The Maine state motto is "Dirigo," which is Latin for “I Direct” or "I Lead" or "I guide." But if you're a small business owner in Maine, you know that the path to success isn't always as easy to locate. If only you had a compass!
When it comes to getting your business license, the process can get a bit confusing. So we've created a guide to help you find your way.
By the end of this article, you'll likely have a better idea of whether you need a Maine business license, how to go about applying for one, and how business insurance may be more closely related than you think.
Ready? Here we go!
The state of Maine typically doesn't issue a general business license, but that doesn't necessarily mean your business isn't required to have one.
It just means that you'll need to check at the local level; your local municipality will usually dictate whether or not you're required to carry a business license to operate, as well as other permits.
We'll go over how to go about checking with your local municipality, but there are a few more steps that come first, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Before moving on, we should note that not all professions and/or local governments may require you to get a Maine business license. However, there are still many benefits that come with applying for one. Having a business license can help:
With the above benefits and more, having a state of Maine business license can do your business a lot of good in the long run. Let's walk through how to go about getting one!
Depending on what type of entity your business is (LLC, corporation, nonprofit, etc.), you'll need to register for an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. If you plan to file for taxes as a sole proprietor without employees, you can use your Social Security number.
However, you will need your EIN in order to register for your Maine tax license. If you make and/or sell any sort of taxable product, you can apply for your tax license here with the Sales and Use, Withholding & Service Provider Tax Registration Service.
The state doesn't require a general Maine business license, but many local governments do have specific requirements for small businesses.
You can search by county, city/town, or ZIP code here. Once you're directed to your local municipality site, you may see that there are online services for only some Maine state business licenses and permits.
If you don't see your profession listed under the online services, we suggest you contact your local municipality at the contact information that’s provided on the website to confirm.
You may see the term "professional license" floating around as you research too. Note that a professional license is different from a business license. You can check if your specific profession requires a license by checking the resources per your occupation here.
If you're still unsure, you can check with Business Answers, which we'll tell you more about in the next step!
The state of Maine is very supportive of its small business owners. The Department of Economic and Community Development has created a service called Business Answers, which is a great resource for business owners who are doing just that — trying to get answers.
After you've checked if your local municipality requires a license, you can double-check by creating an account here with Business Answers. The online service will walk you through the remainder of the process. Also, the state has employees who can answer any questions you may have.
You can contact Business Answers Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 1-800-872-3838 if you're calling from in-state and 1-800-541-5872 if you're calling from out-of-state (if, for instance you’re preparing to move your business to Maine).
Similarly to the answers you read through above, the cost of a Maine business license will also depend on a variety of factors, like where you live and the nature of your business.
The cost of your license is typically dictated by your local government. For example, in Portland, Maine, the initial cost of a business license is usually $45, and $35 for annual renewal. However, your local county, city, or town may require a different fee. The Business Answers program can help you learn more about your license's specific cost.
The application process for a Maine business license may require you to have business insurance coverage. (The same goes for the contractor licensing process in Maine.)
A business insurance policy can be beneficial to you no matter what profession you practice. Having a general liability policy could help protect you financially in the case of third-party accidents, property damage, and injuries; professional liability insurance can protect you in the case of negligence.
As business owners, it's easy to think that we can be so diligent that we're invincible (I know — I own a business myself!). But the truth is, you just never know. Having business insurance coverage can help protect your finances, and it also can put your customers at ease, knowing that their best interests are protected.
You can see what business insurance coverage may look like for you and your business by comparing quotes from top providers using our free quote tool.
OK, OK, we know that not everyone in Maine loves lobster, but still, it’s a cause for celebration. As business owners, we have so many tasks on our to-do lists. It seems that as soon as we cross off one, a few more pop up.
But getting your Maine business license is a huge step toward paving the way for a successful business. We may not be able to provide a compass, but we're hoping that this can point you in the right direction. Feel free to check out our blog for more tips on growing and protecting your business.
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).
Allison writes on a number of topics such as small business leadership, business structures, and employee training.
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 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.