How to Get a Business License for Your Small Business

Most business license requirements are established by the state or local government where your company is located. Because each city or state creates its own regulations, the specific application procedures may vary.

Visit the Internal Revenue Service website to apply for a federal employer identification number online or download the paper application, Form SS-4. If you apply online, you'll receive your EIN instantly. Most state and local business license applications require a federal EIN for processing.

Use the links on the Small Business Administration website to connect with your area's licensing department or go directly to the department's site. Business licenses are typically issued by an agency such as your secretary of state or county clerk.

Complete your application online at the website of your area's licensing department. The required information typically includes your business name and address, the company's EIN, your name and Social Security number, and a description of your business activities. Some applications may require information such as estimated gross sales.

Pay any license fee and submit your application. The fee is typically disclosed on your application and payable to the issuing agency. If you choose an online application, you may be able to pay the fee online. Mailed applications may require up to several weeks to process.


  • Use the "Business Licenses and Permits" research tool on the Small Business Administration website to determine which additional licenses or permits you may need. Depending on the type of product or service your company provides, you might need a sales-tax, food-and-beverage, liquor or wholesaler license. If you make, import or sell alcohol, you'll need a federal operations permit from the Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.