Apply For A Business License Iowa - IA

Do I need a business license in Iowa?

If you plan to start a business in Iowa, you may need to apply for a permit or license to operate. Depending on your business activity, you may need to apply for more than one license. Iowa does not have a "General business license/permit." You will need to obtain a license or permit based on the occupation and activities your business conducts.

What steps should I take when starting my business?

Though each business is unique, most will need to do the following:

  • choose your business entity (i.e., General Partnership, Corporation, LLC, etc.)
  • file for Tax Identification Number (EIN)
  • search for your business licensing/permits needed online or by contacting the state department
  • file appropriate license/permit online or in person
  • file appropriate Tax Requirements by visiting Department of Revenue

Where can I find what licenses are required?

The state of Iowa makes it easy to find out the necessary requirements to run a business in the state. The state's website has a business search to assist you on starting your business. You can also apply for the various specialty licensing and permits online too. Visit the Iowa Economic Development website for additional licensing help and other helpful online resources.

Who should I register my business with first?

If your business is structured as a corporation, limited partnership, state trademarks, or you want to to incorporate, you must register an contact the Secretary of State at or call 515-281-5204. Contact your local County Recorder's Office if you will be doing business as a sole proprietorship or simple partnership.

Are there local city/county requirements?

You will need to check with your local city/county whether or not they have certain zoning requirements through your city clerk and/or county recorder. Visit your local cities website to find contact information. There is usually local licensing required for liquor use and sales and tobacco permits, for example.

What type of questions will be asked on the application?

Depending on the type of application applying for, you will most likely be asked:

  • Name of business
  • Address/location of business
  • Tax Identification Number (EIN)
  • Owners' names and addresses
  • Any employees
  • Type of ownership
  • Date business started

There typically is a fee for applying. The fees vary from the different licensing available.

Click the link to your city below to apply for a business license

Ames Cedar Rapids Council Bluffs
Davenport Des Moines Dubuque
Iowa City Sioux City Waterloo

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This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.


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