Steps to Apply for Alaska Business Licenses and Permits
- Search for any necessary Alaska general business licenses
- Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Alaska business
- Check for Alaska permits and licenses
- Check your city or county for local licensing in Alaska
- Search for applicable Alaska professional licenses
- Obtain any other necessary Alaska business licenses and permits
- Apply for Alaska home-based business licenses
- Maintain your Alaska licensing
Forming a business in Alaska is no small task, and the work doesn’t end once you’ve successfully filed your formation documents. Even after your business has been created and registered with the Secretary of State, the state requires your business to fulfill other mandates to keep your business in good legal standing.
Many businesses need licenses and permits in order to stay in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. This guide and our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.
What is a business license?
Every business operating in the State of Alaska, whether it be a corporation, LLC, or other formation, is required to obtain an Alaska business license. The business licenses and permits required for your business vary based on many factors, such as:
- Location of your business
- Your business’s industry
- Activities your business engages in
Unfortunately, there is no centralized database that compiles the licenses and permits required for each kind of business. That means finding the permits and licenses you need can take significant research and effort.
Step 1: Search for any necessary Alaska general business licenses
Alaska requires all businesses operating within its boundaries to obtain an Alaska business license before beginning operations in the state. Even though an Alaska state business license is required for all businesses, most Alaska businesses need to obtain additional permits and licenses as well. Additionally, some municipalities require businesses to obtain a general business license for that location as well.
It’s important to recognize that obtaining an Alaska state business license doesn’t register your business with the Secretary of State. Every business, regardless of its industry, has to register with the Alaska Secretary of State by filing its formation documents. After filing your formation documents, your Alaska business is registered and authorized to conduct business within the state.
Step 2: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Alaska business
The federal government regulates certain industries by creating federal regulatory agencies that issue certain licenses and permits to businesses engaging in the regulated activities. The federal agencies responsible for issuing these licenses and the activities they regulate are described in detail below.
- The alcoholic beverage industry includes the manufacture, wholesale, import, or sale of alcoholic beverages at retail locations. This industry is regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issues permits for these activities.
- The agricultural industry encompasses the import or transport of animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology, or plants across state lines. This industry is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is also responsible for issuing the necessary licenses and permits.
- The firearms, ammunition, and explosives industry involves any business that manufactures, deals, or imports firearms, ammunition, and explosives. This industry is regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, also called the ATF. The ATF issues the licenses necessary to engage in this industry.
- The fish and wildlife industry encompasses businesses that engage in any wildlife-related activity, including the import or export of wildlife and derivative products. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates this industry and issues the necessary permits.
- The commercial fishing industry includes businesses that engage in any kind of commercial fishing. This industry is regulated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, which also issues the necessary permits.
- The aviation industry encompasses businesses that operate aircraft, transport goods or people via the air, or perform aircraft maintenance and is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Federal Aviation Administration issues the necessary certificates to pilots and other airmen and certifies airports and air carriers.
- The maritime transportation industry encompasses businesses that provide ocean transportation or facilitate the shipment of cargo by sea. The Federal Maritime Commission regulates this industry and issues the required licenses.
- The nuclear energy industry includes businesses that produce commercial nuclear energy, businesses that are fuel cycle facilities, and businesses involved in the distribution and disposal of nuclear materials. This industry is regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is responsible for issuing the necessary licenses.
- The radio and television broadcasting industry encompasses businesses that broadcast information by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable. The Federal Communications Commission regulates this industry and issues the required licenses.
- The mining and drilling industry includes businesses involved in drilling for natural gas, oil, or other mineral resources on federal lands. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement regulates the industry and issues the permits required to engage in these activities.
The regulatory agencies offer the most up-to-date pricing information for the permits and licenses required in their respective industries.
Step 3: Check for Alaska permits and licenses
Alaska regulates many businesses at the state level, requiring certain trades, services, and professions to obtain specific licenses or permits. Additionally, Alaska requires some licenses and permits based on the activity your business engages in. The industries regulated by the state in Alaska include:
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
Alaska requires business owners to locate their primary and secondary Alaska NAICS Codes that best describe their business activities and list those codes on their Alaska Business License application. Your Alaska business license can cover more than one area of business activities simultaneously.
