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What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Missouri?

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Missouri?

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Missouri?

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Missouri?

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Missouri?

Starting a business in Missouri 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 Missouri.

Before applying for any licenses, the business entity 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 Missouri

Also see: Steps to starting a business in Missouri

General Business Licenses

There is no general state of Missouri 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.

Kansas City – All businesses need to complete a business license application when conducting business in Kansas City. They will also pay the “Profits Return Earnings Tax.” The cost of this tax is 1% of net profits.

St. Louis – Businesses operating in the city of St. Louis will need to obtain a Graduated Business License (GBL). In addition, certain types of businesses such as auto sales, catering businesses, day cares, jewelry repair businesses, and several others require additional requirements from the city.

Springfield – Most businesses operating in the city will need to get a Business License from the Springfield Finance Department. Business licensing includes home-based and commercial-based businesses.

Independence – A business operating in city limits will need to obtain a City Occupation License and possibly zoning clearance before starting the business.

Columbia – The Business License Office of City Hall issues businesses business licenses, which are required for any business activity. The cost of a new business license in Columbia is $30 for an application fee and a minimum of a $15 license fee. The license fee increases depending on the projected income of the business.


Done for you license research

Take the guesswork out of figuring out what licenses and permits are required to start your business with license research packages from IncFile and CorpNet.

For as little as $99, you can save a lot of time and know your business is in compliance with local, state, and federal requirements. 


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 approval to operate. 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.

Business Tax Registration

A business must register for the Missouri Tax Registration if it collects sales tax or employee withholding taxes. Many businesses will need to register for a sales tax license from the Missouri Department of Revenue to sell tangible personal property or providing certain fabrication, rental, or other particular services.

Merchant’s License

In addition to the state business tax registration, several counties also require businesses making retail sales of products or merchandise to obtain a Merchant License.

Check with your County Clerk’s Office for more information. 

Sales Tax Exemption Certificate

Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Missouri Sales Tax Exemption Certificate 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 Missouri include; electrical contractors, accountants, interior designers, tattoo artists, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for professions are available from the Missouri Department of Professional Regulations.

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

Fictitious 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 a Fictitious Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office.


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 City Clerk, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Missouri?

What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Missouri?

Greg Bouhl

Greg Bouhl

Welcome! My name is Greg Bouhl, and I have over 21 years as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, where I worked with over 1,600 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses.

As a small business advisor, I got fed up with clients finding inaccurate and outdated information when they were researching how to start a business online, so I launched StartingYourBusiness.com to be a trusted resource.

I'm constantly adding and revising this site, but if there is a question you have about starting a business or need help finding something, please ask!

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