What Business Licenses and Permits are Needed in Pennsylvania?

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Starting a business in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania.

Business License – There is no general state of Pennsylvania 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. 

Philadelphia – A Commercial Activity License is needed for any business operating in the city limits of Philadelphia.  

In addition, businesses will need to register with the Philadelphia Department of Revenue for a Business Income and Receipts Tax ID

Pittsburg Certain businesses such as bed & breakfasts, antique dealers, tow trucks and others will need to obtain a Business License from the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections.

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.

Pennsylvania Sales Tax License – All businesses selling products and services subject to sales tax in Pennsylvania are required to register for a Pennsylvania Sales, Use and Hotel Occupancy Tax License, also known as Form PA-100, from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Sales Tax Exemption Certificate – Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Pennsylvania Sales Tax Exemption Certificate (often referred to as a Resale 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 Pennsylvania include; architects, barbers, vehicle dealers and many more.   Additional information, fees and licensing requirements for professions are available from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

In addition to professional licenses, businesses in a variety of industries need other types of licensing such as food establishments, daycares, salvage yards and many others require licensing.

Fictitious 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 a Fictitious Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the Pennsylvania Department of State.


These are a few of the most common business licenses, but there are way too many licenses and permits in Pennsylvania 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.