Steps to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Maine
- Search for any necessary Maine general business licenses
- Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Maine business
- Check for Maine permits and licenses
- Check with the city or county for local licensing in Maine
- Search for applicable Maine professional licenses
- Obtain any other necessary Maine business licenses & permits
- Apply for Maine home-based business licenses
- Maintain your Maine licensing
As a Maine business owner, you’ll want to make sure your business can start operating properly from the moment you open your doors. This means you need the correct business licenses and permits. Most Maine businesses need a combination of licenses and permits from federal, state, and local agencies. The right permits and fees will vary based on your location, industry, and business activities. There’s no central licensing checklist, so it might take some searching to find every Maine business license and permit needed for your enterprise. Here, we’ll discuss various licensing requirements and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.
Step 1: Search for any necessary Maine general business licenses
Some states require a general business license before your company can get started. In Maine, you don’t need a general business license from the state. However, general business licensing may be needed at the local level. Maine business owners need to know exactly what each of these Maine business licenses and permits means and where they can be obtained. This presents challenges for many owners.
We can help simplify this process with our Business License Report. This service takes into account your business location, industry, and activities to identify your local, state, and federal licensing requirements. Getting the right Maine business license can be confusing, but we can help simplify the process.
Maine business owners also need to know that a business license isn’t the same as registering your business with the state. Registering your corporation or limited liability company (LLC) with the state is what officially creates your company. Some people mistakenly call this “getting a business license.” Creating your business entity just allows the state to have basic information about your company, including information about how to tax you at the end of the year. Obtaining a business license or permit is a separate action altogether.
Step 2: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Maine business
If your business works within any of the following industries, you’re likely to need a federal permit, as well as Maine state business licenses and local permits. Those industries are:
- Agriculture: including the import of plants, animals, or biotechnology
- Alcoholic beverages: meaning the manufacture, sale, wholesale, retail sale, or import of alcoholic beverages
- Aviation: including transporting people or goods by aircraft
- Firearms, ammunition, and explosives: meaning manufacturing, dealing, or importing firearms, ammunition, or explosives
- Fish and wildlife: including any wildlife-related commercial activity
- Commercial fisheries: including any kind of commercial fishing
- Maritime transportation: meaning the transportation of cargo by sea
- Mining and drilling: drilling for minerals, natural gas, oil or other resources
- Nuclear energy: including performing any commercial activity in the lifecycle of nuclear energy production or waste-handling
- Radio and television broadcasting: including broadcasting by radio, satellite, cable, or TV signal
- Transportation and logistics: if your business operates certain large vehicles in interstate commerce — you may also be heavily regulated under state laws
In any of these industries, you’re likely to have both federal and state licensing obligations. For instance, both the federal government and the state of Maine regulate alcohol manufacturing and sales. You’ll need to obtain many permits and comply with a lot of state and federal regulations to brew beers in Bangor.
If your business operates in any of these 11 areas in Maine, our Business License Report Service may be able to help you identify what you need to get started. Our Business License Report Service has helped many business owners like you understand which licenses and permits apply to your business.
Step 3: Check for Maine permits and licenses
The State of Maine provides a limited list of what Maine business licenses may be required for certain industries or occupations at the state level. The list may not be completely current or accurate as it isn’t updated every day. Business owners should confirm specifics about each license. Additionally, the Maine state business license list can only alert you to state requirements. This list doesn’t account for licenses that may be required by counties and municipalities within the state. Maine does the majority of its business permitting and licensing at the local level, so checking with the city or county in which you do business is extremely important.
Step 4: Check with the city or county for local licensing in Maine
Counties and municipalities in some states may have their own licensing requirements — both general and industry-specific. In Maine, as mentioned, the state doesn’t offer or require a general business license. Some individual cities and towns, however, may require their own general business license to operate within their borders. Be sure to check with the Maine city and county where you do business to ensure that you’ve got the right permits, as it can vary from town to town.
Finding information on the local level can be harder than at the state or federal level. You can check your county and city website, the county clerk’s office, and the local tax office.
