Oklahoma business license

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Oklahoma

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

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The first part of building any business is turning it from a dream into a reality. That’s an enormous step to take. It involves not only financial vision and strategic decision-making but also a thorough review of all compliance requirements. 

As you get your business going, you must meet any and all Oklahoma business license requirements. Acquiring all of the necessary Oklahoma state business licenses can take quite a bit of research and effort. However, don’t get discouraged. We are ready to help you sail smoothly through this administrative compliance process. Take a few moments to learn about the types of permits and licenses you might need for your Oklahoma business, and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.

What is a business license?

Every business has to have some form of state license or permit before it operates legally. That said, each of the fifty states has different license and permit requirements. There are also different requirements that come into play at the federal, municipal, and county levels. Finally, you’ll need to obtain specific license and permit requirements based on your business’s industry. 

Every state handles the business licensing process a little differently. They have various names for their business licenses and permits and may require them in different situations. Some states mandate that all businesses obtain a general, all-purpose business license. Other states require that businesses get a permit only for certain issues, such as taxes, land use, and environmental compliance. 

Because business license requirements vary so much between states, it’s critical to understand which Oklahoma state business licenses and permits are mandated for your company based on its activities and industry. Although Oklahoma offers some general guidance on license and permit requirements on it Oklahoma Commerce website, it doesn’t have an exhaustive centralized licensing database where you can look up all of this information. As you might imagine, finding all of this crucial information yourself requires ample amounts of time. But we can help make this process easier.

Step 1: Search for any necessary Oklahoma general business licenses

Oklahoma doesn’t have a general license requirement. Nor does it require any kind of other licenses for most businesses. Business activities that don’t need any kind of Oklahoma state business license include:

  • Cleaning services
  • Lawn care and maintenance service
  • Home and kitchen appliance repair and installation
  • Computer and IT services

Although Oklahoma doesn’t mandate a general business license, many counties and municipalities throughout Oklahoma require general business licenses. So it’s important that you find out precisely what business licensing requirements exist in your location. 

Oklahoma business licenses vs. Oklahoma business registration

Many new business owners confuse the process of getting Oklahoma business licenses with registering their business in Oklahoma. But these processes are very different. 

To register your business in Oklahoma, you have to assemble and submit certain documents to the Oklahoma Secretary of State. Examples of required documents include Articles of Incorporation for Oklahoma corporations and Articles of Organization for limited liability companies (LLCs) in Oklahoma. If you need help forming your business entity, we can help you launch your business idea with our Oklahoma business formation services. 

Once you’ve chosen your business’s structure and registered it with Oklahoma, you can begin acquiring all of the business licenses and permits that you need to operate. 

Step 2: Obtain applicable federal licenses for your Oklahoma business

The federal government has special license and permit requirements for businesses that operate within certain industries. If you don’t obtain all of the necessary federal business licenses, you can face all kinds of fees and penalties. In extreme situations, the federal government can even dissolve your business. Below are the most common business industries that have federal regulations requirements.

  • Importing or transporting animals, animal products, plants, or certain biological products/technologies across state lines might require licensing/permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Manufacturing, importing, or selling (wholesale or retail) alcoholic beverages might require licensing/permission from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and from the Local Alcohol Beverage Control Board 
  • Operating aircrafts, maintaining aircrafts, or transporting people and/or cargo by air might require licensing/permission from the Federal Aviation Administration
  • Dealing, manufacturing, or importing firearms, ammunition, or explosives might require licensing/permission from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • Conducting business in wildlife-related activity and/or wildlife-related products might require licensing/permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Dealing with commercial fishing requires licensing/permission from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service
  • Providing ocean transportation and/or shipping (or helping ship) cargo by sea might require licensing/permission from the Federal Maritime Commission
  • Dealing with drilling for natural gas, minerals, or oil on federal lands might require licensing/permission from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
  • Dealing with nuclear materials or being a fuel cycle facility might require licensing/permission from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Broadcasting information over radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable might require licensing/permission from the Federal Communications Commission
  • Operating oversized or overweight vehicles might give you the need for assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation for help with getting state permits

Step 3: Check for Oklahoma permits and licenses

Again, Oklahoma doesn’t require a general business license. Instead, Oklahoma has certain industry-specific state licensing and permit requirements. Below are a few applicable Oklahoma permit and license requirements. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. 

Wholesale businesses

A wholesaler is any business that buys and receives merchandise within the state, and then sells and directly delivers that merchandise to retail businesses within Oklahoma. Oklahoma wholesalers must receive a general sales tax permit from the Oklahoma Tax Commission. 

Transportation

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) offers a variety of licenses for transportation companies, especially those which engage in trucking activities. 

