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PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

How to Get Your Delaware Business License

5-minute read

Allison Grinberg-Funes

Allison Grinberg-Funes

27 October 2020

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If you're a small business owner living in the state of Delaware, then you have a lot on your plate when starting out — that's why you're looking for a straightforward guide to getting a Delaware business license.

It isn't easy to find your way through the process. We've done research on the government and local websites to better understand the steps small business owners need to take to get a business license.

If you have questions about how to get a state of Delaware business license, you'll find most of what you need below.

Do I Need a Delaware Business License?

The short answer is: yes.

This one is fairly cut and dried. If you have any type of business, from a general contracting company to a mobile hairdresser business, you'll need a business license in order to operate. This is true even if you don't live in Delaware; if you do business in the state, you need a state of Delaware business license.

But that's not all.

The state business license is the baseline for what you'll need to cover your bases. Depending on where you live and work, you also may be required to get a business license at the local level, within your county and/or town.

We'll admit that the state website wasn't the easiest to navigate when it came to getting a business license in Delaware at the local level, so we'll walk you through that process in the next section.

How to Get a Business License in Delaware

1. Register your Delaware small business with the IRS.

Before you move forward with registering for your Delaware business license, you'll need to register with the IRS for tax purposes. Regardless of whether or not you already have employees, unless you plan to register as a sole proprietor, you'll most likely need an EIN (Employer Identification Number).

You can check if your business requires an EIN and apply here on the IRS website.

2. Get your business details in order.

There are a couple ways to apply for your Delaware business license. Before we review what they are, you'll need to be prepared to provide certain information for the state and Division of Revenue. When applying for your business license, be sure to have the following on hand:

  • Name of your business and your trade
  • The primary location address of your business and mailing address (if it differs from primary location)
  • The date you became incorporated and in which state
  • The dates of your taxable year
  • When you started operating your business (or plan to begin)
  • Type of business entity (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.)

* The state of Delaware may not require you to obtain business insurance for your specific trade, but your county or city/town may require it.

3. Apply for your state of Delaware business license online or by mail.

There are two main ways to apply for your business license.

The first is arguably the simplest and online. You can go to the One Stop Business License and Registration site, which will allow you to register with both the state and federal governments. It also will walk you through fees (which we'll get to in a bit).

If for any reason, you don't want to go with the One Stop site, you have the option of applying by mail with the Combined Registration Application Form (CRA).

4. Check if your local municipality requires you to have a local business license.

While you definitely need a state of Delaware business license, depending on the county and town you live in, you also may need a local license to operate your business.

We mentioned earlier that Delaware doesn't make it easy to figure out if your local area requires a business license, so this is where things get a bit murky. Some counties and towns may require licenses, and others may not. Even if they don't, they may require a Delaware contractor's license.

First, check with your county. You can find the website for each here:

New Castle County

If you are a contractor in New Castle County, you will need a New Castle Contractor's license, which you can learn more about here.

Kent County

You may not currently need a license for Kent County, but we recommend checking with their office here. You'll see a lot of phone numbers, but don't get intimidated. Try starting with the number for Kent County Administrative Complex, and asking them to point you in the right direction.

Sussex County

Most professions aren’t required to have a Sussex county business license. However, if you're a general contractor, check here to see if you'll need a building permit or license for current or upcoming projects.

Once you've checked with your county, check your town or city guidelines here. You may notice that some towns or cities don't have a website or any application linked. In that case, you'll have to call the listed number.

For some towns, like Bethany Beach and Elsmere, you'll have to go to the town's website and navigate to the Delaware business license application there.

5. Check if you need a professional license in addition to your Delaware business license.

While it isn't necessary for everyone to acquire a professional license in order to operate in Delaware, your profession may be one that the Department of Professional Regulations requires to be licensed.

Check here to see if your profession is required to have a professional license in addition to a business license.

How Much Does a State of Delaware Business License Cost?

There is no one flat fee to apply and obtain your state of Delaware business license. How much you pay will depend on:

  • Your trade
  • The number of business locations you operate

Overall, the biggest differentiator is what you do as a small business owner. You can check to see what your annual fee is for a Delaware business license on the CRA form. If you're still unsure, you can contact the Public Service Offices at the Delaware Department of Revenue.

You may be able to get a discount if you operate a business and are age 65 or older. And while you won't get a discount for paying for your license in advance, after one year in business, you are able to pay for a 3-year license.

Opting to apply for a 3-year Delaware business license will save you going through the renewal process. Without one, most licenses will expire on December 31 each year. You can check the online renewal process here.

Delaware Business License + Insurance: What You Need to Know

Owning and operating a small business in Delaware doesn't necessarily mean you need business insurance, though we highly recommend you look into investing in it.

Here's why: Having insurance can help protect you and your company against claims for third-party property damage, injury, accidents, and more. With this type of security measure in place, you'll have one more mark of authority to show potential customers that you take your work seriously.

Depending on your profession, you may be required to get a Delaware contractor's license. The application process may go more smoothly with business insurance secured if the state requires people with your profession to be insured before licensing..

Finally, if you plan on having employees, Delaware requires you to have workers compensation insurance to protect your employees while on the job.

Applying for an DE 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 $25.95/month.**

Start My Quote

Getting a Delaware Business License is a Big Milestone

It may not be an easy or fast process when it comes to getting a Delaware business license, but one thing is certain: once you get one, it's worth celebrating.

A big amount of life as a small business owner is making sure that all your t's are crossed and i's are dotted, meaning that administrative work can take you away from what you love doing.

But remember — doing what you love is why you're registering for a business license in the first place! Once you get your license, you can proudly display it in your storefront or on your website to demonstrate to current and future customers that you take your work and business seriously.

** 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 Q1 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.

Allison Grinberg-Funes

Written by

Allison Grinberg-Funes

I’ve told stories since I learned to talk and written since I could hold a pen. As a small business owner myself - I'm a freelance writer and yoga teacher - I love contributing to the entrepreneurship community in different ways (including writing for Simply Business!). When I’m not drafting articles for SB, I can be found on my yoga mat, perusing an indie bookstore, and writing (with my cat nearby of course).

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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