For most small businesses, the federal government doesn’t require licenses or permits. But before you break out that happy dance, you should know that there are certain types of activities that are regulated by federal agencies, and those activities might require a federal license or permit.
Plus, you may need to get state and local business licenses, depending on what you do and your business’s location.
It might sound daunting to figure all of that out, but we’ve got your back. Keep reading to , for a complete guide to business licenses in Texas.
Please keep in mind that, though we’ve made every effort to ensure this information is accurate and up-to-date, it doesn’t constitute legal advice, and it shouldn’t be considered a substitute for legal advice. Always consult with your attorney for personalized guidance.
Federal Business License Requirements
What business activities are regulated by federal agencies and may require a federal license or permit?
- Alcoholic beverages
- Firearms, ammunition, and explosives
- Fish and wildlife
- Commercial fisheries
- Maritime transportation
- Mining and drilling
- Nuclear energy
- Radio and television broadcasting
- Transportation and logistics
So, if you’re involved in any federally regulated activity, the next step is to contact the federal agency that’s in charge of that activity. Find out what its requirements are and then follow through so that you can conduct business legally.
For example, if your business is involved with aviation, you’d be regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, and that would be the place to go for more information.
You can access a list of all federally licensed activities, along with links to more information, by visiting this website maintained by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
What About Texas State Requirements?
There are a few states where all businesses need to obtain state business licenses, in addition to any required local licenses.
Those states are:
Rejoice! Texas doesn’t have a license requirement for all businesses across the state.
But, just like all other states, it does have license and/or certification requirements for business activities and occupations that require extensive training or expose consumers to potential hazards.
- Medical professionals
- Building contractors and other construction-related occupations
- Barbers and cosmetologists
- Insurance agents
- Architects and engineers
- Real estate brokers and sales agents, and
- Private investigators and other security services
For example: If you want to work as a real estate sales agent in Texas, you’ll need to get a license from the Texas Real Estate Commission.
To view a comprehensive list of all of the occupations that are regulated by Texas state agencies, and access their website, click here and scroll down to “Work.”
You can also download a business permit guide here.
The procedures for getting your business license will vary from one occupation to the next.
- You might have to meet specific educational or training requirements, or need experience in the field.
- You might have to take and pass a written exam.
- And, as you may have guessed, there is a license fee that you’ll need to pay.
Do you really need to worry about getting your Texas state business license?
In the event that the state discovers that you’re working in an occupation without a required license, a host of bad things can happen.
You’ll undoubtedly be ordered to stop doing business, for one thing.
But you might also be fined and, depending upon your occupation, failure to obtain a license might even constitute a crime.
Simply going through the proper steps to get your license before you start conducting business is always a wise move.
What About Local Licenses?
Let’s say that you aren’t required to get a federal or state license. Are you in the clear? Maybe, maybe not.
Most Texas cities and counties don’t require local business licenses or permits.
But there are exceptions. Each Texas city and county has its own licensing requirements, which vary based on the nature of your business.
- If you’re conducting business within a city’s limits, check with your city clerk to determine its licensing requirements.
- If you’re in an unincorporated area, check with the county clerk.
- If you have an office in more than one city or county, you might need to get a license for each one. You can find links to all Texas county clerk’s offices.
If you do need to get a license, obtaining one is usually relatively simple:
You’ll need to file an application and pay a license fee.
Fees vary by locality, and could range from as low as $15 to as high as a few hundred dollars. Fees can also be based on your projected gross revenue (for example, 10 cents per $1,000 of projected revenue).
Once you know where to go, you might have the option of applying for your license online. Otherwise, you might be able to download an application and email it to the appropriate party or just mail it in.
What will you need to provide when you apply for a local business license?
You’ll likely be asked for the following information:
- Social Security Number or Federal Employment Identification Number
- A description of your business activities
- Your legal business name and any assumed name or “dba”
- Your business start date
- The number of employees and your expected annual sales
- Your business address and contact information
- Each business owner’s contact information
- Your business sales tax number, if any
After submitting your application, usually you’ll receive your license or certificate with a business license number within a few weeks in the mail.
Once you have it in your possession, you may be required to post it at your place of business.
Finally, you’ll be required to renew your license periodically, and that might involve an additional fee. Oftentimes, a renewal is required every one to three years, so be sure to mark your calendar so you don’t so you don’t end up paying late fees.
Need Help? Let’s Talk!
Want to be sure you stay on top of all your business license requirements? When you sign up with Hyke we’ll support you and your business at every step, including when it comes to getting the appropriate business license(s). Plus we’ll send you reminders when it’s time to renew your licenses, so you can focus on what you do best- running your business.
Stephen has dedicated his career as an attorney and author to writing useful, authoritative and recognized guides on taxes and business law for small businesses, entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and freelancers. He is the author of over 20 books and hundreds of articles and has been quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and many other publications. Among his books are Deduct It! Lower Your Small Business Taxes, Working with Independent Contractors, and Working for Yourself: Law and Taxes for Independent Contractors, Freelancers & Consultants.