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How to Get a Minnesota Business License

4-minute read

A contractor with a Minnesota business license works on framing.
Emily Thompson

Emily Thompson

16 November 2020

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Minnesotans are tough. After all, you live in one of the coldest states in America. Residents “up north” can brag that they regularly survive temperatures down to minus 30° F.

It’s no wonder you have the grit to start a business.

So if you’re launching your own business venture in Minnesota, good for you! There is a lot of opportunity in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. But before you get too far ahead, it’s important to look into whether your business type requires getting a Minnesota business license first.

Here’s the thing — every state handles business licenses a little differently, and there’s a lot of information online about how to get a business license in Minnesota. Fortunately, I’ve done the research for you and laid out the steps here. It’s my goal to help make getting a business license as easy as possible.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Do You Need a Minnesota Business License?

Not every small business in Minnesota necessarily needs a business license to operate. In fact, many typically don’t. But it’s important to find out if you need one before officially opening your doors. Chances are, you need to secure a state of Minnesota business license if you work in:

  • Healthcare and social services
  • Environmental health, safety, or hazardous waste services
  • Education
  • Athletics
  • Transportation
  • And other, similar fields

The state requires business licenses in some industries to help protect the safety of the public and the environment. Licenses put standards into place that can help ensure that:

  • Professionals are competent in their fields.
  • Products are safe and effective.
  • Industry competition exists.
  • Natural resources are used responsibly.
  • There are consequences for fraud.
  • New technology is developed and put in place.

It may seem like getting a business license is a bit of a hassle, but it’s well worth the time and effort required — for your business and your customers. A business license can make your work appear more credible and professional, support your company’s brand, and even help market your business to new customers.

Even though there’s a bit of paperwork to complete (and probably a fee to pay), take the time to become official. You’ll be thankful you did.

Next up? Let’s cover the steps for getting a Minnesota business license.

How to Get a Business License in Minnesota

1. Visit the Minnesota Elicensing website to find out if you need a business license in your field.

As I mentioned, not every business owner in Minnesota always needs a business license — typically it’s required for people who work in specific fields that can impact the health and well-being of the public or the environment.

Before you start working, head over to the Minnesota Elicensing website to find out if your profession requires a license. You can search by topic or licensing agency, or you can view an A-to-Z list. It’s easy to find the agency that handles licensing for your field, as well as basic information about getting a license, including:

  • License requirements
  • How long licenses are valid
  • Fees required
  • Forms you need to fill out
  • Contact information for any questions

2. Gather background documents and information in an organized folder.

When you’re ready to start the licensing process, make sure you have all the background documents you need. It will help speed up the process. Depending on your field, you’ll need to fill out different forms and provide supporting information. But in general, you will need to provide a:

  • Federal Tax ID or EIN
  • Personal address and phone number
  • Business address and phone number
  • Certificate of Insurance (COI) proving you carry a business insurance policy
  • And more

Collecting this information beforehand will help you complete the business license application form and any other required paperwork. Be prepared. You also may need to take an exam (for example, if you’re a contractor) and provide information about your training.

3. Investigate local city or town licenses.

Many cities, towns, and counties in Minnesota have business license requirements too. Call your local municipal office to find out if you need a local license or permit to work in a particular area. You should always check the city or town where your business is located — not where you live (unless you work from home). I recommend calling the city or town clerk first. Normally, they handle Minnesota local business licenses and can point you in the right direction.

Here’s where you can learn how to get a business license in Minnesota’s two largest cities:

Minnesota Business License + Insurance Requirements

Most entrepreneurs who need Minnesota business licenses also usually need to show a Certificate of Insurance (COI). This is an official document that proves you carry business insurance, including general liability insurance and professional liability insurance. If you have employees, you may need to show that you have workers compensation insurance too.

To provide a COI, you need to get business insurance first, of course. And it’s a good idea. Business insurance may be able to help protect you financially if a customer, vendor, or employee gets injured at your workplace. It also can potentially help pay for legal costs if someone sues your business.

If you’re looking for business insurance now, check out Simply Business’s free quote tool. It’ll help you compare quotes for Minnesota business insurance policy options — typically in just 10 minutes or less.

Applying for a MN 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 $19.58/month.*

Start Here >

How Much Does a State of Minnesota Business License Cost?

It depends on what you do and where you work. Remember, every profession that requires a business license has its own licensing agency. This is why the fees can vary. Fortunately, they’re usually fairly minimal, and most business owners can recoup costs as soon as they’re working with customers.

You also should budget for the costs of a business license and any permits you may need in your local city or town.

Made it this far? Congratulations — if you have your Minnesota business license, you’re well on your way to opening your own business. I know some of the upfront administrative work seems like a hassle, but it’s worth it to follow the correct process. If you don’t, you could risk paying a costly penalty or even getting your business shut down. It’s not worth taking that risk.

And when you’re done? Sit back and enjoy some time on the lake or a quick hockey game — before rolling up your sleeves and working hard to get your business off the ground.

Emily Thompson

Written by

Emily Thompson

I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.

Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.

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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