Receive Retail Licensing, Permit and Tax Registration Applications Instantly
Businesses in the Retail, Online, Second-hand and Temporary/Traveling vendor industries are regulated by countless state and local authorities often requiring additional licensing if selling pets, handling food or selling regulated goods such as tobacco. Most establishments, from clothing stores to home businesses and e-commerce websites need to be properly licensed before they can start operating. Our Retail & Online License Wizard performs this research in real-time and takes you straight to the ones you need instantly.
How the Wizard Works
You provide basic information about your business, and we do the rest:
- Research all licensing and permit requirements at every level (including general, specialty and regulated businesses) as well as tax registrations (sales tax, use tax, withholding tax, etc.)
- Provide a free preview listing the number of licenses, permits and tax registrations might be relevant to your business - you'll have the option to purchase the full report delivered via email
- Send you an email with links, instructions and applicable documentation for every application, along with contact information for each respective licensing authority
Most retail and online businesses require some type of general license before allowed to operate legally. All businesses will need some sort of license to comply with mandates for the business activity, safety and (unless exempt) taxation. Businesses such as food establishments, pawn shops and pet shops may require additional licensing. Requirements may also vary by the way in which business is transacted such as obtaining a Certificate of Authority (also called Foreign Qualification) if you are doing business in another state. Failure to obtain proper licensing could leave you with penalties such as a lack of legal protection as well as criminal penalties, ranging from fines to jail time.
NOTE: You cannot incorporate your business through this tool, but we offer that service too!
A common misconception is that the obtainment of licensing turns your company into an LLC, corporation, or other official entity with the state. If you'd like to incorporate, visit our Incorporation Options page.
NOTE: Certain industries are highly regulated by government agencies, and often incur greater licensing requirements.
Examples of highly regulated industries are agriculture, animal related, hazardous materials, education, explosives & firearms, etc. In such cases, we recommend using our Business License Application Package.
Related Services: Foreign Qualification
The filing that’s most commonly required for a business bidding on a project or transacting business in another state is called a Certificate of Authority, also known as Foreign Qualification. This document indicates that a business is registered to work and in good standing.Foreign Qualification Service
Related Services: DBA Filing
Filing a doing business as (DBA) allows you to keep your official company name but transact business under another name. A DBA name is typically used when you want to use multiple names for one business, such as opening multiple business locations.DBA Filing Service
Need help understanding your business license requirements?
The following are some specific licenses, permits, requirements, and tax registrations that are common for retail and online establishments:
Sales and Use Tax Registration: Generally imposed on retail sales, leases, rentals of most goods and on some services, a Sales Tax ID is obtained by the state’s Department of Revenue. A Sales Tax ID enables the business to collect taxes, receive a sales tax exemption, and/or obtain resale certificates. New and existing businesses must understand whether and where they should apply for a Sales Tax ID –- the state will issue penalties if your company does not comply with these laws. Only a few states do not collect a sales tax (AK, DE, MT, NH, OR). Other names for the Sales Tax ID include:
- Reseller Permit
- Sales Tax Exemption Certificate
- Sales Tax Vendor ID Number
- Sales Tax Registration
- State Tax ID Number
- Reseller Tax ID
- Reseller Certificate
Payroll Taxes: State and federal taxes that a business is required to withhold and/or pay on behalf of employees. Every state has specific regulations regarding payroll taxes. Employers are also required to withhold Social Security and Medicare from employee wages as well as pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. A business must have payroll taxes established in every state where the business has employees.
Withholding Tax Account: Money withheld from an employee’s paycheck. When hiring employees that will receive a wage an important first step is for the employer to set up a proper tax withholding account. The account is set up with the state department of taxation which will be collecting the funds. Typically, the employer must establish a withholding tax account in each state they have an employee working for the business and in each state that the employee resides.
State Unemployment Tax: Paid by an employer to be added into a fund that an employee can use if they become unemployed. When hiring employees that will receive a wage an important first step is setting up a proper state unemployment tax account (also known as SUTA, unemployment tax or unemployment insurance). This involves registering for an unemployment tax identification in any state that a business has employees and any state where employees reside. Applying for unemployment tax varies by state and may be administered by the state department of labor or state department of taxation.
Food Handling and Safety Licenses: Most Jurisdictions require a food service establishment permit. In addition a food handling permit is typically required for owners and managers which often requires completing a mandatory food handling and sanitation training.
