Texas is known for its business-friendly climate and extensive resources for entrepreneurs looking to obtain a small business license. While the state does not require a general business license, it is important to determine which licenses, permits, certifications, registrations or other requirements may be necessary for your business. For example, many Texas cities, such as Dallas, require special licenses for any commercial activity traditionally considered “vice” or “immoral”, such as entertainment centers, dance halls, alcoholic beverages, or “sexually oriented” activities. Additionally, some cities may not require a general business license but do require a specific license for certain types of businesses.
The first step in obtaining a business license in Texas is to contact your local city or county government office. There you can search for business licenses and permits using an alphabetical list of different agencies. The Governor's Small Business Forums also provide opportunities for startups to learn and interact with public officials, agency representatives, private sector experts and regional businesses through educational seminars and networking events. The second step is to determine if your company will need to obtain any other specialized local license or permit.
Most Texas cities and counties require a commercial operating license and some require additional or separate specialized licenses for certain types of businesses. It may be necessary to have an occupancy permit or even apply for a home occupancy permit, depending on where your business is located. The third step is to obtain the necessary state licenses and permits. While state regulatory agencies may issue specific licenses for certain types of businesses or professions, the only true state licensing requirement that applies to almost all businesses is the “sales and tax permit”, sometimes generically called seller's permit.
An overview of insurance requirements can be found on the Texas Department of Insurance Business page. Additionally, if your company serves food or offers accommodations, it may be subject to specific requirements from the health department. Finally, if you have questions about local business and property taxes, ask your county's appraising district or tax collector. The Guide to Immigration Regulations for Small Businesses provides a summary of immigration laws and information to help complete Form I-9 for non-citizens. Obtaining a business license in Texas can seem like a daunting task but with the right resources and guidance it can be done quickly and easily. The Business Permit Office and Small Business Move Your Small Business are great resources to help you get started.