Steps to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Connecticut
- Obtain a Connecticut privilege license
- Search for any necessary Connecticut general business licenses
- Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Connecticut business
- Check for Connecticut permits and licenses
- Check with the city or county for local licensing in Connecticut
- Search for applicable Connecticut professional licenses
- Obtain any other necessary Connecticut business licenses & permits
- Apply for Connecticut home-based business licenses
- Maintain your Connecticut licensing
Before you can legally operate your Connecticut business, you’ll need to obtain business licenses and permits. Licenses may be issued by the federal, state, county, or local government for general business or specific industries. Making sure that you have the right permits and licenses for your business is a big part of staying state-compliant. If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. This guide will help you understand the types of Connecticut business licenses and permits you’ll encounter when starting your business, and our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.
Step 1: Obtain a Connecticut privilege license
When you form your business with the Connecticut Secretary of State, you’ll be authorized to conduct business in the state. In addition to paying the filing fee, you’ll also pay a privilege tax or corporate franchise tax for the privilege of doing business in the state. Connecticut doesn’t issue a separate privilege license outside of the registration process.
Step 2: Search for any necessary Connecticut general business licenses
Connecticut doesn’t require a general business license at the state level, but some counties and municipalities require one. While it’s important to register with the Connecticut Secretary of State before the state will legally recognize your business, this isn’t the same as “getting a business license.” Connecticut’s various governmental departments issue licenses for specific industries in the state. Additionally, the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) manages the tax permits you’ll need.
Step 3: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Connecticut business
The federal government licenses businesses that conduct certain business activities. These activities are usually of great importance to the federal government because they affect interstate commerce, safety, or the environment. If you want to operate in any of the following industries, you can visit the federal agency’s website to obtain a license:
- Agriculture — importing or transporting animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology, or plants across state lines: U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Alcoholic beverages — manufacturing, wholesale, importing, or selling alcoholic beverages at a retail location: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and Local Alcohol Beverage Control Board
- Aviation — operating aircraft, transporting goods or people via air, or maintaining aircraft: Federal Aviation Administration
- Firearms, ammunition, and explosives — manufacturing, dealing, or importing firearms, ammunition, and explosives: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Fish and wildlife — engaging in any wildlife-related activity, including importing or exporting wildlife or derivative products: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Commercial fisheries — commercial fishing of any kind: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service
- Maritime transportation — providing ocean transportation or facilitating the shipment of cargo by sea: Federal Maritime Commission
- Mining and drilling — drilling for natural gas, oil, or other mineral resources on federal lands: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
- Nuclear energy — producing commercial nuclear energy or distributing and disposing of nuclear materials: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- Radio and television broadcasting — broadcasting information by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable: Federal Communications Commission
- Transportation and logistics — operating an oversize or overweight vehicle: U.S. Department of Transportation
Once you register for federal licenses, you’ll want to ensure that you renew them as they expire.
Step 4: Check for Connecticut permits and licenses
If you plan to operate in a licensed industry, you’ll need to complete a licensing process before doing business in the state. The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) issues a large number of licenses, covering industries from construction to food and beverage. In addition, Connecticut requires most businesses to register with the Department of Revenue Services. The Department of Revenue Services issues a Connecticut Tax Registration Number to all businesses, tax permits to certain entity types, and additional tax permits for specific industries.
Employees and Income Tax Withholding
All businesses that plan to hire employees need to register with the Department of Revenue Services to report Connecticut income tax withholding. You’ll also register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to withhold federal income tax and Social Security tax. Finally, you need to register with the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) to pay unemployment compensation tax.
Step 5: Check with the city or county for local licensing in Connecticut
Counties and municipalities in Connecticut have their own licensing requirements, including a general business license to operate in the area. It can be harder to find information on the local level, but you can check your county and city website, the county clerk’s office, and the local tax office. It’s also important to note that Connecticut registers “doing business as” (DBA) names at the local level.
Step 6: Search for applicable Connecticut professional licenses
Connecticut requires certain professions to obtain a license, such as engineering, accounting, pharmacy, or medicine. Although DCP or DPH manages many professional licenses, many of these professions have a state board that governs the exams required for these licenses. You’ll need to do your research to see if your business needs to apply for a professional license.
Step 7: Obtain any other necessary Connecticut business licenses & permits
Once you’ve obtained your industry-specific licenses, you’ll need to check for other licenses and permits available from the state, county, or municipality, such as:
- Health permits
- Environmental permits
- Building permits
- Signage permits
- Sales tax (whether selling online or offline)
To legally make sales in Connecticut, you must collect and report sales tax. Businesses that sell, rent, or lease goods, sell a taxable service, or operate a hotel, motel, lodging house, or bed and breakfast establishment must have a Sales and Use Tax Permit before doing business. To obtain the permit, you’ll file a Business Taxes Registration Application with the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services online using myconneCT or by mail/in-person using Form REG-1.
Industry-Specific Tax Permits
Connecticut also requires businesses engaging in certain activities to pay additional taxes. In addition to Sales and Use Tax Permits, the Department of Revenue Services issues industry-specific tax permits.
You’ll apply for these licenses online through myconneCT or by mail/in-person with Form REG-1 (and many of the additional tax types need an Addendum). These tax permits are in addition to the state-level industry licenses issued by DCP. Although DCP and the Department of Revenue Services have helpful resources, they aren’t necessarily exhaustive lists. You’ll still need to search multiple sites to find the licenses you need.
Step 8: Apply for Connecticut home-based business licenses
If you’re planning to operate a business out of your home in Connecticut, you can check your local county and city website to see if they issue a home occupation permit. You may also need to obtain a zoning license, signage permit, or fire permit from the local government. More importantly, if you will be making regular sales from your home, you need to register with the Department of Revenue Services for a Sales and Use Tax Permit. Additionally, you need a Sales and Use Permit if you make sales at a craft show, flea market, trade show, or antique show, even for one day.
Step 9: Maintain your Connecticut licensing
Most licenses and permits need to be renewed periodically. For example, the Sales and Use Permit expires every two years. The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services will automatically renew the permit if the business is up to date on its tax filings and payments. If you operate without a license, your business will be subject to penalties for each day that you engage in business without a license.
We’re here to help your business with Connecticut state business licenses
There is no one place to find all the Connecticut business licenses and permits. Luckily, we’ve partnered with Business Licenses, LLC, to provide you with a Business License Report — a simple, easy report with the licenses needed for your industry, activity, and location. In addition, our Worry-Free Compliance service can help you stay in compliance with state requirements and can remind you of important filing deadlines so your business stays in good standing.
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 Connecticut businesses need a license?
Typically, yes. Although Connecticut doesn’t issue a general business license, your county and municipality may require one.
- Can you sell things without a license in Connecticut?
No. If you regularly sell goods or services in Connecticut, you must obtain a Sales and Use Tax Permit from the Department of Revenue Services.
- Is it legal to run a business from home in Connecticut?
Yes, home businesses are legal in Connecticut. You’ll want to check if your local county or city requires a license for a home business.
- What kind of license do I need for an online business in Connecticut?
If you’re regularly making sales in Connecticut, you need a Sales and Use Tax Permit to collect sales tax. You’ll also need to check if your local county or city requires any licenses and permits.
- Do I need a license to collect sales tax in Connecticut?
Yes, you need to register for a Sales and Use Tax Permit from the Department of Revenue Services.