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Iowa Business License

Once you have applied for registration of your new business, what next? The next step is to check whether your business requires an Iowa company license. If a business entity requires a license or permit and you have not applied for one, then even after registration or incorporation in Iowa, your business will not be operational.

The state of Iowa does not have, what is known as a “general” business license although some licenses and permits are categorized under “regulatory.” They can be classified under industries or state departments like:

  • Building and construction
  • Health and safety
  • Environment

How to Get a Business License in Iowa

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 Iowa? 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.

There are two steps towards acquiring a business license in the state of Iowa and they are:

The Industry or Business Type

Which industry is your business entity a part of? It is important to identify the industry as some businesses may require a business license in Iowa while others might require just a permit to become operational. Depending on the type of business, the type of license issued, the fees, etc, the duration or validity are different. Let’s look at an example to understand this well.


If you are planning to start a restaurant or food business then you need to further identify a specific segment. Some of the common segments include:

  • Brew Pub
  • Catering Privilege
  • Food Service Establishment
  • Outdoor Service Areas
  1. Brew Pub: A brew pub does not require a business license in Iowa but requires a permit that expires annually. The fee for the permit is $750.
  2. Catering Privilege: This is a regular license with an annual expiry date. You can apply for this license if you are a Class “B” or “C” liquor license holder.
  3. Food Service Establishment: If you are planning to start a full-service restaurant then you will require this business license to operate. The license allows consumption on-the-premises and is valid for 1 year. The fee varies from $67.50 – $303.75 depending on annual gross sales.
  4. Outdoor Service Area Privilege: If you wish to start a full service restaurant and allow serving of food in a designated outdoor area then you will be required to apply for this license.

Note: These are not stand alone licenses and you will require other licenses and permits to operate a food establishment.


If you are planning to start a gaming parlor or a gambling business, then the business license comes with a short-term or time bound validity.

You can apply for the following type or validity of business license for gambling:

  1. 14-Day License: This license authorizes businesses to organize an unlimited number of small lotteries or raffles as well as one large raffle during the period of validity of the license. This license also authorizes one bingo event within a period of seven (7) consecutive calendar days.
  2. 90-Day License: This business license authorizes businesses to organize an unlimited number of small lotteries or raffles as well as one large raffle during the period of validity of the license. However, it does not authorize games of chance or bingo.
  3. 180-Day License: Same as above.

Who Issues the License?

Once you have identified the type of Iowa company license you require, the next step is to file the application for the license necessary. The license or business permit information is available under one roof, i.e., at the Iowa Business License Information Center. Although, you would be required to file an application for business license with different authorities. For example Food Service Establishment License is issued by Department of Inspections & Appeals while Outdoor Service Area Privilege License is issued by the Department of Commerce.

If you have any questions regarding registration of your business, feel free to call us on 702-871-8678.

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