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How to Get an Oregon Business License

4-minute read

A delivery driver applies for his Oregon business license.
Mariah Bliss

Mariah Bliss

5 October 2020

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There’s usually a lot you need to do when starting your Oregon business.

You have to register your name. Market your products and services. And you have to find good help — all on your own.

The path to small business ownership can be a lonely one, but not when it comes to getting your Oregon business license.

And that’s where we come in to help.

Whether you’re mulling over starting your own business or getting all of your business’s paperwork in order, we’ve got you covered with our step-by-step guide on how to get an Oregon business license.

In this article, you’ll discover how to apply for an Oregon business license, the signs you actually may need one, and how much your Oregon business license may cost you.

Let’s do this!

Do I Need an Oregon Business License?

Like with most things in life, the answer is, “it depends.”

Oregon doesn’t have one general business license, so in a sense, you may not necessarily need to get an Oregon business license.

But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The Oregon business license is broken down into different categories based on the following criteria:

  • Your industry
  • The types of products you sell
  • The services you offer
  • And more

Many industries and trades do require small businesses to be licensed in order to comply with the law. For example, if you’re a contractor, your Oregon business license will be a contractor’s license (good news: we’ve got a state-based guide on how to apply for contractors’ licenses).

We’ll go into more detail on how to find out what type of specialty license you may be required to get.

But first, let’s talk a little more about why you should get licensed — and it’s not just to meet Oregon’s licensing requirements. In fact, holding a business license, regardless of your occupation or industry, can help you do the following:

  • Open up another location
  • Show customers you’re serious about your business (and the work you do for them!)
  • Give you peace of mind, knowing you’ve met your licensing obligations
  • Help you if you need to apply for business loans or financing
  • Meet any rental or leasing obligations from commercial landlords
  • And more

Ready to learn how to get a business license in Oregon? You’re in luck, because we’re about to cover that in the next section.

How to Get a Business License in Oregon

1. Head to the State of Oregon’s Licensing Directory.

This is where you’ll find out exactly what type of business license you may need to apply for, based on your industry.

Fortunately, Oregon makes it fairly easy to find your business type from the thousands of trades on its lists. Just enter your industry in the search bar under “Start Your Business Search.” From there, you should be presented with a list of licenses that you may need to apply for.

Be warned: you may get a decent number of hits, depending on the industry you’re searching. For example, when I keyed in “landscaping,” 15 licensure options popped up. Now, Oregon doesn’t expect you to apply for all of these licenses, so take the time to click through each search result to see which one aligns with your needs and specific business type.

2. Check with your local city or county.

In a few cases, you may be required to get a business license for the city or county where your business is operating. For example, if your business is located in Portland, Oregon, and/or you operate within the city limits, you should apply for a Portland city business license (you can do it online, and it’s free!).

To find your city or county’s business licensing requirements, we recommend typing the name of your city + “business license.” In most cases, your city or county’s website should pop up.

3. See if you can apply online, by mail, or in person.

The Licensing Directory does a good job of breaking down how to get an Oregon business license, based on your trade.

The only catch? Some industry types can apply for a business license online, while others may need to apply in person. In the latter case, be sure to check the licensing department’s business hours.

For example, if you need a Portland city business license, you can apply for your license online or by mail.

4. Call with questions about your Oregon business license.

If you have any questions about your business license application process or you’re not sure what’s required regarding your business, Oregon’s Small Business Advocate is there to help you at 1-844-469-5512 or fill out their contact form.

Oregon Business License Costs

The cost of your Oregon business license will depend on the type of work you do, as well as the requirements from your industry’s state licensing board.

Business licensing costs could change from the time of publication, but here are a few examples of business license costs in Oregon:

Most Oregon business license fees are relatively affordable, meaning you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars just to get the license you need to start doing business.

Oregon Business License + Insurance: What You Need to Know

Some Oregon license types may require you to show proof of a business insurance policy in order to get approved.

Having business insurance can help mitigate some risk and liability, especially when working in industries where property damage or accidents are likely to happen.

For example, if you’re a general contractor in Oregon, you’ll be required to carry a general liability policy in order to get approved for your contractor license. You also may be required to carry workers compensation insurance if you have full-time or part-time employees.

The rules can be different depending on your business type, but one thing is clear: Getting business insurance helps make the application process a lot easier.

We’re here to help with that, too. You can use our free quote comparison tool to check out affordable policy options from the nation’s top insurance providers. Just click on a policy you like, buy it, and boom — your Oregon business is officially insured.

Applying for an OR Business License?

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 $22.50/month.*

Start Here >

We Make Getting Your Oregon Business License a Bit Easier

Listen: getting a business off the ground can be really hard. But there are certain times where that journey can be made a lot easier — and getting your Oregon business license is one of those times.

Our suggested steps are designed to help you make sense of the Oregon licensing process. Let us know how we did!

* 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.

Mariah Bliss

Written by

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!

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

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