Mississippi licensing and permitting

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Mississippi

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

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Starting your own business can mean you have to get through a lot of preparation and red tape. Once you officially form your business, you’re likely going to need some kind of additional state licenses, permits, or other certifications to start running it. Figuring these things out can take a lot of time and searching. If you don’t know where to begin with getting the proper licenses for your newly-formed business, read on. We’ll discuss what kinds of licenses and permits you might need in Mississippi, and how we may be able to help.

Let’s take a look at what kinds of permits or licenses your business might need and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.

What is a business license?

A business license is what gives most businesses the permission or authority to operate after they form. Your business might need a license at the federal, state, or local level, and many licenses are based on your industry and your specific business needs. Some states require a general business license to engage in commerce, while also requiring licenses for specific business activities. 

There are a lot of licenses and permits your business might need, but frustratingly enough, there isn’t one central place to search for all the licenses that apply to you. To open your business, you need to research licensing requirements at the federal, state, and local levels to determine what your business has to have for its grand opening. 

Step 1: Search for any necessary Mississippi general business licenses

Some states require almost any business to have a general business license. In those states, businesses can’t take part in any kind of commercial activity without a general business license. The State of Mississippi doesn’t require general business licenses, but many Mississippi counties and municipalities require non-exempt businesses to have a general business license called a “privilege license” before they can operate in the area. 

Although some may call business registration “getting a business license,” registering a business and licensing a business are two different things. You bring your business into existence by registering it with the state, but you give your business the authority to run by getting the proper licenses and permits. Receiving business licenses and permits normally comes after you’ve registered your business. 

If you’re not ready to get business licenses because you’re still trying to form a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation, we can help you. We provide both Mississippi LLC formation and Mississippi corporation formation services to help you get started. 

Step 2: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Mississippi business

Although a lot of business licensing happens at the state and local levels, there are a number of business activities that require licensing from the federal government. The U.S. Small Business Administration notes that the following business activities need licenses or permits from the following federal agencies:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: interstate importing or transporting of animals, biological products, animal products, or plants
  • Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (and the Local Alcohol Beverage Control Board): selling (wholesale or retail), manufacturing, or importing alcoholic beverages
  • Federal Aviation Administration: transporting people and/or goods by aircraft, maintaining aircrafts, or operating aircrafts
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: importing, dealing in, or manufacturing ammunition, firearms, or explosives
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: businesses involving wildlife-related activities or importing/exporting wildlife-derived products
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service: commercial fishing 
  • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement: business activities involving drilling for oil, natural gas, or minerals on federal land
  • Federal Maritime Commission: businesses providing ocean transportation or helping with cargo shipment by sea might
  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: businesses that are fuel cycling facilities or that deal with nuclear energy or nuclear materials
  • Federal Communications Commission: broadcasting information by cable, television, wire, satellite, or radio
  • U.S. Department of Transportation: businesses operating overweight or oversized vehicles

Consider all the facets of your business to determine your need for federal licenses or permits. In some cases, you might need licensure from more than one government agency. The same business activity might also need licensing from federal, state, and local governing bodies at the same time. 

Step 3: Check for Mississippi permits and licenses

Licensing requirements can change from state to state. You might need more than one Mississippi state business license before you can start making money. Typical state license requirements you can encounter when opening a Mississippi business include:

  • Liquor licenses 
  • Food permits
  • Tobacco licenses 
  • Environmental permits
  • Commercial fishing licenses 
  • Construction licenses
  • Professional licenses

The above list isn’t exhaustive, and you might also need licenses at the federal and local levels to move forward with your business. 

Step 4: Check your city or county for local licensing in Mississippi

Your county or municipal governments can have a lot of rules you have to follow before you can conduct business on their turf. Along with requiring a privilege license (i.e., a general business license), many counties and municipalities require businesses to have a plethora of other licenses and permits, including:

  • Alcohol and tobacco permits
  • Alarm permits 
  • Occupational permits
  • Health permits
  • Trader’s licenses
  • Tax certificates

Not all local license and permit requirements apply to all businesses, so you need to contact your county and municipality to determine your business licensing needs. Your county could have specific requirements, and so could your specific city or town. 

