Online stores, like their brick and mortar counterparts, require business licenses. The licenses you need to operate your online store depend on what you intend to sell in your store. Generally, you need a Doing Business As (DBA) or Assumed Name certificate to run your business. Your local, state or federal governments may require you to have other licenses and permits including resale permit, alcohol and firearms license, and Employer Identification Number (EIN). Here is how to get a business license for an online store.
Go to your local county clerk’s office and ascertain the licenses you need to operate your online store. Complete the forms to obtain a Doing Business As (DBA) certificate and other licenses required to effectively start and run your online store. Pay the necessary fees for the service. The fees you pay depend on your local county and differ from one county to the next.
Log on to your state comptroller’s website or call its office to see if the state requires you to obtain any license for your store. Complete all necessary forms online where available or mail them to the addresses provided and obtain the needed licenses. Be careful not to omit needed information. Your state comptroller may reject your application if you omit important information. This is essential if you intend to sell regulated items like tobacco, alcohol and firearms.
Go to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website and complete the form to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). See Resources below for additional information. This is essential if you will hire employees.
Incorporate your online business to protect yourself from liabilities. Instead of setting up your store as a sole proprietorship, consider forming a limited liability company (LLC), partnership or corporation. This ensures that should problems arise in the future, you won’t be personally liable. The federal government may require you to obtain additional licenses like an import license if you will be importing items from overseas. Ask your state comptroller if you need federal licenses. You need a domain name (www.yourname.com) to operate an online store. Research domain names online and select the most appropriate name still available for your business. Visit websites of domain registrars like Go Daddy and search for domain names. See Resources below for additional information. Banks won't open business accounts for your online store without a DBA certificate or Articles of Incorporation.
Don't run your online store without obtaining the necessary licenses and permits. You will be breaking the law if you do so.