What Licensing and Insurance Requirements Do You Need to Be a Photographer?

Mariah Bliss
After learning about licensing and insurance requirements for photographers, a woman is sorting through photos.

Thinking of becoming a photographer - but not sure what licenses or insurance you need to be “official”?

It’s not exactly the most exciting topic in the world, but trust us, getting your business license and insurance squared away early can help you acquire customers much faster. In fact, if you’re thinking of specializing - like being a wedding photographer - you’ll find that a lot of venues require you to have this documentation.

Let’s take a look at the licensing and insurance requirements you need if you want to become a photographer.

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Insurance and Licensing Info for Photographers

Getting your photography business license.

Whether you want to be a wedding photographer or a freelance photographer, having a business license is key for getting prominent names to hire you. Wedding venues probably won’t allow you on their premises if you’re not licensed and insured. Prominent brands may be cautious about hiring you for projects if you don’t have a business license.

And you may even find yourself getting into legal trouble if you don’t have your business license, depending on which state you’re located in.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to determine if you need a business license for your photography business:

  • The best way to find license requirements in your area is to head to the Small Business Administration’s website and search for your location.Doing so will allow you to see any state and city requirements around the business license.

  • If you are required to apply for a business license, make sure you already have your business’s name and tax structure established before you apply.

  • Complete and submit all forms required by your state.

  • Pay your license fee; this could range from $40 to $400, based on where you’re located and the fees associated with obtaining your license.

Once you’ve applied for your license, you should receive it within one to two business weeks.

If you’ve checked if your state requires a business license and nothing comes up, you could always check with your city or town hall just to verify it.

Getting your photography business insurance.

Once you’ve applied for your business license, we recommend shifting gears and looking for photography business insurance.

Insurance for photographers is a type of small business insurance policy that specifically protects your photography business from claims of third-party damages, accidents, or even negligence and copyright issues.

For example, let’s say you’re hired to take several family portraits in a very nice home. During the course of the project, you accidentally knock over and break an expensive vase. Without business insurance, you’d be required to pay for that vase out of your pocket, which may end up dipping into your personal finances.

Or let’s say a customer accuses you of plagiarizing another photographer’s work. Even if the claim is baseless, it will still cost money to go to court and defend yourself. That’s where your insurance policy can come in handy, as it can pay for your legal costs, as well as any claims you may be ordered to pay.

Business insurance is no joke, and if you want to own a successful photography company, you have to have it.

Don’t worry, you don’t need anything too complicated when you’re starting your business. Most photographers should opt for a professional liability policy and a general liability policy, especially if they work at properties other than their own.

You can find and compare quotes for both types of policies at Simply Business. We specialize in small business insurance for photographers, so you can get personalized coverage at affordable prices. All you have to do is provide a few details about you and your photography business — we’ll take care of the rest.

If you’re nervous about choosing your policy, check out our advice on how to pick the right insurance coverage for your business.

About the author

Mariah Bliss
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!

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