Delaware Business License Requirements for an LLC

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A Delaware business license gives your Limited Liability Company (LLC) permission to operate in a certain location or within a specific industry.

While we can’t walk you through any applicable license applications step-by-step, we do provide helpful resources like:

  • information about state licensing rules
  • instructions for researching municipal licenses

And if you want to just hire a company to do the research for you, we have a recommendation below.

Delaware Business License Requirements

Business License

After you form a Delaware LLC, you may need to obtain a business license or permit.

Your requirements are determined by the industry you are in and where your Delaware Limited Liability Company is located.

Because of the large number of industries and all of the municipalities in Delaware, it’s not possible for us to explain them all. However, you can use the search tools below, call your local municipality, or hire a company for help.

Need to save time? We recommend hiring MyCompanyWorks (for $99) to handle the business license research for you.

How to get a Business License in Delaware

You can obtain a business license in Delaware by applying with the relevant licensing or regulatory agency. The agency you apply with will depend on where your business is located and what business activities it engages in.

The business license application typically requires basic information, such as your LLC name, EIN Number, business address, and contact information. Many also include a questionnaire that asks about your business activity.

There are three main licensing jurisdictions:

  • State licensing
  • Local licensing, such as county, city, township, etc.
  • Federal licensing

Does Delaware Require a Business License?

Yes. Every LLC in Delaware needs a license from the Division of Revenue.

Your other license requirements depend on where your business is located, and what it does.

There are two types of state-level business licenses:

  • a general business license
  • and an occupational license

Delaware General Business License

All LLCs registered or doing business in Delaware are required to obtain a business license from the Delaware Division of Revenue.

You are required to get your business license before you start transacting business in state.

The easiest way to get your business license is through the Delaware One Stop Business Licensing and Registration Service.

One Stop helps you register with the Division of Revenue, and if you have employees, it will help you register with the Division of Unemployment Insurance and the Office of Workers Compensation. Learn more about the registration process in the Division of Revenue One Stop Guide.

The One Stop business license application will ask you a series of questions, determine your business industry, and let you know how much your business license fees will be.

You can obtain your business license by mail or online. We recommend filing online as the application process is much easier and faster.

If you want to apply by mail instead, you can use the Combined Registration Application (Form CRA).

Delaware General Business License FAQs

It depends on what your business does. Some LLCs will only need the General Business License from the Division of Revenue. But some industries and professions also need an occupation-specific license.

Luckily, Delaware does all state licensing in a single process. When you apply for your General Business License, you will also apply for any occupational licenses your LLC needs.

After filling out the One Stop application, you will receive a temporary business license. Then in about 10 business days, you will receive your official business license in the mail.
A General Business License usually lasts 1 year. So your license expires December 31st each year.

After your first year as a licensed Delaware business, you can order a 3-year business license instead. In that case, your license would expire December 31st every 3 years.

Note that occupational licenses (the license specific to your profession or business industry) have different expiration dates. Some last for 2 years, some last for longer than that. Make sure to check your specific license so that you renew on time.

Your General Business License needs to be renewed before December 31st every year.

(If you have a 3-year General Business License, then you need to renew it before December 31st of the 3rd year.)

The renewal deadlines for industry-specific (aka occupational) licenses depend on the type of license. Each licensing board or agency sets its own renewal deadlines.


Delaware Occupational License

Most states have occupational business license requirements. This means a license or permit may be required depending on what your business does or what your occupation is. For example, if you sell used cars, or run a hair salon, you may need an occupational business license. But a license may not be required for other types of businesses.

When you apply for your General Business License in Delaware (whether you use One Stop online or the Combined Registration Application by mail), you will also apply for any occupational licenses that your LLC needs.

To determine whether your business needs one of these additional licenses, you can use Delaware Business First Steps. This is the website that contains all Delaware business license information.

The list of licensed industries can help you determine if your Delaware business needs an occupational license or permit.

