16 November 2020
So you’ve decided to start a business in New Jersey — congratulations! Small business ownership is a rewarding path. Right about now, you’re probably diving into the state’s websites to make sure you get everything set up legally.
Maybe you’ve already chosen a name, incorporated your business, and registered for an Employer ID Number (EIN). Before you print those business cards or find your first sale, though, there are a few other things to consider.
In addition to registering your business with the state for tax purposes, you also may need a New Jersey business license. Since you already have enough on your plate, I’ve sorted through information to give you an easy-to-use guide.
Ready to check a big task off your new business to-do list? Let’s get started!
Before we go any further, we need to have a vocabulary lesson. I promise to make it quick.
A New Jersey Business Registration Certificate identifies you for tax purposes and establishes your business as an entity. Some occupations, such as new home builders, also require a separate registration by a governing body.
A New Jersey Business License identifies a business and holds it accountable for its actions. Think of a business license as a driver's license for your new company.
Requirements for getting your license depend on:
This may feel a bit abstract, so let’s review an example. A florist living in Newark needs a city-level business license but doesn’t need a New Jersey business license. An accountant in Newark, on the other hand, must be licensed with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs but can bypass Newark licensing.
If you’re starting a business in New Jersey, you likely will need some type of license. The first place to look for information is on this list from the NJ Office of Innovation. You can search for your business type from that list to find which department handles licensing and how to contact them.
If we stick with the accountant example, a Certified Public Accountant will consult the Dept. of Law & Public Safety Division and NJ State Board of Accountancy.
New Jersey has starter guides for common business types, like food trucks and auto repair shops, that have a checklist of what you need to do. You also may find that your occupation, like electrical contractors and cosmetologists, has licensing guides via their governing departments.
After you check for licensing requirements based on the type of business you’re opening, you need to find any local license requirements. Here are links to the pages you need for New Jersey’s largest cities:
Licensing requirements vary, but it’s common to have an exam, education, or experience requirement. For example, accountants need to pass the Uniform CPA Examination in New Jersey and submit a notarized letter from their employer. Be sure to review these requirements carefully, and reach out to licensing departments with questions.
If you’re a contractor, we have a guide to getting your contractor’s license in New Jersey here.
At this point in the process, you’ve:
From this point on, the business licensing process gets easier. All you need to do now is determine how to submit your application, send in your documents, and wait for your approval.
Sometimes, you may be able to complete your application online. Other times, you’ll need to mail your documents or submit them in person. For example, the licensing application for accountants states that they must send documents in a flat envelope to the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy.
No matter how you submit your application, completing it will go faster if you have the following information handy:
You might need to pay an application fee. If there isn’t an application fee, you’ll likely have to pay a licensing fee after approval. The time it takes to get approved will depend on your submission method and how busy the licensing department is. You’ll also need to renew your license on an ongoing basis, so make sure you’re aware of the renewal schedule before your license expires.
Business owners need to spend their money wisely, so I’m sure you’re curious about how much all of this licensing business will set you back. As I mentioned, some licenses have an application fee, while others require payment only upon approval.
Here are a few sample prices to give you an idea of what to expect:
Note: The above sample prices are current as of the date of posting this article.
There’s one more requirement you might encounter on your license application — business insurance. The state may require you to carry an insurance policy to cover the costs of accidents, third-party property damage, and more
For example, if you're a contractor in New Jersey, then you'll be required to carry general liability insurance.
Even if a general liability insurance policy isn’t required, we always suggest it. Coverage carries the obvious benefits of potentially saving your bank account if you get sued. It also can build trust with potential customers. A policy can give customers peace of mind that you take your business seriously, and may even help you rent office space.
Finding coverage that fits your needs with our free quote comparison tool takes only a few minutes. Simply answer a few questions about your business to compare affordable policies from trusted insurance providers.
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 >
Getting a license and insurance are critical steps to launching your business. With business insurance and a state license making you official, you’re sending a signal to potential customers that you’re hard-working and trustworthy. After all, the fact that you’re even here learning about business means you care about doing things right.
If you need more help learning about running a small business, we can help. While our custom quotes from trusted insurance companies can cover your business, our blog, Simply U, covers running a business. Here you’ll find guides to starting, protecting, and growing your business. We’re rooting for you!
*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 - March 2023 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
I'm a freelance writer who has always had an interest in entrepreneurship, starting way back with lemonade stands. These days I write to help business owners with their everyday challenges and choices. When I'm not typing away, you'll find me eating pizza, volunteering at the animal shelter, or taking too many pictures of my cats.
Stephanie writes on a number of topics such as state insurance regulations, business licenses, and small business administration.
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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*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.