New Mexico licensing and permitting

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in New Mexico

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

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Not all people have the required vision to think of a good business idea and make it a reality. But if you’re reading this article, you may be ready to take the first steps. However, getting a business off the ground requires significant administrative work as well. Once you’ve formed your business, you need to make sure that you’ve fulfilled all New Mexico business license requirements. This process can seem complicated and overwhelming, but we are here to make things easier. Read on to learn more about the kinds of permits and licenses you might need for your New Mexico business, and how we can 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?

Virtually all businesses need to have some kind of state license or permit to operate. However, license and permit requirements often vary according to your business’s industry. In addition, different entities operating at the federal, state, and local levels will have their own distinct requirements. 

On top of that, different states have various names and purposes for these licenses and permits. Some states just require that businesses obtain a general business license, while others require that businesses get a permit only for specific issues like taxes. 

It’s essential to know what New Mexico state business licenses apply to your company’s industry and situation. Unfortunately, there isn’t one central database where you can look up all of this information. And acquiring all of this information can take up a lot of valuable time and effort. 

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

Many states throughout the country have their own mandatory business license. These states require that all businesses obtain a general business license before they can operate lawfully. 

New Mexico doesn’t require a general business license. That said, various localities and cities throughout New Mexico often have their own mandatory business license requirements. Since that’s the case, you need to figure out exactly what business licensing requirements exist in your jurisdiction. It may take a little digging to understand exactly what’s required. 

New Mexico business licenses vs. New Mexico business registration

It’s easy for new business owners to confuse obtaining a New Mexico business license with registering their business in New Mexico. Yet the two processes, while both critical, are quite different. 

Registering your business in New Mexico occurs when you prepare and submit the required formation documents to the New Mexico Secretary of State. All business entities have to submit formation documents to the Secretary of State before they come into existence. This applies to non-profit, professional, and for-profit New Mexico corporations, as well as New Mexico limited liability companies (LLCs).

Registering the business comes before the process of obtaining business licenses. Moreover, you should only register your business after thinking about what kind of business entity is right for you. Once you’ve chosen your business’s structure and registered it with New Mexico, you start the process of getting the required business licenses and permits. 

Just starting out on the process of forming your own business? Check out how we can help you get you off the ground with our New Mexico business formation services linked above. 

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

For certain industries, there are business licensing requirements at the federal level. Keep in mind these are definite requirements. You have to obtain them for your business, or else you’ll face monetary penalties or even the dissolution of your enterprise. 

Rather than making you do all this research yourself, we’ve compiled a list of the industries that require federal licenses or permits. Here are the most common industries that will run into federal regulations when seeking to start a business.

  • 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.

Step 3: Check for New Mexico permits and licenses

As mentioned before, New Mexico doesn’t require a general business license. Instead, New Mexico offers industry-specific state licenses and permits. Below are a few applicable permits. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. 

New Mexico requires that businesses serving or selling alcohol obtain a liquor license. There isn’t one general liquor license, but several varieties. Restaurant liquor licenses are offered for any restaurant that serves beer or wine. Businesses that serve alcohol need to obtain a separate dispenser license. Similarly, small beer brewers, whole liquor businesses, and wineries need their own distinct licenses. 

Environmental permits

The New Mexico Environment Department requires that several kinds of businesses obtain air quality permits.  This includes businesses that:

  • Handle food
  • Have swimming pools 
  • Produce toxic waste
  • Have septic tanks
  • Produce air pollution

Businesses serving food (whether in mobile trucks or in stationary establishments) must also obtain a permit. Finally, businesses that extract, manufacture, or process hemp must obtain the appropriate permits. 

Financial industry professionals

New Mexico requires that certain financial professionals obtain proprietary licensure. This includes anyone who serves as an investment advisor, broker-dealer, mortgage originator, or small loan issuer. Rather than one license, New Mexico requires that different financial professionals acquire different licenses. You can select the applicable license on www.businessportal.nm.gov.