Each industry or profession page contains information about:

  • the licensing board, or government agency/department that handles this license
  • requirements for the license (certifications or tests)
  • how long the license lasts (renewal dates)
  • fees
  • applicable laws and forms
  • contacting the licensing board or government agency

You can also contact the Division of Revenue with questions. For General Business License questions, call 302-577-8778. For questions about specific occupational licenses, call 302-577-8200.

Note: Delaware business licenses are not issued by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is responsible for business entity administration, for example Limited Liability Company formation.

How much is a Delaware Business License?

The cost of the required Delaware Department of Revenue Business License varies depending on what type of business you have.

If your business does not need an occupation- or industry-specific license, the “General Services” license costs $75 per year.

For other state-level occupational licenses, each licensing board or agency sets its own fees. To be honest, we can’t predict your specific Delaware business license cost. We checked some common licenses in Delaware, and found the costs range from $50 to $500.

And your LLC might need a municipal-level license or permit to operate. The filing fee for these licenses will vary depending on where you’re doing business and what industry you’re in.

For example, licenses issued by a county that contains a large city are usually more expensive than licenses in less populated, rural counties. And licenses for regulated industries, like child care facilities, are usually more expensive than generic business licenses.

See LLC Cost in Delaware to learn about all the possible LLC fees.

Municipal Business License

Municipal business licenses can be issued by the city, town, county, parish, township, borough, etc. We refer to all of these as a “municipality” to keep things simple.

There are two types of municipal business licenses:

  • general business license
  • industry-specific license

For example, if a municipality has a general business license requirement, all businesses operating in that municipality must have the license, regardless of what they do.

And if a municipality has industry-specific business licenses, a license or permit may be required depending on what your business does. For example, if you operate a food truck, or run a daycare, you may need an industry-specific municipal business license. Or if you’re purchasing or leasing real estate, you may need a zoning permit.

But a license may not be required for other types of businesses, like making wedding invitation templates or offering marketing consulting.

You will need to contact both your county and your town/city to check on their local licensing requirements:

Delaware Gross Receipts Tax

Delaware doesn’t have sales tax like most other states. Instead, Delaware has a “Gross Receipts Tax” that’s imposed on sellers of goods and providers of services. That includes pretty much every business.

As part of the One Stop Business License Application, you will also register your LLC with the Division of Revenue for this tax. And then you can pay your Gross Receipts Tax online through the Delaware Taxypayer Portal.

Note: This requirement will apply whether you sell products and services online or in a physical location in Delaware. Check out the Division of Revenue Internet Sales FAQs for more information.

For additional information about the Gross Receipts Tax:

Tip: Save time by hiring an expert. We recommend using TaxJar. They'll help you register for, collect, and pay sales tax.

Do I need any federal business licenses?

Most businesses in Delaware don’t need a federal business license. However, certain industries do need federal licenses:

If your business…Contact this agency about business licenses
Transports animals, plants or biotechnology over state linesDepartment of Agriculture
Imports or exports animal products, wildlife, or products derived from wildlife (including fish)Fish and Wildlife Service
Fishes commerciallyFish and Wildlife Service
Broadcasts on radio or TVFederal Communications Commission
Makes alcohol and sells it at a retail storeTobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Makes or sells firearms, ammunition or explosivesBureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives
Transports cargo by seaFederal Maritime Commission
Transports goods or people by airFederal Aviation Administration

Check out the Small Business Administration’s Licenses and Permits page for a full list of industries with federal license requirements.

If your business isn’t one of these special cases, then the only federal requirements are that your LLC get an Delaware EIN Number (aka Federal Employer Identification Number) and that you file taxes.

Delaware Business License FAQs

The Delaware General Business License cost depends on what type of business you do. The basic General Business License fee is $75 per year. But certain industries and professions have additional licenses, and charge additional fees.

And if your LLC has to get a municipal (city or county) permit, the fees are hard to predict. Depending on your LLC’s location, and what type of business or industry you’re in, the fee varies.

Unfortunately, we can’t say what your LLC’s business license costs would be, because it depends on several factors and the cost of Delaware licenses varies.

No, an LLC is not a business license. They are two completely different things.

An LLC is a type of business structure created by filing a document with the state government.

