Business Licenses in Texas: What You Need To Know

Starting a business is a dream that’s shared by millions of Americans. It’s a way to express your passion, make money, and even meet new people. That said, creating a business is easier said than done. There are often legal channels you need to go through and licenses you have to acquire. While this may seem overwhelming, the good news is that we’re here to help. We’ll take you through everything you need to know about business licenses in Texas.

Read on to learn everything you need to know below.

What Is a Business License?

Business licenses are licenses that businesses need to obtain if they want to do business. These licenses can be required by state governments, city governments, or even county legislation. Depending on where you live, the laws will change, and many state governments delegate the need for a business license to city, county, or town governments.

These licenses aren’t anything fancy. Typically, they’re documents that state that you can do business in a state. So, it’s not like having a driver’s license that will fit in your wallet. Many businesses like to obtain a license, even if it’s not required, because it makes consumers feel more at ease.

Overall, these are just permits from local governments.

Do You Need a Business License in Texas?

No, you don’t need a business license to start a business in Texas. There are no state laws that require you to have one. However, specific cities or counties may require a business license because it comes down to local regulatory agencies.

Additionally, you may need a specific license if you plan on selling a specific service. For example, you’ll need a liquor license to sell liquor.

What Cities in Texas Require a Business License?

Texas state law doesn’t require you to have a business license. However, many counties and cities in Texas have their own laws about business. We provide some examples of these cities and counties below.

  • Houston: In one of Houston’s counties, Harris County, businesses don’t need a license, but they have to register commercial properties.
  • Dallas: You’ll need a Certificate of Occupancy in Dallas as well as industry-specific licenses.
  • San Antonio: In San Antonio, businesses operating out of commercial properties will need a Certificate of Occupancy as well as industry-specific licenses.

These are only a handful of examples of cities and counties where you need a business license in Texas. Therefore, it’s important to check local laws in your area.

How Much Does a Business License Cost in Texas?

The cost of a business license in Texas varies depending on the industry, location, and type of license. Some licenses will only cost $10 to $20, but others may cost several hundred or even thousands. For example, licenses for something that can be considered a vice may cost several hundred because of the risks associated with them. You may also have to pay for zoning permits, and many of these costs are annual. You’ll have to do a deep dive into your industry’s rules to get an accurate estimate.

Do Business Licenses Have To Be Renewed?

In most cases, yes, business licenses in Texas need to be renewed. There are different schedules for renewal depending on the industry and where you’re located. For example, Dallas may require more frequent renewals than San Antonio. Always contact the agency where you received your license to be sure about the process for renewal in Texas.

What Types of Business Licenses and Permits Are Available in Texas?

Texas has several types of business licenses available. Most of them are industry-specific licenses, but some unique ones aren’t found in every state. Learn about the local permits and certifications that you need to get started in Texas below.

Local Permits

When running a business in Texas, you’ll need permits. These permits are required by local governments and vary depending on your county. Depending on your business, you may need different types of permits. So, keep this in mind.

We list the most common local permits in Texas below.

  • Health Permits: Health permits ensure that your business is compliant with state and local health regulations
  • Environment Permits: Environmental permits are required if you need to dispose of waste.
  • Building Permits: When you want to build on a property or expand it, you’ll need a building permit in some counties or cities in Texas.
  • Signage Permit: If you want to add signage to your property or place signs somewhere, some cities in Texas require a permit.
  • Zoning Permit: Zoning permits come down to where you plan on doing business. In Texas, these requirements vary by city.

Resale Certificate

A resale certificate is a special certificate that goes above and beyond the basic seller’s permit. This is because it’s for people who buy and sell used items. Common industries for this practice include flipping, eBay stores, and used car dealerships. Anything you resell that’s used requires a resale certificate if it’s something you’re doing as a business.

Seller’s Permit

A seller’s permit differs from most local permits because it’s something that the state of Texas requires. This means that you need one of these permits anywhere in Texas if you plan on selling or renting something to someone. Only a select few businesses don’t need a seller’s permit, so it’s wise to pursue one.

Industry-Specific Licenses

Texas requires industry-specific licenses if you plan on doing business in some sectors. While Texas doesn’t have many laws requiring a license, these industries do regardless of where you’re located.

Examples of some industries that require these licenses include the following:

  • Alcohol and liquor
  • Massage
  • Legal counsel
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical work
  • Law
  • Medical practices

These are only some of the specific industries that require licenses according to Texas state law. Always check your industry before starting a business in Texas to determine if you need a license.

