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The decision to start a business on your own may have you feeling a bit intimidated. As you have surely figured out, there are a lot of steps that you need to complete in order to get your business up and running. And many of these early steps have nothing to do with finding new clients or determining a distribution system for your product. Some of the early tasks you need to complete are actually all about filling out paperwork. Basically, you need to obtain a license in order to operate a business, and a business license has a specific application process that you have to follow. However, your tasks do not end once you have gotten your hands on a business license. Depending on the kind of venture that you are creating, you will also have to obtain a variety of other permits. At first, the need to complete all of these tasks may be a bit overwhelming. After all, you may be starting this business on your own and you might not know what permits you need to apply for. Nevertheless, there is no need to worry. The checklist below features information on all of the permits and licenses that you need to apply for.

  • Get a standard business license: The first thing you will need to apply for is a basic license for business operation in your city. This is typically done by the simple act of filling out a local business license application. But be mindful that you will have to apply through the county if your business operates outside of the city limits.
  • Apply for a federal employer identification number: Also known as an EIN or a tax ID number, this is an identification number that is required by all kinds of businesses in the United States.
  • Obtain a sales tax permit: If you are planning to start a business that involves the sale of any goods or services, then you will have to apply for a license to levy sales tax in your state of residence.
  • Apply for zoning permits: In the event you are entering the manufacturing business, you will have to apply for land-use permits in order to operate.
  • Obtain applicable state-issued permits: If your business involves the sale of liquor, gasoline, lotto tickets or firearms, you will have to apply for a state-specific permit in order to operate your business.
  • Get permits from the health department: While zoning permits are typically required for manufacturing companies, health permits are the credentials that are typically necessary to operate a business that prepares and sells food items in the United States.
  • Acquire permits from the fire department: Another permit you may not have originally considered, but which may be necessary for your business, is often obtained through the fire department. These safety permits are required for businesses like clubs and bars, which attract a large amount of patrons.
  • Apply for a fictitious business name permit: If you do not want your business to feature your name or the names of your partners, you will have to apply for what is known as “doing business as” license in order to hide this information. is a privately owned website that is not affiliated with any government agencies.