What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Michigan?

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Starting a business in Michigan 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 Michigan.

Business License – There is no general state of Michigan 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. 

Detroit – In order to open a business in Detroit, a Certificate of Occupancy is required from the Zoning Division before operating a business out of a building.  After the building is approved for use, a Business License is required from the Business License Center.

Grand Rapids The City of Grand Rapids requires a business license for certain businesses such as dance halls, home-based businesses, mobile food vendors and more. 

Warren – Some businesses operating in the city limits of Warren are required to be licenses by the City Clerk  such as bowling alleys, self-serve car washes, caterers, tattoo parlors and several others

Sterling Heights – Every business operating in the city of Sterling Heights must register with the City Clerk.  The registration fee is $50 and is a one-time fee. 

In addition to the Business Registration, certain businesses such as banquet & event facilities, tattoo studios, junk yards, businesses selling alcohol and several more. 

Lansing – The City Clerk’s Office issues business licenses for entities operating billiard rooms, health clubs, ice cream vendors and others.  

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN or Employer Identification 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.

Michigan Sales Tax License – Retailers & wholesalers selling tangible personal property, some contractors and certain services in Michigan need a register for a Sales Tax License from the Department of Treasury. 

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

Professional License – A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services.  A few common professions that require licensing in Michigan include; antique dealers, bakeries, car washes, lawn services, dog groomers, photographers and many more.   Additional information, fees and licensing requirements for professions are available from the Michigan Bureau of Professional Licensing.

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 Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the business is located.

These are a few of the most common business licenses, but there are way too many licenses and permits in Michigan for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, check with the City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.  Additionally, there are companies like IncFile or CorpNet that can do the research to ensure you have the proper federal, state and local licenses.