Your business plan is written. Your location is set up. And your first paying customer is at the door.
But are you really ready to open your Maryland business? Before making it official, first find out if you need a Maryland business license.
There’s a lot of information out there, but fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to help you understand which types of businesses need licenses and how you can quickly and easily get a Maryland small business license.
Ready to get started? Get a pen and some paper. I promise to make this quick and hassle-free.
Good news — typically, not every Maryland business owner needs a license. In fact, it seems that the state recommends that you pursue getting a license only if it’s absolutely needed. Otherwise it just creates extra paperwork and slows down the process for other small business owners.
No one likes to add administrative burden. So after you register your business (you can do it online), head to your local office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court. This is where you can find out if your local county requires you to hold a business license before opening up.
Most likely, you’ll need a license if your business sells wholesale or retail products, or is in the restaurant industry.
You’ll probably also need a license if you own a business that involves:
Finally, most peddlers or professionals selling items door-to-door need licenses too. Of course, this is all decided within the county court system, so it varies depending on where your business is located.
General rule of thumb — if you sell products, you’ll probably need a license. If you sell services, you may not , but it depends on your business’s location.
I can’t emphasize how important it is to check your county’s guidelines first. You don’t want to get caught operating a business without a license if it’s a requirement in your industry. You could end up paying costly fines, or worse, getting shut down.
There are a lot of benefits to getting a Maryland business license, including:
It’s worth the time and effort it takes to get a business license. So if you’re ready to jump in and start applying for a Maryland business license today, here are the steps you can consider taking.
Have you registered your business with the state yet? For the most part, every Maryland business owner needs to take this step.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy, so go online to the Maryland Business Express website, and you can make your business official with the state. You also can register a business trade name.
Every county in Maryland operates a little differently, so it’s important to learn what’s required in your area. Go to your local Maryland Circuit Court website to find out if you need a business license.
The state’s court system also has a handy questionnaire to help you learn if you need a business license. Check out the Maryland Judicial System Business License website to find out and apply for a license online.
As you answer the questions online, you’ll need to have the following information on-hand:
And depending on your county and profession, there may be additional requirements. It helps to find out what you need ahead of time by going to your county’s website. Then gather all your paperwork before starting your online application.
It can save you time and a lot of hassle!
The next step? Create a login on the Maryland Business Licenses Online website. This lets you save your application and go back later if you don’t finish it.
Then just keep going!
Answer the questions that your county asks and submit your application. You may need to pay a fee too, depending on what you do. If you have questions, contact your county clerk directly for help.
If you need a business license in Maryland, chances are, you need to get business insurance too. This is especially true if you have employees. During the application process, you may need a certificate showing you provide workers compensation insurance.
Getting business insurance is a good idea anyway. This is true even if you don’t need a business license in your county or if you don’t need a certificate of insurance (COI) to be licensed.
A business insurance policy, including general liability insurance and professional liability insurance, can protect you financially if there’s an accident or injury at your workplace. It also can typically cover legal expenses if, for example, you’re accused of negligence or copyright infringement. These accusations can add up, and for many business owners, they’re enough to put their businesses at risk for closing.
Check your county’s requirements, but consider getting a policy anyway. You never know when you may need the protection in the future. And it’s easy to compare policy options in 10 minutes or less using Simply Business’s free quote tool.
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 $25.95/month.*Start My Quote
Most Maryland small business licenses require a $2 processing fee. I know, it’s not a lot, huh?
But if you require a trader’s business license, you can expect to pay a fee based on the wholesale value of your retail inventory. This usually can be anywhere from $15 to $800, depending on your inventory amount.
Check out this example of a fee structure on the Howard County Circuit Court website.
Keep in mind, there may be some additional costs to factor in. For example, you may have to pay for business insurance, like workers compensation if you have employees. You also may have to pay a fee to gather pertinent information about your business or to collect records.
Just know the process isn’t free, but it’s well worth it. The cost of complying with your county’s requirements is far cheaper than the cost of a penalty. So don’t delay. Now you know the facts, so get on the Maryland Business Express website and get started.
The sooner you get an official stamp of approval from the state, the sooner you can launch your Maryland business!
* Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January - December 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
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!
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated reinsurance carrier by A.M. Best. Harborway Insurance is a trade name of Simply Business, Inc., which is a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.