How to Get Business Licenses in Maine | A Comprehensive Guide

Maine Business License

Starting a new business is an exciting venture, but it’s essential to understand the various licenses required to operate legally within Maine. Forming an LLC in Maine requires licenses, as different industries and locations have specific regulations. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to Maine Business Licenses, helping you navigate the process and ensure your new venture complies with all necessary requirements. By understanding the permitting landscape in Maine, 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 Maine. You must be guided by all the factors gathered in this article.

What is a Business License in Maine?

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. Maine business licenses are issued by Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine medical board issues this license after verifying the applicant’s education, training, and examination results.
  • Realtor License: To become a realtor in Maine, you must obtain a real estate license to buy, sell, or lease properties on behalf of clients. Maine 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 Maine. 
  • Cosmetology License: Professionals in the beauty industry, such as hairstylists, estheticians, and nail technicians, must obtain a cosmetology license to provide services. Maine Boards of Cosmetology oversee licensing and regulations for this industry.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) License: Accountants who wish to become a CPA in Maine must designate and provide specific services, such as auditing financial statements and obtaining a CPA license from Maine’s Board of Accountancy.
  • Architect License: Architects must obtain a license to practice architecture in Maine. This typically involves meeting education and experience requirements and passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).
  • Attorney License: Maine 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 Maine bar association.

3. Health and Safety Permits: Maine 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: Maine 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: Maine 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.

Maine 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 Maine

If you start an LLC or any other type of business, you must wait until your Maine business registration is complete. Once you have completed the necessary steps to register your business in Maine, 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 Maine

To get a business license, you must follow the guidelines below, including determining if your Maine 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. Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine involves submitting an application, paying the necessary fees, and meeting specific requirements set by the local government.

Home-Based License

Home-based licenses in Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine, 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 Maine Licensing Agencies

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

  • Maine Secretary of State: This office is responsible for issuing licenses for many professional services, including legal, medical, and accounting.
  • Maine Department of Health: Food establishments, healthcare providers, and other businesses related to health and safety may require licenses from this department.
  • Maine Revenue Services: If your business sells goods, you may need a sales tax license or permit from this department.
  • Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine Secretary of State’s website. There should be a search feature specifically for businesses. This will often be labeled “Maine Secretary of State Corporate Name 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine business, it’s essential to maintain compliance with all requirements. This may include:

  • Keep your Maine licenses and permits current by renewing them on time, typically annually.
  • Reporting any changes to your business, such as a changing Maine LLC address. You may amend your Maine Certificate of Formation if you change anything in your Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine Foreign LLC
  • Stay informed about licensing and permitting requirements changes, as regulations can change over time.


What is a business license and why do I need one in Maine?
A business license is a permit or registration required by the state of Maine for any commercial activity. It ensures your business operates legally and complies with state regulations and taxes.
How much does a Maine business license cost?
The cost of a Maine business license varies depending on the location, industry, and business entity type. It ranges from $25 to $500.
How do I know if I need a business license in Maine?
Every business in Maine needs a license to operate legally. However, some industries require additional permits or registrations depending on the type of business.
How long does it take to get a Maine business license?
The process of obtaining a Maine business license depends on the type of business and location. It can take anywhere from one week to several months to complete the necessary requirements.
Can I apply for a Maine business license online?
Yes, the state of Maine has an online portal called “InforME” where you can submit your application.
What documents do I need to apply for a Maine business license?
Required documents for a Maine business license may vary depending on the industry and location. Generally, you will need to provide proof of identity, ownership, and location.
Can I operate my business in Maine before I obtain a business license?
No, you must obtain a Maine business license before starting any commercial activity.
Are there any exemptions from obtaining a Maine business license?
There are very few exemptions from obtaining a Maine business license. Some of the exempted industries are agriculture, charitable organization, and certain type of service-based businesses.
How often do I need to renew my Maine business license?
You should renew your Maine business license annually or on a multi-year basis if available.
Can I transfer my Maine business license to another person?
No, you cannot transfer a Maine business license from one person to another person.
What are the consequences of operating without a Maine business license?
Operating without a Maine business license is considered illegal and can result in steep fines and penalties. This can harm your business reputation and result in a shut down of your business activity.
Is it possible for multiple people to operate under one Maine business license?
Yes, typically businesses that have multiple owners can operate under a single business license in Maine.
Can I apply for a Maine business license if I have a criminal record?
Yes, generally you can still apply for a Maine business license with a criminal record. However, denied could be based on the kind of your criminal history and business entity type.
How can I check the status of my Maine business license application?
Maine’s online portal InforME allows you to check the status of your business license application at any time.
Can I receive a temporary Maine business license if I’m still completing the required paperwork?
Maine doesn’t issue a temporary business license. However, you must hold an active business license to operate legally.
Will I need to undergo a background check to receive my Maine business license?
Yes, if you’re applying for certain industries or positions. It may vary from the nature of work.
Can I obtain a Maine business license if I operate my business from my home?
Yes, you can obtain a Maine home-based business license if you meet the requirements. Eligibility only applies if your community or zoning boundary permits it.
Do I need to pay taxes before obtaining a Maine business license?
No, you do not have to pay taxes before obtaining a Maine business  license, but you must fulfill your taxes immediately upon receiving business license.
How much liability insurance is required for a Maine business license?
Everyone who applies for Maine business license needs to fulfill at least the  minimum general liability insurance based on business activities. Exact details will vary according to industry and services.
Is a Maine business license required for a non-profit organization?
Yes, charitable organizations in Maine require a specific type of business license to ensure that engage in lawful business activities.
Can I apply for a Maine business license if I am not a US citizen?
Yes, Non-citizens must comply with the specific business requirements, then he shall be eligible to apply for a license using residential address.
How do I close my Maine business license if I no longer operate my business?
You are required to submit a request of business closure with Maine’s religious organization.
Do I need additional permits if I operate a mobile business?
Yes, a mobile business must fulfill additional permits to operate throughout Maine’s region.
Where can I find information about zoning laws and regulations in Maine?
Information on Maine’s zoning laws may be obtained through the state’s online portal, as well as its zoning departments and regional governmental bodies.
How long does it take for my Maine business license renewal to be granted?
Generally, with an active business license, applying for renewals should take less time to process then a first-time application.
Can I operate without zoning permits if I have a Maine business license?
Operating without zoning regulation permits costs penalties and legal actions by the government. An owner of business can’t operate unlicensed in Maine just overrelieving on business license docuemnts.
Will the type of Maine business license I need vary by industry?
Yes, every industry in Maine are classified based on specificity such agricultural, leading specifics and hospitality.
How can I protect my Maine business license from being stolen or misused?
Keep track of your Maine business information safely and confidential. Prevent unauthorized data access, use strong passwords to ensure that you protect your business license.
Is there a limit on the number of Maine business licenses one person or organization can have?
No, there is no limit if individuals or organizations meet Maine’s regulatory requirements to carry official documentation in their possession.
What organization is responsible for issuing Maine business licenses?
Secretary of State of Maine

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Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits is crucial in starting a new business in Maine. 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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