Unlike many states, not every business in Michigan needs to obtain a business license. Any company that might need to meet special regulations or submit to periodic inspections will likely need to get a Michigan business license. However, general companies – especially home-based firms – may not need to acquire a business license in Michigan. Those companies that need to be licensed must take a number of steps beforehand in order to more efficiently obtain legal licensure.
Visit the Starting a Business in Michigan website (see Resources section) to determine whether your business needs a town or city business license. You may also want to call your local city or town hall’s Zoning or Licensing department to make sure your perception of business licensure is correct. Businesses requiring licensure in Michigan include arcades, parking lots, restaurants, driver for hire firms, pet shops, landscaping, and anything dealing with massage.
Visit the Michigan Department of Treasury website (see Resources section) to obtain a legally required Sales Tax Number whether or not you have to get a business license. In most cases this is free.
Name your business, and file for an Assumed Name Certificate with your town or city’s county even if you do not need to get a formal business license. This usually costs $10, but depends on your jurisdiction.
Incorporate your company with the State of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth (see Resources section). This can normally be done for $60 to $100 depending on your type of corporation, and full instructions on how to fill out your required Articles of Incorporation and where to submit it on noted on Michigan’s government website.
Visit the IRS website (see Resources section) once you receive your incorporation papers and apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is a free service.
Visit your city or town hall to apply for your Michigan business license if you have determined your company requires one to legally operate. You will be required to fill out a form concerning your name, business name, tax identification numbers, addresses, and what type of company you run. In addition, it is likely your firm will be subject to an initial inspection to ensure legality and public safety. Fees range from $7 to $3,000, but typically run around $150. These are usually payable in person with a credit card or cash. Remember that Michigan business licenses must be renewed annually.
Remember you likely do not need a business license in Michigan unless running a special kind of company, but always check with your local or state government.
Stephanie Mojica has been a journalist since 1997 and currently works as a full-time reporter at the daily newspaper "The Advocate-Messenger" in Kentucky. Her articles have also appeared in newspapers such as "The Philadelphia Inquirer" and "The Virginian-Pilot," as well as several online publications. She holds a bachelor's degree from Athabasca University.