Do you need to register a home-based business? In most instances, the answer is no. However, there are some special cases where a home-based business must be registered in order to operate lawfully. Additionally, some jurisdictions require all businesses to be registered. The examples listed below are businesses which are commonly required to be registered. The key is to check the laws and zoning regulations which apply to your particular case.
Increased Street or Foot Traffic
If the nature of your business requires clients to come to your home frequently, you may have to register your business. The same requirement applies if your business calls for frequent pickups and deliveries by commercial vehicles. Your jurisdiction may place zoning restrictions on the hours your business may operate in order to minimize the impact to your neighbors. This requirement often applies to retail sales establishments.
If you employ outside workers, it is likely you will need to register your business. This requirement does not apply if you only employ family members for your business, however. But you will also need to file the proper paperwork with the IRS, whether they are outside workers or members of your family.
Outdoor Signage and Storage
If your business requires extensive alterations to the appearance of the outside of your home, it is likely that you will need to register your business to comply with zoning regulations. This requirement applies to commercial signs as well as to storage for inventory or other alterations. You may also need to obtain permission before making any changes.
If you are a member of a licensed profession, such as law or accounting, and you practice from your home, you will probably need to register your business. This requirement is in addition to maintaining your personal license to practice your profession. This is especially true if your practice tends to attract a lot of foot or automobile traffic to your home.
Food-handling establishments nearly always must be registered. This applies to home-based businesses as well. You may also need to pass a health board inspection, especially if you intend to serve food in your home or perform catering. In addition, there may be restrictions placed on signage and the amount of traffic your business is allowed to generate in the neighborhood.
Retail sales establishments are either heavily restricted or banned in nearly every instance from operating as a home-based business. The same restrictions apply to auto or appliance repair shops where the repairs take place on the exterior grounds of the premises. It should go without saying that illegal or prohibited operations will not be granted permission to operate as home-based businesses.
Chris Blank is an independent writer and research consultant with more than 20 years' experience. Blank specializes in social policy analysis, current events, popular culture and travel. His work has appeared both online and in print publications. He holds a Master of Arts in sociology and a Juris Doctor.