Louisiana business license

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Louisiana

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

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Starting a business in Louisiana requires obtaining the right licenses and permits to operate legally within the state. All businesses need some kind of license, permit, or tax registration at the local, county, state, or even federal levels. Which license or permits are necessary depends upon the structure of your business and what you’re selling. Some industries need only a few permits, whereas others are highly regulated and need many permits to begin. Don’t worry, though, we’re here to help! This guide and our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.

Determining what is necessary is a daunting process. There is no central database that will tell you every license or permit needed for your business. If this sounds scary, we’re here to help. Let’s take a closer look at what licenses you might need in Louisiana.

Step 1:  Search for any necessary Louisiana general business licenses

Louisiana doesn’t have a general business license requirement that covers all businesses within the state. Many parishes and cities might require you to obtain a license or permit. What is necessary depends upon your geographic location as well as the type of business you have created. 

Obtaining a business license to operate isn’t the same as registering your business name. Name registration is a separate obligation that has to be done before you begin operation. Merely filing your business formation documents such as Articles of Incorporation or an operating agreement doesn’t mean that you have a license to operate your business. 

If you need to form your Louisiana business first, head over to our LLC formation and corporate formation sites to learn more. 

Step 2:  Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Louisiana business

Certain businesses need licensing from the federal government and federal agencies. Here are the industries that require a federal license to operate legally:

  • Agriculture — the import or transport of animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology, or plants across state lines requires a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Alcoholic beverages — if your business manufactures, wholesales, imports, or sells alcoholic beverages at a retail location then you will need a license from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, as well as state and local licenses.
  • Aviation — the operating of aircraft, transporting goods or people via air, or aircraft maintenance requires a license from the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Firearms, ammunition, and explosives — if your business manufactures, deals, or imports firearms, ammunition, and explosives then you need a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
  • Fish and wildlife — any wildlife-related activity, including the import or export of wildlife and derivative products, requires a license from the  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Commercial fisheries — commercial fishing requires a license from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service.
  • Maritime transportation — ocean transportation or the shipment of cargo by sea requires a license from the Federal Maritime Commission.
  • Mining and drilling — if your business is involved in drilling for natural gas, oil, or other mineral resources on federal lands, you need a license from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
  • Nuclear energy — if your business produces commercial nuclear energy, is a fuel cycle facility, or is involved in the distribution and disposal of nuclear materials, you need a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Radio and television broadcasting — broadcasting information by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable requires a license from the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Transportation and logistics — if your business operates an oversized or overweight vehicle, then a license from the U.S. Department of Transportation may be necessary, depending upon the type of vehicle. Your state may also require certain licenses for trucking companies.

If your business involves any of these industries, it’s important that you verify the specific licenses and permits you need.

Step 3: Check for Louisiana permits and licenses

Louisiana requires many businesses to obtain licenses at the state level. The Louisiana Secretary of State’s office provides a website that you can use to create a business license checklist. But this list won’t be comprehensive. It will only cover the licenses necessary at the state level. Here are some examples of state-level license requirements:

  • Tax permits
  • Health permit
  • Occupational permit
  • Alcohol & tobacco permit
  • Liquor license
  • Sales and use tax permit
  • Employment tax permit
  • Seller/reseller permit

The specific licenses you need will depend on your industry.

Step 4: Check with the city or parish for local licensing in Louisiana

Almost every business requires some kind of license or permit at the parish or local municipality level. For example, the City of New Orleans has its own business license requirements. Check with your parish and city websites and the parish clerk’s office. Also check with the local tax office, as well as the building code office. 

Step 5: Search for applicable Louisiana professional licenses

Some professions require specialized licensing from the state or a state organization. For example, engineers, attorneys, accountants, medical professionals, architects, appraisers, barbers, cosmetologists, home inspectors, and even auctioneers require special licensing, just to name a few. The state of Louisiana has a list of special licenses required, above and beyond those listed from the federal, state, and local levels, which you can find on their website.

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

Your business may need other local permits, depending upon what you’re trying to accomplish. Here are some local licenses and permits that may be necessary:

  • City business licenses/tax permits
  • Building permit
  • Signage permit
  • Alarm permit
  • Zoning permit
  • Code inspector permit
  • Sales tax (whether selling online or offline)
  • Health permits
  • Environmental permits

You will want to see that any necessary permits are in place before you start operating.

Step 7: Apply for Louisiana home-based business licenses

The Louisiana Secretary of State maintains the geauxBIZ portal that will allow you to create a licensing checklist for the state. This is a good starting place to go before you begin your home-based business. Other factors to consider with a home-based business are determining what services and/or products you will be selling. First, you will need to check your local zoning laws to determine what types of home-based businesses are allowed and what, if any, licenses and permits are necessary. You also might require building permits and zoning code officer inspections. For example, if you will be making types of food-based products, you will need to get state licenses and inspections before you can begin selling your product to the public.

Step 8: Maintain your Louisiana licensing

Once your business is up and running and you have all the necessary licenses and permits, you have to be vigilant in maintaining your licenses. If not, the state could force your business to shut down.

We’re here to help you with your Louisiana business’s needs

Figuring out what licenses and permits are required to legally operate your business can take a lot of energy and time. Let us help you with our Business License Report Service. After gathering some basic information, our partner will provide a report identifying the local, state, and federal licensing requirements for your company. If you’re looking for more complete compliance help, check out our Worry-Free Compliance service to see how we can help you keep your business running smoothly.

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.

FAQs

  • Do all Louisiana businesses need a license?

    Not every business that opens up in Louisiana needs a license or permit. But almost all businesses need a license or permit at some level, either federal, state, or local.

  • Can you sell things without a license in Louisiana?

    Yes, you can sell things without a license in Louisiana if it’s an informal sale like a yard sale or selling your stuff online. But if you have an established business selling products, you may need certain licenses and permits to operate legally.

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

    Yes, home-based businesses are very popular in Louisiana, and you can legally run a business out of your home, assuming you have all of the necessary licenses, permits, and permissions from the various government agencies.

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

    Although you don’t need a general business license to operate an online business, you may need other specific licenses and permits. For example, you will need a license to collect sales tax. Also, you will possibly need an occupation license and zoning permits if your online business will be done out of your home.

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

    Yes, you need a license to collect sales tax in Louisiana. Also, if your business has employees, you will need a license to collect payroll, FICA, and other income taxes.

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