Apply For A Business License North Carolina - NC

Do I need a business license to operate in North Carolina?

North Carolina does not have one general license that all businesses must have. However, many types of businesses do need to apply for special licenses to operate in the state. Whether your business needs a license will depend on the goods and services that you offer. North Carolina also has several occupational licensing boards that oversee certain occupations that must be specifically licensed in order to practice in the state. The requirements for occupational licenses vary among the different occupations, but normally require the applicant to meet specific educational or examination conditions. Even if your business is not required to obtain any state licenses, many cities and local municipalities have their own licensing requirements that your business must meet.

Do I need to register my business?

In addition to licensing requirements, certain business forms such as corporations, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships also need to register with the North Carolina Department of State in order to operate in the state. While sole proprietors and partnerships do not need to register with the state, those that do not operate under an individual's legal name and instead adopt a trade name must register the business with the county where they are located.

What are the local licensing requirements?

While the specific requirements vary, most cities require that all businesses obtain a local Privilege License in order to operate a business in their city. In some areas, certain businesses and individual professionals must also obtain additional city licenses in order to operate. For example, massage therapists are required to be licensed by the state, but the city of Raleigh also requires that they be specially licensed by the city and if running a massage business, then that business must obtain a special permit on top of the city Privilege License. Some cities also require businesses that are being operated out of a home office to obtain a home occupancy permit in order to legally conduct business in the city.

What information do I need to provide on my license application?

The information requested will depend on the type of license you are applying for, but generally you will need to provide:

  • Date of the start of business
  • Business name
  • Business address and telephone number
  • Business type (corporation, LLC, LLP, general partnership, sole proprietor)
  • Purpose of business
  • Name and contact information of applicant

You will usually have to also provide proof that you have already satisfied all other state and city business requirements, including registration and zoning permits.

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

Asheville Cary Charlotte
Concord Durham Fayetteville
Gastonia Greensboro Greenville
High Point Jacksonville Raleigh
Rocky Mount Wilmington Winston-Salem

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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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