How to Get a Kentucky Business License

Carpenter wearing yellow shirt, kneeling on wooden deck while hammering into the side of a house.

One minute you’re excited, and the next you’re nervous. You wake up optimistic, and then you may spend your lunch hour worrying. If any of these symptoms apply to you, you just might be a new business owner.

Going out on your own to start a Kentucky company is cause for celebration, but don’t start the party too soon. Before you can make your first sale, there are a few tasks to check off your to-do list. Today, you’ll learn about Kentucky business licenses.

Even the most well laid-out state government websites can make you second-guess yourself, though, and I know you want to get everything right. That’s why I’m here to (virtually) join in on your celebration and help you take the next steps in your career.

So I’ve rolled up my sleeves, taken my notes, and created this simple guide on how to get a business license in Kentucky.


Do I Need a Kentucky Business License?

State websites may not necessarily lay out information clearly about how to start a business. As a Kentucky entrepreneur, though, you’re in luck. The Kentucky One Stop Business Portal lays out a simple seven-point checklist to start a business in the state.

I highly suggest the site’s resources and guides, but we’re focused on Kentucky business licenses and permits for now. There are two main types of licenses that might apply to you.

The first is occupational licenses. There’s no single Kentucky business license that applies to all jobs, but some industries require special applications and prerequisites.

Next, you may need to get an environmental permit. These could potentially apply to you if you work with natural resources such as mining or forestry, or if your business impacts local air, water, or waste management.

How to Get a Business License in Kentucky

1. Look for license requirements based on your business type.

Occupational licenses are a great place to start. To find which apply to your business, visit the Occupational Licenses page of the One Stop Business Portal here. From this page, you can search for your occupation or view the full list of regulated industries.

There are Kentucky business licenses for acupuncturists and wilderness youth camps to barbers and taxidermists, and many others in between. Once you’ve found your industry, you’ll typically find a list of required licenses and be given a link to the corresponding website.

Some jobs have a handful of license and permit requirements, so it’s helpful to make a checklist of your own to make sure you don’t forget any. Each board’s website will tell you about licensing requirements, fees, applications, renewal schedules, and more.

To make sure you cover all the bases, be sure to check for any applicable environmental licenses too.

2. Check local and federal requirements.

After you’ve checked for how to get a Kentucky business license for your job, you need to check local and federal rules. Even if there are no state-level requirements for your company, you still may need a license to operate.

Here are a few examples of some of the industries that typically require a federal business license:

  • Aviation
  • Debt collection
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Transportation and Logistics

There’s one more place for you to check for requirements. City and county clerks can set requirements such as liquor licenses. This may seem like a lot of places to hunt down information, so I’ll try to make it a bit easier. Here are the links to Kentucky business license information for the state’s five largest counties:

If your county isn’t on this list, you’ll need to find the website or information for your city and county clerk. Keep in mind that business locations across different counties might need multiple licenses.

3. Complete any required exams and gather required materials.

During your search for licensing requirements for your business, you likely came across some prerequisites. Each Kentucky business license is different, but you might need to do at least one of the following based on your profession:

  • Pass an exam related to your occupation, for example, like an electrician
  • Provide proof of your education or experience, or undergo pre-license education, like home inspectors usually do
  • Undergo an inspection from a health or zoning inspector, like nail salon owners
  • Have an active professional license in the state, like a dentist

Keep in mind that you might need to do “at least one,” but maybe not the entire list. Your licensing board will have all the information you need and can answer any questions you have about qualifications so it’s best to check the requirements for your specific business.

4. Submit your application.

Once you’ve found your license requirements and met the qualifications, applying is easy. Each application is typically straightforward, and the process goes even smoother if you have the following information handy:

  • Personal information like your name, address, and SSN (if filing as a sole proprietor)
  • Business details such as the name, address, and Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) for taxes
  • Proof of general liability insurance coverage, if applicable
  • A photo of you for the license

Some licensing boards may have an initial licensure checklist, like this one for home inspectors. Each application process varies, but you’ll likely need to mail your application, supporting documents, and Kentucky business license application fee to the licensing board.

How Much Is the Kentucky Business License Fee?

I’m sure no detail gets past you, so a mental red flag may have popped up when I mentioned an “application fee.” Chances are you’ll need to pay either when you apply or get approved, and in the future when you renew. Here are some examples of some of the Kentucky business license fees to give you an idea of what your new venture may cost:

  • $250 for home inspectors
  • $350 for chiropractors
  • $200 for salon owners
  • $100 for pest control companies

Keep in mind that these fees can change so it’s best to check with your specific board periodically on what the requirements are for your profession

Kentucky Business License + Insurance Requirements

There’s one final business expense related to getting a business license in Kentucky — business insurance. Some occupations, such as electricians, typically will need to submit a Certificate of Insurance (COI) along with their Kentucky business license app.

Let’s rewind for a moment, though. Here are answers to the questions probably floating around in your head:

  • What is business insurance? A general liability insurance policy could protect your business and finances in the event of accidents, third-party property damage, and more

  • Does my business need insurance? Having a policy is sometimes required if you want to secure a business license. Other times, it’s just recommended.

  • How do I get business insurance? You can get free, customized quotes in a few minutes with our quote comparison tool.

Applying for an KY Business License?

You may need to show proof of business insurance to get your license.

That’s where we come in. Compare free insurance quotes for policies as low as $19.58/month.*

Go ahead, high-five yourself

You don’t have your Kentucky business license in hand yet, but you’ve taken the first step today.

Simply putting in the effort to find the answers you need and set your business up correctly is commendable. Once you have your business license and insurance, you can use them to show potential customers that you are serious about your company.

Since you’re making the bold move of setting up your own business, give yourself a high-five. It will probably feel silly, but celebrating small wins is important. Remember that you can find other helpful guides on our blog here if you have other business insurance related questions.

Stephanie Knapp

I’m a freelance writer who has always had an interest in entrepreneurship, starting way back with lemonade stands. These days I write to help business owners with their everyday challenges and choices. When I’m not typing away, you’ll find me eating pizza, volunteering at the animal shelter, or taking too many pictures of my cats.

Stephanie writes on a number of topics such as state insurance regulations, business licenses, and small business administration.