State and local governments typically keep close track of the businesses, both large and small, that operate in their jurisdictions. The federal government has rules and regulations pertaining to certain businesses as well. The exact requirements are typically unique to the kind of business you run.
Serving Alcohol Involves Federal and State Governments
If you're in the food and beverage business, and if you want to sell alcohol, you'll need a liquor license. States or local governments issue these licenses, usually for a fee. You may also need a special "assembly" permit, depending on the occupancy capacity of your establishment.
If your business is the type that attracts many customers at once, such as a bar or nightclub, you must usually have your premises inspected by the fire department to ensure that it's not a fire hazard. Liquor retailers are also required to register with the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Additional Permits If You Serve Food
A small business that serves alcohol may also be required to have food available for patrons. If you sell food, with or without alcohol available, you'll probably need a food service health permit from your city or state, subject to health code inspections.
If your small business is a retail store, you'll need a license to sell. Typically, your municipality would govern these licenses. Some city codes have special rules that apply if you're planning to display your merchandise outdoors, such as if you have a sidewalk sale to clear out old inventory. These permits are usually available on a one-time basis.
Spas and Salons Have Their Own Rules
Most states require professional licenses authorizing individuals to work in particular fields. Any business that involves physical contact with customers or clients, for example, usually requires professional licenses for all employees. If you're a hands-on business owner, you'll need a license as well. This includes everyone from physicians to manicurists and hairdressers.
Does Your Business Use Flammable Materials?
Permits depend on the materials your company uses as well as the nature of your business. Typically, flammable substances are subject to regulation by your local government. A garage or even a hair salon might use flammable or combustible materials in the course of a day's work. You can contact your local fire department to find out what the permit and inspection requirements are in your municipality.
A Business Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding business licenses and permits is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a business lawyer.