Idaho Licensing and Permitting

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Idaho

Our business license report can help you determine what licenses and permits you need to start a business in Idaho.

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Starting a new business in Idaho is a lot like starting a new adventure or the culmination of a lifelong dream. There’s excitement, a sense of stepping into the unknown, but there’s also anxiety when you realize all the paperwork you will need to tackle to keep your business state compliant. An important aspect of this is making sure you have all the different business licenses and permits you’ll need to legally operate. If this sounds scary, don’t worry. Let’s take a closer look at the kinds of licenses your Idaho business might need and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.

Need to form your Idaho business first? Head over to our Idaho LLC formation and corporate formation pages to see how we can make the process quick and easy.

What is a business license?

A business license grants permission from a government entity to run a business. Your Idaho business may need several kinds of permits or licenses to operate depending on your industry or occupation-specific requirements. Your business may also be regulated by the federal government. There are industry-specific regulations that affect businesses on the state level. Local governments have a say as well, and occasionally a license or permit that you’ll need on the state level may have a counterpart on the local level that you’ll need to apply for as well.

There are many different licenses and permits your Idaho business might need, but there isn’t a central place you can look to find all of them. Luckily, we have a tool that can help. Our Business License Report can help you discover the various licenses and permits you might need from the various levels of government. This report uses your business’s industry, location, and activities to help identify the various licenses and permits you’ll need.

Step 1: Search for any necessary Idaho general business licenses

While Idaho doesn’t have a general business license, any business that sells or leases goods or services is required to obtain a seller’s permit, more formally known as an Idaho Business Registration Permit. You may require other licenses and permits to operate your business, including those specific to industries or locations.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that obtaining a seller’s permit is the same thing as registering your business with the Idaho Secretary of State. People occasionally believe that this is the same as “getting a business license.” Submitting your Articles of Incorporation or your Certificate of Organization (depending upon whether your business is a corporation or an LLC) is the first step that you’ll take in forming your company. This must happen before you apply for any permits or licenses that affect your business.

Step 2: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Idaho business

You may need to apply for licenses or permits from the federal government if you work in an industry that’s regulated by it. Below are some of the industries that require federal licenses or permits and the agency to which you must apply. You can find more about these agencies and their regulations by visiting the Small Business Administration (SBA) website. You can also visit the SBA regional office in Boise to speak to a consultant.

  • Agriculture (you may also need to acquire licenses or permits from the Idaho Department of Agriculture): United States Department of Agriculture
  • Alcohol beverages (you may also need to acquire a liquor license on the state or local level): Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  • Aviation (includes transportation of people or shipment of goods): Federal Aviation Administration
  • Firearms, ammunition, and explosives: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • Fish and wildlife: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Commercial fisheries: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service
  • Maritime transport: Federal Maritime Commission
  • Mining and drilling (on federal lands): Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
  • Nuclear energy (either the production or disposal of nuclear materials): U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Radio and television broadcasting (includes satellite or cable channels): Federal Communications Commission
  • Transportation and logistics (these permits are awarded by Idaho, but the U.S. Department of Transportation can direct you to the correct state agency): U.S. Department of Transportation

It’s important to be aware of all the characteristics and needs of your business because you might need licensing from more than one federal agency to operate. 

Step 3: Check for Idaho permits and licenses

Anyone who sells or leases a service or product in Idaho is going to need a seller’s permit. There’s no charge to apply for this permit, and once you receive it you won’t need to renew it. You can apply for it by filing form IBR-1 online and receive your permit in about 10 days, or mail it to Idaho’s Business Registration office and receive it in about four weeks.

This registers your business for an Idaho sales and use tax permit, and also sets up the required state withholding and unemployment insurance tax accounts.

If your new business will have more than one location, you’ll need a seller’s permit for each one, but you won’t need to complete separate applications. If your locations operate under the same name, only one application is necessary.

You may need other state licenses and permits depending on how your entity conducts business and where you do it. For instance, anything involving agriculture will require you to get a license or permit from the Idaho Department of Agriculture, Licensing and Regulations Division (running an apiary, disposing of dead animals, or using a pesticide all require a license or a permit). The state also has a Business License Wizard that can provide you with more information on the state licenses or permits your business may require.

Step 4: Check with the city or county for local licensing in Idaho

Along with the federal or state licenses and permits you may need, the cities, towns, and counties in Idaho may also have separate license and permit requirements. These regulations may change from location to location. If your business or activity requires special insurance or a bond, you need to get that before you apply for a permit or a license.

The city of Boise requires a permit or a license to engage in activities that involve the health, welfare, or safety of the general public. This includes activities like tree pruning, running a massage studio, operating a mobile food or beverage vehicle, or running a security company. Most of these licenses can be applied for online.

