How to Get Business Licenses in Delaware | A Comprehensive Guide

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Delaware Business License

Starting a new business is an exciting venture, but it’s essential to understand the various licenses required to operate legally within Delaware. Forming an LLC in Delaware requires licenses, as different industries and locations have specific regulations. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to Delaware Business Licenses, helping you navigate the process and ensure your new venture complies with all necessary requirements. By understanding the permitting landscape in Delaware, you can ensure that your business is fully prepared to succeed while avoiding potential legal pitfalls.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you easily obtain a business license in Delaware. You must be guided by all the factors gathered in this article.

What is a Business License in Delaware?

A business license is a legal authorization, permit, or document that allows a business to operate within a specific jurisdiction, such as a city, county, or state. Delaware business licenses are issued by Delaware Secretary of State and ensure businesses comply with applicable laws, regulations, and standards in their respective industries.

A business license protects public health, safety, and welfare by ensuring businesses operate responsibly and lawfully. Acquiring a business license often involves registering the business, paying applicable fees, and meeting specific requirements or qualifications for the type of business.

Business licenses can vary greatly depending on the location and nature of the business. Some common types of business licenses include:

1. General Business License: This is a basic license required for most businesses to operate within a specific jurisdiction, such as a city or county.

2. Professional and Occupational Licenses: These licenses are specific to certain industries or professions, such as healthcare, construction, real estate, or cosmetology, and are typically issued by state licensing boards or agencies.

You must have a professional and occupational license to form Delaware General Partnership and offer your service. 

Here are some examples of Professional and Occupational Licenses:

  • Medical License: Physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals must obtain a medical license to practice medicine in a specific state. The Delaware medical board issues this license after verifying the applicant’s education, training, and examination results.
  • Realtor License: To become a realtor in Delaware, you must obtain a real estate license to buy, sell, or lease properties on behalf of clients. Delaware has its own real estate commission or board responsible for issuing licenses and regulating the industry.
  • Contractor License: General contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other construction professionals must often have a contractor license to work in Delaware. 
  • Cosmetology License: Professionals in the beauty industry, such as hairstylists, estheticians, and nail technicians, must obtain a cosmetology license to provide services. Delaware Boards of Cosmetology oversee licensing and regulations for this industry.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) License: Accountants who wish to become a CPA in Delaware must designate and provide specific services, such as auditing financial statements and obtaining a CPA license from Delaware’s Board of Accountancy.
  • Architect License: Architects must obtain a license to practice architecture in Delaware. This typically involves meeting education and experience requirements and passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).
  • Attorney License: Delaware Business Attorneys must obtain a license to practice law in a particular jurisdiction, typically by passing the state’s bar examination and meeting other requirements set by the Delaware bar association.

3. Health and Safety Permits: Delaware businesses involved in food service, hospitality, or other industries directly impacting public health and safety may require specific permits from local health departments or regulatory agencies.

4. Environmental Permits: Delaware businesses that involve activities that may impact the environment, such as waste disposal, air or water emissions, or hazardous materials handling, may require permits from local, state, or federal environmental agencies.

5. Sales Tax License: Delaware businesses that sell goods or services may be required to collect sales tax from customers and remit it to the appropriate tax authority. A sales tax license is typically required to collect and remit sales tax legally.

Delaware business owners must research the specific licensing requirements for their business in their jurisdiction and obtain all necessary licenses and permits to operate legally and avoid potential fines, penalties, or legal troubles.

Requirements For Getting Business Licenses in Delaware

If you start an LLC or any other type of business, you must wait until your Delaware business registration is complete. Once you have completed the necessary steps to register your business in Delaware, you must be prepared with the required documents to apply for business licenses.

  • Name of your company
  • Phone number and company address
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN)
  • Your company’s legal structure (Corporation, Partnership, or LLC)
  • Your business strategy, which includes revenues and costs

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How to Get a Business License in Delaware

To get a business license, you must follow the guidelines below, including determining if your Delaware business requires a license or permit, identifying the appropriate licensing agencies, researching license and permit requirements, completing and submitting license applications, and maintaining license and permit requirements.

Step 1: Determine The Required License or Permit

The first step in obtaining a business license is determining if your business needs one. Some businesses may not require a license or permit, while others may need multiple licenses depending on their industry and location. Some businesses typically require some form of licensing or permit:

  • Professional services, such as medical, legal, and accounting
  • Food establishments, including restaurants, bars, and catering businesses
  • Retail businesses, including stores, shops, and online retailers
  • Construction and contracting companies
  • Manufacturing and industrial businesses

State Licenses

The licenses that you must get first are the licenses within the state. Delaware state licenses require individuals or businesses to engage in certain activities or professions legally. The state government issues these licenses and serves as proof that the license holder has met certain qualifications and standards set by the state. The types of licenses vary depending on the profession or activity, including but not limited to healthcare professionals, contractors, real estate agents, and drivers.

