Missouri licensing and permitting

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Missouri

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

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If you’re looking to start a Missouri business or are already well on your way, congratulations! Although it can be an exciting time, it can also bring anxiety as to what to do next. But now that you have a basic plan for what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, it’s time to get into the administrative details and ensure your company meets all Missouri business license requirements. This is an important part of keeping your business state-compliant so you can legally operate in the state and give your business the best chance of success. Let’s take a look at what kinds of permits or licenses your Missouri business might need and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.

What is a Missouri business license?

There is no general state of Missouri business license. However, many cities require businesses to be licensed to operate. Rules for business licenses vary depending on location and industry. Different state agencies manage different components of licenses and permits depending on your company’s needs. It’s important to conduct diligent research into what types of licenses and permits are required for what you do. 

Simplify the licensing process

In an effort to avoid countless hours of googling or reaching out to local government agencies, our Business License Report Service can help you determine what Missouri business licenses and permits you might need to operate in your industry. You already have a lot to do when starting a new business. Our partner uses information about your business to determine the local, state, and federal licensing requirements for your company. 

Missouri business license versus business registration

Obtaining a Missouri business license isn’t the same as registering your business with the state. Registration is the act that officially forms the business entity. Before you seek a Missouri business license, you need to determine the type of business entity you want to form and submit the proper documents to the Missouri Secretary of State. Depending on the scope of your business, there are various consequences for failing to register your business with the state. 

How Missouri business registration works

The most common types of business entities are corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), professional corporations, general partnerships, and sole proprietors. These can be for-profit or nonprofit. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing which type of business structure is best for your company, including management structure and tax implications. There is no need to obtain Missouri state business licenses until after your business has been officially registered with the Secretary of State. 

If you’re in the business formation process, our business formation services can help streamline the process and get your company starting out on the right foot. Registering your business properly is only the first step to future success. 

Step 1:  Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Missouri business

Many industries require a federal business license, permit, or certification to legally operate. Failing to obtain federal licenses or permits could result in penalties, fines, and other legal actions including dissolution of the business entity. Here are some of the primary federal licenses that must be acquired to maintain compliance for specific business types. 

  • Agriculture: Obtain an agriculture license to import or transport animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology, or plants across state lines. Contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture for licensing information. 
  • Aviation. Businesses involving operating an aircraft, transporting goods or people via aircraft, or aircraft maintenance must maintain proper licensing with the Federal Aviation Administration. 
  • Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives. For obvious reasons, weapons are highly regulated. If your business imports, sells, or manufactures ammunition, firearms, or explosives, you will need to be in full compliance with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
  • Alcoholic Beverages or Tobacco. Obtain proper licensing from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau if you manufacture, import, ship, wholesale, transport, or sell alcohol or tobacco at a retail location. You will need to contact the Missouri Alcohol and Tobacco Control Board for all local permits.
  • Fish and Wildlife. If your business involves wildlife-related activities, such as the import or export of wildlife, wildlife handling, and selling wildlife-derived products, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for licensing requirements. 
  • Commercial Fisheries. Commercial fishing businesses are separate from fish and wildlife. If this fits your company’s industry, contact the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service. Permits are issued by the fishing region. Missouri is in the Southeast region for this purpose. 
  • Maritime Transportation. The Federal Maritime Commission issues licenses and certifications for companies that provide ocean transportation or facility shipment of cargo across the ocean.
  • Mining and Drilling. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement provides proper licensing and permits for businesses involved in using federal lands for drilling for natural gas, oil, or other mineral resources. 
  • Nuclear Energy. Licensing and permits for businesses involved in producing commercial nuclear energy, are obtained from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This includes fuel cycle facilities, and distribution and disposal of nuclear materials. 
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) handles all licensing for broadcasts by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable. The FCC is responsible for managing and licensing the electromagnetic spectrum for commercial users and for non-commercial users via various licensing and filing services. 

Step 2:  Check for Missouri licenses and permits

There are some statewide licenses and permits that are specific to the type of work a business does. For example, transportation and logistics companies will need to be licensed by the Missouri Department of Transportation. Nursery sellers and distributors in the state of Missouri must be properly registered with the Department of Agriculture. Anyone who sells or leases goods commercially has to have a retailer tax license from the Department of Revenue. Even alcohol sales that are regulated federally must also adhere to local regulations imposed by the Missouri Alcohol and Tobacco Control Board. There are countless other state licenses that are specific to individual types of businesses. 

