Louisiana Business License

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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Louisiana Business License

After establishing a business entity in Louisiana, you will likely need to obtain certain licenses and permits in order to begin operating legally. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a general Louisiana business license, you’ll need to identify which of the many local, state, and federal licenses your business needs by yourself.

To help with this, we’ve designed this article to give you an idea of which business licenses you’ll need (if any). If you do need any permits or licenses, we’ll show you how to obtain them and how much you can expect this to cost.

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Do I Need a Business License in Louisiana

In Louisiana, businesses are required to obtain various licenses and permits at the local, state, and federal levels. Here’s a general breakdown:

Type of Business

Below, we’ve detailed common ways in which your business type can dictate the licenses you’ll be required to obtain, as well as specific examples of these:

  • Seller’s Permits: In order to collect sales tax, any business that sells or leases any tangible products in Louisiana is legally required to have a resale certificate (which includes a Louisiana tax account number). You can get this license by submitting an online application to the Louisiana Department of Revenue
  • Professional Licenses: There are specific Louisiana business license requirements for certain additional industries, such as accountancy, architecture, and dentistry. For a full list of the professions that require licenses, and links to the relevant regulatory boards, see the Lousiana Secretary of State website
  • Environmental Permits: Businesses involved in industries that can negatively affect the environment are often required to obtain specific permits. As an example, any businesses whose activities could significantly deteriorate the air quality must obtain an air permit from the Air Permits Division (APD) of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

However, this is not the only factor influencing the exact combination of licenses you’ll need — the location of your business within Louisiana plays an important role as well.

Location

In this section, we’ve provided a succinct overview of the potential licenses and permits that your business may need due to local, state, and federal requirements:

  • Local: It’s very common for a local government to have its own separate licensing requirements that you’ll need to adhere to, separate from any state or federal obligations. In the City of New Orleans, for example, all businesses must obtain a general Occupational License before they can begin conducting business
  • State: There are also numerous Louisiana business licenses that your enterprise may need in order to be able to get started. For instance, to be able to sell alcohol or tobacco, you would first need to be licensed by the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control
  • Federal: If your business operates within certain industries or does specific types of work, you might need a license from the federal government. These include the alcohol, aviation, firearms and explosives, radio and television broadcasting, and transportation industries, among others

Since the exact permits and licenses your business will need are entirely unique to your situation, you’ll have to conduct thorough research into your own local, state, and federal regulations to smoothly launch your business.

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How to Get a Business License in Louisiana

In order to get your business license(s) in Louisiana, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Form Your Business
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Apply for the Required Licenses and Permits

Let’s take a look at each step in more detail below.

Step 1: Form Your Business

Before setting out to obtain a business license in Louisiana, it’s pivotal that you first choose an appropriate structure for your business. Sole proprietorships, general partnerships, and corporations are all common choices, however it’s often seen as the most advantageous for small businesses in Louisiana to register as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Here are a few reasons for why:

  • Limited Liability: Members are protected from personal liability for business debts, safeguarding personal assets
  • Tax Benefits: LLCs typically enjoy a pass-through tax treatment, avoiding the double taxation that corporations are subjected to
  • Management Flexibility: LLCs allow for flexibility in management structure, either being member-managed or manager-managed based on the preferences outlined in the certificate of formation
  • Ease of Formation: With the Louisiana Secretary of State providing forms that meet the minimum state law requirements and the option to file online, setting up an LLC is relatively straightforward

Many small business owners opt to avoid the tricky process of forming an LLC by instead leveraging the help of third-party LLC formation services.

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Step 2: Obtain an EIN

The second step you’ll need to complete before applying for your business license is to obtain your EIN. This is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to businesses in the United States so that their financial transactions can be identified and tracked.

An EIN is often necessitated when applying for various permits and licenses as it allows local and state governments to ensure your business is operating within the confines of the law. You can obtain it in a number of ways:

  • Online: You can apply for your EIN on the IRS’s official website by using the EIN Assistant. You should be granted your EIN shortly after completing this application
  • By Fax/Mail: After completing Form SS-4, you can apply for an EIN by submitting it to the IRS via mail or fax
  • By Phone: International applicants and businesses located outside US Territories are required to call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to obtain their EIN — which they should receive during this call

Note: If you are a sole proprietor, you will be able to use your Social Security Number (SSN) instead (as long as you do not have employees).

Step 3: Apply for Licenses and Permits

After settling on the appropriate structure for your business and initiating the application for your EIN, the next step is to focus on securing the necessary licenses and permits to operate legally within your locale and industry.

  • Local Licenses: Depending on the industry your business is involved in, it may need to obtain several specific local permits and licenses. For instance, in the city of Shreveport, all new businesses that will undertake some form of construction, renovation, or alteration to an establishment will require building permits that are specific to this municipality
  • Statewide Licenses: In addition to the Louisiana resale certificate, which is required of almost all businesses within the state, there are a range of additional licenses your business may need in order to operate depending on the profession it works in. One example of this is the licensure architecture firms must obtain from the State Board of Architectural Examiners before they can begin
  • Federal Licenses: While the federal government doesn’t mandate licenses for general business operations, if your business falls under any government-regulated category, such as agriculture, fishing, firearms, and alcohol sales, it may be required to obtain additional federal licenses or permits

Note: For more detailed information on which licenses you may need, be sure to make use of Louisiana’s geauxBIZ tool.

Step 4: Renewal of Licenses and Permits

It’s common for most Louisiana business licenses to need to be renewed either annually or every couple of years in order to maintain them. It’s important to note that the exact renewal period, process, and deadline will depend on the board that issued the license you need to renew.

If you’re uncertain whether you need to renew any of your business’s licenses, make sure to reach out to the agency that issued your business license for clarification.

Alternatively, due to how complicated each step of applying for and renewing business licenses is, third-party services that handle this entire process are becoming an increasingly popular option.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this process, see our article on How to Get a Business License.

How Much is a Business License in Louisiana

While it’s free to obtain a Louisiana resale certificate, many other state and local licenses do have an associated fee. For instance, tobacco permits typically cost around $25, whereas the same permit for alcohol can range from $145 to $345.

On top of this, you’ll most likely also need to pay a periodic renewal fee in order to keep these business licenses valid. With that being said, the total cost of getting your business licensed in Louisiana can be tricky to estimate as it depends entirely on your situation.

To accurately gauge the total business license cost in Louisiana, in-depth research tailored to your business type and location is essential. Alternatively, many entrepreneurs choose to streamline the process and save resources by employing an external service to handle this research for them.

Louisiana Business License FAQ

Does Louisiana require a business license?

Yes, Louisiana generally requires businesses to obtain a license, though the specific type of license that is required will depend on your business structure, nature, and location. Businesses in certain sectors, such as restaurants or salons, may require additional special licenses. For a business license checklist of everything you may need, check out our Louisiana Business License article.

How much does it cost to get a business license in Louisiana?

While fees can typically range from $50 to several hundred dollars, it’s advisable to consult the relevant local and state authorities since the business license cost varies massively based on the nature of your business and the location in which it’s based.

What licenses are needed to start a business in Louisiana?

Since there’s no general business license requirement in Louisiana, the exact combination of licenses you’ll need will depend on the industry in which your business works and the location it’s based. For more information on the next step after you’ve identified the licenses and permits required, check out our article on How to Get a Business License.

How do I check the status of my business in Louisiana?

To check the status of your business in Louisiana, you can visit the Secretary of State’s website. This site provides detailed information on your filing status, whether your business is currently active or inactive, and other pertinent issues related to your operation.

For all related articles, have a look at our How to Get a Business License page.