Many business activities are regulated by a federal agency. For these business you need a license or permit.
Check to see if any of your business activities are listed here, and then check with the right federal agency to see how to apply. Requirements and fees depend on your business activity and the agency issuing the license or permit. It's best to check with the issuing agency for details on the business license cost.
The licenses and permits you need from the state, county, or city will depend on your business activities and business location. Also the license fees will vary.
States tend to regulate a broader range of activities than the federal government. For example, business activities that are commonly regulated locally include auctions, construction, and dry cleaning, farming, plumbing, restaurants, retail, and vending machines.
Some licenses and permits are valid only for a period of time. Keep close track of when you need to renew them. Usually it’s easier to renew than to apply for a new one.
Visit your state's county and city website to find out which permits and licenses you need.
Running a business without a license can be a serious offense. Government treats business differently than individuals, and depending on the severity of the offense, running your business without a license can result in paying back taxes, paying fines and even enduring jail time. Factors like zoning, sales tax, food and alcohol, child protection and medical services play a role.