New Hampshire licensing and permitting

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in New Hampshire

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

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Starting a business requires more than just a great idea. Since you already have the great idea taken care of, it’s time to make sure you have all the other stuff under control. The administrative component of forming a business and acquiring all the necessary New Hampshire business licenses requires diligence and organization. But it will be worth it when you’re watching your business grow and flourish. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry! Read on to learn more about permits and licenses your New Hampshire business might need and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.

What is a business license?

Most businesses require some form of license or permit to do what they do. This can be for tax purposes or something very specific to the activities conducted by the company. It’s important to know what New Hampshire business licenses are required for your company to stay compliant. Again, this can take a lot of time and effort to research. 

The good news is that our Business License Report can help you determine what licenses and permits you need for your specific business in your specific location, with less time spent scrolling the internet. This report uses information about your company to identify the local, state, and federal licensing requirements for your business and provides you with a summarized report of everything you might need. This is just one of the ways we can make legal compliance tasks for your business a breeze.

Step 1:  Search for any necessary New Hampshire general business licenses

Some states require businesses to hold a state-mandated business license. There is no New Hampshire state business license that is uniform for all companies. Most business licenses and permits are issued at the local level or by an industry-specific agency. It may take a little digging to understand exactly what is required for your business in the county or municipality where you conduct business. 

Business license vs. business registration

Obtaining a business license is often confused with the concept of registering a business. Business registration is the key component of legally forming a business. All business entities are required to register with the New Hampshire Secretary of State. This includes corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), professional corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships.

Registration occurs prior to licensing. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when determining the type of business entity you want to form. This includes tax obligations, management structure, growth projections, and more. New Hampshire business licenses and permits are obtained after formation. 

If you’re just starting to form your business, learn more about how we can help you streamline the process with our New Hampshire business formation services. 

Step 2:  Obtain applicable federal licenses for your New Hampshire business

Though many businesses will obtain licensing and permits at the state and local level, there are some specific industries that 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. Check the following list to find out more about the industries that are federally regulated and determine if your New Hampshire business fits into one of these categories. 

  • The agriculture industry involves the import or transport of animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology, or plants across state lines. The agency that issues agricultural licenses is the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • The alcoholic beverage industry involves the manufacture, wholesale, import, or sale of alcoholic beverages at a retail location. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the Local Alcohol Beverage Control Board regulate the alcoholic beverage industry and issue the required licenses.
  • The aviation industry involves operating aircraft, transporting goods or people via air, or aircraft maintenance. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the industry and issues the required licenses.
  • The firearms, ammunition, and explosives industry involves manufacturing, dealing, and importing firearms, ammunition, and explosives. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives regulates the industry and issues the requisite licenses and permits.
  • The fish and wildlife industry includes businesses engaged in any wildlife-related activities, including the import or export of wildlife and derivative products. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates the industry and issues the necessary licenses.
  • If your business engages in commercial fishing of any kind, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service regulates and issues the licenses for this industry.
  • The Federal Maritime Commission regulates businesses that provide ocean transportation or facilitate the shipment of cargo by sea and issues the required permits.
  • The mining and drilling industry includes businesses involved in drilling for natural gas, oil, or other mineral resources on federal land. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement regulates the industry and issues the required licenses.
  • The nuclear energy industry involves businesses that produce commercial nuclear energy, have a fuel cycle facility, or are involved in the distribution and disposal of nuclear materials. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates the industry and issues the licenses that are necessary.
  • The radio and television broadcasting industry involves businesses that broadcast information by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable. The Federal Communications Commission regulates this industry and issues the required licenses.

Step 3:  Check for New Hampshire permits and licenses

New Hampshire doesn’t have a general business license that all businesses must hold. However, there are several state-level licenses and permits required for different types of businesses.

Environmental permits

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services administers a number of certifications and licenses for professionals who work in industries that impact public health and the environment, including asbestos, snow removal, well water construction, and more. 

Food service licensing

Anyone wanting to manufacture, process, store, or distribute food in New Hampshire must obtain a license from the New Hampshire Department of Health Food Protection Service. This includes retail establishments, processing, and homestead food businesses. There are some exceptions for businesses that conduct self-inspection.  

Licensed occupations

The New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau (ELMIB) provides information about occupational licenses, certifications, or registrations issued by state boards, commissions, and departments. The state of New Hampshire hosts an online licensing verification system that allows access to public information regarding a licensed individual or facility. 

