Do you own a business operating in the state of Wisconsin? 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin?
Aside from registering your business with the Department of Revenue, Wisconsin does not require a general business license that applies to every business entity, as some states do. However, depending on the nature of your business, there could be several licenses and/or permits that you may be required to obtain.
To determine which permits you need to operate a compliant business, we recommend that you pay a visit to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), where you’ll find an extensive list of state industry and occupational licenses. The list is alphabetical, and with hundreds of licenses, there’s a good chance at least one will apply to your business.
Occupational Licenses and Permits
The occupational licenses and permits required by the state of Wisconsin vary widely, from cheesemakers to laboratory analysts, and many points in between. Depending on the exact nature of your business, you might need more than one of these permits.
Agricultural and Dairy Production Licenses and Permits
Wisconsin is known as dairy country, so it’s no surprise that the state requires a large number of licenses related to food production. You can browse these licenses at the A-Z license directory (linked above). If you have additional questions about licensing, you can contact the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.
Which Tax Registrations are Required for Wisconsin 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.
Many different business types are required to register with the Department of Revenue. This registration helps regulate taxables businesses, setting them up to pay the state’s corporate and partnership taxes. The easiest way to get your business registered for all taxes is with the Wisconsin One Stop Business Registration Portal. Registering here will help you register with the Department of Revenue, Department of Financial Institutions, and more.
There are also many industry-specific tax registrations in the state of Wisconsin, including dry cleaning fees, alcohol taxes, cigarette taxes, and more. You can find more information on industry-specific taxes at this link.
Are There Local Licenses, Permits, or Registrations in Wisconsin?
The answer to this question obviously depends on where in Wisconsin you’re operating your business, but there are indeed quite a few licenses, permits, and tax registrations required by Wisconsin localities.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin does not provide a comprehensive list of what counties require permits and licenses. So, you’ll need to do a little research on your own. Many counties will issue a general business license or even industry-specific permits, including Dane County, Winnebago County, and more. Thanks to the Wisconsin Counties Association, you can find a list of counties in Wisconsin, as well as links to each county’s website. This list is especially helpful if your business operates in more than one county.
There are also some requirements on the city/municipality level. For example, Milwaukee City offers a comprehensive list of the individual and business permits required in their region. Your city likely offers a similar list.
If we were to break down the exact rules and regulations regarding permitting in every locality in the state of Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin. 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!