Step 3:  Check your city or county for local licensing in Missouri

The specific city or county where your business exists determines local licensing requirements for your business. You will need to research licenses in the county or municipality where you’re conducting business to ensure you’re compliant. There are 114 counties in Missouri. You can use the Missouri county online directory to find your county’s website for more information. 

Step 4:  Search for applicable Missouri professional licenses

The State of Missouri has 38 licensing boards that serve the licensing and permitting requirements of trades and professions. These professions vary across industries. They include but are not limited to:

  • Accountants
  • Landscape architects
  • Chiropractors
  • Professional boxers
  • Pharmacy interns
  • Funeral directors
  • Massage therapists
  • Real estate agents 
  • Dieticians 
  • Veterinarians
  • Tattoo artists

Practicing your trade without proper licensing may subject your business to penalties such as fees or legal repercussions. It’s a good idea to check the state’s professional licensing website to see if your profession requires a Missouri professional license, even if you don’t think it does. Better safe than sorry.

Step 5:  Obtain any other necessary Missouri business licenses and permits

Depending on your industry and business activities, these are some more general licenses and permits that may apply to your business. Not all of these will apply to what you do. 

  • Zoning and land use permits
  • Building permits
  • Department of Revenue State Tax ID number
  • Business operation license/business privilege license
  • Sales tax license
  • Health permit
  • Signage permit
  • Home occupation permit
  • Withholding taxes (if you have employees)

You will need to research each of these types of licenses and permits individually to learn which are necessary for your business. Or you can rely on our Business License Report Service to compile a list of the ones you need.

Step 6:  Apply for Missouri home-based business licenses

If you work out of your home, you will still need to register your business in the state just like any other business. Home-based businesses do have additional permit requirements depending on where you live. Many counties and municipalities call this a “Home Occupation Permit.” There are often stipulations regarding home businesses, including the type of business that can operate out of a home, employee restrictions, the type of signage and equipment you can use, and more. Check with your local governing authority to determine whether you need a Home Occupation Permit, and ensure you comply with all Home Occupation Permit regulations. 

Step 7:  Maintain your Missouri licensing

Most Missouri business licenses and permits need to be renewed periodically. It’s also important to consider any new requirements as your business grows and expands. Operating without proper Missouri business licenses and permits can result in fees or legal action depending on the extent of your non-compliance. 

Let us help streamline the Missouri licensing process!

Our license report service can help you determine what Missouri business licenses and permits you need to operate in your industry. Our partner, Business Licenses, LLC, uses your business location, industry, and activities to identify the local, state, and federal licensing requirements for your company, so you can remain compliant with minimal stress. We can also help you stay on top of state filing deadlines with our Worry-Free Compliance service.

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 Missouri businesses need a license?

    Obtaining a Missouri business license isn’t the same as registering your business with the state. Registration is the act that officially forms the business entity and it’s mandatory for certain types of business entities. Before you seek a Missouri business license, you need to determine the type of business entity you want to form and submit the proper documents to the Missouri Secretary of State. Your type of business, industry, and location will determine what Missouri business licenses and permits are required for your business.

  • Can you sell things without a license in Missouri?

    Anyone who sells or leases goods commercially has to have a retailer tax license from the Department of Revenue. One exception is the Missouri cottage food law, which allows individuals to sell products directly to consumers. Among other limitations, these sellers are limited to baked goods, jams, jellies, and dried herbs, which is relatively limited compared to other states. There is no statewide cottage seller permit, but there may be local requirements.

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

    Individual counties and municipalities are responsible for the regulation of home-based businesses. Home-based businesses must adhere to local zoning requirements as well as restrictions on types of businesses that can operate out of residential homes and other rules. Check with your local governing authority to determine whether you need a Home Occupation Permit.

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

    Among the 45 states with sales tax, all states with the exception of Florida and Missouri require online sellers to obtain a seller’s permit or sales and use tax permit in order to host an online business. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to adhere to other business formation and industry requirements. The size and scope of your business may impact your online business licensing needs.

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

    Anyone providing a taxable service to an end consumer is required to collect sales tax. The seller is required to have a Missouri retail sales license prior to making a sale. The maximum penalty for failing to comply is $10,000 under Missouri Revised Statute Section 144.118.

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