Nebraska licensing and permitting

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Nebraska

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

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To operate a Nebraska business, you may need a combination of licenses and permits from federal, state, or local agencies. Each Nebraska business license and permit has varying requirements and fees. Ultimately, your company’s location, industry, and business activities determine what licenses you’ll need. Read on to learn more about what kinds of licenses and permits you might need to legally operate your business in Nebraska, and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.

What is a business license?

A business license is a legal document from a governmental agency that gives the authorization to conduct business. Not every business needs a license or permit to operate, but many do. Failure to obtain the proper license or permit can result in serious fines, penalties, and even stop you from doing business in Nebraska. 

Unfortunately, there’s no central database to run a search on all the required licenses and permits, but we have a solution! We partnered with Business Licenses, LLC., to bring you a Business License Report. You provide information about your business, such as the location, industry, and activities, and our partners can identify the licenses you might need. They will generate a report that lists the licenses, permits, and tax registrations you’ll need to legally operate your business in Nebraska. We want you to feel confident knowing you’re satisfying your legal requirements. 

Step 1:  Search for any necessary Nebraska general business licenses

Some states require a general business license to operate within the state, regardless of the type of business. Fortunately, Nebraska doesn’t have a state-wide requirement. However, Nebraska counties and cities have their own licensing requirements, which may include a general business license. You’ll want to check the county and city websites, the county clerk’s office, and the local tax office to find out more. 

Before going any further, we need to clarify that getting a business license isn’t the same as registering a business. Some people mistakenly believe that when you register your corporation or limited liability company (LLC) with the Secretary of State, you get a business license to operate. 

It’s important to understand that there is a difference. Registering with the state is the most important moment of forming a business. It involves filing paperwork that includes the business name, address, registered agent, office address, etc. It’s only after your business is created that you apply for the licenses and permits to legally operate. 

If you need help forming a Nebraska corporation or LLC, we have the tools and support to get you started. 

Step 2:  Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Nebraska business

If your business activities are regulated by a federal agency, you’ll need to get a federal license or permit. For details on how to apply and the business license or permit cost, visit the issuing agency’s website. 

Here’s a list of industries that require a federal license or permit:

  • Operating overweight or oversized vehicles might require assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation for guidance on state permits.
  • Dealing with nuclear materials or running a fuel cycle facility might require licenses or permits from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Broadcasting information by radio, satellite, television, wire, or cable might require licenses or permits from the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Dealing with commercial fishing requires licensing and permission from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service.
  • Providing ocean transportation or dealing with shipment by sea might require licenses or permits from the Federal Maritime Commission.
  • Dealing with drilling for oil, natural gas, or minerals on federal land might require licenses or permits from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
  • Manufacturing, importing, or dealing in firearms, explosives, or ammunition might require licenses or permits from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
  • Dealing with wildlife-related activities, or importing/exporting wildlife and wildlife-related products might require licenses or permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Operating aircraft, maintaining aircraft, or transporting people or goods by air might require licenses or permits from the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Manufacturing, selling (wholesale or retail), or importing alcoholic beverages might require licenses or permits from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (and the Local Alcohol Beverage Control Board).
  • Transporting or importing animals, animal products, biological products, or plants across state lines might require licenses or permits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Step 3:  Check for Nebraska permits and licenses

Certain types of companies need a Nebraska state business license, but it all depends on the activities of the business. Nebraska issues liquor licenses, health and human services licenses, and agricultural licenses and permits. However, the licensing can be so specific that Nebraska actually has a potato shippers license. 

Nebraska has an online license and inspection portal that can help you identify the necessary licenses you may need. However, the state warns that what they provide isn’t comprehensive and it’s the user’s responsibility to contact specific agencies about their licensing requirements. If you’re feeling unsure about whether you’re applying for the correct Nebraska business license or permit, check out our Business License Report Service and let us put your mind at ease. 

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

Even counties and cities may have their own licensing requirements, including general business licenses. It’s not always easy to find out what’s required. The best thing to do is check out the county and city websites, the county clerk’s office, and the local tax office wherever you’re doing business. Of course, you can always use our Business License Report Service too. 

Step 5:  Search for applicable Nebraska professional licenses

Many professional businesses, such as physical therapy or counseling, require a business license to engage in the profession. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has an entire webpage dedicated to Professions and Occupations Licensing. Examples include dentistry, massage therapy, and veterinary medicine. 

There are also professions that have a state board responsible for issuing licenses. For example, Nebraska has a Board of Public Accountancy and a Board of Engineers and Architects. Make sure you’re checking with the governing board to get the correct authorization or you could risk losing your professional license. 

