What Is a Business License Number?

by Nicole LaMarco - Updated November 02, 2018

A business license number allows you to own and operate your company legally. A company license number is another name for it and the type you get depends on your city, county or state.

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  • A business license is also known as a company license number and the type you get depends on your city, county or state.

What's a Business License Number?

Most businesses, small or large, must register for their business license number and apply for any other licensing that is mandatory. Depending on the type of business, there may or may not be extra permits to attain or regulations to follow. For instance, the Internal Revenue Service does not require an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for all companies. But if the company license number is obtained for a business that files taxes for employment, sells tobacco, alcohol or firearms, or files as a corporation or partnership then an EIN is necessary. To be clear, the EIN is separate from the business license number and is for federal financial purposes exclusively.

How Much Does a Business License Cost?

Do a search online with “[your city and state] business license” and it should bring you to the correct governmental site to answer your questions and guide you through the process. Most cities are also helpful when answering questions via phone or meeting in person as they want to encourage businesses to grow and prosper in their region. You can use the U.S. Small Business Administration website for great resources with anything you need to get a company license number and business license cost.

The cost varies greatly from region-to-region. Again, it depends on your city and state, but generally, the cost ranges from less than $100 to a few hundred dollars. For example, if you fill out a Santa Monica business license application it's a minimum of $75 as of the 2016 fiscal year. Your business license cost is affected by your type of business, how it is structured and what it offers, so prices can vary specific to your industry and locale.

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How Long Does It Take?

Your company license number or city license number will take anywhere from a few days to two weeks to arrive. Much of this depends on the state where your business license is obtained. You may have to pick it up in person and provide proof you are the owner of the company. Sometimes the city will go so far as to get your fingerprints on file for it. And still, other cities may just send it to you in the mail.

The great thing is that you can do most of this yourself. Since cities want to help businesses to thrive, there are plenty of opportunities to get your business license number quickly and start running the business of your dreams.

About the Author

Nicole is a business writer with nearly two decades of hands-on and publishing experience. She's been published in several business publications, including The Employment Times, Web Hosting Sun and WOW! Women on Writing. She also studied business in college.

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