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Most small and home-based businesses will only require a local business license or permit.
It is easy to determine what your local licensing requirements are. Simply call or visit your city or county government offices (usually in the courthouse) for information about licensing requirements. Nearly all businesses will require a county or city license to operate. The license is easy to obtain and normally only requires a short visit to the local courthouse. Fees, if any, are small.
If you intend to operate a business from your home, be sure to also check local zoning requirements (again, at the courthouse) as well as any property covenants. Zoning requirements are those laws that regulate how property can be used and in some cases, some activities may not be allowed.
Certain businesses and professions will also require a State license. Examples include attorneys, barbers, contractors, dentists, most businesses serving food, and social workers. Each State has an agency dealing with these types of businesses. Determine if your business requires a State license by contacting your local government offices. They should be able to give you information as to whether your business will require State licensing. In some cases, these licenses can be expensive.
For a very few businesses, Federal licensing is required. Examples would be a business that is engaged in providing investment advice or dealing with firearms. In general, Federal licensing is required if the business is highly regulated by the government.
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