Alcoholic beverage sales license

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission Enforcement Division controls licensing and permits for manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, sale, service, and consumption of liquor and alcoholic beverages in the state. Licenses and permits are required for virtually anything involving alcohol. This includes selling at a bed and breakfast, catering, restaurant delivery, dining cars, wine manufacturers, and more. If your business has any alcohol or tobacco involved, double- and triple-check licensing requirements. 

Meals and rentals tax license

The New Hampshire Revenue Administration assesses a 9% tax on hotels (or any facility providing sleeping accommodations) and restaurants, on rooms and meals costing $.36 or more. The tax is paid by the consumer and collected by businesses providing taxable meals, room rentals, and motor vehicle rentals. 

Online oversize/overweight permits

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation regulates travel throughout the state. If your business involves any sort of transportation, you will need to check that there are no additional requirements for you. Oversized and overweight vehicles can’t operate in New Hampshire without proper licensing. 

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

Check with the county or municipality where you do business to determine the licensing and permitting requirements for your specific industry and location. There are 10 counties in the state of New Hampshire. Start your search for local requirements by visiting your county government’s official website. 

Step 5:  Search for applicable New Hampshire professional licenses

Most professions that require a professional license also require formal training or education in the field of work. The New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) works with over 40 professional licensing boards, commissions, and councils responsible for licensing and regulating professions in New Hampshire. Examples include professions such as:

  • Accounting
  • Geology
  • Massage therapy
  • Body art
  • Real estate
  • Court reporting
  • Land surveying
  • Optometry 
  • Midwifery
  • Neuropathic examiners
  • Family mediation

If your business requires you to be professionally licensed, start by checking with the OPLC to determine your method of filing and any additional requirements. 

Step 6:  Obtain any other necessary New Hampshire business licenses and permits

Depending on the degree of regulation required for your industry, you may need a number of other New Hampshire business licenses and permits. Potential permits include:

  • Sales and use tax permit
  • Seller/reseller permit
  • Alarm permit
  • City business licenses/tax permits
  • Building permit
  • Health permit
  • Signage permit
  • Zoning permit

A person who sells picture frames is going to have very different requirements from one who constructs multi-story buildings.

Step 7:  Apply for New Hampshire home-based business licenses

Business owners operating out of their homes are regulated by individual county ordinances. These are usually called “home occupation permits.” You may need this type of permit when the business is a secondary use of the residence and the property is zoned for residential use. Some municipalities regulate what kind of businesses can operate out of a home, along with imposing staffing, equipment, and signage mandates. 

Step 8:  Maintain your New Hampshire licensing

Most New Hampshire state business licenses are renewed annually or every few years by their respective agencies. Some business permits are event-specific. Certain industries are also subject to random or scheduled inspections. Adhering to all requirements for your business will help keep you compliant and avoid penalties, fees, or potential dissolution of your business. 

Let us take the guesswork out of the licensing process

Determining what New Hampshire business licenses are needed can seem like a whole separate job, especially when you’re just starting your business. Our Business License Report can help you determine what licenses and permits you need for your specific business in your specific location. Our partner uses information about your company to identify the local, state, and federal licensing requirements for your business and provides you with a summarized report of everything you need. In addition, we provide a comprehensive Worry-Free Compliance service to help ensure your business remains legally up to date with state law.

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 New Hampshire businesses need a license?

    There is no universal business license needed for all New Hampshire businesses. However, most, if not all, businesses will require some type of license or permit to operate. Business licenses are specific to the industry and location of the business. Federal, state, and local agencies regulate these licenses and permits.

  • Can you sell things without a license in New Hampshire?

    If you operate a business that is subject to state or local regulation, you may be required to apply for a specific permit and license to sell your items. The State of New Hampshire doesn’t have a general sales and use tax. The state doesn’t require a certificate or license. Check with local agencies to determine your licensing requirements.

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

    Individual county ordinances regulate New Hampshire business owners operating out of their homes. These are usually called “home occupation permits.” Municipalities regulate what kind of business can operate out of a home, along with staffing, equipment, zoning, and signage mandates. Contact your county of residence for more information on running a New Hampshire home business.

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

    You don’t need to worry about seller’s permits to sell goods or services online because New Hampshire doesn’t collect sales tax. You do need to comply with any industry specific requirements.

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

    New Hampshire is one of five states that have no state sales tax. Other states include Alaska, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. You don’t need a license to collect sales tax in New Hampshire.

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