Starting a Local Business: Guide to Permits and Licenses
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Starting a Local Business: Guide to Permits and Licenses

For a fresh set-up of a business need, obtaining license and permits is one thing that is imperative. Many entrepreneurs owing to lack of legal information and time-crunch forgo with the basic prerequisite of obtaining license for a new venture. For a large-scale set up of any organization or industrial venture it’s all taken care since beginning but for the home-based businesses and small-scale businesses needs, a fresh entrepreneurs needs to take cautious regarding legal and monetary aspects, in which business licensing is one such pre-requisite.

How to obtain a business license? An entrepreneurs needs to check all the details procedure and formalities with the city business license department, authority which grants and regulates license procedures for businesses operating in the city. When an applicant files application with the city business license department, city planning department will check whether your area is zoned for the specific business purpose and all the basics legal formalities are met to set-up business at that location like, parking space, access to public utility services etc. If application is directed to an area which is not zoned for the specific business category then application is presented before the city’s planning commission which grants conditional use permits after assessing the businesses proposal. For a set-up of home businesses, it’s always advisable to check and be informed on all the zoning ordinances cautiously. A residential neighborhood tends to have strict zoning codes and regulations preventing business use of residential premises.  In this case, applicant may get a variance or conditional use permit after presenting business proposal for evaluation and assessment before city’s planning commission. With growing graph of home-based businesses and services, it’s not tough to get a business license from the zoning authority provided a business proposal may meet the sufficient legal criteria.

Fire department permit If a business uses any of the flammable materials or its derivatives and its nature is public utility business, then you need to apply and obtain the fire department permit. this is a pre-requisite for many cities where a businesses needs to obtain a permit first before starting the business but in many cities its not imperative as the fire department makes schedule periodic investigation to the location to assess weather all the required fire-safety measures are taken care of or not. If a business fails to do so they will issue a citation. Businesses like, restaurants, public malls, retirement homes, day-care centers and any place where public congregate is subject to frequent scrutiny by the fire department.

Air and water control permits Businesses may need to obtain special permit from the city department if a business is related with the non-renewable wastage which is harmful to the environment like, by-products being transmitted to water or air like, paint sprayers. A strict environmental protection regulations is enforceable to check control over such businesses be it small or large scale in nature.

Sign permit An entrepreneur needs to assess the sign ordinances designated to restrict the size, location and type of sign used outside the business premises. for home based business needs, an entrepreneur can seek written approval from the landlord or concerning authority before going for the expensive sign design and get it installed at the preferred location. County permits An entrepreneur needs to seek county permits when a business location is outside the city. County regulations for obtaining license and permits are not strict like those of adjoining cities.

State Licenses Stare licenses is imperative for certain occupations like, auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, building contractors, collection agents, insurance agents, real estate brokers,  and anyone who provides personal services like salons, cosmetologists, doctors and counselors.

Federal Licenses Businesses like, radio and TV stations, investment advisory services and meat processing units require federal licensing. And to obtain license and permits for the same, applicant need to enquire and check legal regulations with the Federal Trade Commission.

Sales Tax License The definition of taxable service may vary from state to state and depending upon the individual state rulings, both operative and workforce portions of the bill may be taxable. It’s important to obtain a certificate of resale or sellers permit or certificate of authority as any home based business selling taxable goods and services must pay sales taxes on what it sells. Sales tax may vary by state to state level and are imposed at retail level. It’s important to be informed about all the licensing pre-requisites and regulations operating in a state or locality where an applicant is going to start the business. It’s advisable to register in order to collect sales tax by applying for licensing for every business a retailer is having in the state. A license or permit is important because in some states it's a criminal offense to undertake sales without one.

Health Department Permits If a business is related with the eatery for consumers or as a whole seller for consumable goods, it’s important to obtain a county health department permit. It’s of marginal cost about $25 and cost may vary depending on the size of the business and the operative machinery used for conducting such businesses. The health department representatives will inspect the business premises before issuing the permit.

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