Starting a successful a bookstore takes more than knowing the titles of popular authors.
The question, “what business license do I need to start my business” is a common one, but in reality, a business will often need multiple licenses, permits, and registrations from federal, state, and local agencies in order to legally operate.
Related: Guide to starting a bookstore
To not miss any important licenses and permits, we recommend also checking with your local Chamber of Commerce, economic development agency, or use a business license service like Incfile or Corpnet.
What Licenses Do You Need to Start a Bookstore?
There is no specific licensing for a bookstore; however, there are general licensing requirements for starting a business. Here are a few of the common licenses and permits for a bookstore:
General Business License or Permit
Depending on where the bookstore is located, a general business license or permit may be required. A few states require a business license; however, they are more commonly found at the city level.
Learn more: Business license requirements by state
Federal Employer Identification Number
The Federal Employer Identification Number (also referred to as a FEIN, Employer Identification Number, EIN, or Federal Tax ID Number) is a unique nine-digit number that identifies a business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Any business with employees or those that form as a partnership, Corporation, and in many cases an LLC, the business will need to get an EIN.
Learn: How to get an EIN
Sales Tax Permit or Number
In order to sell products and/or offer certain services, a state sales tax permit (or tax ID number) may be needed. This permit creates an account number with the state’s Department of Revenue or a similarly named state taxing agency.
Additionally, hiring employees will also likely require a state tax number.
Learn: How to get a sales tax permit
When buying books, magazines, and newspapers 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.
A resale certificate only allows a business to not pay sales tax for items being resold, and sales tax will still need to be paid for supplies or equipment.
Learn: How to get a resale certificate
Certificate of Occupancy
In most communities, a bookstore will need to secure a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) before opening. This certificate is typically obtained from the city, but sometimes from the county, and allows a business to occupy and operate from a building provided the building complies with zoning regulations, building codes, and any other local requirements.
A Certificate of Occupancy (also referred to as a home occupation permit) is also sometimes required for a home-based business.
Before starting your bookstore business, be sure to check with the local zoning department to ensure the business can legally operate out of the chosen location.
If your bookstore will also sell coffee and any other food items, permit will be required from your local health department. In order to get a food permit, at least one employee who is serving prepared foods and drinks to the public will need to have obtained a food sanitation permit, in addition to the facility being randomly inspected.
Business Name Registration or DBA
While not necessarily a business license, it’s worth noting that in order to use a name for a business, many states require the registration of that name. Making matters more complicated, the process of name registration is different by state and the type of business entity.
For instance, sole proprietorships and partnerships generally need to register a business name (also referred to as a Doing Business As, DBA, fictitious name, or assumed name).
Learn: How to register a DBA
Corporations and LLCs register are a little easier in that their name is registered when forming the entity.
Related: What is the difference between a sole proprietorship, partnership, Corporation, or LLC?