Steps to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Arkansas
- Obtain an Arkansas privilege license
- Search for any necessary Arkansas general business licenses
- Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Arkansas business
- Check for Arkansas permits and licenses
- Check with the city or county for local licensing in Arkansas
- Search for applicable Arkansas professional licenses
- Obtain any other necessary Arkansas business licenses and permits
- Apply for Arkansas home-based business licenses
- Maintain your Arkansas licensing
For most Arkansas business owners, the first step in starting their business is by registering with the state. But forming your business is just the beginning. Next, you’ll need to find which licenses, permits, or registrations you need to obtain to properly and legally run your new endeavor.
Your business could need multiple licenses, or it could need just one. If you don’t have a clue about what your business’s licensing and permit obligations are, it’s an important part of keeping your business legally compliant on a local, state, and federal level. But before you panic, we’re here to help. This guide and our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.
What is a business license?
As stated above, a business license gives a business permission to operate. Most businesses need at least one license to operate. A business’s licensing obligations can depend on its activities, the industry it’s in, or its location. A business could also need multiple licenses from federal, state, and local government agencies. In some cases, a state or local government might require all businesses to have a general business license to conduct any kind of commercial activity.
Based on its unique characteristics, your business might need a lot of licenses from a lot of different governing authorities. Annoyingly enough, there isn’t a central place for you to look to determine all of your licensing obligations, so this important business step can require a lot of time and research.
Step 1: Obtain an Arkansas privilege license
In many cases, a privilege license is a license that all businesses must have to operate in a state, city, or county. The State of Arkansas doesn’t require its businesses to have a privilege license, but some local governments within Arkansas do. You can contact your local government officials to determine if you need a privilege license to run a business in their area.
Step 2: Search for any necessary Arkansas general business licenses
Many times, a general business license and a privilege license are the same thing. A general business license is a license you need to conduct any kind of business, no matter your industry or activities. Though the state of Arkansas doesn’t have a general business license requirement, you need to contact the local government officials where your business is located to determine if they require a general business license. Some do, and some don’t.
Although it’s easy to confuse the two, registering your business isn’t the same as getting a business license. If it’s required, registering your business with the state is what officially forms your business. Once your business is formed, a business license gives your business permission to function.
If you’re still trying to form a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation in Arkansas, you don’t have to make the effort alone. We can help you get started with your new venture. Our Arkansas LLC formation and Arkansas corporation formation services can give you the guidance you need to help you start your new business quickly and properly.
Step 3: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Arkansas business
We might be discussing your licensing needs when opening a business in Arkansas, but don’t forget that the federal government has licensing requirements for certain businesses no matter what states they’re in. Generally, your need for a federal license depends on what industry your business is in. If you engage in one of the following business activities, you likely need a license, permit, or assistance from one of the following federal agencies:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture – for importing or transporting plants, animals, animal products, biologics, or biotechnology across state lines
- Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (and the Local Alcohol Beverage Control Board) – for importing, selling (wholesale or retail), or manufacturing alcoholic beverages
- Federal Aviation Administration – for operating aircrafts, maintaining aircrafts, transporting goods by air, or transporting people by air
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – for dealing, importing, or manufacturing explosives, ammunition, and firearms
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – for engaging in wildlife-related activity, or importing or exporting wildlife and wildlife-derived products
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service – for engaging in any kind of commercial fishing
- Federal Maritime Commission – for providing ocean transportation or facilitating cargo shipment by sea
- Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement – for drilling for oil, mineral resources, or natural gas on federal land
- U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission – for being a fuel cycle facility, distributing and disposing of nuclear materials, or producing commercial nuclear energy
- Federal Communications Commission – for broadcasting information by cable, satellite, radio, television, or wire
- U.S. Department of Transportation – for help with state permits for operating overweight or oversized vehicles
The logistics of running a business can involve a lot of different industries and activities. Be clear about what your business needs to operate, because you might need licensing from multiple federal agencies listed above.
