Businesses must comply with local, state, and federal license laws. These laws may require businesses to obtain licenses in order to operate their business, or to conduct certain activities. Most of the laws governing business licensing exist in order to protect the public in terms of health, safety, and quality of services. 

Business licensing regulations usually cover the following aspects of business operations:

  • Opening and closing times for the business
  • Limitations on the maximum number of patrons that may be in the building at any one time
  • Limitations on activities and substances that may cause harm to the environment
  • Serving and selling food and drinks, especially alcoholic beverages
  • Restrictions related to city ordinances, such as permissible noise levels
  • Permissible activities within city zoning laws

Many of these regulations are directly connected with the business’ operating license. For example, certain small business licenses may only be used in designated areas of a city or town.

What Are Some Commonly Required Business Licenses?

Owning and operating a business can often require the business owner to obtain a business license. In fact, it is common for a single business to need several licenses in order to conduct all of their business activities. 

Some commonly required business licenses, permits, and documents include:

  • Basic Business Operating License: These govern the basics of business operation, and may be obtained from the city where the business will be operating.  
  • Fictitious Business Name License: These are required for all businesses operating under a fictitious name (i.e., “doing business as” license)
  • Sales Tax License:These are required for almost all products and services sold by a business; the requirements will vary according to state tax laws
  • Land Usage and Zoning Permits: These are especially needed for home-based businesses and those engaged in manufacturing operations
  • Health Department and Fire Department Permits: Local municipalities often require businesses to obtain special safety licenses if they will be attracting unusually large crowds
  • State-Issued Licenses: May be required if the business involves the sale of certain products regulated by state laws, such as: alcoholic drinks, lottery tickets, firearms, and gasoline
  • Professional and Occupational Licenses: Professionals will need to obtain a license in order to practice.  These may include: medical professionals, legal professionals, auto repair specialists, cosmetologists, real estate agents, and tax accountants. 
  • Federal Licenses: You may need to contact a federal agency if your business will involve:  manufacture of drugs; preparation of meat products; broadcasting; trucking (ground transportation); investment activities; and the manufacture, sale, or distribution of alcohol, tobacco, or firearms

What If My Business License Is Revoked or Suspended?

Most business licenses can be revoked by the agency that issued them if the licensing regulations have been violated, especially if the license was issued directly by a government entity. In most cases, business licenses are revoked as a legal consequence for a statutory violation.

If your business license or permit has been revoked, it is sometimes possible to appeal your case.  Instructions for appealing your claim are usually included in the letter notifying you of a violation. 

However, it is also possible to file a legal claim if you feel that your license privileges were wrongfully revoked. For example, it is possible that the law was wrongfully interpreted in your case. Legal investigations may sometimes require the participation of other government agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a similar body. 

Finally, you should note that any laws that regulate business licenses cannot be discriminatory against any groups, and they cannot impinge upon a person’s constitutional rights. You may wish to contact a lawyer if you feel that a business law in your area is in conflict with your rights.

Should I Contact a Lawyer about Business Licensing Regulations?

Business licensing regulations can be very different depending on the area you are in and the type of business you are operating. If you have any questions at all about business licensing regulations, you may wish to speak with a business lawyer in your area.  Complying with state and federal business laws can help you avoid potential conflicts in the future, and can help ensure that your business operates smoothly and effectively.