How to Get a Business License in New York - How to Start my LLC

How to Get a Business License in New York

Written by:

Carolyn Young has over 25 years of experience in business in various roles, including bank management, marketing management, and business education.

Reviewed by: Sarah Ruddle

For over 15 years, Sarah Ruddle has been a noteworthy leader in the business and nonprofit world.

How to Get a Business License in New York

How to Get a Business License in New York

A crucial step in starting a limited liability company (LLC) in New York is acquiring all the necessary licenses and permits. Depending on your business, you may need them at the federal, state, and local levels. 

Without them, you could face major penalties and even business closure. This guide lays out all you need to know to ensure full compliance in New York.

Which Department Issues Business Licenses and Permits?

In most states, many agencies and departments issue licenses and permits depending on industry and location. For example, the Department of State issues most licenses in New York, while the Department of Taxation and Finance issues some. 

Sales tax permits are issued by the Taxation and Finance Department through the New York Business Express website.

Federally, different departments oversee different industries. As a result, licenses and permits are generally industry-specific, except for health permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For example, if you run a farm, your business may need a U.S. Department of Agriculture license. 

If your business sells fireworks, you must register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Most industries, however, do not require licensing at the federal level. 

The Small Business Association (SBA) has put together a handy guide detailing the licenses and permits needed for various businesses. 

Common Business Licenses and Permits

Here are some common licenses and permits you may need.

Federal Licenses

If a federal agency regulates your industry, you’ll need to be licensed by that agency. Federal agencies that may require you to be licensed include:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
  • Department of Transportation

State Licenses

Common licenses at the state level include:

  • Industry-specific licenses for certain professions and industries, such as construction, plumbing, electrical, childcare, food handling, liquor, architecture, and finance
  • Health licenses and permits
  • Doing business as (DBA) permits using a name other than your LLC.
  • Sales tax permit

Local Licenses

At the municipal or county level, you may need the following:

  • Building and zoning permits
  • Health licenses and permits
  • Fire permits
  • Sign permits

How to Obtain a Business License in New York

In New York, a general business license is not required, 

  1. Unless you’re operating as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll need to register your business entity through the Department of State, usually as an LLC or a corporation.  
  2. You’ll need to register for sales tax on the New York Business Express website if you sell goods or services.
  3. Other licenses require applications with specific departments. For example, you’ll need a retail food store license if you run a grocery store business in New York. For this, you’ll apply with the Department of Agriculture and Markets
  4. Check with local governments for required licenses and permits at the local level. 

How Much Does a Business License Cost in New York?

License and permit fees vary. A sales tax permit, for instance, costs nothing in New York, while forming an LLC costs $200. An application for a retail food store license is $250. 

Do Licenses and Permits Have to Be Renewed?

Some licenses and permits must be renewed annually. New York randomly selects new sales tax permits to be renewed and notifies businesses when their permits come up.

Most food and liquor-related licenses expire annually, as do professional licenses. 

Check with issuing departments for renewal requirements for other licenses and permits.

In Closing

Obtaining licenses and permits is a critical step when starting an LLC in New York, so check with state and local government offices and fully comply with their requirements. If you operate without the proper licenses and permits, you could face steep fines or even the closure of your business. 

If you’re unsure of state or local regulations and need help, consult a business attorney, as proper licensing is an absolute must.