by Rebecca Berlin
Depending on what kind of business you are getting ready to start, you will need a variety of licenses to comply with state and local laws. This article lists some of the licenses that may be required.
No matter what type of business you start, you will need to obtain a city business license. At a minimum this entails registering the name and location of your business with the city and paying a fee. However, it also provides the city with an excellent opportunity to interrogate you about your business to determine if it is complying with city ordinances (such as zoning ordinances) and if your business requires further city licensing.
As an example, say you want to open a home day care business. Is your home zoned for this? What other city licenses or permits might be required? You may need a permit from the local health department so that you can serve snacks and lunch to those hungry kids. You might also need a permit from the fire department to show that you've got fire extinguishers handy for when the kids discover matches.
State governments require licenses for an extensive list of businesses and occupations. This list goes beyond professional occupations such as doctors and attorneys. States may require licenses for a wide range of occupations from barbers to interior decorators to private investigators. Apart from occupation licenses, states also require licenses for a variety of businesses. Food service establishments, cigarette dealers, and child-care facilities are a few examples.
Beyond the license for your business in general, the state may require licenses for specific activities or aspects of your business. Going back to the child day care example, if you will use a vehicle to take the kids to and from school, you may need to have a permit from your state's motor vehicle department. They will probably want to inspect the vehicle to make sure there is tread on the tires and seat belts for the kids before you get your permit.
It is best to inquire about the necessary licenses and permits for your business in advance. Otherwise you may be frustrated when you go to apply for one license and find out that it can't be granted until you have obtained some other permit. For information on licenses and permits that are required for your particular type of business, you can try checking with trade associations, the chamber of commerce, and your state and city government licensing departments.