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How to apply for Washoe County general and home-based business licenses?

Washoe County is the second-most populous county in Nevada while the two major cities home to most small businesses are Reno and Sparks. The county has been a favorite destination for entrepreneurs and businesses owing to its proximity to major transportation routes and the wide variety of incentives offered by the Washoe County Community Services Department. In order to conduct business in this county, every business will require a general business license or state business license along with other local licenses and permits as necessary.

An Introduction to Business License in Washoe County, Nevada

At the heart of Washoe County is Greater Reno-Sparks, which is home to small businesses and large corporations. After acquiring the necessary general business license, 22 companies relocated to Greater Reno-Sparks by December 2019. There are more and more new businesses relocating, expanding, or registering in the county with technology related companies representing almost 40% of the relocations. The relocation of tech companies plays a vital role in strengthening the economic future of Washoe County. If you are planning to relocate or start a new business in Washoe County, do you require a business license or permit in Nevada?

Why do you need a business license in Washoe County?

A state business license also known as a general business license is mandatory for all Title 7 entities including limited liability companies and corporations and these are governed by Chapter 76 of the 2015 Nevada Revised Statutes. The state business license is not the only license that a business may be required to apply for. In fact, depending on where your business is based like a specific county or city, you will be required to apply for a local license.

If your business is based in Washoe County then you will have to obtain a general or home business license to ensure you are able to conduct your business without any obstacles. The County regulates each business in the region to protect the health and safety of the larger public. Every new business being formed in the state or county is checked to ensure they comply with all federal, state, and local regulations and codes as applicable.

A local or home business license in Washoe County may also require initial and periodic inspections by different public agencies. Licenses or permits will be issued by the county to businesses only after approval is received post inspections by public agencies. This could include inspections by police, fire, and health departments.

It is important to know that the Washoe County local or home business license serves as an important source of information for public agencies. These public agencies can get a list of different licensed businesses within the unincorporated Washoe County. The County has a team of dedicated Business License staff that can provide business or license related information to any new or existing business in the unincorporated Washoe County.

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Washoe County General Business License Requirements

If you have registered or are planning to form a new business in Washoe County then apart from the state or general business license, you may also require county business licenses or permits. The type of license required will vary depending on the type of business. The laws and regulations pertaining to licenses required for engaging in business in the county, licensing requirements, fees, renewals etc., are all governed by Chapter 25 of the Washoe County Code.

We at IncParadise understand that the licensing requirements and processes may seem daunting and confusing. Hence, we have created a home or general business license guide for Washoe County to help you identify the important aspects of licensing in the county.

Business Name Documentation

When you are applying for a home or general business license in Washoe County, there are specific licensing requirements that need to be fulfilled. One of the primary requirements is business name documentation. There are two options to consider and they are:

  • If you are forming a business corporation then you will be required to register the entity with the office of the Nevada Secretary of State. Once you have received your articles of incorporation, provide a copy of the same or a corporate seal with your general business license application to the license division, Washoe County pursuant to county code 25.017. According to NRS 78.040, you will need to reserve the name of your corporation with the Nevada Secretary of State and a copy of the same should also be attached with the license application.
  • If you are planning to use a business name that is neither your own first and last name then you will be required to file a Fictitious Firm Name (DBA) certificate. The DBA certificate has to be filed with the Washoe County Clerk. Once you receive the DBA certificate, you can file the application for general or home business license and ensure a copy of the copy of certificate is enclosed.

Note: If your business is a corporation doing business under a different name then you will have to apply for a Fictitious Firm Name certificate prior to applying for a business license.

Nevada State Business Registration

Whether you are planning to set up an LLC in Nevada or a business corporation, the first step is to register your business with the office of the Nevada Secretary of State. It is important to know that you can apply for a Washoe County general business license only after your business is incorporated or formed in the state. The business formation application is different for different types of businesses like LLC, LLP, corporation etc. The formation documents will also be different for domestic and foreign business entities. The processing time for a business entity in Nevada can vary from 10 to 30 business days.

Nevada State Taxation

A business entity formed in Nevada needs to register with the Department of Taxation prior to filing for a Washoe County home business license. You will have to file the sales and use tax permit online through IncParadise. When applying for a license or permit in Washoe County, you will be required to submit proof of tax registration in the form of a clearance letter, bill, or stamp.

There are different types of taxes that may be applicable to your business and you can read more about it at our Nevada tax guide.

