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How to get a business license in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is one of the top states to start a new business in, as it offers several advantages and business incentives. The state has just the right business and regulatory environment for startups. Once you register or incorporate your startup, it’s essential to apply for a Pennsylvania business license, as this will allow your business to be operational. This guide has been specifically created to provide you with information on how to obtain a Pennsylvania business license, the issuing authority, and the different types of licenses and permits that exist in this state.

Business License in Pennsylvania

All states in the USA have business laws and regulations governing new business formations and operations. The Consolidated Statutes of the state of Pennsylvania require all domestic or foreign entities formed in the state to obtain a Pennsylvania business license. The importance of these licenses or permits lies in the fact that no business will be allowed to transact in this state without them. In fact, if a company conducts business without proper licenses, then they may be penalized. Different types of licenses may apply to your company, so conducting a proper Pennsylvania business license search is often recommended.

Who needs a Pennsylvania business license?

Pennsylvania’s attraction for entrepreneurs is mainly due to its abundance of a skilled workforce, its strategic location, and its strong transportation infrastructure. You can easily start a business from home, form a limited liability company, or any other entity in this state. One of the main details to initially focus on is conducting a Pennsylvania business license search. In Pennsylvania, a business license or permit is required by every business entity type irrespective of the entity size or structure. Even if you’re just planning to start a small business out of your garage, you may need a license. The business license search will help you to identify the right permits based on the relevant type of business activity or industry.

What business license do I need in Pennsylvania?

If you’ve decided to start a business in Pennsylvania then one of the important state requirements is obtaining the proper business licenses. Not every new or existing company in the state requires a Pennsylvania business license. Nevertheless, certain businesses may even require multiple licenses or permits. The most important thing to do first is to determine the type of Pennsylvania business license and permits required for your company. You may require a professional or occupational permit, or your licensing requirements may depend on your business activity. Let’s look in detail at the various categories of licenses in this state.

Obtain Professional Licensing

Whatever kind of business you start in the state of Pennsylvania, it’s important to understand that certain business activities are considered to be a regulated profession by state law. Hence, you will be required to obtain a Pennsylvania business license according to the relevant profession. This type of license will be separate from other licenses and permits applicable in the state. You will need to conduct a profession-based Pennsylvania business license search to determine the right licenses and certifications. Let’s try and understand what a professional license is and the type of professions or occupations that require licensing in Pennsylvania.

What is a professional license in Pennsylvania?

Certain professions are regulated in the United States although licenses are applied for and obtained at the state level. The fields of professions regulated and licensed can vary depending on the state you plan to start your business in. The general meaning of a profession is that it is an activity where you may require some form of specialized training, skills, knowledge, and qualification. It may even imply a membership of any professional body as well as a certificate of practice like those for medical practitioners, or those required by educational institutions. If you as an individual render personalized services then you will be regarded as a professional and will need to obtain a professional Pennsylvania business license.

Which professions require licensing in PA?

There are hundreds of thousands of professions in the USA, but not all of them may require Pennsylvania business licenses and permits. The licensing authority is governed by the state and hence issued by a competent authority within the state’s jurisdiction. The professional Pennsylvania business license is like a permit that will authorize you to perform or provide a specific service legally in this state. The importance of professional licenses lies in the fact that they ensure that certain professional services are offered by competent people only.

The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs under the Pennsylvania Department of State is responsible for providing administrative, legal, and logistical support services to all occupational and professional licensing commissions and boards. You can apply for and obtain a Pennsylvania business license for the following professions:

  • Engineers
  • Cosmetology Experts
  • Medical Practitioners including Physician and Surgeon
  • Registered Nurses and other related nursing professionals
  • Osteopathic Medicine
  • Pharmacy or Pharmacist
  • Real Estate brokers and salespersons
  • Social Workers
  • Barber (BL)

It’s important to note that you can obtain a professional Pennsylvania business license by qualifying through an examination. Let’s look at an example to understand this.

Example: If you are planning to start a real estate agency and want to play the role of a real estate salesperson then you will need to apply for a Pennsylvania business license for the said profession. You will need to sit for, complete, and pass the Salesperson Examination. You will have to register with Pearson VUE. In order to sit for this examination, you should have completed a minimum of 75 hours (5 credits) of basic real estate courses from any accredited college in Pennsylvania.

Other Pennsylvania Business Licenses

Another essential element to consider or focus on is the various sorts of licenses your business may require apart from a professional license. You may be required to conduct a Pennsylvania business license search to ascertain the exact permit requirements for your company. Let’s take a brief look at the other Pennsylvania business licenses and permits that may be relevant and necessary to obtain.

City or county for local licensing in PA

Once you’ve formed a business in Pennsylvania in a specific city or county, you will need to check, identify, and obtain the necessary local licenses. Each city or county has its own laws related to local licensing. The type of license, fee, and renewals will vary from one county to another. Let’s look at an example to understand how to obtain a local Pennsylvania business license and permit.

Example: The physical address of your company is in Montgomery County, PA. Now, if your company activity falls under the “Eating and Drinking Establishment” category, then you will need to obtain a Pennsylvania business license. You will have to submit the License to Operate a Food Service Establishment application with the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (OPH). You will also be required to submit an application for Food Establishment Plan Review at least 30 days prior to the opening date of the establishment. The plan review fee for a food establishment is a minimum of $250 and may vary according to the square footage of the establishment. There will be additional fees associated with other aspects like on-premises inspections.

Building & Zoning Permits

One vital detail that most new businesses tend to overlook is the building and zoning permits. This is a very important factor as zoning laws help segregate residential areas from business areas. They also specify the districts or areas where a business can operate. Zoning regulations may vary from one city or county to another.

Example: If you want to conduct your business in Philadelphia, then the Philadelphia Zoning Code will regulate the use of specific properties for business purposes. There are specific types of zoning permits that vary according to the use of a property, new construction made to an existing property, signs, use of equipment like air conditioners or generators, and fences.

PA home-based licenses

Establishing your startup from your residence or home is a great idea as it will save on overhead and several other commencement and operational costs. Even so, it’s important to conduct a Pennsylvania business license search for home-based businesses. The regulations and license requirements may vary according to your business activity and the operational jurisdiction of the company.

Example: If you operate a home-based business in Philadelphia then you will need to obtain a Commercial Activity License, which was earlier known as the Business Privilege License. Some businesses will not need to obtain a Pennsylvania business license and instead will require an Activity License Number issued by the Permit and License Center in Philadelphia.

Apart from this, you might have to apply for temporary licenses and permits, zoning permits, and professional licenses.

Need any Assistance with Obtaining Your Pennsylvania Business License?

If you’re planning to start a new business in Pennsylvania, then it’s fundamentally necessary to obtain the right Pennsylvania business license and permits. The type of licenses and permits required will vary depending on the jurisdiction your company is based in and your business activity or industry. The application, fee, and laws for the Pennsylvania business license and permits are different for each type of license.

At IncParadise, we can guide you through obtaining the necessary business licenses and permits. We also provide additional services to new and existing Pennsylvania businesses like the EIN Tax ID and Foreign Qualification services among others.

Do you need help with a Pennsylvania Business License?