How to Get a Texas Business License

A contractor with a Texas business license works on re-tiling a client's wall.

Are you thinking of starting a business in Texas and aren’t quite sure where to start?

Or you already have a few years under your belt, but you just realized you need a Texas business license?

That’s where we come in to help.

Getting licensed can feel complicated, precisely because your business type influences your licensing and permit requirements. So if you specialize in multiple types of work, there’s a chance that you’ll need to apply for more than one business license.

Frustrating? Absolutely. That’s why we’ve mapped out what to do, including a step-by-step guide to filling out your license application.

Let’s do this!

Is a Business License Required in Texas?

There’s no statewide license requirement. However, Texas does require certain business types to apply for specific licenses and permits, so depending on the type of work you perform, you may need to complete a few different applications.

Rather than a general license, Texas requires most businesses to obtain a Sales Use and Tax Permit. This Tax Permit is typically required if you’re based in Texas and:

  • You sell property within the state of Texas;
  • You lease or rent property in Texas; and/or
  • You sell taxable services within the state.

The same rules apply if you’re a remote business but you sell products or services in the Lone Star State.

This article will focus on business owners located IN Texas, but check out this FAQ page if you have more questions about the state’s stance on remote selling.

One quick note before we continue — applying for a permit or business license can feel like you’re fumbling through a pile of paperwork. So it’s understandable if you’ve been putting it off, or you think you don’t really need to get one right now.

But don’t fall into that trap. If Texas requires you to carry a certain license or permit, you absolutely should have it for the following reasons:

  • It can potentially help you avoid fines and penalties
  • It can show customers that you’re professional and trustworthy
  • It makes it easier to grow your business
  • It can help you stand out from unlicensed competition
  • And more!

Now let’s focus on what you came here for: how to apply.

How to Fill Out Your Application

1. Apply for your Sales Use and Tax Permit.

Head to the Texas Comptroller website and click on “Apply for Permit via eSystems.”

Keep in mind that you’ll need to be at least 18 or older and have a Social Security number. If you run a partnership, you’ll also need the Social Security number of any partners within your business.

There’s typically no fee to complete this application (awesome!) and, if approved, you should expect to get your permit within two to three business weeks.

2. Identify your business type’s licensing requirements.

Here’s where applying can get a little complicated. While you likely won’t be required to get a state-based license, you may still need to get licensed depending on the services you provide or the products you sell.

Fortunately, Texas makes it fairly easy to locate your business type and determine which websites you need to visit to get licensed. Download the 2020 Texas Business Licenses and Permits guide and scroll through the PDF to find your industry. From there, you should see a link to the Texas website where you can apply for any relevant licenses and permits.

This PDF is updated every February, so makes sure you get the most recent one.

3. Call if you can’t find your industry type.

Not seeing your business listed anywhere within the guide?

If that’s the case, it’s recommended that you call the Comptroller of Public Accounts with your questions. You can call them at 512-463-4600 or visit their website for more help.

Insurance: What You Need to Know

If you are required to take out a license or permit, don’t be surprised if you’re required to show proof of business insurance.

Here’s why: business insurance shows that you’re protecting your customers, vendors, and employees from accidents, third-party property damage, and more. Plus, some types of business insurance (like workers compensation) are required if you have any part-time or full-time employees.

If you’re asked to show proof of insurance in order to get licensed, we can help there too. Just use our free quote comparison tool to find policy options from insurers who provide Texas-based insurance policies.

Simply choose the policy you need, click to buy, and boom — you’re all set to apply for whichever license you’re required to have.

Applying for a TX Business License?

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

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

What it Will Cost

Fortunately, it’s free of charge to apply for your Texas Sales Use and Tax Permit. However, you may need to post a security bond, depending on the type of business you run.

For more questions about any additional costs for a Texas business license, check out the Comptroller’s website here.

How to Get It.

A license is more than just another box you need to check to get up and running.

It’s the key to setting the foundations for a successful business.

After all, having a licensed business means your customers can feel more confident about working with you. Plus, it means you likely won’t run into any legal problems that may stem from owning and operating an unlicensed operation.

So even though the application may feel like a pain, don’t give up — it’s worth the hassle!

Mariah Bliss

I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner – I’ve had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!
Mariah writes on a number of topics such as small business planning, contractor insurance, and business licenses.