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

Zoning

Zoning regulations are a way for municipalities to control property development within their geographic boundaries. Generally, cities or counties issue the permits to ensure that any future development is in line with a master plan. Zoning permits are your authorization to use your property in a specific way. For example, you can’t use your property for a commercial reason if it’s located in a residential zone. 

Visit the local city or county website for zoning application information. 

Building permits

A building permit indicates approval from the local government and authorizes you to build or reconstruct a structure on your property. To know whether you need a building permit, contact the city or county where you intend to do the construction. 

Sales tax permit

If your business is engaged in retail sales of taxable products or services in Nebraska, you need to get a sales tax permit for each retail location in Nebraska. To know whether your product or service is subject to sales tax, start by reading the Nebraska Sales and Use Tax FAQs from the Nebraska Department of Revenue (NDR). 

You can apply for a sales tax permit by filing a Nebraska Tax Application – Form 20 with the NDR. Once you receive a sales and use tax permit, you don’t need to renew it. 

Remote sellers and Multivendor Marketplace Platform (MMP) participants with over $100,000 of gross sales or 200 or more transactions in Nebraska must get a sales tax permit. An MMP is a website or service that provides goods or services from multiple vendors (think Etsy or Angi).   

Health permits

To operate a food establishment, a food processing plant, or a food salvage operation, you need a permit from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. You need to get an application from an inspector in your area, who will inspect your premises and then issue the permit. This must be done prior to operating your food business. 

There is an exception under Nebraska’s Cottage Food Law that allows you to prepare and sell certain types of food without a permit. For example, if you run a home bakery and sell directly to your customers, you won’t need a permit as long as your food meets certain requirements. 

Environmental permits

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) is responsible for issuing permits and authorizations. NDEE requires permits to preserve Nebraska’s natural resources, protect the environment, and safeguard the health of Nebraska citizens. Here’s an example of some business types that typically need environmental permits:

  • Automotive and repair shops
  • Dry cleaning
  • Food processing
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Printing

You may need more than one type of environmental permit depending on your business activities. For application information, such as where to apply, fees, and timing, check the NDEE website. 

Signage permits

Before erecting a business sign, check to see if you need a permit. Signage permits are issued by cities, unless you’re advertising near a highway. In that case, the Nebraska Department of Transportation may need to grant you a permit. 

Step 7:  Apply for Nebraska home-based business licenses

As with any business in Nebraska, the licensing requirements all depend on your business activities and location. You may need anything from a signage permit to a health permit to a sale tax permit. A good place to start in finding what licenses and permits you might need is the Nebraska License and Inspection Portal. 

Don’t forget, you may need to register your home-based business with the state. We have the resources and support available to help you form your Nebraska LLC or corporation today. 

Step 8:  Maintain your Nebraska licensing

Many, but not all, licenses and permits need to be renewed periodically. The time frame differs for each license and permit, but pay attention to the deadline as there are penalties for failing to renew. The agency or department issuing the permit will have the renewal information. While you can typically re-apply for a license if you miss the deadline, it’s much easier to just renew, especially since a lot of agencies allow you to do it online.

We can help keep your Nebraska business running smoothly

With all of the different licenses and permits on the federal, state, and local levels, it may be confusing to know which ones your business needs. That’s where we may be able to help. With our Business License Report Service, our partners at Business Licenses, LLC., will generate a report using your business location, industry, and activities. You’ll feel confident that your business is meeting its licensing requirements. You can also take advantage of our Worry-Free Compliance service, which helps ensure your Nebraska business is legally up to date and runs like a fine-tuned machine.

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 Nebraska businesses need a license?

    No. There’s no general Nebraska business license, but there may be required licenses at the federal, county, or city levels. The licensing all depends on the industry, location, and business activities. It’s highly likely that you’ll need some type of license, permit, or tax registration to operate your business.

  • Can you sell things without a license in Nebraska?

    It all depends on what’s being sold. If you’re selling a taxable product and need to collect sales tax, then you need a sales tax permit.

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

    Yes. The state doesn’t prohibit running a business from your home. However, depending on where you live, there may be limitations set by your homeowners’ association or under your leasing agreement if you rent your home.

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

    The licenses you need depend on the type of business you have. There’s no special license for online businesses. To figure out what licenses may be required, start by going to the Nebraska business licensing portal.

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

    To collect sales tax in Nebraska, you need a sales and use tax permit. However, not all businesses need a permit. Only those that are in the business of retailing taxable products and services and remote sellers with $100,000 of gross sales or 200 or more transactions in Nebraska.

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