This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
If you are just starting your business, you may need a business license or permit depending on your industry, business type, and location. Here are some resources to help you find the licensing your business may require and potential costs you could incur.
How much does a business license cost?
Every state will require a business license to operate a company within that state. Some cities may require certain licenses too. These licenses are documents issued by government agencies and allow businesses to operate within those regions, certifying that your business is safe for the public. A business license could cost anywhere from $25 to several hundred dollars, depending on what you do and where you conduct business.
Some states will have a general statewide business license while others will have local or county-based business license requirements on top of that.
The cost of a business license in every state (and how to get one)
State business licenses vary by state, business activity, and business location. The fees associated with those licenses will also change and need to be renewed regularly.
An Alabama business license can cost anywhere from $15 to several hundred dollars, depending on several factors. If your business is based in Alabama, refer to the Alabama Department of Revenue for business license information specific to your business. Alabama has three state-level licenses: business privilege licenses, business tax registration, and a store license. AtlasAlabama also offers state and local resources for business licensing and permits.
A business license in Alaska can cost anywhere from $25 to $100, depending on factors like business entity structure. For Alaska-based businesses, check the Alaska Department of Commerce for licensing you may need. Alaska also has a general state-level business license that costs $50 for an annual license or $100 for a biennial license.
According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, Arizona-based businesses may need more than one license. Look into the transaction privilege tax license, withholding tax registration, and local business or occupation, as well as professional licenses and permits. While the state doesn’t require an all-inclusive state license, city or town offices will have licensing requirements.
A business license in Arkansas can range from $50 to over $1,000, depending on the type of business. Arkansas-based businesses can refer to the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center for local, state, incorporating, and federal requirements.
Business licenses in California typically cost between $50 and $100. California businesses, like many other states, have license and/or certification requirements for business activities that require training or that could expose consumers to hazards. These include medical professionals, lawyers, accountants, cosmetologists, architects, real estate brokers, and more.
The State of Colorado does not offer a general business license. Instead, licenses are issued based on the specific type of business you run. The Colorado Small Business Development Center Network is a good reference to find the licenses you might need.
A business license in Connecticut can range from $20 to several thousand dollars. Connecticut’s State Department of Consumer Protection site lists different business licenses, registrations, and permits by industry.
A general state business license in Delaware costs $75. For businesses based in Delaware, the State of Delaware has a one-stop business registration and licensing portal.
If your business operates in Florida, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Application Center provides a list of licensing requirements and allows you to check on the status of an existing application.
Georgia business license fees can range from $50 to several hundred dollars. Georgia-based businesses can refer to the Georgia Small Business Homepage as a starting point. While every business needs an operating license, they can be registered through the county or city rather than the state.
All businesses in the State of Hawaii do need a business license to operate, and sometimes a specific type of license or permit in addition to a business license. Look into a $20 General Excise Tax License, or GET, for your business. If your business is based in Hawaii, the Hawaiian government website has resources for starting a business and registering for a business license.
For Idaho-based businesses, Idaho’s State & Federal Resources for Business site includes a business wizard to help you determine what type of business license you need.
A business license in the city of Chicago, for example, can range from $75 to $6,000. Businesses operating in Illinois can find business license information on the Illinois State Site, and different companies will have a range of fees depending on type and location.
The most common business license is a Registered Retail Merchant Certificate, or a seller’s permit, which allows you to sell products or services in Indiana, and costs $25. Indiana is another state that does not have one all-inclusive business license. Business owners can refer to the state’s Business Owner’s Guide or InBiz resource center for licensing resources.
The State of Iowa has an information center with a list of licensing obligations for different types of businesses operating in a space. The state has no general business license — business is instead regulated based on type or profession.
Kentucky has a One-Stop Business Portal for companies with different types of permits or licenses your might need. In addition to a federal license, you may need an occupational permit and an environmental permit for your business.
If you are operating a business in Louisiana you’ll need to create a GeauxBiz account to access the site’s business license checklist. An occupational business license in New Orleans, for example, will start at $50.
Check Maine’s local Government portal for information around your business’s licensing needs.
Maryland’s OneStop site offers a list of licensing and permit requirements by keyword, industry, or local resources. An organizational business license in Maryland can range from a few dollars to several hundred.
Massachusetts’ state site offers a Starting a New Business Guide as well as a Business Licenses and Permits page. A DBA, or “Doing Business As,” certificate is required if you are a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation, and will typically start around $20. For example, a business certificate in Boston costs $65.
Small businesses operating in Michigan may not need a business license. Business licenses are required for certain occupations only, including athletic trainers and bar owners. Check the online business licensing search to see if your business type is listed and requires licensing.
