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State Business Licenses

While business licensing requirements vary from state to state, some of the more common types are listed below. More specific information for your state, along with links to application information, can be found on Business.gov's State Gateway.

Business Licenses
A state business license is the main document required for tax purposes and conducting other basic business functions. Many states have established small business assistance agencies to help small businesses comply with state requirements.

Occupations and Professions
State licenses are frequently required for occupations as varied as building contractors, physicians, appraisers, accountants, barbers, real estate agents, auctioneers, private investigators, private security guards, funeral directors, bill collectors, and cosmetologists. Since you can't always guess which occupations and professions are licensed by your state, you should always check with your state licensing authorities.

Licenses Based on Type of Product Sold
Some state licensing requirements are based on the type of product the business sells. For example, most states require special licenses before a business may sell liquor, lottery tickets, gasoline or firearms. Contact your state licensing authorities to determine the licensing requirements of your business.

Tax Registration
If the state in which you operate has a state income tax, you'll have to register and obtain an employer identification number from your state Department of Revenue or Treasury Department. If you're engaging in retail sales, you will need to obtain a sales tax license.

Trade Name Registration
If your business will only be operated in your local community, registering your company name with the state may be sufficient.

Employer Registrations
If you have any employees, you'll probably be required to make unemployment insurance contributions. For more information, contact your state Department of Revenue or Department of Labor .

Next Steps
Contact a qualified business attorney to help you
navigate the process of starting a business.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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