Do you own a business operating in the state of Washington? If so, you may need to acquire licenses and permits to ensure that your company operates in a compliant fashion.
But how do you determine which permits and licenses you need (if any), and where do you acquire them? In this guide to Washington business licenses and permits, we’ll answer all the tough questions about this process.
Are There Federal Licenses That My Business Needs?
First off, let’s discuss the matter of federal licenses and permits. There are many business activities that are regulated by various federal agencies, from agriculture to transportation and logistics. We recommend taking a look at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s guide to federal licenses and permits to make sure you’ve got your bases covered.
In addition, most businesses should acquire a federal tax ID number, also known as an EIN (employer identification number). This is essentially a social security number for your business, and it enables you to hire employees, pay business taxes, open business bank accounts, and more. You can acquire an EIN from the IRS for free.
What State-Level Licenses and Permits Apply in Washington?
The state of Washington requires a general business license that applies statewide to every business entity. You can apply for it using the state’s Business License Application. The fee for this application is $19, unless you need to also reserve a trade name. You can make your check payable to the Department of Revenue.
In addition to the general business license, you may need to obtain permits specific to your business. To determine which licenses you need, you should consult the state’s Business Licensing Service. On this site, you can browse necessary licenses and permits, apply for them, and renew them—all in one place.
Occupational Licenses and Permits
The occupational licenses and permits required by the state of Washington vary widely, from security officers, engineers, funeral directors, and more. Depending on the exact nature of your business, you might need more than one of these permits.
One unique aspect of business in Washington is the specialty endorsements that may be required. These endorsements cover a wide range of industries, from scrap metal, radiology facilities, architect firms, and more. You can browse the list here; if you see one you need, click on the link to learn more.
Which Tax Registrations are Required for Washington Businesses?
In addition to occupational licenses and permits, there are a number of state-level tax registrations, which are based on the industry you operate in and which business structure your company uses.
Washington businesses involved in the sale of goods are subject to the Business and Occupation Tax. This tax should not be confused with the sales tax, which is also required. Businesses that provide certain services to the public may also be subject to the Public Utility Tax.
Unlike a lot of states, there is no corporate income tax that you’ll need to pay in Washington. For a full listing of the taxes you do need to pay, you should consult the Department of Revenue.
There are also many industry-specific tax registrations in the state of Washington, from natural gas taxes to intermediate care facilities and many other types. You can find more information on which ones your business needs at this link.
Are There Local Licenses, Permits, or Registrations in Washington?
The answer to this question obviously depends on where in Washington you’re operating your business, but there are indeed quite a few licenses, permits, and tax registrations required by Washington localities.
Washington also allows cities (and King county) to require licenses at the local level. You are ultimately responsible to do the research on what licenses you need in your city. But thankfully, the state has provided a helpful starting point here. At this link, you’ll find links to each city. Click on the city (or cities) where you conduct business to learn more about the licenses you need.
If we were to break down the exact rules and regulations regarding permitting in every locality in the state of Washington, this article would become excessively lengthy. With that in mind, we’ll simply say that every business owner should check with their local government to determine whether there are licenses, permits, or tax registrations required to operate in compliant fashion.
Can I Hire Someone to Research Licenses and Permits for My Business?
If this process sounds like a bit of a hassle, that’s because it certainly can be. If you would rather hire a reputable business services provider to handle this for you, that is always an option.
Companies like Incfile can research the necessary licenses and permits for your company on the federal, state, county, and municipal levels. They will then send you the applications you need to acquire these permits and licenses, meaning all you need to do is fill them out and mail them in.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer for the question of which licenses and permits your business might require to operate in the state of Washington. Instead, it’s important that you know how to access the resources to determine which permits your company needs to operate in a compliant fashion.
We hope this article helped you to do just that, and we wish you good fortune in your business future!