Mississippi businesses also need to look at licensing by city or county, as there is no state-level business license.
If you are based in Missouri, refer to the Missouri Business Portal to register your business with both the Secretary of State and Department of Revenue. There is also a list of fees and forms to be aware of for businesses operating in Missouri.
For businesses based in Montana, the Montana Department of Revenue offers a list of possible state licenses. The site also offers one-stop licensing for certain businesses to apply or renew up to seven state licenses at once.
Nevada requires a state-level general business license that costs between $200 to $500. For owners looking for a business license in the state of Nevada, the Nevada Secretary of State site or the Silver Flume Business Portal are good places to start.
Businesses based in New Hampshire can start with the New Hampshire Business site for business licensing information. You will need to contact your local office for requirements and regulations to operate your business in New Hampshire.
A business license in Newark may cost about $150 though business license costs will differ depending on your business type and other factors. The State of New Jersey has a New Jersey Business Action Center for licensing and permitting needs as well as a license and certification guide that lists all businesses in alphabetical order.
New York State businesses can refer to the New York State Business Wizard for a checklist of business requirements by area. A business license in New York City, for example, could cost between $100 to $200 dollars.
Business licensing requirements for North Carolina can be found through the North Carolina Department of Commerce website. There are nearly a thousand state-issued licenses and permits consisting of occupational licenses, business licenses, and more.
North Dakota’s New Business Registration website offers business licensing information for North Dakota-based businesses. North Dakota business licenses might be issued by the Attorney General or Secretary of State, depending on the type of business license you’re seeking.
The State of Ohio offers a guide to starting a business, which includes information on vendors’ licenses. Ohio requires any person or business making retail sales of a tangible property or taxable services to register and obtain a vendor’s license. Ohio licensing filings can cost around $25.
Oklahoma-based small businesses can check licensing requirements on the Oklahoma Commerce website. There is no general state license required to start a business, but counties, towns, and cities may have local licensing requirements.
Small businesses based in Pennsylvania can refer to the Pennsylvania Licensing system to apply for a license or renew an existing one. This site is both a licensing and registration portal.
For businesses based in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of State Business Services division records new business formations and ongoing business activity. More information on license types, ranging from auto body to upholstery business licenses, can be found online.
The South Carolina Business One Stop is a portal with access to everything from starting to running a business. There is no statewide business license and the state offers a “Do I Need A Business License” chart to help you determine if your business requires a license.
If your small business has a physical location in South Dakota, you will need a seller’s permit, which is also known as a sales tax license. This is the main state-level permit to be aware of. Beyond this, check this list of licensing regulations that may affect your business type based on your local area.
Tennessee’s One-Stop Licensing App is a starting point for verifying or searching for business licenses, fees, and requirements. Check if the city or county your business operates in requires specific business licenses. The state of Tennessee requires companies with taxable sales of $10,000 or more to have a statewide business license issued by the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
Utah’s One Stop Online Business Registration system allows you to look up local licensing information and forms you’ll need to turn in to your municipality.
Vermont does not require a state business license, but you will need to apply for a business sales tax account on the Vermont Department of Taxes website.
Virginia’s State Corporation Commission site has a one-stop shop for business licensing and registering.
Washington State requires a state-level general business license that costs $90. Businesses based in Washington state can refer to the Washington State Department of Licensing site where different types of business licenses are listed by profession. The site also offers a Business License Wizard application that helps streamline finding the right license for your business.
West Virginia has a one-stop business portal for all occupational, professional, and special licenses and permits business owners will need.
For small businesses based in Wisconsin, the Department of Safety and Professional Services site has a list of professions with rules and statutes, including licensing information.
The state of Wyoming has a business permit booklet for licensing and permitting that includes information for every department and local county office.
In addition to business licenses in the state you’re operating, be sure to check your local city’s licensing requirements to make sure that you have all the permits you need to operate your business.
FAQ: How Much Does a Business License Cost in Every State?
What is a business license?
A business license is a permit issued by a government agency (it can be a federal, state, city, or local agency) that allows individuals or companies to conduct business in that geographic location.
What are different types of business licenses?
According to the Small Business Administration, here are some of the federal business licenses or permits you may need to apply for:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Firearms, ammunition, and explosives
- Fish and wildlife
- Commercial fisheries
- Maritime transportation
- Mining and drilling
- Nuclear energy
- Radio and television broadcasting
- Transportation and logistics
Are an LLC and a business license the same thing?
The fees to incorporate your business as an LLC and a business license are separate costs. An LLC is a type of business structure and is not considered a business license. Registering your business as an LLC and applying for a business license may be associated costs.
Once you register your business, you’ll want to apply for the appropriate businesse licenses for your local area.