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A Pennsylvania 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.
Pennsylvania Business License Requirements
After you form a Pennsylvania LLC, you may need to obtain a business license or permit.
Your requirements are determined by the industry you are in and where your Pennsylvania Limited Liability Company is located.
Because of the large number of industries and all of the municipalities in Pennsylvania, 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 Pennsylvania
You can obtain a business license in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Require a Business License?
That depends 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
Pennsylvania General Business License
Some states have a general license requirement, which means all businesses operating in those states must have the license, regardless of what they do.
But good news: Pennsylvania doesn’t require a general license to do business in the state.
Meaning, your Pennsylvania LLC doesn’t need a general state business license. But depending on what type of business you run, your LLC might need an occupational license.
Pennsylvania 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.
The Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs provides Licensing Services for Pennsylvania LLCs.
The Bureau of Professsional and Occupational Affairs has a useful page of Licensure Snapshots for most licensed occupations in Pennsylvania.
The PA Business One-Stop Shop has a checklist tool that can help you develop a list of licenses and permits that your LLC will need. Click the “Create Your Checklist” button on the Registering Your Business page (make sure your browser allows pop-up windows).
If you get stuck, you can contact the PA Business One-Stop Shop for help using this tool.
You could also look through the Licensing Guides & Timelines from the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to help you determine what your LLC needs to do (and when).
Or, you can review this list of all the Licensing Boards and Commissions to see if your industry or occupation needs a business license in Pennsylvania.
When you’re ready, you can apply for most Pennsylvania business licenses online. The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs has an Online Licensing Services page to help guide you through the process.
You can also contact the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs with questions. Scroll down to the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs section on this page, and you’ll find links to the specific licensing boards.
If you want to contact your occupational licensing board directly, you can also use this list of Board Contacts.
Note: Pennsylvania business licenses are not issued by the Department of State itself. Instead, licenses are issued by the relevant licensing board or commission. The Department of State is responsible for business entity administration, for example Limited Liability Company formation. And the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, although it’s part of the Department of State, simply supports the boards and commissions which actually issue licenses.
How much is a Pennsylvania Business License?
Pennsylvania doesn’t have a general business license at the state level, so there are no fees there.
However, your business may need a state-level occupational license or 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. To be honest, we can’t predict your specific Pennsylvania business license cost.
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.
But your LLC might not need a license or permit at all. So your Pennsylvania business license cost could be $0.
See LLC Cost in Pennsylvania 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 can contact your municipality to check on their local licensing requirements:
Start by checking your County requirements. Find your county’s website using the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania’s Pennsyvlania County Websites page.
Then, check with the City or Town where your LLC operates. You’ll have to do a Google search to find their website.
And last, make sure to check on the Borough or Township where your LLC is located. The Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs has a list of Member Borough Links, but you’ll have to do a Google search for your township website.
Pennsylvania Sales Tax License
If you sell products to consumers in Pennsylvania, you may need to collect sales tax and file a Sales and Use Tax Return.
If your business activities are subject to sales and use tax, your LLC must register with the Department of Revenue.
Note: This requirement will apply whether you sell products online or in a physical location in Pennsylvania.
For additional information about the Sales Tax License, check out these resources:
- Sales, Use and Hotel Occupancy Tax
- Online Retailers Selling to Pennsylvania Customers
- Sales & Use Tax Taxability Lists
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 Pennsylvania 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 lines||Department of Agriculture|
|Imports or exports animal products, wildlife, or products derived from wildlife (including fish)||Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Fishes commercially||Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Broadcasts on radio or TV||Federal Communications Commission|
|Makes alcohol and sells it at a retail store||Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau|
|Makes or sells firearms, ammunition or explosives||Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives|
|Transports cargo by sea||Federal Maritime Commission|
|Transports goods or people by air||Federal 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 a Pennsylvania EIN Number (aka Federal Employer Identification Number) and that you file taxes.
Pennsylvania Business License FAQs
How much does a business license cost in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania doesn’t have a general business license for LLCs, so there are no fees there.
If your business has to get an occupational license or 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.
And you might not need a business license at all!
Unfortunately, we can’t say what your LLC’s business license costs would be, because it depends on several factors and the cost of Pennsylvania licenses varies.
