What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Indiana?

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What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Indiana?

Starting a business in Indiana will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in Indiana.

Before applying for any licenses, the business entity will first need to be established. Learn more about the differences between the sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Forming a corporation or LLC is done through the Indiana Secretary of State, Business Service Division.

Related: Comparison of Business Entities

Learn more about forming an LLC in Indiana

Also see: Steps to starting a business in Indiana

General Business License

There is no general state of Indiana business license, however, many cities require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does. Below are a few cities that have business license requirements.

Indianapolis – Certain types of activities require a business license in Indianapolis, such as alarm companies, businesses with five or more coin-operated machines, groomers, massage businesses, and more. The Small Business Center issues business licenses for businesses operating in the City of Chicago, regulating industries such as retail stores, food establishments, day care centers, manufacturing facilities, auto repair shops, and many more.

Fort Wayne – The City of Fort Wayne requires certain businesses to obtain licensing, such as kennels, home-based businesses, businesses selling alcohol, and more

Evansville – Businesses such as street vendors, precious metal dealers, and others need licensing from the City of Evansville. 

South Bend – Some businesses need to register with the City of South Bend, such as pet shops, alarm installers, restaurants, and more.

Bloomington – The City of Bloomington requires licensing for childcare providers, pawnshops, taxis, and more.


Building & Zoning Permits

Zoning – Depending on the location of the business, it’s important to verify whether the business needs an occupancy permit or has specific zoning regulations to follow. Depending on city requirements, home-based businesses may need to apply for a home occupation permit.

Building Permit – A building permit may be needed from the city or county building and planning department if there is any construction or renovations to a facility.

Signage Permit – Some municipalities require a permit before adding signage.

Done for you license research

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Business Tax Application

Most businesses operating in the state that are selling a product or offering certain services will need to register for a Registered Retail Merchant Certificate (also referred to as a sales tax permit) by filing the Business Tax Application (BT-1) with the Indiana Department of Revenue.

Sales Tax Exemption Certificate

Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain an Indiana Sales Tax Exemption Certificate to not pay sales tax for merchandise resold to customers.

Professional License

In Indiana, there are over 400 different professional licenses, permits, etc., that are required before providing certain products and services. A variety of occupations in the state are regulated, such as home inspectors, interior designers, manicurists, plumbers, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for occupations are available from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.

In addition to professional licenses, businesses in a variety of industries such as food establishmentsdaycaressalvage recyclers, and many others require licensing.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN (also referred to as a FEIN, Federal Employer Identification Number, or Federal Tax ID Number). The EIN is the business equivalent of a Social Security Number for an individual. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number.

There is no cost for an EIN, and it only takes a few minutes to get.

Learn how to apply for an EIN

Assumed Name Registration

While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for an Assumed Business Name (also known as a Doing Business As, DBA, or Trade Name) with the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the business is located.


These are just some of the most common business licenses a new business will need to register before starting. Before starting your business, be sure to check with City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.

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