How Much Does it Cost to Get a Business License in NYC?

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A lot of things can happen in a New York minute, but starting a business isn't one of them. New York City's laws on business licensing are complicated and can require multiple licenses and permits. The city understands that its regulations can easily confuse potential business owners, so it created its Business Express website to help entrepreneurs sort through the maze of licenses and requirements with the help of an online planning wizard. The only way to know exactly what your licensing fees might be -- if you need a license at all -- is to consult the site or someone in the city's Business Express office.

No Licenses

Several simple businesses require no city license at all. Although owners must establish proper business formation as a proprietor, partnership, corporation or limited liability company, no specific city permit is required. Clothing retailers, for example, fall into this category. All businesses must establish city tax identification numbers for the Unincorporated Business Tax (UBT) and payroll tax accounts should they hire employees.

Licenses and Permits

New York City has a long list of business categories that it regulates. Many have to do with public safety and health. Auto garages or mechanic shops, for instance, require special permits. City fees range from $75 to $750 depending on the length of time the business has operated and the time of year a permit application is filed. Meanwhile, gas stations operating convenience stores need a $25 permit for the store itself but may need additional licenses including those for selling tobacco, alcohol and milk.

State Fees

Before the city will issue any permit, it requires proof of any appropriate state approvals and authorizations. For example, foreign corporations -- those founded outside New York state -- must have authority to operate from the New York Division of Corporations. This requires an application and $225 fee to the state. Domestic corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) must also have proof of state approval which, as of May, 2011, require a fee of $125 and $200 respectively.


The New York City Department of Finance requires businesses to register and pay all appropriate taxes. These include city sales taxes, taxes for corporations operating within the city, the UBT and payroll taxes. Although there are no up-front fees for any of these, proper accounting, reporting and regular payment is necessary. Contact the department to determine which taxes are necessary for your business.


About the Author

Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.

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