New Jersey licensing and permitting

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in New Jersey

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

Start an LLC or Corp Now

Starting a small business involves more than just coming up with a great idea, acquiring initial financing, and then finding customers. In New Jersey, you also have to jump through a bunch of regulatory hoops before you can start business operations. If you don’t follow all of the regulatory and compliance requirements, then the state of New Jersey might shut you down before you even get going. 

An important part of compliance is making sure you have all the right permits and licenses. And depending on the type of business, you might need more than just a few. Sadly, there is no one place to go to get a full list of every single license you will need in New Jersey. But by using our Business License Report, our partners can access their collected data about licenses and permitting requirements based on location and business activity. Then, we can help you identify the local, state, and federal permitting and licensing requirements for your company. We can also help you set up your New Jersey LLC or corporation if you are still at the formation stage.

What is a business license?

States like New Jersey, along with municipalities and the federal government, have an interest in knowing which businesses operate within their jurisdiction. So governments require businesses to obtain licenses to protect the public.

The type of licenses you need to get to run your business might be industry-specific. In other words, you might need a general New Jersey business license to operate your business. But some licenses or permits are specific to your industry. Depending on the type of business you run, you might need to have several permits at one time for one project. 

Unfortunately, there’s no resource or database that allows you to locate all of your licensing needs easily. Instead, you have to look at numerous resources to find all of the licenses and permits needed to run your business. Otherwise, the state could issue substantial fines and even shut down your business if you don’t comply.

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

New Jersey doesn’t require every business to obtain a general business license. However, every business, no matter what type of entity it is, must file a form called NJ-REG if your company has a tax nexus with the state (i.e., files taxes). After you file this form, you will get a Business Registration Certificate from the state.

However, you can’t file the NJ-REG form unless and until you have formed a registered business entity in the state. So first, you must form your business as a corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or other registered business entity. Some people erroneously refer to forming a business entity as getting a New Jersey state business license. That is not accurate. 

Once you form your entity, then you can file your NJ-REG online to get your Business Registration Certificate from the state treasury.

Individuals or unincorporated construction contractors use a different form to obtain a business registration certificate. If you fall into one of these categories, you should use the form called Form Reg-A. Registered entities may not use this form.

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

The federal government doesn’t regulate all industries. However, there are some industries that federal agencies closely regulate. You should be aware that you might need to have a federal license or permit and a state license or permit as well.  

You have to research your industry closely to figure out if you need a license or permit from a federal agency. You might need a federal license or permit if your business moves goods across state lines or involves another country. 

  • Agricultural businesses that require movement of animals, animal products, and biological organisms across state lines need licensing from the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Businesses that manufacture, import, or sell (wholesale or retail) alcoholic beverages need licensing from the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and/or the Local Alcohol Beverage Control Board.
  • Businesses that maintain aircraft, fly aircraft, or transport goods and/or people by aircraft need licensing from the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Businesses dealing with firearms, ammunition, and explosives need licensing from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
  • Businesses dealing with wildlife-related activities or wildlife-related products need licensing from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Commercial fisheries need licensing from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service.
  • Businesses dealing with ocean transportation and shipment need licensing from the Federal Maritime Commission.
  • Businesses that deal with mining and drilling of natural gas, oil, or mineral resources on federal lands need licensing from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
  • Certain businesses that deal with nuclear energy or nuclear materials need licensing from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Broadcasting businesses using radio, television, satellite, wire, or cable need licensing from the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Businesses that deal with the operation of oversized and/or overweight vehicles receive guidance regarding state permits from the United States Department of Transportation.

If you think your business will fall under any of these categories, check the federal website related to each to see how the process works.

Step 3:  Check for New Jersey permits and licenses

Licensing at the state level is industry-specific. However, the State of New Jersey created a resource guide to help you figure out which licenses or permits you need for your business. The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs issues the appropriate license and permits. 

Some of the state permitting requirements relate to using specific substances like asbestos. The State of New Jersey also requires professional licenses for a number of professions. Doctors and lawyers are required to have a license. Electricians, plumbers, real estate agents, residential appraisers, and the like need professional licenses as well. Some industries have no licensing requirements — but those are relatively few and far between. 

