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How to Apply for a Business License

Any "how to apply for a business license" article is expected to address more than just a business license application, because the topic is more broadly understood to mean, What are all of the permits and licenses you will need to make your new business legal and compliant?

Let's start with the business license itself. A business license gives you legal permission to operate your business at a single address within a specific town or city. Upon applying for a business license, your town or city planning and zoning departments will make a number of determinations: is the physical location for your business zoned for that type of business, is there ample parking space for business employees and visitors, will the new business have an impact on town/city services, and are there other permits or licenses that your business must get before it can be granted a business license? Once all conditions have been met, and fees paid, the town or city will issue you a license for business.

Beyond the business license itself, there may be numerous other permits or licenses that you will need to procure before you can begin operations. Here is a list of the most common permits and licenses required. Beyond this, it is important to do research on your specific business sector to determine if there are other sector-specific permits or licenses that you will need to apply for.

  • Sales Tax License
  • County Permits
  • State Licenses
  • Federal Licenses
  • Health Department Permit
  • Fire Department Permit
  • Air or Water Pollution Control Permit
  • Sign Permit


  • The process to apply for a business license, and whatever other permits and licenses you will need to open your doors for business, may seem confusing, and it may take more research than it should for you to determine all that you need to do to make your business legal and compliant. But keep in mind that once you puzzle out the details, and pay the fees, from then on you will simply need to reapply for your standing permits and licenses as the calendar dictates. Then you can move on to the business of business.


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