The type of business license needed depends on the services or products sold. Check with your state and local government to determine what is correct for your particular business. Many state offices offer packets or kits detailing the business licenses needed to get started and required documentation. Houston offers a “One stop business center” with a “getting started” packet that includes information on business licenses.
Most local business licenses are for tax purposes or to ensure your building is up to code. These licenses may include occupancy permit; fire alarm/suppression; boiler permit; sign permit; taxi/limousine service license; and waste transporter/solid waste license. If you plan to operate a business out of your home, additional licenses may be required. Contact your local building department for more information. In Houston, call 713-535-7733 or access houstonpermits.org.
State licenses allow a business to work under certain classifications and specialties. You will need a standard business license. Some professions require additional licenses: accountants, finance, insurance, real estate, barber shops, cosmetology, tanning, contractors and entertainment. For instance, to operate a barber shop in Houston, you have to apply with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The state administers these licenses so businesses operate in compliance with general practices and principles according to their industries.
Federal licenses are also required for some businesses, including finance, food, drug device, cosmetics, firearms and telecommunications. You must ensure all license applications are filed before you open.