What Licenses are Needed to Open a Barbershop?

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Quick Reference

Starting a barbershop takes more than being able to give a good haircut.  Every state requires a license to cut hair.  Additionally, there are licenses and permits needed to open a business.  Learn more about the licenses and permits that are needed to start a barbershop.

Professional Licensing for Barbers

In order to provide barber services such as hair cutting, trimming, styling and washing in addition to shaving or trimming beards, all states require the individual to get a barber license. 

The requirements to get a barber license varies by state, but generally require:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • The individual to be at least 16 years of age
  • Education from a state-approved barber school or program
  • Some states also require an apprenticeship with a licensed barber
  • Passing state exam(s), which often includes both a written exam to test knowledge and a practical test to evaluate the applicants barbering skills.

Similar to the barber, a cosmetology license will allow the holder to provide expanded services such as nails, skin care and more. 

How much does it cost to get a barber license?

The fee for a barber license will vary by state but is typically between $75 and $150. 

Barber Examination

In order to become a licensed barber, almost all states require the passing of an exam(s).  Many states utilize the NIC (National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology) National Barber Styling Examination.   This standardized exam covers topics such as infection control, basic human anatomy, properties of the hair and scalp, elements and procedures of shampooing, haircutting, shaving and more.

Find more information about barber licenses for each state below:

Barbershop Licenses

After getting a barber license, you will be well on your way to starting a barbershop.  Keep in mind that the barber license is a professional license that each state requires for an individual to cut hair and is in addition to the licenses needed to open a barbershop.  

Do you need a barber license to own a barbershop?

While it’s common to start a barbershop by getting a barber license and either begin working for an established shop or opening a new shop, there may be another option.  In most states it’s not required to have a license to own a barbershop.   The owner would not be able to cut hair, so would instead have to hire barbers.

Most states and towns/cities don’t have a specific barbershop license, however they all have requirements for starting a business.  A few of the common licenses and permits a barbershop may need include:

Employer Identification Number

Any business with employees and those that form as a partnership, corporation and in many cases an LLC, the business will need to get an Employer Identification Number or EIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

Learn how to get an EIN

Sales Tax Permit or Number

In order to sell products and/or offer services in a state, a sales tax permit is typically needed.  This permit creates an account number with the state’s Department of Revenue or similarly named taxing agency.

Learn more about sales tax permits.

Resale Certificate

When buying products such as shampoo, conditioner or styling products to sell to customers, the business can purchase these items tax-free. A resale certificate allows a business to purchase inventory and instead of paying the sales tax to their vendor, they charge the sales tax to the end-user of the product. Sales tax will still need to be paid for supplies used in the shop.

Learn more about resale certificates

Certificate of Occupancy (CO)

In most communities, a retail business will need to secure a Certificate of Occupancy before opening.  This certificate is obtained from the city and allows a business to occupy and operate from a building provided the building is in compliance with zoning, codes and any other local requirements. 

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