What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in New York?

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Quick Reference

Starting a business in New York 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 New York.

Business License – There is no general state of New York 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. 

New York City – Many businesses will need a business license in New York City in order to operate.  The Department of Consumer Affairs requires businesses such as car washes, contractors, locksmiths, and several others to register. 

Buffalo Certain businesses need licensing before operating in the city limits of Buffalo.  The Buffalo Office of Licenses issues licenses to businesses such as bakers, caterers, collection agencies, landscapers and more.

Rochester – The City of Rochester has a Business Permit Program that requires businesses such as restaurants, auto mechanics and salons to register.  Businesses can complete a Business Permit Application or by visiting a Neighborhood Service Center. 

There is a $25 non-refundable application fee for a Business Permit in Rochester.

Yonkers – The City of Yonkers requires licenses for businesses operating as food vendors, contractors, laundromats, locksmiths and several others.  Licensing is through the City Clerk’s Office.

Syracuse – Certain types of businesses operating in the city limits of Syracuse will need to obtain a business license from the Central Permit Office. A few examples include; bars & restaurants, pawn shops, newsstands, snow plowing and several 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.

New York Sales Tax Certificate of Authority – Businesses that sell physical products or provide certain taxable services must register for a Sales Tax Certificate of Authority from the New York Department of Taxation and Finance.

Resale Certificate – Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain an New York 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 New York include; cosmetologists, barbers, athletic trainers, home inspectors and many more.   Additional information, fees and licensing requirements for professions are available from the New York Department of State.

In addition to professional licenses from the Department of State, businesses in a variety of industries such as food establishments, daycares, salvage yards and others also require 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 New York 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.