And a business license is a document that gives a person, or a company, the right to transact business. It doesn’t create an LLC.

Sometimes a new business owner chooses to operate as a Sole Proprietorship in Delaware instead of an LLC.

Even if you’re just trying out a business idea as a Sole Proprietorship, you will still be subject to license requirements at the state and municipal levels. It just depends on what you will be doing, and where you will be operating your business.

No, the Delaware Secretary of State doesn’t handle licensing requirements. Instead, they manage business entity formation and registration. For example, depending on business entity type, business owners file different paperwork with the Secretary of State to create their business entity.

For more information, or to determine if there is a Delaware business license cost for your business, we recommend contacting the Delaware Division of Revenue and/or your local government agency. For example, your local county or city government will have information about any local licenses.

Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Delaware:

  1. Select a business name for your Delaware LLC
  2. Choose your Registered Agent
  3. File the LLC Certificate of Formation with the state
  4. Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  6. Open an LLC bank account
  7. Check whether you need a business license or tax permits in Delaware

Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Matt Horwitz has been the leading expert on LLC education for the past decade. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC that other companies weren't offering. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
 
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.

6 comments on “Delaware Business Licenses and Permits”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. I formed/puchased an LLC from Harvard business services in Delaware. I also obtained a EIN from them. As of now, it looks like my LLC will be operating out of Ohio, but I am unsure of how to do this the right way.

    I think all that is left for me is to obtain a business license and bank account. My business is 100% online selling website subscriptions of different types.

    What do you think my best options are for this company? I’ve read I could own and operate the LLC out of Delaware (via Harvard business services providing mailing address and forwarding snail mail), or my home state, but I am mostly concerned about taxes and which is less likely to cause paying taxes in two different states, or later down the road, being hit with un-paid taxes.

    Also, I would prefer to keep the business address at another address besides my personal residence.

    Thanks for the help. I am a newbie to this process.

    Jeff

    Reply
    • Hey Jeff, although your business is digital (as are many nowadays), you’re still legally doing business in Ohio. So you’re supposed to register your Delaware LLC as a Foreign LLC in Ohio. Also, taxes are paid where the money is made. So although you have an LLC in Delaware, you should be filing taxes in Ohio. Regarding the nuances of how your taxes are filed (and possibly apportioned), you should speak with an accountant in Ohio. Keep in mind, you’ll need to pay Delaware’s $300 annual franchise tax each year, as well as your Registered Agent fee. As an alternative to all that, you can dissolve your Delaware LLC, cancel your EIN, then form an LLC in Ohio. The filing fee is Ohio is just $99 and unlike Delaware, there is no Annual Report. Also, Ohio is very rare in that it allows you to use a PO Box for your Registered Agent address. This means you can serve as your LLC’s Registered Agent in Ohio and just use a PO Box (or UPS Store, or similar) and maintain your privacy. Although what I mentioned is a little tedious, you’re lucky that you caught it this early on. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  2. Hello Matt,
    Is there a way that I can verify the authenticity of company agreement emitted by the state of Delaware? Does it contain any features that can help us differentiate between any PDF document and one that is official?

    Thanks a lot

    Reply
    • Hey Maiana, yes, you can verify any Certificate generated by the Delaware Division of Corporations via the validate a certificate page. It’s a $50 flat-fee plus $2 per page… except for a Long-Form Certificate of Good Standing (which shows all the docs that were filed with the Division, but doesn’t disclose their contents). However, if the Delaware LLC’s document was something “internal” – as in it was not filed with the Division – then I’m not sure how you would validate that. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Reply
  3. Hi Matt,

    It is a pleasure to write to you, I formed an LLC in Delaware (this opera totally online) and I obtained my EIN. My EIN has an office address to receive documents in California,

    My first question is, do I have to pay taxes in both Delaware and California?

    My second question is, what should I do to get the seller’s permit number?

    My third question is: what other documents should I keep in mind so I do not have any problems and operate silently?

    Reply
    • Hi Jaime, we don’t cover tax information, so you would need to speak with an accountant about that. We also don’t have information on seller’s permits. Thanks for your understanding.

      Reply

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