How to Get Business Licenses in Minnesota | A Comprehensive Guide

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Minnesota Business License

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

What is a Business License in Minnesota?

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

3. Health and Safety Permits: Minnesota 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: Minnesota 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: Minnesota 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.

Minnesota 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 Minnesota

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

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

Home-Based License

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

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

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

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

FAQs

What forms do I need to fill out to obtain a business license in Minnesota?
The forms you need depend on what type of business you want to start and where you will operate it.
Is a business license required in Minnesota?
Yes, most businesses must register with the Minnesota Secretary of State and obtain necessary licenses and permits from state and local agencies.
Is there a fee to obtain a business license in Minnesota?
Yes, there may be fees for filing paperwork and obtaining licenses and permits.
How long does it typically take to obtain a business license in Minnesota?
The timeframe for obtaining a business license depends on the complexity of your business and the number of licenses and permits required.
Can I renew my business license online in Minnesota?
Yes, you can renew your business license online through the Minnesota Secretary of State website.
How often do I need to renew my business license in Minnesota?
The renewal period varies by license type and local requirements, but many licenses need to be renewed annually or every few years.
What are the consequences of operating a business without a license in Minnesota?
Operating a business without the necessary licenses and permits can result in fines, legal action, and potential closure of your business.
Where can I find information on what licenses I need for my Minnesota business?
You can visit the Minnesota Secretary of State website or contact your local Minnesota city or county office to inquire.
Is a business name registration required in Minnesota?
Yes, you must register your business name with the Minnesota Secretary of State or your local county.
How do I choose a business name in Minnesota?
Your business name must be distinct from existing Minnesota businesses and comply with state laws governing business entity names.
Do I need a Minnesota business license if I operate my business from my home?
Yes, you may need a home occupation permit in addition to other licenses and permits to operate a business from your home.
Can I transfer my Minnesota business license to another owner?
Depending on the license, it may be transferable to a new owner. Contact the licensing agency to inquire about the transferability of your specific license.
Are non-profit organizations required to have a business license in Minnesota?
Non-profit organizations may still need to register with the Minnesota Secretary of State and obtain licenses and permits from state and local agencies.
How can I obtain a Minnesota business tax ID number?
Register for a Minnesota tax ID number through the Minnesota Department of Revenue website.
Is a Minnesota business license the same as a Minnesota driver’s license?
No, a business license and driver’s license serve different purposes and are issued by different state agencies.
What type of businesses require a Minnesota special license or permit?
Specific industries such as food service, childcare, and construction require additional licenses and permits in Minnesota.
How much does it cost to obtain a construction license for my business in Minnesota?
The cost of a construction license in Minnesota can vary depending on construction type. Contact the licensing agency for more information.
What are the requirements for obtaining a liquor license in Minnesota?
Requirements for obtaining a liquor license vary by region and local requirements. Contact your local licensing agency for more information.
How can I obtain a license to operate a food truck in Minnesota?
Contact the Minnesota Department of Health for information on how to obtain licenses for food truck operation.
Can I obtain a business license online in Minnesota?
Yes, many Minnesota business licenses can be obtained online through portals such as Minnesota’s Electronic Licensing System.
Are there any professional licensing requirements for Minnesota businesses?
Yes, businesses in certain professions such as medicine and law may require additional licenses from the corresponding professional boards in Minnesota.
Do I need a separate permit to operate a business at a Minnesota farmer’s market?
Contact the local farmer’s market association to inquire about special permits required to sell at markets in Minnesota.
What are the legal requirements for child care businesses in Minnesota?
Child care businesses in Minnesota are required to have licenses from the Minnesota Department of Health and comply with Minnesota’s daycare licensing laws.
Is insurance a requirement for obtaining a Minnesota business license?
Some Minnesota business licenses require insurance, while others do not. Contact the corresponding agency for more information on your license’s insurance requirements.
Do I need a business license in Minnesota to operate as a freelancer?
Freelancers who are operating a business must register with the Minnesota Secretary of State and obtain any necessary licenses and permits.
Do I need to submit a Minnesota business plan to obtain a business license?
