Federal and State Business Licensing Requirements
Before you launch your new business, you'll need to apply for a business license with your city or county. The process of starting a business is often complicated, so you may wish to consult an attorney or accountant as you create your business plan.
Why are Business Licenses Required?
Licenses are required for three main purposes:
- To identify your business and make sure you are accountable for your actions;
- To protect the public health and safety;
- To keep track of your finances for tax purposes
Things to Keep in Mind
In some cities and counties, you'll first need to secure a state tax identification number, a trade name registration and zoning approval for your business location. Additionally, your business may also need to apply for corporate registrations, professional licenses or other special operating permits prior to application.
To find out more about business licensing in your area, you can visit your local Chamber of Commerce or development authority.
The following article provides useful tips for handling business licensing requirements.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Unless you are starting your practice as a solo, and you plan on having no staff support (e.g., perhaps working from a home office), you will almost surely have to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you are not a sole proprietor, you will most likely need an EIN regardless of whether you have staff. Visit the Internal Revenue (IRS) website to find out if you need an EIN, and if so, whether you are eligible to apply through the IRS' online application.
Federal Licenses and Permits
Law firms should not require a federal license or permit unless they, for some reason, are involved in a federally regulated field such as securities, broadcasting, or transportation.
For more compliance information, visit www.business.gov.
Federal registration of intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, trade names, and copyrights, provide business owners with exclusive use of intellectual property in the U.S. as well as in a large number of foreign countries. See FindLaw's Intellectual Property section to learn more.
State Guides to Obtaining Licenses & Permits
The following links will direct you to information on how to obtain licenses and permits for your new firm in each of the 50 states and Washington, DC. Simply select a state from the list below to learn about specific license and permit requirements in the area where your business is located.