Vermont business license

How to Apply for Business Licenses and Permits in Vermont

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

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Everyone knows that starting a business is hard work. Of course, the hardest part is turning your dream business into reality. Whether it’s a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), it takes a lot of work to get past the initial formation stage. 

Once you have finished taking that step, you have to focus on the administrative side of your business. Most, if not all, Vermont businesses will need a combination of licenses and permits to operate legally. The kind and number of permits you’ll need to obtain varies based on your business’s exact location and the nature of its activities. 

Permit requirements exist not only at the federal level, but also at the state and local levels. Thus, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this process. The good news is that we are here to get you through this process as smoothly as possible. Use this guide to learn more about the kinds of permits and licenses you might need for your Vermont business, and how our Business License Report service can help you get it done easily.

What is a business license?

Business licenses and permits operate as a form of verification from the state that your business is operating in a manner that has been vetted by the state. The required licenses and permits vary according to your business’s industry. The type and number of required licenses and permits also depend on where your business is located. This is primarily because different entities operating at the federal, state, and local levels all have their own requirements.

Licenses and permits aren’t an optional part of operating a business. Consequently, it’s important to understand what Vermont state business licenses are needed for your company. Unfortunately, no central database or authority exists in Vermont where business owners can discover which licenses and permits they need. Acquiring all of this information can take up a huge amount of time and effort. 

This guide exists to help you determine how Vermont’s business license requirements apply to your business so you can remain compliant.

Step 1:  Search for any necessary Vermont general licenses

As you might imagine, a general business license is a license that all companies must possess before they start operations. Quite a few states require that all enterprises obtain a general business license before they can operate lawfully. 

Vermont doesn’t require a general business license. However, several cities in Vermont (like Burlington, for example) require all businesses to have a general business license. Therefore, your job is to understand exactly what licenses are required based on your business’s location. You should expect to do some research to determine the applicable requirements. 

Vermont business licenses vs. Vermont business registration

Don’t forget that getting a business license is different from registering your business with the state. When you register your business in Vermont, you prepare and submit the required formation documents to the Vermont Secretary of State. Whether you’re starting up a corporation, an LLC, or even a partnership, you’ll have to submit formation documents to the Vermont Secretary of State to get your business going. The state uses those documents to create your business. Once the State forms your business, you are officially registered. Once that’s done, the next step is acquiring business licenses and permits. 

Are you just getting started with forming your own business? Learn more about how we can help you get started with our Vermont Business Formation Services. 

Step 2:  Obtain applicable federal licenses and your Vermont business

The federal government regulates certain industries. If your business is involved in one of these industries, understand that you will have to obtain federal business licenses. These federal licenses aren’t optional, nor do they stand in for the business licenses required by your state or locality. If you don’t obtain the required federal licenses, the federal government may impose monetary penalties or even dissolve your business.

Rather than forcing you to figure out which industries are regulated by the federal government, we’ve included a list of the industries that require federal licenses or permits.

  • Agriculture: including importing plants, animals, or biotechnology across state lines 
  • Alcoholic beverages: meaning the manufacture, sale, wholesale, retail sale, or import of alcoholic beverages (you may need state and local permits for alcohol-related industries too)
  • Aviation: including transporting people or goods by aircraft (this covers all aviation-related industries, from sky-diving lessons to cargo delivery)
  • Firearms, ammunition, and explosives: meaning manufacturing, dealing, or importing firearms, ammunition, or explosives
  • Fish and wildlife: including any wildlife-related commercial activity (this might apply if you have a private zoo)
  • Commercial fisheries: including any kind of commercial fishing 
  • Maritime transportation: meaning transportation of cargo by sea 
  • Mining and drilling: meaning drilling for minerals, natural gas, oil or other resources (including coal and other natural resources)
  • Nuclear energy: including performing any commercial activity in the lifecycle of nuclear production or waste-handling
  • Radio and television broadcasting: including broadcasting by radio, satellite, cable, or TV signal 
  • Transportation and logistics: meaning your business operates certain large vehicles in interstate commerce (in trucking and transportation, it’s very likely that you may also be heavily regulated under state laws)

Step 3:  Check for Vermont permits and licenses

Rather than requiring a general business license, Vermont mandates that businesses obtain industry-specific state licenses and permits. Below we list a few of them. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. 

  • Alcohol related permits
  • Environmental permits
  • Food service

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

After you’ve taken care of federal and state license requirements, you can turn to local licensing requirements. Local license requirements generally involve less bureaucracy than state and federal requirements. That said, they can be more difficult to discover. Therefore, make sure you research your county or municipality’s business licensing requirements in depth. Many of Vermont’s towns and counties have their own business licensing requirements. Burlington, for example, requires that all businesses located in town obtain a general business license. Montpelier, on the other hand, requires licenses for blacksmiths, dance halls, junkyards, and restaurants.

