Steps to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Indiana
- Obtain an Indiana privilege license
- Search for any necessary Indiana general business licenses
- Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Indiana business
- Check for Indiana permits and licenses
- Check with the city or county for local licensing in Indiana
- Search for applicable Indiana professional licenses
- Obtain any other necessary Indiana business licenses and permits
- Apply for Indiana home-based business licenses
- Maintain your Indiana licensing
If you want to start a business in Indiana, it’s likely you’ll need a mix of licenses and permits depending on your location, industry, and business activities. Making sure you have the right permits and licenses and keeping them active is an important part of keeping your business state compliant. If this sounds scary, we’re here to help. This guide covers the different types of Indiana business license and permit obligations essential to operating a business in the Hoosier state, and our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.
What is a business license?
A business license is a document issued by a regulatory authority that permits a business to conduct certain activities. Just about every business requires some type of license or permit to operate. These can be industry-specific and required at the federal, state, or local level.
License and permit requirements are typically based on specific business activities. Unfortunately, there’s no central place where you can check for all licensing and permit requirements, so you have to do your own research. That’s where we come in.
With our partners at Avalara, we created the Business License Report service. By learning more about your business, such as the activities, industry, and location, our partners will create a report that details the licenses and permits you’ll need to conduct business in Indiana. We take the guesswork out of knowing Indiana’s licensing requirements.
Step 1: Obtain an Indiana privilege license
A privilege license, as the name implies, is a license that gives your business the privilege of operating in a certain location. State or local agencies may issue this type of license. Fortunately, Indiana doesn’t have a privilege license requirement.
Step 2: Search for any necessary Indiana general business licenses
Some states have a general business license requirement to operate within the state, regardless of the business type or activities. All businesses are subject to the regulations put in place by state and local agencies. Start by checking with the city and county where you conduct business to know what license or permit you need to operate in that area.
It’s important to note that registering your business with the state and getting the necessary licenses and permits are two separate things. Registering with the state is how you officially form an entity and has to be done before you get a license or permit. The registration process involves filing paperwork that specifies the business name, address, registered agent, principal office address, and other general business information. Once the state accepts your business formation documents, you can apply for licenses and permits.
Step 3: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Indiana business
If a federal agency regulates your business’s activities, you need to get the proper licenses and permits. The industries listed below are regulated by a federal agency and require a federal license or permit to operate:
- Importation or transportation of animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology, or plants across state lines is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Manufacture, wholesale, importation, or sale of alcoholic beverages at a retail location is regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, as well as the local alcohol beverage control board in the state where you operate.
- Operation of aircraft, transportation of goods or people, or aircraft maintenance is subject to regulation by the Federal Aviation Administration.
- Sale, manufacture, or importation of firearms, ammunitions, and explosives is regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
- Activities involving any wildlife are subject to regulation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Commercial fishing of any kind is regulated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service.
- Transportation by sea or facilitation of cargo shipments by sea is all regulated by the Federal Maritime Commission.
- Drilling for natural gas, oil, or other mineral resources on federal lands is subject to regulation by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
- Production of commercial nuclear energy, distribution and disposal of nuclear materials, or operation as a fuel cycle facility is subject to regulation by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
- Broadcast of information by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.
- Operation of oversized or overweight vehicles may require assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding state permits.
Check out the applicable agency’s website for application information and fees.
Step 4: Check for Indiana permits and licenses
Depending on your company’s specific business activities, you may need an Indiana state business license. For example, Indiana issues alcohol permits, health licenses, contractor licenses, mortgage lending licenses, and in-home day care licenses.
If you need help finding the correct Indiana business license or permit, we can help. With our Business License Report Service, our partners at Avalara will generate a report that lists the necessary licenses and permits for your business to operate.
Step 5: Check with the city or county for local licensing in Indiana
As mentioned earlier, businesses are subject to the licensing requirements of the counties and cities where they operate. Some places have general business licenses while others don’t. It’s up to you to know what’s required. You can start by checking the county and city websites, the county clerk’s office, and the local tax office. If you’re still feeling lost or uncertain about which licenses and permits you need, you can always use our Business License Report Service.
Step 6: Search for applicable Indiana professional licenses
Typically, there are specific license requirements for professionals engaged in business. The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency regulates the licensing of professionals in Indiana and allows you to apply for and renew a professional license online. The agency provides licensure for professions ranging from engineering to cosmetology to interior design.
Some professions are also subject to regulation by a state board. Always check with the applicable regulatory board to confirm you have the authority to engage in your profession. Without the proper authorization, you could risk losing your professional license.
Step 7: Obtain any other necessary Indiana business licenses and permits
Once you have obtained all profession-based and industry-based licenses, there are probably a few, more generic licenses and permits that you’ll need. Other potential permits that you will need include:
- Zoning Permits
- Sales Tax Permits
- Health Permits
- Environmental Permits
- Building Permits
- Signage Permits
Step 8: Apply for Indiana home-based business licenses
There’s no specific Indiana business license for home-based companies. The licensing and permitting requirements all depend on your business activities and location. For example, if you run a daycare out of your home and want to advertise your business, you may need to get a child care home provider license and a signage permit.
Step 9: Maintain your Indiana licensing
After researching, applying, and getting your Indiana licenses and permits, the last thing you want to do is let them expire. You may have to renew some licenses periodically, but many agencies allow you to do this online. Check with the issuing agency to determine if and when you must renew so you can avoid any penalties.
Let us help you meet Indiana’s licensing requirements
From federal to state to city and county requirements, your business may need quite a few different licenses and permits. It can be time consuming to research all of the different types and in the end you may still wonder if you’re missing anything. That’s where we come in. We want you to feel confident knowing you’re meeting all of the legal requirements to operate a business. We offer a Worry-Free Compliance Service that helps you stay on top of state compliance obligations.
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 Indiana businesses need a license?
No. There’s no general Indiana business license, but there are licensing requirements at the federal, state, and local levels. Depending on your business activities, industry, and location, it’s likely you’ll need some combination of permits and licenses.
- Can you sell things without a license in Indiana?
This all depends on what exactly you’re selling. If you need to collect sales tax on the goods you’re selling, then you need a certificate from the Indiana Department of Revenue.
- Is it legal to run a business from home in Indiana?
Yes, you can run a business from your home in Indiana, as long as there are no restrictions set by your homeowners’ association or leasing agreement, if applicable. Keep in mind that you may still need to register your business with the state and comply with all licensing and permitting requirements.
- What kind of license do I need for an online business in Indiana?
There’s no specific license for online businesses in Indiana. Like with any type of business, the licenses and permits you need depend on your business’s industry, activities, and location.
- Do I need a license to collect sales tax in Indiana?
If you’re selling goods or tangible personal property in Indiana, you need a Registered Retail Merchant Certificate to collect a seven percent sales tax.