What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Minnesota?

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What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Minnesota?

Starting a business in Minnesota 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 Minnesota.

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

Related: Comparison of Business Entities

Learn more about forming an LLC in Minnesota

Also see: Steps to starting a business in Minnesota

General Business License

There is no general state of Minnesota 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.

Minneapolis – The Office of Business Licenses & Consumer Licenses issues business licenses for businesses operating in the City of Minneapolis, regulating certain types of businesses such as contractors, dry cleaners, food-related businesses, tanning salons, and more.

St. Paul – The City of St. Paul requires a business license for businesses such as auto body shops, bakeries, bed & breakfasts, restaurants, and several more.

Rochester – Businesses such as contractors, ice cream vendors, mobile food vendors, tree trimmers, and more will need to register with the City Clerk.

DuluthBusiness Licenses are required for any business operating in the city limits of Duluth. A few businesses requiring licensing include; bowling alleys, garbage collectors, massage therapists, and towing services.

Bloomington – The Bloomington City Clerk‘s Office issues city licenses for businesses offering garbage services, massage therapists, pawnbrokers, tanning salons, and more.

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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 the city code, 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.

Minnesota Tax ID Number

Minnesota businesses need to apply for a Minnesota Tax ID Number with the Minnesota Department of Revenue if they:

  • Sell products and taxable services (Learn more about the Minnesota Sales Tax Permit)
  • File as a partnership or corporation
  • Have employees
  • Are a vendor or receive payments from a Minnesota state agency

Certificate of Exemption

Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Minnesota 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 Minnesota include; cosmetologists, accountants, caterers, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for professions are available from the State of Minnesota.

Food Service Businesses

Every food service establishment or retail food business in Minnesota must comply with its local zoning ordinances and the state and local building, fire, electrical, food, and licensing codes. Food service businesses include restaurants, caterers, food producers, hotels, motels, and lodging establishments that serve food.

Contractor License

The state does not license commercial and general contractors, but many cities require them to register with the city and be bonded before the city will issue building permits or conduct inspections of their projects.

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 fee 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 business 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 Secretary of State.

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 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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