Legal requirements to open a business

You did. The business of your dreams has become reality. In running your business, you have a lot to think about on a daily basis: overhead, profit, employee satisfaction. However, one of the most important issues to consider is whether or not you will need a federal business license to legally operate your company (See also: Licenses and permits to open a business).

What you need to get “Federal Business Licenses”

Keep going as we take you through the different types of federal business licenses with which you should be familiar.

Entrepreneur Identification Number (EIN)

With the exception of Sole Proprietors, most types of businesses must apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) regardless of whether they have employees. Visit the IRS site to find out if you need an EIN and, if so, if you are eligible to apply through the IRS online application.

Licenses and permits

Most businesses do not require a federal license or permit. However, if you are involved in one of the following activities, you should contact the responsible federal agency to determine the requirements for doing business:

Registration of the intellectual property

The federal registry of intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, trade names, and copyrights, provides business owners with exclusive use of intellectual property in the United States, as well as in a large number of foreign countries. (See more about how to register a trademark)

Beer and alcohol sales permits

If you are in the business of manufacturing, wholesaling, importing, or selling alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, or hard liquor, you will need a federal permit. This list includes distilleries, breweries, or wineries. The Office of Alcohol, Tobacco and Commerce (TTB) has strict rules regarding when, where, and how alcohol can be handled, so make sure you know the laws and get the correct permits or you could face hefty fines or even risk going out of business altogether. (See more about obtaining a license to sell beer and alcohol.)

Radio, television and broadcasting

Today it’s not terribly difficult to stream a creative podcast or film a TV series from the comfort of your own home, as you can reach hundreds, if not thousands, of audience members with just a few components. If you participate in these activities, you may be required to obtain a permit from the FCC. Especially if you are broadcasting a radio show, you will be required to pass an exam even if you are an amateur.

Firearms, ammunition and explosives

Every time your business is involved in the manufacture, trade and import of firearms, ammunition and explosives, you will have to comply with strict requirements under the law. The ATF it also regulates these activities in an effort to ensure that the welfare of the general public comes first. Make sure your business meets all licensing requirements or consult an attorney for assistance.

Next steps

You have identified that you may need a business license, now what? Consulting a qualified business law attorney can make all the difference. Whether you’re looking for information on the type of license you’ll need, or how to make sure you’re complying with the law, an experienced attorney in your area can help.

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