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

Cities, towns, or county governments might have individual licensing requirements in addition to state and federal requirements. For example, operating a farm might require you to have a USDA permit and a permit to operate from the State of New Jersey. Additionally, you may need to have a food handler’s license from the local board of health if you sell your produce at a farm stand. 

You should always check with your local government to be sure that you have all the necessary permits or licenses at the local level. They might be able to point you in the right direction as far as state permits are concerned as well.  Speak with your local tax office and county clerk’s office, and consult your city, town, or county website for more information.

Step 5:  Search for applicable New Jersey professional licenses

Professional licenses belong to the individual rather than the business itself. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, electricians, plumbers, social workers, psychologists, and others must satisfy competency requirements established by the state to work in their chosen profession. Each regulated profession has a board that registers, oversees, and disciplines professional licensees. 

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

Zoning

State and local governments require additional permitting depending on the work to be done or the place where you want to open your business. Nearly every municipality has zoning requirements. You have to review zoning requirements before you open any business. Some areas are business zoned, some are mixed-use, and others are strictly residential. 

Knowing which zoning restrictions govern your prospective business location is important. Otherwise, you could get a cease and desist order on your first day of operations. Be aware that some municipalities have zoning requirements that restrict the type of business you run, the size of the signs you can use, the amount of vehicular and pedestrian traffic you attract, and a host of other restrictions. 

Sales tax

The State of New Jersey requires you to register your business for tax purposes. You can do that by filing the NJ-REG form mentioned above. New Jersey law requires that you collect sales and use tax. Check with the New Jersey Department of the Treasury for more information. 

Health permits

Every municipality in New Jersey requires nearly every business that provides healthcare services, performs cosmetic services, or serves food and alcohol to have a permit issued by the local Board of Health. Some of these services might have to register with or obtain a license from a state agency to operate as well.

Environmental permits

Federal, state, and local authorities have an interest in protecting and conserving our natural resources. Be sure to check with your local Conservation Commission for details on how to obtain a permit that protects wetlands. You should also look into the permitting requirements of the state Environmental Protection Agency as well. You might need these permits in addition to satisfying the zoning requirements of your area.

Building permits

On most occasions, you need to get a building permit any time you perform construction work. Certainly, you will need building permits if you are building houses. You might need one to renovate your new office space too. Always check with your local building inspector for details.

Signage permits

Your local zoning laws might cover signage permits. However, some towns might have a separate permitting process for sign placement. Check with your local municipality just to be sure.

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

Home-based businesses also have to satisfy permitting and licensing requirements. Understanding your town’s zoning requirements, building permit requirements, health and safety code information, and tax registration. You might also have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for your home-based business as well. The best practice is to contact your local agencies and state agencies for guidance. 

Step 8:  Maintain your New Jersey licensing

Professional licensees have to renew their licenses periodically. Most of the time that’s done on an annual basis. You might need to renew your business licenses, building permits, environmental permits, and tax registration periodically as well.

Let us help keep your New Jersey business state-compliant

Although state compliance seems overwhelming, we are here to help. We can help you identify the local, state, and federal permitting and licensing requirements for your business through a Business License Report. In addition, we provide a comprehensive Worry-Free Compliance service to help ensure your business remains legally up to date with state law.

Let us help you put your New Jersey business on the road to success.

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 Jersey businesses need a license?

    Most do, but some don’t. You should check with your local authorities as well as the State of New Jersey for further information.

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

    No, you can’t. Selling goods implicates New Jersey’s sales and use tax regulations unless you are operating as a charitable organization.

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

    Yes. New Jersey has no licensing or permitting requirements for home businesses. However, you should be aware that you may have to comply with zoning and building codes locally, and all state and federal regulations as well.

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

    You don’t need a license to operate an online business per se. However, you might have to comply with zoning regulations as well as the state and federal regulations that govern your industry.

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

    You must register with the New Jersey Department of Treasury. Use the form NJ-REG to register.

Small business owners

Ready to get started?

Ready to get started?

Get the fastest information, worry-free services, and expert support you need.

Start Now