Step 5: Search for applicable Mississippi professional licenses

Sometimes using your specialized education and/or skills to provide services to your customers is a great way to make money. If your business offers professional services, you likely need a license from the state to perform those services. The state requires licenses for many professionals, including:

  • Therapists
  • Contractors
  • Childcare professionals
  • Hair braiders
  • Tattoo operators
  • Athletic trainers
  • Attorneys
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Professionals dealing with radioactive materials
  • Social workers
  • Massage therapists
  • Dealers of durable medical equipment
  • Funeral directors
  • Architects 
  • Engineers
  • Accountants
  • Geologists
  • Insurance professionals

Once again, this list isn’t exhaustive, and it’s important to check with the state about whether you need a professional license to provide certain business services. Different state boards and departments govern licensing for different professions. 

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

Other types of licenses you might need from the federal, state, or local government don’t necessarily have to do with your industry. These other licenses might have to do with the size, location, look, and revenue of your business. Other types of licenses and permits your business might need can include:

  • Zoning permits
  • Building permits
  • Signage permits
  • Sales tax permits or registration licenses

Many zoning, building, and signage permits come from your county and municipal governments. 

If your business sells tangible, personal property,  you have to have a sales tax registration license or permit. Tax rates may vary, depending on what you sell. You apply for a sales tax license with the Mississippi Department of Revenue.  

Some Mississippi businesses also have to apply for employer identification numbers (EINs) with the IRS. The EIN is a federal tax identification number that many businesses need to properly pay their federal taxes. Businesses that need to apply for an EIN include:

  • Businesses with employees
  • Businesses run as partnerships or corporations
  • Businesses that file returns for employment, excise, or alcohol, tobacco and firearms taxes
  • Businesses that withhold taxes on non-wage income for non-resident immigrants
  • Businesses that have Keogh plans 
  • Businesses involved with certain organizations, trusts, and entities

Besides their necessity for tax purposes, EIN’s can also come in handy when applying for business bank accounts or certain business benefits.

Step 7: Apply for Mississippi home-based business licenses

Running a business from your home can be convenient and cost-effective, but you might have to jump through some hoops before you can operate. Many home businesses need certain licenses and permits to legally run. Licenses required for a home-based business might include:

  • Building permits
  • Signage permits
  • Privilege licenses
  • Occupational permits
  • Sales tax licenses or permits

Many local governments have specific laws and regulations regarding home-based businesses that you need to check before starting. You might also need to check with your homeowners’ association or residential covenants to see if your home-based business is a violation. 

Step 8: Maintain your Mississippi licensing

Running a successful business is often an exercise in constant monitoring and maintenance. In many cases, your business licenses will need to be renewed on a regular basis. If you need multiple business licenses and permits, you’re probably going to have multiple due dates for renewal. It’s crucial that you’re very clear about and aware of your different renewal deadlines, so you can timely fulfill them all and keep your business strong. 

Rely on us to help with your Mississippi business’s compliance needs

Trying to figure out all of your federal, local, and Mississippi business license and permit needs can be like going on a scavenger hunt. And how do you know you got all the clues right? Well, that’s where we come in. We offer Business License Reports that give you one simple report that outlines your licensing needs at all government levels. Our partners at Business Licenses, LLC, look at your industry, location, and activities to create a comprehensive list of your obligations. No longer do you have to feel overwhelmed trying to figure out if you’ve properly identified every business licensing obligation. We also offer a Worry-Free Compliance service to make sure you are up to date and keep your business legally compliant. Our services can do it for you so you have more time to focus on growing your business. 

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 Mississippi businesses need a license?

    Although Mississippi business license requirements don’t include general business licenses at the state level, it’s unlikely that a Mississippi business won’t need some kind of licensing or permitting at the local, state, or federal level before it can operate.

  • Can you sell things without a license in Mississippi?

    In most cases, no. Mississippi businesses that sell tangible, personal property must have a sales tax registration license or permit from the Department of Revenue. You also need permits to sell tobacco and alcoholic beverages.

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

    In many cases, yes. Your ability to legally run a business from your home in Mississippi depends on the nature of the business as well as relevant state, local, and federal laws. You might also need to review the rules from your homeowners’ association or contained in a residential covenant.

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

    Your licensing needs for an online business in Mississippi depend on the nature of your business, your business needs, and your business location.

  • Do I need a license to collect sales tax in Mississippi

    Yes. If you sell tangible personal property, you need a sales tax registration license or permit. You also need permits to sell tobacco and alcoholic beverages.

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