How to Get Business Licenses in Mississippi | A Comprehensive Guide

Steve Bennett
Business Formation Expert  |   Fact Checked by Editorial Team
Last updated: 
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Mississippi Business License

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

What is a Business License in Mississippi?

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

3. Health and Safety Permits: Mississippi 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: Mississippi 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: Mississippi 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.

Mississippi 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 Mississippi

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

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

Home-Based License

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

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

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

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

FAQs

What is a business license?
A business license is a permit issued by the government that allows you to operate a business legally.
Do I need a business license to operate in Mississippi?
Yes, all business owners in Mississippi must obtain a business license.
What are the steps to obtaining a business license in Mississippi?
You will need to register your business with the Mississippi Secretary of State and obtain any necessary permits or licenses from your local government.
How much does it cost to obtain a business license in Mississippi?
The cost varies depending on the type of business and location, so it is best to check with your local government.
Is a business license required for home-based businesses in Mississippi?
Yes, even home-based businesses need to obtain a business license in Mississippi.
Can I apply for a business license online in Mississippi?
Yes, most cities and counties in Mississippi allow you to apply for a business license online.
How long does it take to obtain a business license in Mississippi?
The timeframe varies depending on the type of business and location, but it typically takes a couple of weeks.
Can I operate without a business license in Mississippi?
No, it is illegal to operate a business without a license in Mississippi.
Are there any penalties for operating without a business license in Mississippi?
Yes, you may be subject to fines, and your business may be shut down.
What information is necessary to obtain a business license in Mississippi?
You will need to provide information about your business, such as the name and address, as well as the type of business you plan to operate.
Do I need to obtain a separate business license for each location in Mississippi?
Yes, you will need to obtain a separate license for each location where you plan to operate your business.
When should I apply for a business license in Mississippi?
You should apply for a business license as soon as you have started the process of opening your business in Mississippi.
Is a business license transferable in Mississippi?
No, a business license is not transferable in Mississippi. If you move your business to a new location, you will need to obtain a new license.
What is the process for renewing a business license in Mississippi?
Renewal processes vary depending on the location, but it typically involves updating your information and paying a renewal fee.
Can I sell products at a flea market without a business license in Mississippi?
No, you will need to obtain a business license to sell products at a flea market in Mississippi.
Can I obtain a Mississippi business license if I am not a US citizen?
Yes, as long as you are legally authorized to work in the United States, you can obtain a business license in Mississippi.
How often do I need to renew my business license in Mississippi?
You will typically need to renew your business license annually.
Do nonprofit organizations need to obtain a business license in Mississippi?
Nonprofit organizations may need to obtain a business license, depending on the type of activities they plan to engage in.
Is a business license the same as a tax registration certificate in Mississippi?
No, a business license and a tax registration certificate are two separate requirements in Mississippi.
Is insurance required to obtain a business license in Mississippi?
Insurance requirements vary depending on the type of business you plan to operate, so it is best to check with your local government.
Do home renovators need a business license in Mississippi?
Yes, home renovators and contractors need to obtain a business license to operate in Mississippi.
Can I operate a food truck in Mississippi without a business license?
No, food trucks need to obtain a business license to operate in Mississippi.
How can I check the status of my business license application in Mississippi?
Check with the local government in charge of business licensing to inquire about the status of your application.
Can I receive a refund if my business license application is denied in Mississippi?
Refund policies vary depending on the location, but most governments will at least allow you to apply your fee towards a future application.
Do I need to apply for a state or local business license in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, you typically need to obtain a local business license for the city or county where you plan to operate.
Is there a deadline to apply for a business license in Mississippi?
There is no deadline to apply for a business license in Mississippi, but you must obtain one before you start operating your business.
Can I sell crafts at festivals without a business license in Mississippi?
No, you will need to obtain a business license to sell crafts at festivals in Mississippi.
Does a business license cover all of Mississippi, or do I need to obtain separate licenses for different areas?
You will typically need to obtain a separate business license for each city or county where you plan to operate in Mississippi.
What is a Mississippi business license?
A Mississippi business license is a legal document that authorizes individuals and companies to operate a business in the state.
How do I apply for a Mississippi business license?
You can apply for a Mississippi business license through the Mississippi Secretary of State website or in person at your local Department of Revenue office.
Who needs a Mississippi business license?
Any individual or company conducting business in Mississippi needs to obtain a business license.
What information do I need to provide to obtain a Mississippi business license?
You will need to provide your business name, address, and tax identification information, as well as any applicable professional licensing information.
How much does a Mississippi business license cost?
The cost for a Mississippi business license varies depending on the type of business you have. Fees typically range from $50 to $500.
When should I apply for a Mississippi business license?
You should apply for a Mississippi business license before you begin conducting business in the state.
Are there any special license requirements for Mississippi businesses in certain industries?
Yes, certain industries such as healthcare and real estate have specialized licensing requirements in Mississippi.
How long does it take to obtain a Mississippi business license?
The processing time for a Mississippi business license varies, but it typically takes around 2-3 weeks.
Can I conduct business without a Mississippi business license?
No, it is illegal to conduct business in Mississippi without a valid business license.
What happens if I operate a business without a Mississippi business license?
You may face fines and penalties for operating a business without a valid Mississippi business license.
How often do I need to renew my Mississippi business license?
Your Mississippi business license must be renewed annually.
Can I renew my Mississippi business license online?
Yes, you can renew your Mississippi business license online.
Do I need a federal license in addition to my Mississippi business license?
Depending on the type of business you have, you may need to obtain a federal license in addition to your Mississippi business license.
How do I find out what federal licenses I need for my business?
You can find out what federal licenses you need for your business by visiting the Small Business Administration website.
Can I change my business name on my Mississippi business license?
Yes, you can change your business name on your Mississippi business license by contacting the Mississippi Secretary of State office.
What happens if I move my business to a new location in Mississippi?
You will need to update your business license information with your new address by contacting the Mississippi Secretary of State office.
Can I sell my Mississippi business license?
No, Mississippi business licenses are not transferrable.
Do I need to provide proof of insurance to obtain a Mississippi business license?
No, proof of insurance is not required to obtain a Mississippi business license.
Can I obtain a Mississippi business license if I operate an online business?
Yes, you can obtain a Mississippi business license if you operate an online business based in Mississippi.
Can I obtain a Mississippi business license if I operate a home-based business?
Yes, you can obtain a Mississippi business license if you operate a home-based business.
What business structures require a Mississippi business license?
Any business structure including sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, and corporation require a Mississippi business license.
What is the difference between a business license and a tax identification number?
A business license authorizes you to conduct business in Mississippi, while a tax identification number is used to identify your business for tax purposes.
Can I obtain a Mississippi business license if I have a criminal record?
Your criminal record may impact your ability to obtain a Mississippi business license, but it is not an absolute disqualifier.
What is a privilege license in Mississippi?
A privilege license is a Mississippi state license required to conduct certain professions such as retail sales, food sales, and outdoor advertising.
Do I need a privilege license in addition to my Mississippi business license?
Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to also obtain a privilege license in addition to your Mississippi business license.
Do I need a local business license in addition to my Mississippi business license?
Some cities and counties may require you to obtain a local business license in addition to your Mississippi business license.
Can I apply for a Mississippi business license if I have outstanding taxes or fees owed to the state?
No, if you have outstanding taxes or fees owed to the state, you will not be able to apply for a Mississippi business license until the outstanding balance is paid.
What types of businesses are exempt from obtaining a Mississippi business license?
There are no specific businesses exempt from obtaining a Mississippi business license.

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Conclusion

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