Obtaining a Business License in Nevada

By Brad Scribner

Ensuring your small business is compliant with local, state, and federal regulation is a big job and can be confusing for first time business owners. Many types of business licenses and permitting are available to you, but which are necessary? And what will suit your small business best?

Before you begin, it is important to identify what type of business you intend to license so you can avoid wasting time and money. It is possible to do on your own, especially with the help of Nevada Small Business Development Center business advisors.

Step 1: Create a Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Partnership or Sole Proprietorship Legal Organization

Corporations and LLCs must file Articles of Incorporation, or Articles of Organization, with the Nevada Secretary of State and maintain all records and minutes as required by law.

When registering for an LLC or Corporation, you will be asked to include “registered agent” information. A registered agent is someone who can accept legal papers on behalf of your business. Business owners can choose to be their own registered agent. However, registered agent information is publically available, so you may prefer to pay an attorney or commercial agent listed instead.

Step 2: Obtain a Fictitious Name Certificate (DBA)

If you plan to do business under a name other than your legal name, you must file a Fictitious Firm Name Certificate (Doing Business As – DBA) with the County Clerk’s office to identify the owner(s). This applies to corporations and LLCs as well as sole proprietorships and partnerships.

Step 3: Obtain a State Business License

All businesses operating in Nevada must obtain a State Business License, issued by the Nevada Secretary of State. The license is renewable annually via the Nevada Secretary of State.

Step 4: Obtain a retail sales permit (If required)

Every new business must check with the State Department of Taxation to determine whether they need a resale permit, an exemption certificate, or are subject to use tax. A deposit or bond may be required. Check with the Nevada Department of Taxation for fee payment and other information.

Step 5: Obtain a local license

In the State of Nevada, all businesses are required to obtain a business license within the city / county in which they operate. Visit your county’s website to download the appropriate forms. Some cities may charge additional fees depending on your business type.

Step 6: Obtain Special Permits (if required)

In addition to city and county licenses, certain businesses / occupations are required to obtain special state licenses (i.e. – contractors, dentists, beauticians, etc.). As a new business, you may be required by the city or county to obtain additional permits from Health, Police, Fire or Building Departments. Inquire with the individual licensing agency for more information.

Step 7: Ensure you are familiar Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Every partnership, corporation or limited liability company must have an employer identification number (EIN) to use as a federal taxpayer identification number. Sole proprietors must also have an EIN if they pay wages to one or more employees or if they are required to file any excise tax returns. The EIN numbers are sometimes referred to as a Tax ID number. Businesses can fill out Form SS-4 online and get an EIN number quickly. See www.irs.gov/smallbiz for full details.

Obtaining a business license (especially at the state level) is a relatively quick and easy process – it’s much harder to actually develop a profitable business. Ideally, you should put your business strategy and feasibility before logistics like licensing. Applying for the business license is best done online through the Nevada Secretary of State’s website, and can be easily accomplished without hiring outside help.

You can find a comprehensive list of the steps listed above, as well as additional links and references via the Nevada Department of Business and Industry.

If you are struggling to acquire the proper licensing or permitting for your small business, contact the Nevada Small Business Development Center to receive no-cost, confidential business advising from our experienced small business advisors.


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