in which the requirements of your existing business license could change, and your company could need to update its business license:
Business license compliance is an important aspect of owning a company, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or tedious. However, some governmental agencies are easier to deal with and more efficient than others.
*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such sources content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.
There are 14 comments left for Do I Need a Business License for My Company?annita kaur said: Sunday, May 26, 2019
I am registering my Delaware company in New York. New York is where I will be operating my business. Do I need two licenses - Business & Esthetics/Cosmetology? Does every state require a business license? Does NY require a business license? and How do I determine which is the correct License - Cosmetology or Esthetics?HBS Staff replied: Thursday, May 30, 2019
While we can certianly help Foreign Qualify the Delaware company to do business in New York, we’re unable to assist with obtaining a business license as this is separate from a Foreign Qualification. Typically, the business license is registered in the jurisdiction where the company is physically operating often times at the county level. While we’re not able to assist with specific licensing, some of our clients have had success working with LicenseLogix for those services. Feel free to visit the website here: https://www.licenselogix.com/lp/harvard-business-services-and-licenselogix?referredbyaccountid=108978.
If your business will have a physical presence by operating, hiring employees, banking or even holding an asset in a State other than the State of Incorporation, clients will often qualify the business to operate in that State. The foreign qualification process enables a company to transact business in a jurisdiction other than where it was formed. Since each State has its own requirements, let HBS take care of this detail for you. For more information on the foreign qualification process https://www.delawareinc.com/blog/what-is-foreign-qualification/.Carl said: Thursday, January 31, 2019
Hi, if we are based outside the US and using a Delaware LLC for selling consulting services outside of Delaware do we need a business license?HBS Staff replied: Friday, February 1, 2019
Carl - Generally, our clients based outside the U.S. are not required to obtain a business license to conduct business outside U.S.Steven Morgan said: Monday, July 16, 2018
I want to establish an internet-based business in which I sell a service. Do I need a business license and, if so, how do I obtain one? I am based in California.HBS Staff replied: Tuesday, July 17, 2018
For business licenses and specific states' rules, it is best to contact the specific state in which you want to do business, in this case California. We suggest you contact the Small Business Administration office in California.Scott said: Thursday, June 21, 2018
I work for a contractor that sends me a 1099 . I live in Maryland but has sent me to Delaware to do work do I need a license?HBS Staff replied: Friday, June 22, 2018
We are not experts in business license issues. Your best bet is to call the Delaware Small Business Administration; they should be able to answer your question. Thanks for reading our blog!Tom Way said: Thursday, May 24, 2018
I do some occasional consulting writing software and entertainment script writing and reside in Delaware. I typically receive a number of 1099-MISC forms and report this on a Schedule C. Do I need a Delaware business license for this sort of personal, rather than formal business, work?HBS Staff replied: Tuesday, May 29, 2018
For business license information, your best bet is ton consult your local Small Business Administration office, as that information is outside the realm of our experience.