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Local Licenses and Permits


Another important task in starting a business is making sure you have all the licenses and permits required by your locality. Each location has different requirements, but there are some general licenses and permits that almost every location requires. Review this list to be sure you don't miss something.

1. What is the Difference Between a License and a Permit?

A license and a permit both have similar intents - to give permission to a person or business to do something.  A license can be given by a government entity, a business, or an individual, but a permit is usually given by a local government entity. 

2. What Business Licenses or Permits Do I Need?

Most localities have similar requirements for licenses and permits for all businesses that serve the public. Unless you are operating alone in your home, you will need to review this list, which provides information on how to obtain these licenses and permits.

3. Do I Need a Zoning Permit or Variance for My Business Location?

The need for a zoning permit or variance (exception) to zoning depends on the type of business you are planning to operate and the zoning of the surrounding area.  This article lists reasons a zoning permit might be necessary. 

4. Does My Business Need a Health Permit?

If your business involves handling food or food products for sale to the public or in a restaurant, you will probably need a health permit. 

5. How Do I Get a Building Permit for Construction?

A building permit is necessary if you are constructing a new building or making substantial changes to an existing building, for your business.  Although your contractor may acquire the permit for you, you should understand how the building permit process works.

6. What Special Licenses or Permits Does My Business Need?

Depending on your business type or the types of products or activities your business engages in, you may need one or more special license or permits.  These permits come in three types:

  • Licenses or permits based on type of business, like a bar or pool hall or movie theater or a mobile food vendor
  • Licenses or permits for selling certain types of products, like alcohol or cigarettes
  • Licenses or permits for certain activities, like use of animals, or special events.


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