State licenses assure the public that the license holder has undergone the necessary training and education to perform their duties safely and competently.

Federal Licenses

Federal licenses in Delaware are granted by federal agencies and are required for certain activities and industries that fall under federal jurisdiction. These licenses ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations and are necessary for individuals or businesses engaged in the following services.

  • Agriculture: License issued by The U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Aviation: License issued by The Federal Aviation Administration
  • Alcohol & Tobacco: License issued by The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  • Ammunition, Explosive, & Firearms: License issued by The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
  • Commercial Fisheries: License issued by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service
  • Mining & Drilling: License issued by The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
  • Nuclear Energy: License issued by The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Radio & Television (Broadcast): License issued by The Federal Communications Commission
  • Transportation by Sea: License issued by The Federal Maritime Commission
  • Wildlife & Fisheries: License issued by The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Obtaining a federal license in Delaware involves meeting specific criteria and adhering to federal laws and regulations, which can vary depending on the activity or industry.

City-Based License

City-based licenses in Delaware are granted by local municipalities and are required for certain activities or businesses operating within the city limits. These licenses ensure businesses comply with local regulations and ordinances and typically cover business operations, health and safety, zoning, and permits.

City-based licenses vary depending on the location and the nature of the business, but examples may include restaurant licenses, liquor licenses, taxi licenses, and street vendor licenses. Obtaining a city-based license in Delaware involves submitting an application, paying the necessary fees, and meeting specific requirements set by the local government.

Home-Based License

Home-based licenses in Delaware are required for individuals or businesses that operate from their residential property. These licenses regulate and permit activities conducted within a residential setting, such as home-based businesses or rental properties. Home-based licenses ensure these activities comply with local regulations, building codes, zoning requirements, and health and safety standards.

The specific requirements for obtaining a home-based license in Delaware can vary depending on the type of activity and the local municipality but typically involve submitting an application, paying any necessary fees, and meeting specific criteria set by the local government.

Professional License

Professional licenses in Delaware are mandatory for individuals pursuing specific careers or professions that require specialized knowledge, skills, and expertise. The state government grants these licenses and serves to regulate and ensure the competency and ethical practice of professionals in fields such as law, medicine, engineering, teaching, and accounting.

To obtain a professional license in Delaware, individuals must meet education, experience, and examination requirements specific to their profession. These licenses assure the public that they receive services from qualified professionals and protect consumers from potential harm or malpractice.

Step 2: Identify the Delaware Licensing Agencies

Once you’ve determined that your business requires a license or permit, you must identify the appropriate Delaware agencies responsible for issuing these documents. In Delaware, numerous agencies oversee licensing and permitting, including:

  • Delaware Secretary of State: This office is responsible for issuing licenses for many professional services, including legal, medical, and accounting.
  • Delaware Department of Health: Food establishments, healthcare providers, and other businesses related to health and safety may require licenses from this department.
  • Delaware Division of Revenue: If your business sells goods, you may need a sales tax license or permit from this department.
  • Delaware Department of Labor: Businesses that involve construction or contracting may need licenses from this department.
  • Local City or County Governments: Depending on your business’s location, you may also need to obtain licenses or permits from your local government.

Step 3: Research License and Permit Requirements

After identifying the appropriate agencies, research the specific requirements for each license or permit your business needs. This may involve reviewing the Delaware agency’s website, contacting their office directly, or consulting a legal or business professional. Some common requirements for obtaining a business license or permit include:

  • Completing an application form
  • Providing proof of insurance or bonding
  • Passing background checks or inspections
  • Paying application fees

Some licenses or permits may have ongoing requirements, such as annual renewals, inspections, or reporting.

Step 4: Complete and Submit License Applications

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information and documents, complete the application forms for each required license or permit. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions provided by each Delaware agency, as incomplete or incorrect applications can lead to delays or denials.

In addition to the application forms, you may also need to submit supporting documentation, such as:

Proof of Business Registration

You can find it on the Delaware Secretary of State’s website. There should be a search feature specifically for businesses. This will often be labeled “Delaware Division of Corporations Entity Search“. In the search feature, enter the name of the business you are looking for, and once it appears, you will now have proof of your business registration.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Aside from opening a bank account, you must have an Employer Identification Number in Delaware to file and submit for a business license. An EIN, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your business for tax purposes. You’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account, file taxes, and hire employees. 