Is an LLC considered a business license?
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.
Does a Sole Proprietor need a business license in Pennsylvania?
Sometimes a new business owner chooses to operate as a Sole Proprietorship in Pennsylvania instead of an LLC.
Even if you’re just trying out a business idea as a Sole Proprietorship, you may 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.
Does the Pennsylvania Department of State provide a business license?
No, the Pennsylvania Department of State doesn’t handle licensing. Instead, they manage business entity formation and registration. For example, depending on business entity type, business owners file different paperwork with the Department of State to create their business entity.
For more information, or to determine if there is a Pennsylvania business license cost for your business, we recommend contacting the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to get in touch with the correct licensing board or commission, and/or your local government agency. For example, your local county or city government will have information about any local licenses.
How to start an LLC in Pennsylvania
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Pennsylvania:
- Select a business name for your Pennsylvania LLC
- Choose your Registered Agent
- File the LLC Certificate of Organization with the state
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business license or tax permits in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Dept. of State: Licensing Services
Pennsylvania Licensing Boards & Commissions
PA Business One-Stop Shop: Registering Your Business
PENNSYLVANIA LLC GUIDE
Follow the lessons below to form your Pennsylvania LLC.
8 comments on “Pennsylvania 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.
Hello. I had a LLC with another partner from 2003-2005 in PA. I can see my business name is still active and registered to me. I am now back in the short term rental business and ready to invigorate the LLC. I believe since I am the sole individual registered to the name, I am permitted to file regular annual tax returns. I used to file K1s back in 03-05. I simply do not know where to start. I don’t even know what my EIN was or how to check it it still exists. Please advise. Thank you.
Hi Gail, while you could use this LLC, it doesn’t sound like the 2nd Member correctly transferred their LLC Membership to you. Was this documented or do you have an amended LLC Operating Agreement showing the sale/transfer? Did the LLC file a final 1065 Partnership Return? There are more questions, but it all sounds a bit iffy. You would need to take numerous steps and file quite a few things before things were cleaned up. It might be worth considering forming a new LLC.
Yes, I have documentation of the transfer that also says I am the only member. This was 2006 so I cannot recall 100% if we filed a final return. I am still using the same accountant so I will ask them although I doubt any records exist at their firm from that year. I remember sharing all the legal documentation back then and for some reason I recall that since I was only remaining member, taxes get filed via my personal return (is that accurate?) Online it reads as “active” when I search for it on the state website. I guess I now have two more questions: 1) if I create a new one, is there a way to transfer the name I used and 2) am I making a bigger deal than necessary about simply starting a new one? I know some people who create a new LLC for every investment property they own….does a resource exist that guides a recommended structure for how to handle whether to use 1 or more? Seems like a lot to track. Thank you.
Hi Gail, okay, that’s great to hear about the documentation of the transfer. I asked because even if an LLC is active, doesn’t mean its internal affairs are in order. You wouldn’t want what you think is an ex-Member claiming they are still a Member, for example. Or years where the IRS is expecting 1065 Partnership returns.
Managing multiple LLCs does require organization and can be a bit much, depending on the person and the situation. We don’t have a page at this time that discusses one LLC vs multiple LLCs.
If you want to keep this LLC, it’ll need to file a Pennsylvania LLC Decennial Report. You can ask your accountant and/or call the IRS and request an EIN Verification Letter (147C). When speaking with the IRS, you can also ask if the LLC is expected to file a Partnership Return or if it’s on file as a Disregarded Entity > Sole Proprietorship. If it’s still classified as a Partnership, you’ll need to file Form 8832 and change the classification to Sole Proprietorship (#6 > C).
Hi Matt. I’m from Florida and am having a debate with a relative here in Pa. In Pennsylvania, what type of business, or sector of business, needs a health license?
Hi Lebby, we don’t provide this type of information at this time. I recommend contacting the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Hope that helps.
Hi. I am an online seller on Amazon and Etsy. From what I know, I need just Sales license, right?
Thank you, Alina
Hi Alina, yes, I believe so, but we don’t advise on the the exact licenses/permits that are needed for each type of business (because it varies so widely). However, we have some recommendations on this page if you need help. Thanks for your understanding.