Business license

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Business licenses are permits issued by government agencies that allow individuals or companies to conduct business within the government's geographical jurisdiction. It is the authorization to start a business issued by the local government.[1] A single jurisdiction often requires multiple licenses that are issued by multiple government departments and agencies. Business licenses vary between countries, states, and local municipalities. There are often many licenses, registrations and certifications required to conduct a business in a single location.

Typically, a company's business activity and physical location (address) determines which licenses are required to operate lawfully. Other determining factors may include the number of employees and the form of business ownership, such as sole proprietor or corporation. Government agencies can fine or close a business operating without the required business licenses.

Business License Companies[edit]

In the United States, only a few companies provide business license compliance services. Their offerings vary depending mostly on the size of their license and permit database. These companies typically provide research, filing, and verification services to small businesses that are unable and/or unwilling to invest time in their business license compliance needs.

Business Licenses, LLC[edit]

Founded in 2004, Business Licenses, LLC provides companies in the Fortune 500 with research, filing, and outsourcing services. They also operate a SaaS product, known as BLMS, which they license to tax, legal, and compliance departments with the intention of streamlining their compliance workflows.[2] The company is also known for their business license database that covers all 50 states plus territories. Website:


LicenseSuite is a website that can determine what licenses and permits a business needs based on general location and business activity. Without payment, the site compiles a list of licenses and permits the business needs at the federal, state, county, and local levels. With payment, the site can also compile a custom report that contains actual licenses, permits, forms, applications, instructions, and other documents related to business license compliance. Website:

License Shark[edit]

Based out of Delaware, License Shark offers business licensing and entity formation services. The company caters to larger corporations offering compliance services, and also to small businesses with their entity formation, registered agent and license filing services.[3]

Barlap Compliance Corporation[edit]

Barlap, working mostly with regional franchise operations and multi-state corporate firms, offers solutions for customers to handle their liquor license management. Website:


Operating from White Plains, NY, LicenseLogix runs a transparency program for properly licensed businesses. Their initiative allows companies to demonstrate their full compliance by displaying a website badge that LicenseLogix provides them. This service is particularly targeted to companies in the pharmacy, construction, insurance, debt collection and energy fields.[4] Website:

Licensing and business registration requirements[edit]

United States[edit]

In the United States, the Small Business Administration has a list of links to State websites for State licensing requirements.[5] Each State has its own business registration and licensing requirements. is an official business link to the U.S. Government., managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Example: Washington, D.C.[edit]

In Washington, D.C.

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is the District of Columbia's regulatory agency. DCRA ensures the health, safety, and economic welfare of District residents through licensing, inspection, compliance, and enforcement programs. In addition, Department of Health (DOH) issues certain professional licenses, District Department of Transportation (DDOT) regulates public space, and Office of Zoning (DCOZ) controls land use.[6]

Most individuals and companies doing business in the District of Columbia must obtain a Basic Business License from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.[7] Separately, organizations (including non-profits and cooperatives, but not including sole-proprietorships and general partnerships) must register their business. Many types of businesses require additional certification or permits beyond the Basic Business License and registration. D.C. requires a "Clean Hands Self-Certification" from most applicants, which is an affidavit stating that the applicant does not owe more than $100 to the District. Tour Guides must submit a Physician's Certificate. Fees for businesses licenses vary. The fee for a Special Event license such as a marathon is $209. The license for a movie theater costs $1,079 per year, for a grocery store $289 per year, for a beauty shop $78 per year. (2003 schedule of fees, current as of March 2007) A Project Management Firm does not require a Basic Business License, nor does a Handyman. Residential House Painters must submit a Home Improvement Contract signed by the homeowner.

Physicians and other health care professionals require licenses from the Professional Licensing Administration in the Department of Health.[8]

Example: Pennsylvania[edit]

Pennsylvania allows online registration of small business start-ups, but does not provide licensing guidance.

The Pennsylvania Open for Business Online Business Registration Interview (OBRI) is a step-by-step wizard that guides users through the process of registering an enterprise with the Departments of Labor & Industry, Revenue, and State.
The OBRI is a business registration tool and is not intended to be a replacement for professional consultation with qualified practitioners. The laws and regulations governing business start-up, practice, and expansion are varied and compliance with such standards depends upon the particular circumstances of a business. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.[9]

Certain actions are required by all businesses in Pennsylvania in order for them to continue in business in Pennsylvania.[10] This includes New Hire Reporting (including reporting oneself as a new hire when starting a business).

Business License Software[edit]

Business License Management System (BLMS)[edit]

The Business License Management System, also known as BLMS, is a SaaS product intended for Fortune 500 companies to manage large portfolios of business licenses, permits, and tax registrations. The application was first introduced to the compliance industry in 2010 and has since been heavily adopted by companies in the retail, food service, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. In 2014, the product was given a significant overhaul that included new features, such as professional license tracking, vehicle license tracking, and contract tracking.

The application is generally recommended for use by large companies that manage at least 100 licenses. Moreover, BLMS is meant for use by professional tax, legal, and business license compliance departments.


License Determination Tool (LDT)[edit]

The License Determination Tool (LDT) enables users to instantly determine their business license requirements throughout the U.S. for any type of business.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sullivan, arthur; Steven M. Sheffrin (2003). Economics: Principles in action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 186. ISBN 0-13-063085-3. 
  2. ^ New Features for Business Licenses' Cloud-Based Products Allow Customers to Reduce Their Non-Compliance Risk by Merging Multiple Compliance Functions Under One Roof August 2014.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Transparency Program For Properly Licensed Businesses Announced By LicenseLogix September 2014.
  5. ^ SBA: Where to Obtain Business Licenses Accessed 1 April 2007.
  6. ^ Washington, D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs - Licenses and Permits Accessed 1 April 2007.
  7. ^ Washington, D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs - Basic Business License Information
  8. ^ Washington, D.C. Health Professional Licensing Administration: Professional Licensing Boards
  9. ^ Pennsylvania Online Business Registration Interview Accessed 1 April 2007.
  10. ^ Pennsylvania - Forms for all Businesses Accessed 1 April 2007.

External links[edit]