Coeur d’Alene, in the northern tip of Idaho, requires licenses and permits for activities such as the construction of a new building or alterations to an existing one, running an amusement arcade with 10 or more machines, or becoming a detective.

Each city, town, or county in Idaho may have different requirements. What may require a license or permit in Boise may not be required in Idaho Falls. Most local governments have a page on their websites devoted to licenses and permits. If you can’t find the answer that you need, you’ll need to visit the local city offices for specific clarification or consult a business attorney for guidance.

Step 5: Search for applicable Idaho professional licenses

One additional license you may require is a professional license. These are licenses or permits that are regulated by various boards or groups and monitored by the state. For example, doctors and lawyers are regulated by their own professional boards. These professional licenses are also required by pharmacies, sports agents, chiropractors, marriage counselors and family therapists, geologists, and midwives, to name just a few professions.

You can find a complete listing of the various professions that require a license and links to their boards where you may acquire a license at the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses.

Step 6: Obtain any other necessary Idaho business licenses and permits 

There are numerous other licenses and permits that you’ll need for your business. Most of these are based on local requirements, such as zoning bylaws that restrict what kind of business you can operate in a location in the city, or if you can operate any business at all in that location.

As noted prior, Coeur d’Alene requires a permit to construct a new building or to make changes to current ones. You’ll also need a permit if your business has a sign or an “attention-getting device” (such as a sky dancer or spotlights). Idaho Falls requires you to apply for a permit if you want to install a bus stop bench outside your store. Boise has strict zoning ordinances that restrict businesses to certain areas of the city.

Each city, town, or county in Idaho may have different licensing and permitting regulations. Again, check with the website of your local licensing and permitting authority. If you can’t find information there, visit your local city or county clerk’s office, your CPA, or your attorney to assist you.

Step 7: Apply for Idaho home-based business licenses

You won’t need any additional special licenses or permits to start a home-based business in Idaho. Any license or permit you would need would not be any different from those required if you were starting the same business at a commercial location. For instance, if you plan to sell or lease a product or service, you’ll need a seller’s permit. You may require a professional license. It doesn’t change by conducting business at your home.

The areas in which you’ll need to be the most careful are those involving any licenses or permits required by your local communities. Pay attention to zoning regulations. For instance, there may be certain areas of the city in which you can’t run certain home-based businesses. You may not be able to erect a sign outside or inside your home alerting the public to your business. You may need to acquire a home occupancy permit to establish a business in some of those cases.

Every local community has different rules and regulations. Make sure you know the ones for your local community before starting your home-based business.

Step 8: Maintain your Idaho licensing

Your first step with licenses and permits is discovering which ones you need to start your business. The next step is ensuring you know how often they need to be renewed.

Some licenses, like the state’s seller’s permit, don’t need to be renewed after you acquire one. Some licenses and permits need to be renewed on an annual or a biannual basis. For example, if you run a pawn broker’s shop in Idaho Falls, your permit costs $50 and needs to be renewed annually.

Forgetting to renew licenses and permits can have serious consequences. You could face penalties or fines and your business could be temporarily or permanently closed. We can help you avoid this with our Worry-Free Compliance service. This service will alert you of upcoming filing requirements such as license renewal and annual report requirements and will help you submit these filings on time.

We can help keep your Idaho business state-compliant and running smoothly

As you can see from the article above, hunting down all the various licenses and permits that you’ll need to operate your business in Idaho is a time-consuming and potentially frustrating process. And if you miss one permit or license, it can have serious consequences. With our Business License Report and our Worry-Free Compliance service, we can help make sure your Idaho business starts off and stays legally compliant. From formation on, we are here to support business owners throughout the lifecycle of their business.

FAQs

  • Do all Idaho businesses need a license?

    Idaho doesn’t have a General Business License. If you plan to sell or lease any product or service, however, you’ll need to apply for a seller’s permit, also known as an Idaho Business Registration. The permit is free and once you receive one you do not need to renew it. If you have more than one location, each one requires a seller’s permit, but you only need to apply once to cover all your locations.

  • Can you sell things without a license in Idaho?

    No, you cannot sell or lease a product or service in Idaho without first applying for a seller’s permit.

  • Is it legal to run a business from home in Idaho?

    Yes, it is legal to run a business from your home in Idaho. You’ll be subject to the same permit and license regulations as a commercial outlet. You may also require additional licenses or permits from your local government. There may be restrictions on where you can base your home business and what kind of business you can run from your home.

  • What kind of license do I need for an online business in Idaho?

    There’s no special license required to run an online business in Idaho. Any licenses or permits that you would require are the same ones you would need if you were running a brick-and-mortar business. If you plan to sell or lease any product or service, you’ll need a seller’s permit.

  • Do I need a license to collect sales tax in Idaho?

    Yes, you need to apply for a seller’s permit before you can collect taxes in Idaho.

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