Restaurants

Oklahoma requires that restaurants obtain a food establishment license from their local county health department office. In addition, restaurants must obtain food handlers’ permits for any employees that handle and prepare food. To learn more, visit Oklahoma’s State Department of Health.

Alcohol

Restaurants that want to sell beer, wine, or spirits to customers have to obtain liquor licenses from the Oklahoma Alcohol Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission (ABLEC). Rather than acquiring just one general liquor or alcohol license, businesses must obtain several different licenses. These different licenses are based on the type of alcohol your business serves.

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

In addition to federal and state requirements, businesses must observe all local licensing requirements. Consequently, you need to do your due diligence to learn about your county or municipality’s business licensing requirements. Oklahoma has 77 counties and 597 municipalities. Many of these carry their own business license requirements. For example, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Muskogee all offer their own local business license.

The best place to start your search for any local business license requirements is at your local county or municipality website. Another good resource to visit is the county clerk’s office and the local tax office. 

Step 5: Search for applicable Oklahoma professional licenses

Almost every profession in the State of Oklahoma is subject to some form of regulation. Some professionals, such as lawyers, physicians, and nurses must obtain an Oklahoma state license. Others just need to register with the state before performing work. 

Oklahoma doesn’t have one specific agency for regulating and licensing professionals. Instead, there are many separate state boards and committees responsible for issuing licenses and permits. For instance, the Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health licenses counselors. The Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision issues licenses for medical professionals. Finally, the Oklahoma State Department of Education mandates a teaching certificate for all teachers. Other regulated professions include:

  • Professional engineers
  • Land surveyors
  • School-based mental health professionals
  • IT Professionals
  • Psychologists
  • Cosmetologists
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists
  • Attorneys
  • Social workers
  • Architects

If your business needs to obtain a professional license, then you can visit the state’s website and search for your industry in the search box at the top-right corner. 

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

You may need to obtain other licenses and permits based on your business’s industry and activities. It’s essential to remember that the applicable requirements vary widely from one business to another. A dentist’s office, for example, will face different regulations than an at-home tech repair company. Potential additional permits include:

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

The best way to discover whether you need other business licenses and permits is by checking the website of your business’s local municipality or county. For example, Oklahoma City lists most of its required licenses and permits on its city website. Just head to the Development Services page and look for business licensing. You can also call Oklahoma City’s Development Services Licensing Division at (405) 297-2606. 

Step 7: Apply for Oklahoma home-based business licenses

Home-based businesses face different requirements than traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. City and county zoning laws are the main source of regulations for home-based businesses. As with other business regulations, zoning requirements vary widely by location. However, there are some common requirements for issues like: 

  • Occupancy 
  • Parking 
  • Business hours
  • Emergency exits
  • Signage

Regulations also commonly restrict the kinds of merchandise that can be sold from the home. 

Step 8: Maintain your Oklahoma Licensing

There is no universal time limit for Oklahoma business licenses. Instead, Oklahoma state business licenses expire between one and eight years, based on the regulations of the applicable professional licensing board. 

It’s critical to make sure your business is always in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. By complying with all regulations you can avoid paying pay penalties, fees, or suffering other legal consequences. 

Let us help you run your Oklahoma business 

The regulatory landscape for new businesses can seem overwhelming for new business owners. Understanding which permits and licensing requirements apply to your business can be challenging. Maintaining compliance and keeping abreast of new regulatory developments can take up additional time. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to scour the internet by yourself. We offer a Business License Report service to help you 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. After that, you receive a concise summary of all the applicable requirements for your business. That way, you can focus on growing your business instead of scrolling through web pages for information. 
We also offer a Worry-Free Compliance Service to notify you of any upcoming filing deadlines and compliance events. With advance notice, you can minimize the chances that your business falls out of compliance. And in the unlikely event that your business does fall out of compliance, we’ll provide you with an action plan to get back in compliance right away.

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 Oklahoma businesses need a license?

    It depends. Oklahoma doesn’t have a state-wide general business license. However, all new businesses in Oklahoma have to register with the Secretary of State. Furthermore, your business has to obtain certain licenses and permits based on its location and industry type. Various federal, state, and local agencies regulate these licenses and permits.

  • Can you sell things without a license in Oklahoma?

    Technically, yes. However, Oklahoma has a statewide sales and use tax. Therefore, most businesses have to register with the Oklahoma Tax Commission unless otherwise exempted.
    Depending on what your business does and where it operates, you will likely encounter additional Oklahoma state or local regulations. Check with your locality and licensing agency to determine your sale license requirements.

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

    Generally, yes. However, individual counties and municipalities often 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 an Oklahoma home business.

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

    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 and use tax, and comply with any industry-specific requirements.

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

    Not necessarily. However, you do need to register with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Contact the OTC for further information.

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