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North Carolina Business License

After you have registered your LLC or business corporation in North Carolina, what is the next step towards making the business entity operational? You need to check whether your business requires a North Carolina company license or not. If a business entity requires a license or permits and if you have not applied for one, then even after registration or incorporation, your business will not be able to become operational.

It is important to understand that there is no single general license for businesses operating out of North Carolina. At the same time, some businesses may be subjected to several state licensing requirements while others might not require a business license at all.

How to Get a Business License in North Carolina

How do you find out if your business requires a permit or a license, or both? Who is the issuing authority for a business permit or license? How do you apply for business license in North Carolina? Will a business entity require a single license or multiple licenses or permits? The only way to answer these questions is by understanding the process of business licensing.

The following steps would provide guidance towards acquiring a business license in the state of North Carolina:

Step#1: The Industry or Business Type

The type of industry or the activities of a business entity helps in identifying the type of business license required in the state of North Carolina. The licenses or permits to transact in the state re issued either by state agencies or county clerks. There is a host of boards as well as commissions that administer the issuance of over 700 specialty business licenses and permits.

Let’s look at an example to understand this well.

Type of Business/Industry

  • Food establishment and other food services – License is issued by Food & Drug Protection Division of North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
  • Liquor selling and serving – Permits are issued by North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission
  • Entertainment Business – A business license is issued by different counties and hence you will be required to apply for the same at the county office your business is situated in.
  • Family child care home and Child care center – License is issued by Division of Child Development and Early Education (NCDHHS)

The bottom line is that you need to check the industry your business belongs to like a restaurant would belong to the “Food Establishment” industry.

Step#2: Licenses issued by City/County

If your business or industry type doesn’t fall under a statewide license then you will have to check with the local city or county office. A business license in North Carolina can also be issued by local counties or cities in which the business is located.

Let’s take a look at an example to understand this better.

City/County: City of Raleigh, NC

If you are planning to start a business in City of Raleigh, NC then you have to apply for and acquire a business license through the Revenue Services Division.

The type of license or permit as well as the required fee is determined by the type of business.

If you were to set up a business that provides Amplified Entertainment then you will require a business license by paying a fee of $500.

The license will be due annually on June 30, and the renewal fee would be $100

On the other hand, if your business is situated in a “defined hospitality district” then you would be required to apply for a Hospitality District Entertainment Permit.

Download Sample Application

Step#3: Issuance of a Business License

How is a business license in North Carolina issued? You have to identify the following to complete the process:

  1. The type of business or industry
  2. Do you need a license or a permit?
  3. Will it be issued by the state or the city?

Once you have identified the above, all you need to do is either download the application online or contact the concerned state department or city of clerk office.

It is important to note that a business license or permit will have to be renewed annually unless specific dates have been mentioned, to keep the business operational.

You can also check the Directory of State Business Licenses and Permits to get a full list of businesses that are issued licenses by various state agencies.

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