restaurant business license

In order to start a restaurant, or operate any business in the United States, you’re going to need a business license. Since a business license is just one of many restaurant licenses and permits you’ll need to become a restaurant owner, it can become overwhelming fast to keep up with all of the paperwork.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to get a business license for your restaurant.

What Is A Business License?

A business license is a permit issued by the government that allows an individual or company to legally conduct business in a specific geographical jurisdiction. This could be a state, city, or county.

In the United States, every business must have a license in order to operate legally.

How To Obtain A Business License

The first step in obtaining a business license will be to find out where you need to get your business license from. You’ll need a business license from the city where your restaurant will be located. That means the license has to be based on the address of your restaurant.

The good news is that every city has a database that you can search for addresses that fall within its’ municipality. Find out where to get your business license:

If you are using the SBA website, here are the steps you’ll want to take.

    1. Select Apply for Licenses and Permits
    2. Choose State Licenses and Permits from the list
    3. Review the page of required local, state and federal licenses, permits and requirements specific to your business

Now, more information will display on the page about online business license applications and federal and state requirements. From there, you’ll want to navigate to your specific state.

After you’ve narrowed that down, you need to know your business license number or your business code.

restaurant licensing and permits guide cover

When all is said and done, to obtain even just one of the proper licenses and permits can cost as much as 10,000 dollars. Luckily, the only resource you’ll need to open your doors with the right licenses and permits is here.

Get The Guide

Depending on the business type, there is a specific code. You need to know this information in order to get a business license as it requires a specific application process. And, like all other restaurant licenses and permits, every city has its own set of requirements. In some cases, you may only need the “Assumed Business Name,” or DBA, but in other situations, your license application may require a lot more information.

You’ll find this information out by consulting the state or local government agency that grants business licenses. For example, if you were to Google your city’s name and “business license code” you would get to a governmental website that might have a PDF, like this one for Tucson, AZ.

Business License Online Application Process

Once you’ve done your research and know your business code and the permits you need, you should be able to complete the entire application process online. Simply follow the application procedures laid out on your state government’s website or go to City Hall and pick them up in person.

In the United States, every business must have a license in order to operate legally.

Remember, you may need to know other information, such as:

  • Type of business
  • Business address
  • Name of business owner
  • Contact information
  • Federal ID number
  • Number of employees

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Business License?

With all of the various licenses and permit, you need to operate a restaurant, start-up costs are adding up quick. For a business license, there is often a registration fee of around $50, as well as the filing fee for the license, which ranges from $25 to $500, depending on the expected profit of your restaurant.

And remember, you will need to renew your license annually, so pay attention to deadlines.

What other restaurant licenses and permits do you need to open your restaurant? Check them out here.

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In a perfect world, Theresa would spend her days reading good books and writing all the time... and she'd own all the shoes her heart desired. When she's not on the hunt for shoes, you can find this Rhode Island transplant on the hunt for food that comes close to "Long Island". Her favorite? Caffe Dolce Vita in Providence's historic Federal Hill.