Some types of businesses may be required to provide a business plan when registering with the Minnesota Secretary of State or obtaining necessary licenses and permits.
How can I obtain a Minnesota wholesale sales tax ID number?
Businesses wishing to make purchases for resale in Minnesota should contact the Minnesota Department of Revenue to obtain a wholesale sales tax ID number.
What do I do if I need help with obtaining a business license in Minnesota?
Contact your local Minnesota county, city, or chamber of commerce for help navigating Minnesota’s business licensing requirements and procedures.
What is a business license in Minnesota?
A business license is a permit or registration that allows a person or business to legally operate within the state.
Do I need a business license in Minnesota?
It depends on the nature of your business. Some business types require a license for operation in Minnesota.
How do I know if my business needs a license in Minnesota?
Contact the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office to determine if your business requires a license in MN.
How do I obtain a business license in Minnesota?
The requirements and application process differ based on the type of license you need. Contact your local city or county office about application procedures.
How long does it take to obtain a business license in Minnesota?
The license processing times vary greatly depending on the county in Minnesota, check with your local authorities.
What if I don’t obtain a business license in Minnesota?
It’s illegal to operate a business in Minnesota without proper licensure, and you could face hefty fines and penalties.
Are there any resources to help me obtain a business license in Minnesota?
Yes, visit the Minnesota Business First Stop to explore information on starting a business, license fees, and requirements.
Does a business have to be established before obtaining a license in Minnesota?
No, in Minnesota a business does not have to registered to get a business license.
Does a foreign business have to register in Minnesota if they want to obtain a license?
Yes, in many cases foreign businesses operating in Minnesota must obtain an appropriate business license.
How does the Minnesota Sales Tax apply to business licenses?
The state sales tax requirement depends on your business operations and the type of license or certificate you need.
What is the difference between a state and a local business license in Minnesota?
State business licenses are in addition to local or county licenses, and these serve unique purposes; check with your local authorities.
Can I operate as a business before receiving a Minnesota license?
No, operating as a business without proper licensing is illegal in the state of Minnesota.
Is it possible to transfer a business license from another state to Minnesota?
No, a Minnesota business license will give you the authority to operate in the state, and a license from another state cannot be transferred for use in MN.
Do non-profits need business licenses in Minnesota?
Yes, some non-profit organizations are still required to obtain a business license.
Do I need a new business license if I move my business to a new location in Minnesota?
It depends on the type of business license and if the jurisdiction changed in-between.
Is it required to post the business license where it will be visible?
Absolutely, a business license must be posted in plain sight in all locations where business is conducted in Minnesota.
How long is a business license valid in Minnesota?
The duration of license validity depends on the type of business license. Some business licenses require annual renewals.
Are home-based businesses required to obtain a business license in Minnesota?
Yes, home-based businesses must still comply with applicable rules, and proper licensure is necessary.
Is a business license the only form of licensure needed for certain business types?
Some types of businesses such as childcare, food, or public safety businesses might require compliance with additional requirements above the license process.
Does the Minnesota Department of Revenue offer help with business licenses?
Yes, with specific industry-focused licenses, the state provides guidance brochure such as providing sales tax information to farm businesses.
Can a license expiration date be changed in Minnesota?
It is not widely allowable. You may have contact authorities who can allow moving/adding operating locations.
What is a Combination Liquor and Food License in Minnesota?
Licensed necessary to serve food with liquor sales. This requires several forms that will be submitted with the Special Event License application.
Is it possible to get a regulatory permit from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (USDA) online?
Yes, the USDA offers permits electronically via its site. Maintaining all needed compliance, like accounts or product testing.
Can I renew a business license online in Minnesota?
It depends on the license type, check with the MN Secretary of State if your license allows for renewal through their website Portal.
As a sole proprietor, do I need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to apply for a business license in Minnesota?
Typically either Social Security Number (SSN) or the EIN can be used when applying, ask with the agencies responsible due to each requirement subject to business type.
Can a business reopen with an expired business license?
No operation of business with any expired licensure is illegal, operating with an expired business license is illegal in MN.
Is a bachelor’s degree mandatory to obtain a MN business license?
There is no need for a bachelor’s degree to obtain the business license. However, licensing requirements may be increased for specific industry and profession types.
Can a Minnesota licensed business legally operate in another state?
No, a business license obtained in Minnesota is not valid in other states.

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Conclusion

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