Veterinarian offices business license requirements
ComplianceApril 07, 2023

License requirements for veterinary practices

Owning a pet has never been more popular. There are more than 90 million pet-owning households in the U.S. today. To help ensure the health of these animals, approximately 52,000 veterinary services businesses operate across the country.

If you’re thinking of starting or growing a veterinary practice, there are many things to consider, including fulfilling business license requirements. The veterinary license landscape is complex and can be overwhelming. Regulations vary by state and within the same state can vary by counties and towns, and there are also federal requirements to consider. Furthermore, licenses and permits must be periodically maintained and renewed.

If you operate a veterinary practice, here’s what you need to know about the required licenses and registrations.

State registrations and permits

All veterinary practices must comply with the following state registration and permit requirements:

  • Secretary of State registration: It’s important that you incorporate your business or form an LLC to protect your personal assets from potential business debts and liabilities. To form a legal entity, you must register with the Secretary of State.
  • Federal tax ID number: Issued by the IRS, a federal tax ID number or EIN is required for almost all businesses.
  • State tax ID number: Also known as a tax registration number, this can be obtained from your state’s Department of Revenue or Taxation.
  • Department of Labor: If you have employees, you must register your veterinary practice with your state’s Department of Labor and obtain unemployment insurance. You may also be required to report information about new hires and other employees.
  • Sales tax license: This license is required if you intend to sell any products or services.
Easily manage complex requirements
There are over 75,000 federal, state, and local jurisdictions.  As their compliance requirements become more complex, we’re the partner that can help you manage them all.

Professional licenses for veterinary practices

Your state veterinary regulatory board or licensure entity is responsible for issuing veterinary licenses. If your practice employs veterinary technicians or radiologists, licensing for these specialties is handled by different state departments.

To apply for a professional veterinary license, check with your state’s regulatory board since each state has its own application process, interview and exam requirements, and timeline for approval. Certain states have reciprocity agreements which can speed up the licensing process.

Note: Non-veterinarians are prohibited from owning veterinary practices in most states. However, some states allow non-veterinarians to own practices.

Veterinary premise license

When veterinary medical services are provided to the public, some states require a premises license from the veterinary regulatory board. In most cases, applicants must provide the name of a licensed veterinarian who will manage the hospital or practice.

Controlled substances

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and state-controlled substance authorities regulate the use and prescription of controlled substances in veterinary practices.
As a result of their public health importance, these regulations are strictly enforced, and violations are fined severely. However, the number of regulations, their variations between states, and how they are applied in veterinary settings can complicate compliance.

Veterinary biological requirements

Federal law prohibits the distribution of veterinary biologics unless they are manufactured in compliance with certain regulations.

Veterinary biologics for commercial use must be produced at a USDA-approved facility and be pure, safe, potent, and efficacious. An establishment license is issued by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to manufacturing facilities, while a separate product license must be obtained for each veterinary biologic that a practice markets.

APHIS also issues permits for importing veterinary biologics for research, transit shipment, or distribution and sale in the U.S.

You may be required to be licensed as a pharmacy, wholesaler, or manufacturer depending on your state. For example, in Mississippi and South Carolina, veterinary biological products are covered under a typical pharmacy license.

There are some states in which veterinary biological products are not regulated by the state's Board of Pharmacy nor Board of Health, but rather by the state veterinarian's office. Often, supplementary forms are required in addition to the letter, such as (1) a copy of your business's USDA-issued establishment and product licenses; and (2) relevant FDA documentation (i.e., product restrictions).

Medical waste permit

Waste generated at healthcare facilities, including research facilities, laboratories, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, is called medical waste.

The treatment and disposal of regulated medical waste, including infectious animal waste, needles, syringes, biochemical and serum wastes, discarded live and attenuated vaccines, and laboratory waste that has come in contact with cultures, stocks of etiologic agents, or blood specimens, requires a medical waste permit.

Medical waste is primarily regulated by state environmental and health departments.

Hazardous waste permit

In accordance with Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), you must obtain a hazardous waste permit. As part of this program, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes requirements for the safe treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes, including pharmaceuticals, radiologicals, laboratory chemicals, and mercury.

A hazardous waste permit can be obtained from your state or EPA regional office.

Pet facility/kennel facility license

This permit is generally issued by the Department of Health for an animal care facility where animals are kept for boarding or treatment purposes. There aren’t federal licensing requirements or standards for private animal boarding businesses. Depending on the laws in your jurisdiction, you will need to meet some specific state or local standards to operate an animal boarding facility.

X-ray permit

If you offer X-ray services, you must first apply for an X-ray permit before you can install or operate any radiation producing equipment.

Additional local licenses and registrations

Your veterinary practice may need to comply with additional license, permit, and registration requirements, including:

  • General business license: Cities and counties often require a general business license for business activity in their jurisdictions. This license may also be known as a business privilege license or a business tax registration.
  • Zoning permit: Veterinary offices or overnight boarding of animals may not be allowed by zoning laws in certain zones. Your veterinary facility may also need to apply for a permit from the zoning board.
  • Certificate of occupancy
  • Fire alarm permit
  • Fire alarm and life safety system inspection certificate
  • Sign permit
  • DBA or fictitious name registration: A doing business as (DBA) or fictitious business name registration is filed with the appropriate state or local jurisdiction.

Veterinary business license research

Researching business license requirements specific to your veterinary practice’s business activities in all locations is the first step in managing business license compliance.

Any failure to obtain the correct business licenses and permits can result in fines, penalties, lien issues, and even forced closure.

But business license research can be challenging. Obtaining information about the correct licensing authority and how to contact them, their requirements, and license types can be difficult. You will need to spend extensive time online or speaking directly to multiple government agencies. Furthermore, license requirements and forms are ever-changing. Even seemingly straightforward business events or activities can trigger unforeseen licensing requirements. For example, in some states, just changing your business name or office location can require a new license.

Learn more

For veterinarian practices, licensing is complex but with the right technology and support, your business can navigate these complexities with confidence and efficiency.

Outsourcing business registration and license research, applications, management, and renewals can help take the pressure off internal resources. By working with a full-service management provider who specializes in the efficient processing of business licenses, permits, and registrations, it can free up the staff’s time to focus on the patients while ensuring you keep up with changing compliance requirements.

For more information on CT Corporation services and how we can streamline your business licensing needs, please contact us or call us at (844) 878-1800

John Randazzo, Business Consultant
Business Consultant
John has been consulting with corporations and law firms on corporate legal transactions and business entity compliance since joining CT Corporation in 1994.
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