Business people attending an event to learn about business licenses
ComplianceAugust 11, 2022

What business licenses do I need for an event planner business?

Event planning is a growing business. Underpinning this growth is a surge in business events (conferences, brand promotions, and employee activities) and consumer events (weddings, festivals, and parades).

But as with any business, there are legal requirements for an event planning business. If you’re thinking of starting an event planning business, here are the licenses and permits you may need.

Is there an event planner license?

While there is no specific “event planner license”, there are other licensing obligations related to the business itself and when organizing an event.

Licensing vs. event planning certification

An event planning certification should not be confused with licensing. Event planning certifications are offered by professional organizations and schools. Licenses are issued by government agencies at the federal, state, local, and regional levels.

Event-related licensing and permit requirements

When it comes to planning an event, take time to understand the various licensing requirements associated with hosting an event at a park, reception hall, or business venue.

This can be challenging since each city, county, or even state government has a unique set of rules with regards to special event licenses and permits — so do your research. In addition to venue licensing requirements, you may need to meet certain prerequisites, such as holding an existing license or relevant insurance. Furthermore, it can take several weeks for any application to be processed.

Here are a few examples of when you might be required to have a license or permit:

  • Serving alcohol: Check to see what the regulations and permitting requirements are for organizing an event that serves alcohol. There may be both local and state laws that need to be met. For example, if alcohol is sold at an event, every state requires a liquor license. Plus, depending on where your business is located, you may need a local license.
  • Serving food: If the event involves food preparation or the selling of food, then a permit may be required. This is typically issued by a city’s Department of Health.
  • Outdoor event: Most outdoor events, such as parades, organized walks/runs, and festivals that are held on public or private property will likely require a permit. To ensure a safe event, the event may also need to be reviewed by the local fire marshal.
  • Outdoor structures: Tents, bleachers, canopies, stage platforms, and even inflatables may require a building permit. The structure must also be inspected by a building official or fire marshal.
  • Live entertainment and/or amplified sound: If an event involves music or amplified speech, you may need to apply for a live entertainment permit. This applies to any event with a band, comedy act, dancers, a DJ, or a fashion show.
  • Large gatherings: If a gathering has more than a specified number of attendees, a place of assembly or special event permit could be required.
  • Decorations: To reduce environmental risk, many cities restrict the use of decorations in public areas, such as parks and beaches. Check with the local authority.

Basic license, permit, and registration requirements for event planning businesses

There are many licensing, permit, and tax registrations that may be imposed on an event planning business. Here are some common licensing-related requirements that event planners should know about:

  • Business operating license: This license is issued by your county or city and grants you legal permission to operate an event planning business in your city or county. Check your local government website for application guidelines and remember to renew your license annually.
  • Federal tax ID (EIN) number: Issued by the IRS, an EIN (also called a tax identification number or employer identification number) is required for almost all types of businesses.
  • State tax ID number: Issued by your state’s department of revenue or taxation, the state tax ID number is also called a tax registration number.
  • DBA/fictitious business name registration: The doing business as (DBA) or fictitious business name registration happens with the appropriate state or local jurisdiction.
  • Zoning and land use permits: Local governments’ zoning laws may prohibit certain business activity in designated areas.
  • Building permit: If you plan on remodeling or building a commercial space, you'll need to get a building permit. You may also need to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy or amend the existing one.
  • Sign permit: Before you put up a sign outside your business, you may need a sign permit from your city.
  • Sales tax license/sellers permit/resellers permit: This license/permit has many names, and those names vary by state, but it is required for the selling of almost all products and services.
  • Workers’ comp insurance: In most states, workers' compensation coverage is mandatory if you have at least one employee.

What are the three main types of events?

For the purposes of event planning, event types can be separated into private (recreational events), corporate (businesses, customer, or employee events), or charitable (philanthropic or fundraising events).

What are the qualifications for being an event planner?

There are no specific prerequisites to becoming an event or party planner. Generally, you can start an event planning business with a bachelor's degree in business, communications, PR, hospitality, or marketing. It also helps to have one- or two-years’ experience as an event planner.

If you don’t have relevant experience, consider taking an event planning and management certificate program at a local college or online. Here you can learn about the event planning process as well as technology that can help you succeed, such as customer relationship management software, project management tools, and sales and marketing automation.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to find a niche. Some event planners are generalists, but you can stand out from the crowd if your new business specializes in a certain type of event.

CT Corporation can help

Outsourcing business registration and license research, applications, management, and renewals can help you take the pressure off internal resources. By working with a full-service management provider who specializes in the efficient processing of related event planning business licenses, you can free up your staff to focus on starting and growing your business while ensuring you keep up with changing compliance requirements.

For more information on CT Corporation services and how we can streamline your business licensing, please contact us or call us at (844) 701-2064.

The CT Corporation staff is comprised of experts, offering global, regional, and local expertise on registered agent, incorporation, and legal entity compliance.

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