What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in New York?
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.
Before applying for any licenses, the business structure 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
General 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 business type. 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 filing 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 Syracuse’s city limits 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.
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 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 State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a New York State Resale Certificate to not pay sales tax to purchase merchandise that is being resold to customers.
A variety of occupations 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.
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. A sole proprietor without employees can use the business owner’s Social Security Number.
There is no cost for an EIN, and it only takes a few minutes to get.
Assumed Name Registration
While not a small 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, DBA, or Trade Name) with the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the business is located.
These are just some of the most common business licenses a new business will need to register before starting. 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.