Types of business licenses for small businesses

Types of business licenses for small businesses

In the United States, the Small Business Administration has a list of links to State websites for State licensing requirements. Each state has its own business registration and licensing requirements. Business.usa.gov is an official business link to the U.S. Government. Business.gov, managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Below are 6 types of business licenses.

1. General business license

A general license is required for you to run your business in almost every state. They’re often issued by the Department of Revenues and Secretary of State—whichever office is in charge of business registrations. A general business license is often required at the city or county level, too, so don’t forget to check local regulations.

2. Seller’s permit

Businesses need a seller’s permit in every state that has a sales tax. This permit lets you sell your products and services—whether in-store or online—as well as collect sales tax on any taxable goods. Seller’s permits may be known as sales tax permits or licenses in some areas and may be required at a city or county level.


Businesses operating under a different name from that of the sole proprietor are required by law to get a DBA license. Work at home businesses is also required to procure this business license. A DBA license comes in handy when filing tax returns besides adhering to other regulatory business requirements.


A DBA allows your company to transact business in the company name and to operate company bank accounts. You can file for a DBA license online or at your regional licensing offices.


If you operate in a region that charges sales tax and your business trades in services and goods, you need a sales tax license. To establish if your services or products fall under this category, check with your local provincial or state revenue agent. Sales tax could apply to both products and services.

There are as many types of business licenses as there are businesses. However, those listed here are more generic and can apply to all manner of businesses. The critical consideration in getting a business license is to understand the nature of your business and where you will be operating. You will also be required to fulfill other obligations and obtain relevant permits, whether or not you have a business license.

5. Industry Licenses

Certain types of businesses require special licenses or permits issued by the city, county, or state. Because these vary, you want to check with your local and state business regulating agencies for details. For example, the city of Houston requires special licenses for antique sellers and street vendors. Further, the state of Texas regulates many industries, such as health care, food services, and real estate through licenses and permits.

6. Sales Tax Permits

In states that collect sales tax, businesses that sell tangible goods are usually required to obtain a sales tax permit. Through the permit, the business is allowed to charge sales tax, which it then pays to the state. Sales tax permits are issued through the state’s taxation, treasury, or comptroller’s office. For example, in Texas, sales tax permits can be obtained through the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts. Resellers may also need to obtain a reseller’s permit available through the same office as sales tax permits.

 Sales Tax Permits

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