What Business Licenses and Permits are Needed in Pennsylvania?
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.
Before applying for any licenses, the business entity will first 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 Pennsylvania
General 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. Businesses will also 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.
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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 Permit – A 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.
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, 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.
A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services. A few common occupations 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.
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 of 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.
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 Pennsylvania Department of State.