Step 4: Check your city or county for local licensing in Alaska
Local licensing agencies operate at the municipal level in Alaska, allowing cities to determine whether they will require business licenses. Additionally, municipalities handle zoning permits and other planning issues.
For example, the City and Borough of Juneau require any person or business intending to make sales, offer services, or advertise rentals within its boundaries to register with the sales tax administrator with the Juneau Finance Department.
Because there are numerous cities in Alaska, finding information on the local level can prove more difficult than at the state or federal levels.
Step 5: Search for applicable Alaska professional licenses
Alaska requires members of some professions to earn and maintain professional licenses in order to offer their services legally. Licensed professional services in Alaska include:
- Athletic trainers
- Behavior analysts
- Concert promoters
- Massage therapists
- Public accountants
The agency responsible for regulating these professions issues the licenses or permits that are required and outlines the requirements for maintaining the licenses.
Step 6: Obtain any other necessary Alaska business licenses and permits
Other licenses might be necessary depending on the services your business provides or the goods your business sells.
If your business practices in the construction industry, there are a variety of permits required to ensure your work meets certain regulatory standards, such as:
- Mechanical permits
- Plumbing permits
- Electrical permits
- Fire alarm or suppression permits
- Building permits
Because a lot of these permits are issued at the local level, you need to check with your city or county government to determine which permits you need to operate legally.
Step 7: Apply for Alaska home-based business licenses
Alaska regulates home-based businesses at the local level. That means you need to check with your local city or county government to determine what needs to be done to legally operate a business out of your home.
In the Municipality of Anchorage, the Land Use Review Division regulates home-based businesses, which they refer to as “home occupations.” Anchorage implements a list of requirements for home-based businesses in its municipal code. Anchorage specifically prohibits home-based businesses that offer veterinary services, restaurant services, and vehicle repair services.
If you have questions about your Anchorage home-based business, you can reach out to the Anchorage Planning Department for assistance.
Step 8: Maintain your Alaska licensing
Business licenses and permits don’t have a universal expiration date. Some expire after a certain period, while others only last for one specific job or activity performed by your business. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to know when your licenses expire. Letting one of your licenses expire can result in your business losing its legal compliance status.
Need help with state compliance? We can help!
Unfortunately, Alaska doesn’t have a one-stop-shop that shows you every license and permit you’ll need in the course of operating your business. Because the requirements vary by industry and location, finding all of the necessary licenses and permits needed to run your business legally can require a significant amount of research.
Luckily, we can help you avoid this time-consuming research with our Business License Report. Our partners at Avalara can make the process easier for you by doing the research on your behalf. They locate the licenses and permits your business needs to operate and provide a report that lists what you need. And if you’re looking for more comprehensive compliance support, our Worry-Free Compliance service can help you keep track of deadlines and help make sure you don’t run afoul of state compliance laws.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
- Do all Alaska businesses need a license?
Yes, Alaska requires all businesses operating within the state to obtain an Alaska business license.
- Can you sell things without a license in Alaska?
Unless you’re hosting an occasional garage sale or selling an old shirt to a friend, you likely need an Alaska business license.
- Is it legal to run a business from home in Alaska?
Yes, it’s legal to run a home-based business in Alaska. However, you must comply with zoning restrictions and obtain the necessary permit before opening your home-based business. Alaska municipalities regulate the operation of home-based businesses within their boundaries.
- What kind of license do I need for an online business in Alaska?
You still need an Alaska business license to legally operate an online business in Alaska. If any portion of your business activities occur in Alaska, Alaska requires you to get an Alaska business license.
- Do I need a license to collect sales tax in Alaska?
The State of Alaska doesn’t impose a statewide sales tax. However, Alaska allows municipalities to collect sales taxes. Additionally, Alaska requires some out of state sellers to collect sales tax if their sales exceed a certain amount.
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