Building Licenses: Retail businesses with a physical location(s) must verify the location meets safety and operational requirements such as fire code, emergency exists, occupancy licensing, etc. Other permit requirements depend on the location. These may include a tax permit, sign permit, alarm or zoning permit and other building permits.
Liquor Licensing: Varies by state and is required if the business intends to serve alcohol. Depending on the city or county, multiple liquor licenses might be needed to satisfy each level of government. Furthermore it may be impossible for a business to obtain a license if the local governments has a cap on the number of liquor licenses available in a neighborhood or block.
Music License: Required by federal law if a business intends on playing live or recorded music. Licensing must be obtained from a music licensing organization such as BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. Obtaining licenses from all three will keep you fully covered and avoid costly penalties. These organizations represent songwriters, composers and music publishers, protecting their performance rights. A cabaret license may be required if you intend on allowing dancing.
Transient (Temporary/Pop-up) Merchant Licensing: Operating a retail business in a temporary location and/or period of time may require a variety of licenses at the state and local levels. Licensing requirements may apply regardless of the length of time a business will be operating, even if it’s for one day. Common types of licensing and tax registrations for transient merchants include:
- Transient Vendor License
- Itinerant Merchant License
- Temporary Sales Tax Permit (Sales and Use Tax registration)
- Privelage Tax License
- Zoning Permits
- Police department registration
Licenses and permits may be issued for one year, sometimes for shorter periods of time to cover limited temporary activities.
Pawn Shop/Second Hand Dealer License: Heavily regulated at the federal, state and local level, a license is almost always required before the business can begin to operate. Furthermore certain jurisdictions require pawn shop/second hand dealer licensing for employees. A vast amount of documentation is required to apply for the license and it requires periodic renewal. Federal laws that regulate pawn shop and second hand dealer businesses include:
- Patriot Act
- Truth in Lending Act
- Credit Opportunity Act
Pet Shop License: Applies to businesses engaging in retailing pets, pet food and pet supplies. More than half of the US have laws regulating the sale of animals and pet supplies at pet shops. Pet shop businesses may be regulated at various levels (state, county and local) as well as restrict the number of pets or types of animals a business can sell. The various license requirements ensure that animals are treated humanely and shown the proper care.
|For $99, you’ll receive all the information and forms necessary to obtain the licenses and permits required for your particular business in one specific city, county, and state.||Our specialists are available to perform a licensing check for additional cities, counties, and states. The cost is $66 for each location or state.||
Choose this option if your company already has a registered agent, but you want to change your agent to BizFilings.
Certain businesses within highly regulated industries may incur additional charges. If your business falls into this category, one of our specialists will be in touch to discuss the appropriate steps and costs.
Who issues business licenses, permits and tax registrations?
These documents are typically issued at all levels of government—federal, state and local (as in city, county or town). Depending on your industry, location, and how your company transacts business, you may need to obtain licenses from several of these levels.
For example, if you decide to open a bar and restaurant in Atlanta, you need all necessary licenses and permits from the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the US government. So you will most likely need a federal Employer ID Number (EIN) from the IRS, a license to sell alcoholic beverages from the state of Georgia, a State Tax ID Number to collect sales tax and withhold payroll taxes, a health permit from the city of Atlanta to prepare and sell food, as well as a basic business license to operate the restaurant within the city. These are just some of the possible licensing requirements you may incur. There are over 19,000 separate licensing jurisdictions in the US and each has its own particular set of requirements. Be sure to review the requirements that are relevant to your business.
What types of licenses, permits and tax registrations does a business commonly need?
Any number of licenses, permits and tax registrations may be imposed on a business. The most common ones include:
- Basic business operation license. This license is issued by the city in which your business operates. Or, if you operate outside the city's legal boundaries, it’s issued by the local county.
- Federal Employer ID (EIN) number. Also called a tax identification number, the EIN is required for almost all types of businesses so that the IRS can individually identify each one. BizFilings can help you attain an EIN as part of our Complete incorporation package. It can also be purchased as a standalone service or added to our Standard and Basic incorporation packages. View our Federal Tax ID (EIN) Obtainment Service page to learn more.
- State tax ID number. Also called a tax registration number, your state tax ID number is issued by your state’s department of revenue or taxation. BizFilings can also assist with the preparation of this form in states that require it. Our incorporation order form will include this option if it’s available in your desired state.
- DBA/fictitious business name registration. The “Doing Business As” (DBA) or fictitious business name registration is necessary within the appropriate state and local jurisdictions. BizFilings prepares and files DBA registrations for businesses in all 50 states.
