Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Local Business Licenses

If you are considering starting a business, one of the most important (and potentially confusing) steps you will take is complying with local licensing and permit requirements for starting and running your business. Local licensing and permit requirements vary widely depending on your city or county, and the type of business you will be operating. You'll be dealing with everything from tax registration to occupational licenses and unemployment insurance.

The following are examples of some of these requirements, with the type of business activity to which they might apply identified in parentheses. For more information, visit FindLaw's Business License and Permits section.

Keep your business compliant. Get a business license report from FindLaw's trusted partner, LegalZoom.

Types of Permits

  • Business permits (basic permit to operate business within city / county limits);
  • Zoning and land use permits (business signage, home-based businesses, customer parking);
  • Building permits (construction of a new building, renovation of an existing building, installation of a new electrical system);
  • Seller's permits (selling or leasing goods from a fixed location such as a shop or cafe, i.e. not via the Internet);
  • Health permits (restaurants and other food preparation / sales businesses);
  • Fire marshal / department permits and certificates (customer occupancy limits, emergency exit access).

In addition to local licensing and permit requirements, your business will also need to comply with all applicable state and federal licensing and permit requirements.

Compliance with Local Business Laws and Regulations: Getting Started

Depending on the city where you do business, you may be able to get all the licensing and permit information you need in one place, such as a city or county clerk's office. In smaller cities and towns, you may need to contact individual agencies or offices separately.

Following is a list of local (city, county, town) officials, offices, and organizations you may wish to contact to discuss your licensing and permit responsibilities in connection with starting a new business:

  • Planning / Development / Zoning Department;
  • Building / Building Inspection;
  • Assessor / Controller / Tax Collector;
  • Fire Marshal / Department;
  • Department of Public Health;
  • Chamber of Commerce;
  • Small Business Commission;
  • Local Trade Associations.

Home-Based Businesses

Think you home-based bicycle repair business is exempt from local licensing or permit requirements? Think again. Before you decide to fix another flat tire, be sure you understand how to operate your business legally. Each geographical location may have different requirements. The SBA website can provide you with a good starting point to understanding the laws in your area.

In addition to complying with the local laws, always check with your homeowners association (HOA) to see if it has any specific requirements to running a business out of your residence. Typically the rules and regulations about home-based businesses can be found in the rules and regulations, known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs).

Does your Business Need Help with Local Licenses, Permits, or Regulation Compliance?

Local licenses, permits, and regulation compliance can seem like a maze. A skilled business law attorney can help you in many ways, from dealing with town officials to helping you understand your responsibilities. Contact a local attorney today to learn about your options.

Looking to start your own business? Use FindLaw's DIY forms to get a legal business entity set up in minutes.

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

I'd Like Help From a Lawyer

Contact a qualified business attorney to help you navigate the process of starting a business.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

I'd Like a Do-It-Yourself Solution

FindLaw will earn a commission if you purchase business formation products through these affiliate links.

Meet FindLaw's trusted partner LegalZoom, the #1 online business formation provider

Keep your business compliant!

LegalZoom has 3 easy steps to determine what business licenses you need.

Get a business license report for $99.

Prefer to work with a lawyer?

Find one right now.

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options