What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Maryland?

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What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Maryland?

Starting a business in Maryland 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 Maryland.

Before applying for any licenses, the business structure of the business will need to be established. Learn more about the differences between the sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Related: Comparison of Business Entities

Learn more about forming an LLC in Maryland

Also see: Steps to starting a business in Maryland

General Business Licenses

There is no general state of Maryland 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 licensing requirements.

Baltimore – The Baltimore Department of Finance issues licenses for businesses operating in the City of Baltimore, regulating industries such as antique dealers, bowling alleys, towing services, and many more.

Frederick – The main businesses needing a local business license in Frederick are food-related businesses (Health Department) and businesses serving alcohol (Liquor Board).

Rockville (Montgomery County) – Businesses such as retail stores, dry cleaners, plumbers, and more will need to register with the Montgomery County Circuity Clerk.

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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 PermitA 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.

Trader’s License

Businesses that sell products in Maryland will need to obtain a Trader’s License from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the business operates.

The license runs from May 1st to April 30th.

Fees for Trader’s licenses are based on the average commercial inventory that a business owns, which currently range from $15 to a maximum of $800 with the exception of Baltimore City which can be as high as $2,125.

Sales & Use Tax License

Businesses selling products and certain services will need to register for a Sales & Use Tax License from the Comptroller of Maryland.

Resale Certificate

Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Maryland Resale Certificate in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.

Occupational License

A variety of occupations in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services. A few common professions that require licensing in Maryland include; contractors, accountants, landscapers, laundry services, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for professions are available from the Maryland Department of Commerce.

In addition to professional licenses, businesses in a variety of industries such as food establishments, daycares, salvage yards, and many others require licensing. More information on these licenses is available from the Comptroller of Maryland.

Construction License / Home Improvement Licenses

Construction licenses are required for commercial work, home improvement, and new home construction. More information and applications are issued by the Clerks of the Circuit Court.

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 for 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

Trade Name Registration

While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a legal name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for a Trade Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

These are some of the most common business licenses, but there are far too many licenses and permits for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, be sure to check with the state Business License Information System, 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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