- Home occupation permit. Your local government may require this permit if your business is home-based.
- Zoning and land use permits. Local government 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 a building permit.
- Health department permit. Required primarily if your business involves the preparation and/or sale of food.
- Sales tax license/sellers permit/resellers permit. This license/permit goes by many names, and they vary by state, but it’s required for the selling of almost all products and services.
- Fire and police department permits. Required especially for businesses that will attract large numbers of customers (e.g. nightclubs and bars).
- Alarm permits. Required for businesses with an alarm that’s connected to a monitoring service.
- Special state-issued business licenses or permits. Required if your business involves the sale of liquor, lottery tickets, gasoline or firearms.
- Special state-issued occupational licenses. Required if you will be offering a number of state-regulated services, including medical care, auto repair, real estate sales, tax services, insurance sales, cosmetology, and legal representation (attorneys). Please note this is in addition to the professional license required for the individuals practicing in these fields.
What are the consequences of failing to obtain the necessary licenses, permits and tax registrations?
Failure to acquire proper licensing could jeopardize your business, resulting in expensive penalties or leaving you without legal protection. Due to the continuous rise in traditional taxes, governments are always looking for alternative revenue streams, which prompts increased vigilance for business license evaders. Many governments resort to hiring third-party collectors. Other consequences include:
- You may not be able to open your new location
- You may not be able to add a new item, service or structure
- Your location may be padlocked
- You may be hit with costly penalties and interest, or even personal liens
Which licenses, permits and tax registrations do I need?
Requirements vary by industry in addition to how and where business is transacted. The Business License Wizard provides everything you need to attain proper licensing:
- A complete overview of the licenses, permits and tax registrations that may be required for your business in a single city, county and state
- The appropriate licensing authority’s contact information, including name, address, telephone number, etc.
- The actual license, permit and tax registration applications and associated documents
- Filing instructions on how and where to return your completed applications
What are “highly-regulated” industries?
Certain industries are highly regulated by government agencies. As a result, they’re often subjected to more requirements. In many cases, we recommend our Business License Application Package for businesses within these industries, which include:
- Agriculture: pesticides & fertilizers
- Animal related
- Collection/debt management
- Educational services
- Explosives and firearms
- Financial services
- Hazardous materials
- Social services
If we determine that additional charges are required, one of our specialists will contact you prior to proceeding with your order.
Will the Business License Wizard file and obtain the necessary licenses, permits and tax registrations on behalf of my business?No. The Business License Wizard does, however, provide you with all the necessary documents and applications so that you may properly submit them to the correct federal, state, and local jurisdictions.
How long does it take for the Business License Wizard to complete the research and provide the necessary applications for obtaining the appropriate licenses?We begin the research process immediately upon receipt of payment. You can view your report instantly as soon as you complete the remainder of the questions, and it usually takes just a few minutes to receive the confirmation email that contains the link back to your report.
What information is included in the business license applications?The Business License Wizard includes the application forms, renewal schedules, cost breakdown, agency contact information and end-to-end instructions that are applicable to your business. The licensing information provided in your licensing results are based on the jurisdiction the business is located in and the business category selected.
The business category I selected is similar to the business category I am conducting but not exact, is the Business License Wizard still applicable to me?Since most non-regulated activities (consulting, retail/wholesale etc.) require similar licenses, if you selected a business category similar to the category your business will be conducting, then the Business License Wizard is still applicable to your business. However, if you are operating a business that may be regulated and require industry-specific licenses (Food, Alcohol, Construction, etc.) AND you believe that the category you selected is NOT comparable to your actual business category, please contact our Specialists for further assistance.
How do I know that the forms and documents provided by the Business License Wizard are up to date?We use proprietary technology and routinely schedule quality assurance audits with our team to ensure that the forms and documents listed in our Business License services are up-to-date and accurate.
What should I do if I have a question about a particular license or form?
Many of the licenses and forms provided by the Business License Wizard have supplementary documents and webpages included to help answer any of the questions you may have including:
- Understanding the licensing requirements
- Determining the licensing costs
- How to fill out the applications
- Many other questions you may have
For any additional questions not covered by the supplementary documents, we recommend that you contact the licensing authorities directly. They would be able to assess your particular situation and answer them directly. Each license provided by the Business License Wizard includes the full contact information for each licensing authority including phone numbers, fax numbers, etc.