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State Industrial Insurance

A business entity formed in Nevada and planning to apply for a general business license in Washoe County needs to first complete a Nevada Industrial Insurance affirmation of compliance letter. This is applicable for businesses with or without employees pursuant to NV Rev Stat § 616A.010 (2017). The affidavit of compliance is available online through and alternatively, IncParadise can assist you with the process by providing the Nevada State Industrial Insurance Compliance form. The submission of affidavit of compliance along with the licensing application is mandatory for all businesses in the county.

Stormwater Discharge Permits

There are specific commercial and industrial business activities that have to obtain a stormwater discharge permit. This permit is an additional license apart from the general or home business license and is issued by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP). The NPDES stormwater discharge permit is required if your business activity discharges stormwater into medium as well as large municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) situated in Washoe County. The stormwater discharge permits include the following:

  • Industrial Permit
  • Construction Sites: 1 Acre or more
  • Mining Permit
  • Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems
  • Large Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems

Federal or State Licenses

One of the questions that businesses registering in Nevada ask is whether they require a Federal Business license or just the state business license. Most small businesses except those based from home require federal, state or a combination of both licenses and permits. The need for these types of licenses or permits is dependent on the type of business activity, geographical location, state laws or county code. A copy of such licenses and permits needs to be enclosed with the Washoe County general business license application. You will require:

  • Federal Licenses: There are specific business activities that require Federal licenses or permits like you importing or transporting animal products, manufacturing or selling alcoholic beverages, manufacturing or importing firearms etc.
  • State Licenses: Every business in the state of Nevada will have to obtain a state business license in order to conduct business

Site Plan

If your business is home-based then you will require a home business license but if it is not home-based and is situated in any unincorporated area of Washoe County then you will be required to provide a site plan along with licensing application. The site plan provides all necessary and detailed information pertaining to the size and location of existing business structures and signs at the location you are planning to use in accordance with subsection 110.504.60(d) of Washoe County Code. Download a Washoe County Sample Site Plan.

Approvals and Agency Sign-Offs

Whether you are applying for a general business license or a specific permit, there are specific license based approvals required from different agencies. It is important to note that according to County Code 25.018, failure to obtain approval from any agency approving the operation of a business entity at a specific location or service area may lead to denial of the Washoe County business license. For example: If you are planning to open a commercial business like a storefront or a non-home based business like horse boarding then you will be required to get approvals from different County agencies so that a business license can be issued.

Business License Fees

Once you have all the necessary documents and approvals to be submitted, you can file the home business license application along with a fee of $77.75 for the first year. The Washoe County Code 25.0255 also specifies that if you were to organize temporary sales or services with or without booths, yard sales, outdoor events, leasing or sub-leasing of commercial or industrial property, and permanent exhibitions among others then there will be a separate fee specific to the activity.

Multi Jurisdiction Fees

If you are planning to conduct your business in Sparks, Reno, and unincorporated Washoe County then you will be required to apply for a separate general business license for each of the jurisdictions. The fees will be different for each jurisdiction; the fee is $85 for Reno, $109 for Sparks, and $77.75 for Washoe County. You will have to file applications separately along with all the required documents and approvals in the specific jurisdictions. In order to make the process easier, there is a multi-jurisdictional licensing process using which you can pay a combined license fee at a single location. This licensing process is available only for new business license applications.

How Can IncParadise Help you?

If you have chosen to establish your business in Nevada then it is a great decision as the state offers numerous benefits and incentives. IncParadise is one of the most reliable and reputed registered agents in Nevada that can provide valuable assistance towards helping you establish your business in the state. We provide a range of services right from business incorporation or formation, mail forwarding and annual report filing service to helping you obtain a state and general business license. How are we going to help you?

Our expert team will help you to obtain a business license in Washoe County

We have a team of experts with knowledge of the processes involved in obtaining a general business license in Washoe County. We will not only help you to understand the process but also assist you with identifying the correct licenses or permits and approvals required to help your business get started in the county.

Our other services for Nevada businesses

IncParadise has helped with the formation of several businesses in the state of Nevada and this experience is the backbone of our reputation. Whether it is obtaining a general business license or filing documents, we understand that each business entity has different requirements and hence our services are extremely personal in nature. We provide all types of business formation services in Nevada and Washoe County. We also provide additional services that every business may need like knowledge sharing, helping with preparing the right documents for filing, business name registration, filing of initial reports etc.