How to Get a Mississippi Business License

A carpenter with a Mississippi business license cuts wood.

Did you know that in 1884 Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor in Vicksburg, Mississippi, was the first store to sell shoes in pairs? Before that, people bought shoes one at a time, often right from a cobbler — made to fit.

Mississippi’s small business owners have been innovating since 1884 — and even earlier. If you’re one of the many entrepreneurs who is starting a business in the Magnolia State, you should be proud. After all, small businesses are the backbone of Mississippi’s economy.

But as you start your business venture, it’s important to follow the right steps, like getting your Mississippi business license. Otherwise, you may find that it’s difficult to operate your business, or worse — you’d be in legal hot water with the state of Mississippi.

Sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. I’ve gathered the research for you — all right here. Just follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to getting your Mississippi business license!

Do I Need a Mississippi Business License?

Not every business in Mississippi needs to get a license. It depends on what you do and where your business is located. It’s important to check with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Business Services Division to find out. The state also has a Small Business Development Center that offers counseling to business owners. Your counselor can guide you through the process.

Chances are, if you work in one of the following professions in Mississippi, you’ll need to get a license with the state. I’ve also linked directly to the organizations that handle licenses for these professions. Keep in mind, this isn’t the full list, so check with the Secretary of State’s office first:

Beware: You don’t want to start working without a Mississippi business license if it’s required for your business. Otherwise, you may have to pay penalties, or worse, have your business shut down. Make sure you and all of your employees have up-to-date licenses before you open your doors to customers.

But let’s say you work in a field that doesn’t require a license in Mississippi. You may want to ask if you can get one anyway. That’s because the state’s “official stamp of approval” can offer many benefits. For example, it can:

  • Give customers and vendors confidence in your work.
  • Help establish your business as a known brand.
  • Demonstrate credibility and professionalism.
  • Help you market your business to new customers.
  • And much more!

Now, let’s talk about the steps you need to take to register your business, and how to pursue licenses and permits.

How to Get a Business License in Mississippi

If you’re a sole proprietor:

You may not have to register your business with the state.

Good news for sole proprietors — you may not need to register your business with the state. That’s because the Mississippi Secretary of State generally only requires business owners who run limited partnerships, LLCs, and corporations to complete this step.

That said, it’s worth double-checking. Depending on the work you do, you may need to get a Mississippi professional license. In addition, you should check with your city or town to find out if there are local requirements to follow. Often, your local municipality will require a license or permit before you can officially open your doors.

Feeling confused? Just call the Business Services Group at the Mississippi Secretary of State at 1-800-256-3494 or 601-359-1633, where a member of their team can point you in the right direction.

Register your business’s name (using a DBA) in your city or town.

Your local municipal department needs to know the name of your business, even if you’re a sole proprietor. Just head to your city or town clerk and file a “Doing Business As” (DBA) document.

Keep in mind, the state doesn’t have a database of business names for sole proprietors, so it’s important to research your business’s name first. This will help prevent you from inadvertently taking another company’s name (YIKES!).

If you own a limited partnership, LLC, or corporation:

Register your business with the state.

If your business is a limited partnership, LLC, or corporation, it’s pretty cut-and-dried. You’ll need to register your business with the Mississippi Secretary of State.

Fortunately, it’s easy to do this online. Prefer paper? No problem. You can call the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office directly or send an email to their Business Services Division to fill out the paperwork.

Here’s a tip. To help speed things up, have these documents on-hand:

  • A Federal Tax ID or EIN
  • Your personal address and phone number
  • Your business’s address and phone number
  • Your driver’s license number
  • A seller’s permit number (if you sell goods)
  • A business plan with your anticipated revenue and expenses
  • A Certificate of Insurance (COI) demonstrating you carry a business insurance policy (if required)

Register your business’s name (using a DBA) in your city or town.

If you decide to use a different name from your registered business name, you need to file a “Doing Business As” (DBA) document in your local city or town. This information will get filed with the Mississippi Bureau of Corporations.

It can be tricky to find a unique name that’s not already taken. Fortunately, the Mississippi Secretary of State can help. They keep track of partnerships, LLCs, and corporations and can easily find business names that are in use or protected by a trademark or service mark. Call them first before deciding on a name for your business.

All small business owners:

Head to your local city or town municipal office to ask about business licenses, permits, and zoning requirements.

Next up. Visit your local municipal office to inquire about local requirements. If you work from home, that’s the city or town where you live. Own a brick-and-mortar store? Visit the city or town hall near your shop.

In Mississippi, every city, town, and county operates a little differently, so it’s worth a phone call or in-person visit. I recommend visiting so you can start filling out paperwork for licenses, permits, and other requirements right there.

Mississippi Business License + Insurance Requirements

As I mentioned, it’s worth the time and effort to set up your business correctly. After all, starting a business in Mississippi is a big responsibility. But with that, can come big rewards. Set yourself up for success by completing the correct paperwork with your state and local departments.

It’s possible that your local or state office may ask you for a Certificate of Insurance (COI). This is a document that proves you carry insurance to financially protect you, your customers, and employees if there’s an accident or injury on the job. Most business owners have general liability insurance and professional liability insurance to protect them financially.

Even if you’re not required to show a COI, getting business insurance is still a good idea. It can help protect you if there’s an unexpected (and costly) claim. It also can help cover your legal fees if someone files a lawsuit against your business. Unfortunately, this is a very real scenario many small business owners have to face.

With Simply Business, it’s easy to compare policies in Mississippi using a free quote tool. Just answer a few, quick questions about your business, and in 10 minutes or less you’ll be well on your way to reviewing policies that can work for you.

Applying for a MS Business License?

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

That’s where we come in. Compare insurance quotes today.

How Much Does a State of Mississippi Business License Cost?

There are some minimal costs to pay when you set up your business in Mississippi. But don’t worry, you’ll probably be able to recoup those costs as soon as you get up and running. You should budget for the following expenses:

  • Registering your business with the state of Mississippi
  • Creating a partnership, LLC, or corporation
  • Securing a business license in your local city or town
  • Obtaining permits that are needed
  • Getting a business insurance policy

Here’s a quick look at some of the fees you may have to pay when you send in your business documents.

Remember, even if you do have to pay several fees, it’s well worth it to follow the official process in Mississippi. You’ll be satisfied knowing you started off on the right foot. Plus, it’s good for your business too.

So roll up your sleeves and get your pen and paper in hand. I promise that setting up your business properly with a Mississippi business license isn’t too hard and will pay off in the long run.

Good luck!

Emily Thompson

I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.

Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.