Do I Need a Business License to Operate in Massachusetts?

Find out if you need a business license for your Massachusetts business and what steps you need to take to obtain one.

Do I Need a Business License to Operate in Massachusetts?

Many businesses in Massachusetts need licenses or permits to operate legally. If you're looking to start a small business in the Bay State, you may need to obtain one or more state licenses or permits, or complete one or more types of state registration. In this state, you can't use a name that is identical or similar to the name of an existing company. Recently, Massachusetts has enacted a variety of reforms aimed at making business easier in this state.

A Massachusetts business license is valid for a period of 4 years, although other permits may need a more regular renewal. A Doing-Business As Certificate (DBA) is a quick and easy way to establish your business through your city or city clerk's office. Your company's formation documents set out certain facts about your Massachusetts business at the time it is formed. All businesses that want to operate within Massachusetts will need a basic business license to operate.

Massachusetts requires that all businesses have a basic sales license, even those that provide a service or sell online. If you're a member of any of the dozens of professions and occupations, you'll need to have a license from the State of Massachusetts. Step-by-step instructions for starting a business in Massachusetts can be found in the How to Start a Business section of the website. Many new businesses need a business license, and you may be required to obtain additional licenses and permits.

In addition to state requirements, many county and city governments also require businesses to obtain local occupational licenses to operate within county or city limits. When you want to do business in a state other than the one in which your company is located, you must create a foreign LLC. If you want your company to operate under a Massachusetts DBA, you must file a form with the City Clerk of the city where your business is located. Any business that trades without a license could be forced to close until they have updated their documentation.