Federal Licenses and Permits

Regardless of where you do business in the United States, the federal government has permits, licenses, and regulations. These need to be followed, even in Texas. While Texas has loose regulations on licenses, the federal government does not when it comes to specific industries.

Below, we list some examples of businesses that are controlled by the federal government.

  • Aviation
  • Agriculture
  • Transportation
  • Nuclear power
  • Drilling and mining
  • Maritime transportation and shipping
  • Commercial fisheries
  • Wildlife and fish
  • Broadcasting (radio and television)
  • Alcohol sales, serving alcohol, distributing alcohol
  • Explosives, firearms, and ammo

These are the industries that will require a business license from the federal government, even if you live in Texas.

What You Need To Start a Business in Texas

Starting a business in Texas is easy as long as you know what you need. Aside from getting a business license, you’ll also need a solid business plan, company, and local or federal permits. Learn about some of the steps to start a business in Texas below.

Create a Company

When you want to get a business license in Texas, you need to have the foundation of the company established. There are several things necessary to create a company, and Texas won’t consider you for a license until you get your affairs in order.

Some things you’ll need to start a company include the following:

  • Business tax ID (EIN)
  • A name for your business
  • Certificate of insurance for your company’s insurance policy
  • A business plan that projects growth and revenue
  • The type of company you’re creating (LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership)

When you want to create a company in Texas or anywhere in the United States, you’ll need these things in order. Otherwise, you won’t get approved for a business license.

Apply for Your General Business License

When you want to do business in some industries, you’ll need a business license. This only applies to licenses specific to industries or federally regulated industries. However, some counties in Texas will require a general license. You can get this license by finding your local county clerk’s office or by going online to visit the Texas Municipal League.

Always check your specific industry to see what is required to get a license in Texas.

Apply for Your Seller’s Permit

Texas doesn’t require you to have a license, according to state law at least. Instead, you’ll need a seller’s permit to conduct business in the state. This is also known as a sales tax permit. Sales tax permits are necessary if you plan on selling taxable services, leasing property, or leasing tangible items.

Other than this permit, you may need industry-specific licenses if you plan on doing business in the state. In fact, there are separate regulatory agencies that manage businesses in Texas.

Apply for Federal Licenses and Permits

Federal licenses may also be necessary if you plan on going into agriculture or other areas you’ll need a federal license. Aside from licenses, you’ll need permits for some types of business depending on the type of property or service. For example, you’ll need permits for firearm sales, alcohol sales, and some other types of products.

Where Can You Register a Business in Texas?

Texas business licenses can be granted by going through the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Their website has information about local rules for starting a business.

You only need permits based on the county you’re operating out of and a sales tax permit, so usually, you only need to go through local government agencies.

When you need permits and other things for your company, you can visit the county clerk’s office or website. They’ll have information about zoning laws and permits based on your county.

These are some of the things you need to start a business in Texas.

Business License in Texas FAQ

Have questions about starting a business in Texas? We have answers for you below.

Do You Need a Lawyer To Get a Business License in Texas?

No, you don’t need a lawyer to secure a business license in Texas. In fact, you don’t need a lawyer to help you with any of the steps required to open a company in Texas. Lawyers can speed up the process, but they can cost upwards of $1,000. Plenty of government websites are available to help you every step of the way, which will help you save time and money.

Do You Need a Business License as a DBA (Doing Business As)?

Yes and no. Not every state requires a DBA license, but you’ll need some type of licensing if you plan on operating a business. In many states, you’ll also have to follow local regulations and file for permits if you plan on operating in certain sectors. Ultimately, DBAs have similar rules to follow as LLCs and other business entities.

Do You Need a Business License To Sell Online?

Yes, you’ll need a license if you plan on selling things online in Texas or if you want to conduct any type of business. While you might not need a general business license, you’ll at least need a seller’s permit. The license will be based on your company’s listed address. This also applies to companies that plan on selling things in-person and online.

Get Licensed in Texas Today

Texas is one of the easier states to conduct business in. At the state level, you don’t usually need a license unless you work in a specific industry. However, always be aware of local regulations and laws that may require you to have a license for industry-specific business.

While the state doesn’t require a business license, you’ll need a sales tax permit for most types of businesses. This is required for most companies if you plan on selling a good or service.

These rules aside, getting started in Texas is a breeze!

Team BusinessNerd

Our team of legal experts and business professionals have years of experience and are dedicated to providing accurate and up-to-date information to our readers.

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