Step 5: Search for applicable Maine professional licenses
If your profession involves special skills or a trade, your business might require a professional license. In some cases, both your business and you, individually, may need a professional license. In Maine, some of these licensed professions include auto repair, engineering, law, medicine, nursing, and teaching, among others. Often, obtaining these licenses requires demonstrating specialized skills and taking some kind of exam. These exams and training programs can be time-consuming and expensive. Make sure that you know which licenses you need for your business before you take a test you don’t need.
Step 6: Obtain any other necessary Maine business licenses and permits
Depending on your type of business, you may need other Maine business licenses to begin your journey as a small business owner. Sometimes, owners get so focused on licenses directly related to their business activity that they forget other permitting requirements may also apply. Common permits you may need to consider include:
- Zoning permits — if operating a retail store
- Sales tax collection licenses or permits — whether selling online or offline
- Health permits — if selling food or hygiene items
- Environmental permits — if disposing of waste
- Building permits — if modifying your space
- Signage permits — if displaying your business’s signs
This isn’t an exhaustive list of permits you may need. However, it shows that the permits you might need sometimes have nothing to do with being a lawyer or running a construction company.
Step 7: Apply for Maine home-based business licenses
Many Maine business owners are now choosing to open home-based businesses. Although this was once not a very popular choice for business owners, in recent years, the popularity and success of home-based businesses has exploded. If you’re one of the many people choosing to run a business out of your home, you can do anything from selling crafts online to offering professional services like accounting out of your garage. Either way, there may be slightly different licensing and permitting requirements for you if your business is home-based.
For instance, if your in-home business is a tattoo parlor located in your dining room, you may need to have your residence inspected by the Maine Division of Environmental and Community Health. You may also have to obtain a sales tax license from the State of Maine. Fire marshall and health department permits or approvals from your city or town may be necessary. You may also need a zoning permit for that cool sign outside your house. When investigating which Maine business license your company might need from which state or local entity, make sure to check whether the rule applies to home-based businesses or retail establishments equally.
Step 8: Maintain your Maine licensing
Once you’ve got your Maine business license, you’ll need to maintain it. The requirements for maintaining your licenses and permits are likely to be different for each type of license or permit that you have.
Most licensed professionals, like lawyers, doctors, engineers, and nurses, usually have professional continuing education requirements. Sometimes these include classes, exams, or other ways for the state to make sure that a skilled professional’s knowledge is up to the most current professional standards. If you’re one of these professionals, you need to pay fees and submit evidence of compliance with those requirements to maintain your professional licenses.
Other licenses and permits expire each year. A company needs to be in good standing with the State of Maine to be able to renew its licenses and permits. We can help you stay in good standing with the state using our Worry-Free Compliance Service.
We are here to help you with your Maine business’s needs
If you’re a Maine business owner who now has beads of sweat on your forehead after reading through all these steps, don’t worry! We’re here to help. Our business is helping your business. Our Business License Report can help you determine what licenses and permits you need to help your business get started and grow. It uses location, industry, and activities to identify the licenses your company might need. We also offer fast, easy formation services in Maine for starting a corporation or an LLC. Owning and operating a small business is tough enough. Let us take some of the stress off your shoulders.
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 Maine businesses need a license?
There’s no general Maine business license granted from the state. However, nearly all Maine businesses need some kind of license or permit in order to legally operate.
- Can you sell things without a license in Maine?
It depends. If you’re a student selling your couch or a car to a friend, then you probably don’t need a license or permit. But if you get into the business of selling couches and cars to other students, then it’s likely you’ll need some kind of license.
- Is it legal to run a business from home in Maine?
Yes! Home-based businesses can be very successful in Maine. As long as your home-based business complies with all applicable laws and regulations, it’s a great way to enjoy a very short commute.
- What kind of license do I need for an online business in Maine?
There is no special license currently needed to operate an online business in Maine. However, you still need to comply with all local laws and regulations, and you’ll also likely need to obtain a sales tax license.
- Do I need a license to collect sales tax in Maine?
Yes. You can apply for a license to collect sales tax from the Maine Department of Revenue Services through their online portal.