How to Get Business Licenses in Texas | A Comprehensive Guide

Texas Business License

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

What is a Business License in Texas?

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

3. Health and Safety Permits: Texas 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: Texas 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: Texas 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.

Texas 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 Texas

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

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

Home-Based License

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

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

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

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


How do I apply for a business license in Texas?
You can apply online through the Texas Secretary of State’s website or in person at a local county clerk’s office.
What kind of business license do I need in Texas?
The type of business license you need in Texas depends on the type of business and industry you are in.
How much does a business license cost in Texas?
The cost of a business license in Texas varies based on the type of business and industry, but typically ranges from $25 to $500.
Do I need a tax ID number to get a business license in Texas?
Yes, you need a tax ID number (or Employer Identification Number) from the IRS to apply for a business license in Texas.
How long does it take to get a business license in Texas?
Processing times for a business license in Texas can vary, but typically takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Are business licenses in Texas renewable?
Yes, most business licenses in Texas require regular renewal, often on an annual basis.
Do I need a handbook or guidelines to apply for a business license in Texas?
You can find detailed guidelines and instructions on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.
Does every city in Texas require a business license?
No, every city in Texas does not require a business license. It depends on the specific city and industry requirements.
Do I need to have a physical address to apply for a business license in Texas?
Yes, you need to have a physical address for your business in order to apply for a business license in Texas.
Is my business startup fee-tax deductible in Texas?
Depending on the type of business, startup fees may be tax deductible in Texas. Check with a tax professional or accountant for more information.
Do I need a DBA to apply for a business license in Texas?
Depending on the type of business, you may need a DBA (doing business as) filing in Texas to apply for a business license.
What is a trade name and how does it relate to a business license in Texas?
A trade name is another term for a DBA (doing business as) and is often used interchangeably when applying for a business license in Texas.
Are there any requirements to maintain a Texas business license once I receive it?
Yes, you will need to comply with all state and local regulations and licensing requirements while maintaining your Texas business license.
Can I apply for a Texas business license online?
Yes, you can apply for a Texas business license online through the Texas Secretary of State’s website.
Do I need to pass any exams or complete any training programs to get a business license in Texas?
Depending on the type of business and industry, you may need to pass exams or complete training programs to get a business license in Texas.
Are non-profit organizations required to obtain a business license in Texas?
Yes, non-profit organizations are required to obtain a specific type of business license in Texas.
How do I know which application to fill out when applying for a business license in Texas?
The Texas Secretary of State’s website provides specific information and guidance to help you select the correct application when applying for a business license in Texas.
Can I apply for a Texas business license if I have a criminal record?
It depends on the nature and severity of the criminal record. Contact the Texas Secretary of State’s office for more information.
What is the Texas business license verification process?
The Texas business license verification process verifies that your business is registered and licensed by the state of Texas.
What is the procedure to obtain a Texas license if I am currently licensed out of state?
Contact the Texas Secretary of State’s office for more information on obtaining a Texas license if you are currently licensed out of state.
Can I get a Texas business license if I don’t have a social security number?
No, you will need a social security number in order to apply for a Texas business license.
Are there state fees associated with obtaining a Texas business license?
Yes, there are state fees associated with obtaining a Texas business license.
How long is a Texas business license valid for?
The length of time a Texas business license is valid for depends on the type of license, but it typically requires annual renewal.
Does Texas require a business license for home-based businesses?
Yes, Texas requires all home-based businesses to obtain a business license.
Is my Texas business license transferable if I move my business to a new location?
It depends on the location and specific requirements of the new city or county you are moving to. Contact local county clerks office for more information.
What happens if I operate without a business license in Texas?
Operating a business without a license in Texas can result in fines and other serious consequences. It is always best to obtain the necessary license and comply with state and local regulations.
What is a business license in Texas?
A business license in Texas is a legal document that grants authorization to individuals or businesses to conduct specific business activities within the state.
Who needs a business license in Texas?
Almost all businesses in Texas require a business license to operate legally.
How do I know the type of license I need for my business in Texas?
The type of business license you need depends on the type of business you are operating. You can research online and consult with the responsible agency in Texas.
What is the cost of getting a business license in Texas?
The cost of obtaining a Texas business license varies based on the city, county, or type of business.
Do all businesses in Texas need a state license?
No, only specific business types require a Texas State license, depending on the nature of the business.
How do I register my business name in Texas?
You can do a Texas Business name search on the state website to confirm your business name availability and register it.
Is a business license the same as a Texas sales tax permit?
No, a business license and Texas sales tax permit are two different things.
Do out-of-state businesses need to obtain a license to do business in Texas?
Yes, any out-of-state business needs to apply for a Texas business license before operating in the state.
What is the difference between a Texas General Business License and a Professional License?
A Texas General business license is a mandatory licensing requirement for most types of businesses in Texas, and a professional license authorizes an individual to practice a specific profession, subject to rigorous education and training requirements.
What kind of business needs a Texas Professional License?
Professionals that need a Texas professional license include engineers, architects, contractors, and barbers, just to name a few.
Can a business license be transferred to someone else?
State business licensing agencies generally require you to apply for a new license if you want to transfer the business into someone else ownership.
Can I operate my Texas business from home and still be required to obtain a license?
It depends on the city or county’s zoning laws if operating out of your home requires obtaining permits and/or licenses.
Can my Texas business continue to operate without a license?
Operating your Texas business without a license is a punishable offense, and you may face penalty fees and civil prosecution.
What happens if I fail to renew my Texas business license?
Failure to renew your Texas business license leads to suspension and revocation of your business license.
What permits and licenses do I need to operate as a food truck vendor business in Texas?
You will usually need both a Texas business license and a Texas Food Handler Certification if you plan to sell food in a Texas food truck.
Why do I need a Texas business license to operate my business legally?
A Strongly organized Texas business license is a requirement under Texas state law to operate your business while enjoying the benefits and protection of running a legal and secure business enterprise.
What happens if someone files a complaint against my business, and I don’t have a business license?
Without a Texas business license, you could face legal penalties and lawsuits if someone files a complaint against your business.
Does a Texas business license guarantee my products or services’ quality?
No, a Texas business license does not guarantee the quality of products or services provided by your business.
How often do I have to renew my Texas business license?
Most Texas business licenses have to be renewed every one or five years.
How do I check the status of my Texas business license?
You can look at the state business licensing agency to check the status of your Texas business license.
Can I operate my business in multiple places if I have only one Texas license?
No, you need to apply for a different license for each different business location.
Is it necessary to have an attorney to apply for a Texas business license?
No, you do not have to hire an attorney to obtain a Texas business license.
As a foreign citizen, can I obtain a Texas business license?
Yes, any citizen including foreign citizens operating in Texas only must apply for a Texas business license.
Does my business require any other special permits to operate with a Texas business license?
Yes, many specific business types might require more particular kinds of licenses or permits based on their nature of operation.
How do I modify my Texas business license information after approval?
Contact the involved agency to allow you to make changes to Texas Business license paperwork.
Can a Texas business license be rejected?
Yes, if your company requires special authorization or doesn’t follow the entered specifications, then authorities may reject your application form.

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