The application of an EIN in Delaware can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The online EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that the Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is four weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone-International Applicants – International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

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Proof of Insurance, Bonding, or Worker’s Compensation Coverage

To have a business license, you need proof of insurance, bonding, or worker’s compensation. You need to obtain a certificate or policy document as additional documents for your proof of insurance. Also, there is a database of businesses with worker’s compensation coverage or require businesses to register their insurance or bonding information. Visit your Delaware Department of Labor, Department of Insurance, or another relevant agency website for information about the business’s coverage.

Professional Certifications or Licenses

As I have mentioned, if you will form a general partnership and offer your service, you must have professional certifications or licenses. 

Submit your completed applications and the Delaware business license fee, which ranges from $50 – $300. The processing times for license and permit applications can vary, so plan accordingly and allow ample time for approval.

Step 5: Maintain License and Permit Compliance

Once you’ve obtained the necessary licenses and permits for your Delaware business, it’s essential to maintain compliance with all requirements. This may include:

  • Keep your Delaware licenses and permits current by renewing them on time, typically annually.
  • Reporting any changes to your business, such as a changing Delaware LLC address. You may amend your Delaware Certificate of Formation if you change anything in your Delaware business.
  • Maintaining proper insurance, bonding, or worker’s compensation coverage.
  • Complying with any inspection, reporting, or record-keeping requirements.

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Additional Considerations

In addition to the steps outlined above, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind when navigating the Delaware business licensing process:

  • Licenses and permits are often industry-specific, so research your business type’s requirements.
  • Some businesses may need licenses or permits from multiple agencies at the state and local levels. Be sure to research and comply with all necessary requirements to avoid complications.
  • If your business operates in multiple locations or across state lines, you may need to obtain licenses or permits for each jurisdiction in which you operate. You can form Delaware Foreign LLC
  • Stay informed about licensing and permitting requirements changes, as regulations can change over time.

