Nebraska Business License

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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Nebraska Business License

Nebraska business license grants an individual or company permission to perform specific activities or operate in certain jurisdictions. Because Nebraska doesn’t issue a general operating license, businesses must instead obtain a number of licenses and/or permits in order to comply with local, state, and federal regulations.

Many entrepreneurs struggle with this step in launching a business because the exact combination of licenses and permits their business needs is unique to their situation. This article aims to simplify this process and help you get your business up and running as soon as possible.

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Do I Need a Business License in Nebraska

In Nebraska, 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:

  • Sales Tax Permits: If your Nebraska business will have employees, engage in retail sales, rent or lease tangible property, or offer services subject to sales tax, you’ll need to register with the Nebraska Department of Revenue (DOR) so you can collect sales tax
  • Professional Licenses: Nebraska regulates certain professions with licenses that these businesses must obtain before they can offer their services. In order to provide tattoo services, for example, a business must first get a license from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
  • Environmental Permits: Some businesses may even need to obtain specific additional licenses if their activities have the potential to negatively affect the environment. If you plan to operate a new swimming pool, for example, you’ll need to submit an application to the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE)

However, this is not the only factor influencing the exact combination of licenses you’ll need — the location of your business within Nebraska 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: At the local level, your Nebraska business license requirements can vary based on the municipality or county in which your business is based. Contractors and tradesmen in the city of Omaha, for example, often must obtain additional licenses and permits in order to offer their services
  • State: Nebraska issues more than 270 licenses and permits at the state level, including an outdoor advertising permit, a liquor license, and a tobacco license. Your business will likely need a specific mix of these, depending on its nature and location
  • 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.

Alternatively, many entrepreneurs opt to leverage the expertise of third-party services to handle this on their behalf.

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How to Get a Business License in Nebraska

In order to get your business license(s) in Nebraska, 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 Nebraska, 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 Nebraska 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 Nebraska 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: It’s important to consult with your local county and city or town authorities to find out if you need any additional licenses or permits because these requirements can vary by municipality. In Douglas County, for example, your business will need a specific license in order to sell liquor in addition to any state obligations
  • Statewide Licenses: After confirming which local licenses you may require, remember to check which of Nebraska’s 270 different state permits and licenses your business will need. Individual regulatory bodies, such as the Nebraska DHHS, manage many of these
  • 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 the specific licenses and permits your Nebraska business may need, refer to the Secretary of State’s Business Licensing website.

Step 4: Renewal of Licenses and Permits

Many Nebraska business licenses require periodic renewal — typically every few years — in order to remain valid. 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 Nebraska

It can be tricky to accurately estimate the total cost of the business licenses you may need for your Nebraska-based business because the filing fees can differ based on your location and industry.

Generally, licenses in counties with large cities will cost more than those in less populated rural areas — particularly if they regulate specialized sectors like child care.

Determining the precise costs of your business licensing obligations will require a thorough investigation into your industry and intended location. To streamline this process, many entrepreneurs choose to hire a specialized service to handle this research for them.

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Nebraska Business License FAQ

Do I need a business license in Nebraska?

It’s likely you’ll need a business license or permit in Nebraska — especially if you plan to have employees, sell goods, or offer services subject to sales tax. Depending on your industry and location, you also may require specialized licenses in addition to a Nebraska sales tax permit. For more information, see our Nebraska Business License article.

How much does a Nebraska business license cost?

The cost of a business license in Nebraska varies widely, depending on the type of business and its location. That being said, licenses in populated areas or specialized industries do tend to have higher fees.

How do I get a seller’s permit in Nebraska?

To obtain a seller’s permit in Nebraska, you’ll need to register with the Nebraska DOR by submitting an application online. Businesses that intend to engage in retail sales, offer services subject to sales tax, or hire employees typically need this license. To learn more, check out our How to Get a Business License article.

How do you register a business name in Nebraska?

To register a business name in Nebraska, you need to file a form with the Secretary of State’s office. That office will then review your proposed name against existing entity records to determine if it’s available. The business name registration process will differ slightly, though, depending on your business structure.

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