To learn more about what local requirements apply to your business, go to the city or county website where your company is located. Two other good places to search for license requirements are the county clerk’s office and the local tax office. 

Step 5:  Search for applicable Vermont professional licenses

The majority of professions in Vermont involve some kind of regulation. Some professionals in Vermont have to acquire licenses. Others only need to register with the state. The Vermont Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) regulates the vast majority of the professions operating in Vermont. Covered professions include:

  • Accountants
  • Acupuncturists
  • Architects
  • Athletic Trainers
  • Dietitians
  • Court Foresters
  • Hearing Aid Dispensers
  • Midwives
  • Naturopathic Physicians
  • Property Inspectors
  • Social workers
  • Well drillers
  • Real Estate Appraisers

Go to the Secretary of State’s website to learn whether your profession is regulated by the OPR. You can also learn more about the licensure process of each profession by calling the OPR. 

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

Once you have obtained all profession-based and industry-based licenses, there are probably a few, more generic licenses and permits that you’ll need. For example, all businesses need to register for a Vermont Business Tax Account because of the state’s sales and use tax. Other potential permits that you will need include:

  • Environmental permits
  • Occupancy permits
  • Signage permits
  • Fire-related permits
  • Alarm permits
  • Health permits
  • Zoning permits

To learn more about what permits you might need, reach out to your local county or city authorities. 

Step 7:  Apply for Vermont home-based business licenses

Thanks to improving technology, more and more businesses exist inside residential homes. Although some license and permit requirements don’t apply to home-based businesses, these kinds of businesses aren’t excused from all regulatory requirements. For example, Vermont requires that home-based food businesses obtain licenses. Home-based businesses that use private water systems must obtain a separate certification from the state.

That said, city and county zoning laws often play a large role in determining which licenses and permits are required for home-based businesses. Regulations commonly concern issues like occupancy requirements and operating hours. Other requirements touch on matters like parking, signage limits, and what kinds of products can be sold from the home-based business. 

Step 8:  Maintain your Vermont licensing

Almost every Vermont state business license expires at some point in time. You can generally expect a license to last between one and five years. Once that time elapses, you’ll have to pay a fee to the right regulatory agency to keep that license active and current. You’ll have to maintain all required business licenses to keep in compliance with Vermont business requirements. By doing so, you can avoid having to pay penalties, fees, or suffering other legal consequences. 

Let us help make getting your Vermont business licenses easier 

The world of modern business is quite complex. With so many different levels of regulation, obtaining all of the necessary business licenses and permits can appear impossible. Just the process of discovering what license requirements apply to your business can take over all of your time. 

That said, you shouldn’t get too worried because there’s good news. Licensing your business isn’t something that you have to do all by yourself. With our Business License Report, we’ll work with you to identify which licenses and permits apply to your enterprise. Our partner will use your business location, industry, and activities to identify all of the applicable local, state, and federal licensing requirements. After that, you will receive a concise report showing all of the applicable licenses and permit requirements for your business. That way, you can rest easy knowing that your business is compliant. And you don’t have to spend hours or days making calls and scouring the web to find the information you need. 

We also offer a Worry-Free Compliance service. With this service, we’ll notify you whenever you have upcoming filing deadlines and other compliance events. That way, you can minimize the chances that your business falls out of compliance. And even if your business somehow falls out of compliance, we’ll provide you with an action plan to get you back in the game. 

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 Vermont businesses need a license?

    Vermont doesn’t require that all businesses obtain a general business license. However, almost every business in Vermont will be subject to some kind of license or permitting requirement. The applicable requirements will vary based on the business’s location and industry type.

  • Can you sell things without a license in Vermont?

    No. Vermont has a statewide sales and use tax. As a result, you’ll have to establish a Vermont corporate or business tax account with the Vermont Department of Tax unless you have an exemption.

    Independent of these regulations, your business will probably have to meet local license and permit requirements. The best way to learn more is to contact your business’s local authority or get in touch with the licensing agency that oversees your business’s industry.

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

    Generally, yes. That said, different cities and counties have a variety of regulations for home-based businesses. Depending on the locality’s zoning regulations, you may be limited in what you can sell from your home. Other home-based business regulations may regulate your business’s operating hours and signage. Contact your locality to learn more about how to legally operate a Vermont home-based business.

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

    Vermont doesn’t require that businesses obtain a special license just because they operate online. However, you will need to register your business with the state, pay state sales tax, and comply with all industry-specific license requirements.

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

    No. However, you do need to register with the Vermont Department of Tax. You may contact the department for additional information.

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