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

The third and final level of licensing requirements come into play at the local level. That said, make sure you research thoroughly your county or municipality’s business licensing requirements. New Mexico has 33 counties and 106 municipalities. Many of these entities have their own business requirements. For example, the following cities require that businesses either register or obtain a local business license:

  • Albuquerque
  • Las Cruces
  • Rio Rancho
  • Santa Fe
  • Roswell

The best place to start your search for local requirements is at your business’s county or city website. Other good resources include the county clerk’s office and the local tax office. 

Step 5: Search for applicable New Mexico professional licenses

Most professions in the State of New Mexico are regulated in some form or another. New Mexico requires that some professionals obtain licenses. Others simply need to register with the state before performing work. 

The New Mexico Regulating and Licensing Department (RLD) operates virtually all of the professional licensing boards, commissions, and councils in the state. Collectively, these entities control the licensing certification of professions in New Mexico. Examples include:

  • Accountants
  • Acupuncture
  • Athletic Trainers
  • Barbers
  • Chiropractors
  • Court reporting
  • Dentists
  • Home Inspectors 
  • Massage therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Private investigators
  • Social work examiners
  • Occupational therapists

If your business needs to obtain a professional license, then your best bet is to check with the RLD. There, you can see the required licenses or permits your profession requires.

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

Depending on your business’s industry, you may need to obtain other licenses and permits. Please note the applicable requirements vary widely from one business to another. A bar is under vastly different regulations than a landscaping company. Potential permits include:

  • Occupancy permits
  • Building permits
  • Seller/reseller permit
  • Signage permits
  • Septic permits
  • Wall/Fence permits
  • Alarm permits
  • Health permits

The best way to determine whether you need other business licenses and permits is by checking the website of your business’s locality. 

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

The regulatory landscape is significantly different for home-based businesses. These businesses are largely governed by city or county zoning laws. The zoning requirements vary widely. However, common requirements touch on the separation between the business and the residential part of the home. Other requirements relate to parking, business hours, emergency exits, signage limits, and the kinds of merchandise that can be sold from the home. 

Step 8: Maintain your New Mexico Licensing

The majority of New Mexico state business licenses last between one and ten years. The regulatory agency for your business’s industry will likely determine the time period for any licenses. Following all requirements for your business keeps you compliant with the law. This compliance in turn prevents your business from having to pay penalties, fees, or other suffering other legal consequences. 

Let us help make running your New Mexico business a breeze

As you probably see by now, navigating the world of business licenses and permits can be overwhelming. Figuring out what business licenses and permits you need can completely take over your precious time. 

The good news is that there’s an easier way to find your licensure requirements than scouring the internet for hours. With our Business License Report, we’ll work with you to determine what licenses and permits you need.  Our partner uses your business location, industry, and activities to identify the applicable local, state, and federal licensing requirements. Then, you will receive a concise summary report of all of the applicable requirements for your enterprise. That way, you don’t have to spend hours or days scrolling through web pages for information. 
We also offer a Worry-Free Compliance service to keep you abreast of any upcoming filing deadlines and compliance events. That way, you can minimize the chances that your business falls out of compliance.

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 Mexico businesses need a license?

    It depends. New Mexico doesn’t have a state-wide general business license. However, New Mexico requires that all businesses register with the Secretary of State. In addition, various licenses are required based on the business’s location and industry type. Various federal, state, and local agencies regulate these licenses and permits.

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

    Technically, yes. However, New Mexico has a statewide sales tax. Therefore, everyone who engages in business in New Mexico must register with the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department unless exempted by state law.

    Furthermore, depending on what your business does and where it operates, you will likely be subject to state or local regulation. Check with your locality and licensing agency to determine your sale license requirements.

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

    Generally, yes. However, individual counties and municipalities may regulate or prohibit home businesses. Zoning regulations can limit what types of businesses can operate out of a home. Other regulations can place limitations on business equipment, signage sizes, and operating hours. Contact your locality to learn more about running a New Mexico home business.

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

    Strictly speaking, you don’t need a license to operate an online business. However, you do need to register your business with the state, pay state sales tax, and comply with any industry-specific requirements.

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

    No. However, you do need to register with the New Mexico Taxation & Revenue Department. Contact the department at (866) 285-2996 for more information.

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