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How to Get a Business License in Your State

Every step to getting your business license - explained.

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How to Get a Business License

Looking for info on how to get a business license? It can be an overwhelming process, but we've done the work and research for you. Let's jump right into the many factors typically involved in the business license application process.

State Business License Requirements

Each state has different requirements for how to get a business license, meaning the process differs in each state, too. Some states require state licensure, while others require a local or county license as well, for example. Some states require both!

Choose the state where you operate your business to learn more about what the process may be like for you.

Why Should I Get a Business License?

Your state or local government may or may not require you to have a business license. But getting one can help you compete with other small businesses targeting the same customers. The process takes time, but following are three reasons why the investment is likely worth it.

A business license can help you attract potential customers.

Once you have your business license, you can display proof at your brick and mortar shop and even on your website. Seeing that you've taken the time to invest in getting your business licensed can help gain trust from potential customers, showing them that they'd be hiring someone with authority.

A business license can help protect your business.

You may not immediately think of protection when you consider getting a business license, but if you're hoping to do what you can to protect your hard work, then a business license is a great first step.

Having a business license can help keep your business financially accountable, especially during tax season when it comes time to file. Depending on the location and your business type, it also can help show that you've taken the necessary steps to make sure your business is run safely.

Regardless of your location, having a business license is a great way to identify your business locally, helping customers in getting to know you and helping you to potentially stand out against the competition.

A business license is just one step to take to protect your business, though. Did you know that business insurance coverage can play a hand in protection, too?

General liability insurance can help protect you in the event of property damage or if a third party (e.g., vendor or customer) gets injured. Professional liability insurance can help protect you if a customer claims negligence or takes a similar action.

Both business insurance coverage types can help to protect your business financially in case of a civil suit. Which policies you may need depends on a variety of factors. To find out and compare rates and policy options, use our free online quote tool.

Each state's government has different requirements when it comes to getting a business license. Local governments specific to different counties or the cities within them sometimes also have different requirements. When you apply for and receive your business license, you're checking off boxes that help show the different municipalities that you're taking the license requirements into account and being responsible as a business owner.

Your license can potentially help to fulfill other requirements, too, whether they're set by landlords, vendors, or customers. For example, say you want to open a second location, but your landlord requires proof of your business license to issue the lease. Or maybe you decide to apply for a loan or other funding, and a bank asks for you to provide your business license during the application process.

You may not think you have any reasons to get a business license right now, but that makes now the perfect time to apply. Since the business license application process can take time, it's better to plan ahead and apply in case you’re required to have one in the future.

Think of it as a way to show vendors and potential customers that you mean business. Right away, it will show that you're serious about your business's future.

Even if you aren’t currently required to have a business license, we still recommend getting one as a way to invest in your business's future. Having a license helps to show people that you're professional and it could even contribute to higher paying jobs. In that case, it's well worth it!

How Much Will it Cost to Get a Business License?

The cost of a business license will typically depend on your state and local governments' legal requirements, as well as what your specific profession is. Keep in mind that while business license costs fluctuate, there also are other trade-based licenses and permits you may need to consider. It is always best to check the state and county that your business is located in to see what your specific requirements are.

Select the state where your business is located to learn more about what getting your business license may cost.

How Long Does It Usually Take to Get a Business License?

The process for how to get a business license in each state differs in various ways. Some states may allow you to apply for your business license online, while others may require applying by mail or in person. Because of the differences, some licensing can happen quickly, while other business licenses can take longer (sometimes more than a month) to process, which is why it's important to get started right away.

We have a lot of content to help guide you on your journey as a business owner, and we understand that you're probably itching to get started.

So is getting a business license really worth the time, cost, and effort?

The answer is YES. Getting a business license can help you gain the trust and confidence of potential customers, adhere to requirements set by third parties, and help you to potentially win bigger and higher paying jobs down the line.

So why wait? Get started by learning how to get a business license in your state.

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This content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, investment, or any other form of professional advice.

How to Get a Business License in Your State


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