Oklahoma Business License

Written by: Nik Ventouris

Last updated:

Oklahoma Business License

If you’re thinking about starting a business in Oklahoma, you might find yourself struggling when it comes to obtaining the right licenses. This is because Oklahoma doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all business license, meaning it’s your job to sift through hundreds of different permits and regulatory licenses.

Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered. This Oklahoma business license guide aims to break down the maze of licensing in this state by directing you toward the specific permits your business will need and guiding you through the steps to secure them.

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Do I Need a Business License in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, 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 business sells goods or offers certain taxable services to the public, it will need to obtain a Sales Tax Permit from the Tax Commission. This is what enables your business to both collect and pay sales tax
  • Professional Licenses: If your business offers professional or vocational services, you may also require specific industry licensing prior to engaging in any business activities. For example, businesses offering services like hair styling, makeup, and skin care must obtain a Cosmetology License from the Oklahoma Board of Cosmetology and Barbering
  • Food Permits: If your business involves serving food to the public or manufacturing food products, it’s highly likely you’ll need to secure a Food Permit from the Department of Health. This requirement ensures that your operation meets all the health and safety standards set by the state

However, this is not the only factor influencing the exact combination of licenses you’ll need — the location of your business within Oklahoma 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: Cities and counties in Oklahoma have the ability to adopt additional permits for businesses operating within their jurisdiction. For example, food trucks in the City of Broken Arrow will need to obtain a Food Permit from the local government, independent from any state-level food service license requirement from the Department of Health
  • State: There are also a number of other state-wide licenses and permits that are applicable to the whole of Oklahoma in addition to these local licensing requirements. As an example, any retail sales businesses without a physical location in Oklahoma that provide online or telephone sales exceeding $100,000 a calendar year are required to get an appropriate license from the Tax Commission
  • 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 Oklahoma

In order to get your business license(s) in Oklahoma, 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 Oklahoma, 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 Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma 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 plus legal or tax advice 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: Launching a business in Oklahoma will usually require you to get at least a few licenses from your local authorities. But don’t assume one size fits all — each city tends to have its own set of rules for these licenses. For example, businesses that sell alcohol in Oklahoma City will need an alcoholic beverage license specific to this municipality
  • Statewide Licenses: There are a number of statewide licenses in Oklahoma that your business may need to obtain. One of the most common is the Sales Tax Permit, which you’ll need to get from the Tax Commission if you are selling taxable physical goods or services. This is true even if your business operates outside Oklahoma but serves customers within the state’s borders
  • 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 business licensing requirements in this state, check out the Oklahoma Commerce website.

Step 4: Renewal of Licenses and Permits

Many business licenses must be renewed periodically every few years to keep them 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 Oklahoma business licenses is, third-party services that handle this entire process are becoming an increasingly popular option.

Alternatively, you can use a third-party service or a professional attorney for this process. This can be a good choice if you want to ensure that you avoid potential fines, as well as if you want to be as time-efficient as possible.

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 Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, getting a clearer idea of the total business license cost is difficult to calculate because it varies greatly depending on your business entity, the type of services it offers, and where it’s located.

To get a clear picture of what you’ll be spending, you’ll need to dig deep into the specifics of your Oklahoma business license requirements. Alternatively, many business owners in Oklahoma find it more efficient to hire a third-party service to handle the legwork and figure out the licensing costs for them.

Oklahoma Business License FAQ

Do you need a business license to sell in Oklahoma?

While there’s no general business license required for all businesses in Oklahoma you will still likely need a license in order to sell. Most businesses will need a general Sales Tax permit, which allows you to collect sales tax and legally sell taxable goods or services in Oklahoma, though some may also require certain additional professional licenses. For more information on this topic, see our Oklahoma Business License article.

How do I look up a business license in Oklahoma?

You can look up a business license in Oklahoma through the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s online business search tool. This feature allows you to verify a business by its name, owner, or unique registration number.

How much is it to register a business name in Oklahoma?

The cost of registering a business name in Oklahoma will vary depending on the structure of your business. For example, a typical filing fee for a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name for sole proprietorships and partnerships, is around $25. However, for Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and corporations, this filing fee can range from $100 to $300.

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

To obtain a seller’s permit in Oklahoma, you’ll need to register through the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s online Taxpayer Access Point (OKTAP). During the application process, you will be required to provide essential business information, such as the legal name and address of your business, along with your estimated sales commencement date. For a more detailed look into this process, check out our How to Get a Business License article.

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