FAQs

What is required to obtain a business license in Delaware?
A completed business license application, proof of insurance, and applicable license fees.
Is a Delaware business license required to conduct business in the state?
Yes, all businesses operating in Delaware must have a business license.
What types of businesses need to obtain a business license in Delaware?
All businesses operating in Delaware, including those based out-of-state but doing business in the state, must obtain a business license.
Is a separate business license required for each location of my business in Delaware?
Yes, a separate business license must be obtained for each physical location of your business in Delaware.
How much does it cost to obtain a business license in Delaware?
The cost varies depending on the type of business and location, contact the Secretary of State for more information.
What is the process for obtaining a Delaware business license?
An application must be submitted to the Division of Revenue and all applicable fees and insurance documentation should be included with the application.
Can I still conduct business while my application for a Delaware business license is pending?
No, all businesses must have a license before operating in Delaware.
Can I transfer my business license from another state to Delaware?
No, a new license must be obtained for businesses operating in Delaware.
How long does it take to obtain a Delaware business license?
The length of time to obtain a Delaware business license varies depending on the type of business and location, contact the Secretary of State for more information.
Are there any penalties for operating without a Delaware business license?
Yes, there are penalties and fines for operating without a Delaware business license.
What types of payment are accepted for Delaware business license fees?
Delaware accepts cash, credit cards, and checks for business license fees.
When is the deadline to renew my Delaware business license?
Delaware business licenses must be renewed annually and the deadline varies by the type of business, contact the Secretary of State for more information.
Is a general business license sufficient for all types of businesses in Delaware?
No, businesses may require additional licenses and permits depending on their industry and location, it’s best to check with the Secretary of State.
Are out-of-state businesses required to obtain a Delaware business license?
Yes, out-of-state businesses doing business in Delaware must obtain a Delaware business license.
Can I apply for my Delaware business license online?
Yes, businesses can apply for a Delaware business license online.
Can I get a Delaware business license for free?
No, Delaware business licenses require payment of applicable fees.
Are there any exceptions for nonprofits to obtain a Delaware business license?
No, all businesses operating in Delaware including non-profits must obtain a Delaware business license.
Is a business license required for home-based businesses in Delaware?
Yes, all businesses operating in Delaware including those based out of a home must obtain a Delaware business license.
Does Delaware require businesses to obtain a separate license for seasonal businesses?
No, seasonal businesses are not required to obtain a separate business license in Delaware.
How can I check the status of my Delaware business license application?
Businesses can check the status of their Delaware business license application online or by contacting the Division of Revenue.
What types of insurance documentation are required for a Delaware business license application?
Delaware requires proof of insurance for general liability and workers’ compensation, among others.
Is a Delaware business license transferable between owners?
No, a Delaware business license is not transferable and a new license must be obtained by the new owner.
Are Delaware business licenses taxable?
No, Delaware business licenses are not taxable.
Can I operate a business under my DBA without a Delaware business license?
No, a Delaware business license is required to operate a business under any name.
Does Delaware require businesses to be fully operational prior to obtaining a business license?
No, obtaining a business license is required prior to operations in Delaware.
Is the cost of a Delaware business license tax-deductible?
Yes, the cost of a Delaware business license is generally considered tax-deductible.
Are Delaware business licenses transferrable between locations?
No, a new business license must be obtained for every location of the business in Delaware.
Is a Delaware business license a legal requirement?
Yes, all businesses operating in Delaware are required to obtain a business license.
Can I renew my Delaware business license in person?
Yes, you may renew your Delaware business license in person at your local Division of Revenue office.
What is a business license in Delaware?
A Delaware business license is a permit that allows individuals or companies to operate a business in Delaware.
Why do I need a business license in Delaware?
Delaware law requires that all businesses operating in the state obtain a license before starting operations.
Who needs to obtain a business license in Delaware?
All businesses that operate within the state of Delaware, including sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, and LLCs, are required to obtain a Delaware business license.
How do I obtain a business license in Delaware?
To obtain a business license in Delaware, business owners must first register their business with the Delaware Division of Revenue, and then apply for a business license.
How long is a Delaware business license valid?
A Delaware business license is valid for one year and must be renewed annually.
What is the cost of a Delaware business license?
The cost of a Delaware business license depends on the nature of the business and the county in which it will be located.
How long does the process take to obtain a business license in Delaware?
The process to obtain a business license in Delaware generally takes only a few weeks, but can vary depending on the complexity of the business.
Can I operate my business without a Delaware business license?
No, businesses are required to obtain a Delaware business license before operating in the state.
How do I register my business for a Delaware business license?
Business owners can register their business for a Delaware business license by filing a Delware Institute of Incorporation, or registering with the Delaware Division of Corporations.
Do I need a Delaware business license if I am just an online business owner?
Yes, all businesses that operate within the state of Delaware, even online businesses, are required to obtain a Delaware business license.
Do I need a separate business license for each location in Delaware?
Yes, business owners are required to obtain a separate Delaware business license for each county or municipality in which they operate.
What types of businesses need a Delaware business license?
All types of businesses that operate within the state of Delaware, including restaurants, retail shops, and professional services, require a Delaware business license.
What documentation is required to obtain a Delaware business license?
Business owners must provide certain identification information as well as documentation verifying their business type in order to obtain a Delaware business license.
Can I apply for a Delaware business license online?
Yes, the Delaware Division of Revenue provides an online application portal for business owners to obtain a Delaware business license.
How do I renew my Delaware business license?
Delaware business licenses can be renewed by submitting a renewal application through the Delaware Division of Revenue.
What happens if I don’t renew my Delaware business license?
Businesses that don’t renew their Delaware business license may be subject to penalties, fines, and legal action.
Can I sell products or services without a Delaware business license?
No, businesses are required to obtain a Delaware business license before selling products or services in the state.
Can I transfer my Delaware business license?
No, Delaware business licenses are non-transferable.
Can I get a Delaware business license if I have a criminal record?
The Division of Revenue will review all applications and may refuse to issue a license based on the applicant’s criminal record, but it is not necessarily an automatic disqualification.
How do I change my business information on my Delaware business license?
Business owners can update their business information through their online portal or by submitting a change request with the Division of Revenue.
How do I cancel my Delaware business license?
Business owners can cancel their Delaware business license by filling out a cancellation request with the Division of Revenue.
Where do I display my Delaware business license?
Business owners must display their Delaware business license in a conspicuous location at their place of business.
Do I need to obtain any other permits or licenses for my business in Delaware?
In addition to a Delaware business license, certain businesses may require additional permits or licenses depending on their industry and location.
What is the penalty for operating a business in Delaware without a license?
Operating a business in Delaware without a license can result in penalties, fines, and legal action.
How long does it take to receive a Delaware business license once approved?
Once approved, it generally takes only a few days to receive a physical Delaware business license in the mail.
How do I obtain a certified copy of my Delaware business license?
Business owners can obtain a certified copy of their Delaware business license by contacting the Division of Revenue.
Do I need to provide proof of insurance to obtain a Delaware business license?
While it is not required to obtain a Delaware business license, many businesses will need to obtain certain insurance policies to operate legally in the state.

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Conclusion

Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits is crucial in starting a new business in Delaware. Following the steps outlined in this guide and consulting with the appropriate agencies or professionals, you can ensure that your business complies with all state and local requirements. This will protect your business from legal issues and help establish your reputation as a responsible and trustworthy business operator.

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