Step 4: Check for Arkansas permits and licenses
Your Arkansas state business license obligations mainly depend on what kind of business you’re running. Typical business activities that need to be licensed by the state include:
- Selling food
- Gaming and casinos
- Commercial fishing
- Offering professional or occupational services
- Selling liquor
- Commercial hunting
- Dispensing medical marijuana
This list isn’t exhaustive, and you might have to research your requirements with multiple state agencies. To obtain an Arkansas business license to conduct some of these activities, you might need to pass a criminal background check. And even if you get the proper licensing at the state level, your local government might have additional rules and licensing requirements you have to follow to engage in the same state-licensed business activity.
Step 5: Check with the city or county for local licensing in Arkansas
Once you start your own business, you’re probably going to get well-acquainted with your city and county governments. Many local governments have their own licensing and permitting rules for the businesses in their territories. Licenses and permits you might need from your local government could include:
- Privilege licenses
- Building permits
- Zoning certificates
- Sign permits
- Conditional use permits
The rules for these licenses, certificates, and permits can be abundant, intricate, and hard to find. For help determining what licensing and permit rules you need to follow, you can reach out to your county clerk’s office, talk to your local tax office, and check your city and county websites. Once you know what you need, some local governments allow you to apply for your licenses and permits online.
Step 6: Search for applicable Arkansas professional licenses
What if you have training in a professional or specialized field and you want to make your services available through your business? You’re probably going to need a license from the state. There are many professionals and specially-trained individuals who need licensing from the state, such as:
- Medical professionals
- Massage therapists
Separate state boards govern licensing for many of these professions and occupations.
Step 7: Obtain any other necessary Arkansas business licenses and permits
As you can see, licensing and permitting requirements can be everywhere, and many of them can apply to your business. Other permits or licenses you might need to run your business can include:
- Building permits
- Environmental permits
- Sales tax permits
- Health permits
- Sign permits
You might need some of these permits at the local, state, and federal levels to keep your business legally compliant.
Step 8: Apply for Arkansas home-based business licenses
Running your business from your home might be less expensive, simpler, and more comfortable than going to an office every day. However, running a home-based business doesn’t necessarily mean less paperwork when it comes to business licenses and permits. Many local governments have strict rules home-based businesses must follow, and common permits and licenses that many home-based businesses need including:
- General business or privilege licenses
- Home occupation permits
- Sign permits
- Zoning certificates
Taxing as it might sound, you might also need to check your homeowners’ association rules or residential covenants to ensure that your home-based business doesn’t violate any neighborhood agreements.
Step 9: Maintain your Arkansas licensing
So maybe you’ve done all the research and reached out to all the appropriate government agencies to get every license you need. Does this mean you’re done with fulfilling your licensing requirements? Probably not. Most business licenses need to be renewed periodically. Just like you stay on top of your invoices and bills, you need to stay on top of your licensing renewal obligations to keep the doors of your business open.
Rely on us to help you keep your Arkansas business legally compliant
As an entrepreneur, you have a lot to do to keep your business afloat, including obtaining and maintaining business licensing. Sometimes the best thing you can do to get this job done is enlist the help of others.
Our various services can help you keep your business legally compliant so you can focus on building revenue and the loyalty of your patrons. With our partners at Avalara, we can provide you with a Business License Report that determines and provides you with all of your business licensing needs at the federal, state, and local levels. This licensing information comes in one easy-to-read document.
Once you have your licenses and registrations together, you can use our Worry-Free Compliance Service to keep track of your compliance deadlines and get help if you make a mistake. If your business significantly changes, our Worry-Free Compliance Service also handles two business amendments for you per year.
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 Arkansas businesses need a license?
While Arkansas business license requirements at the state level don’t require you to have a general business license, you will likely need a license for other reasons. It’s unlikely that you can run a business in Arkansas without some kind of license or permit from the local, state, or federal government.
- Can you sell things without a license in Arkansas?
You must have a sales tax permit if you sell tangible personal property or if you provide certain services in Arkansas. Also, you need special permits if you sell products such as tobacco, alcoholic beverages, or food.
- Is it legal to run a business from home in Arkansas?
Generally, it’s legal to run a business from home in Arkansas. For the most part, local governments determine whether you can run a business from your home or not. You might have to obtain multiple licenses and follow multiple local rules before you can open your home-based business.
- What kind of license do I need for an online business in Arkansas?
The kind of licenses you need to run an online business depends on the nature of your business, your business activities, and your location.
- Do I need a license to collect sales tax in Arkansas?