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Alaska Business License Basics

Alaska Business License Basics

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Alaska Business License Basics

Starting a small business in Alaska often means registering with several federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s review common Alaska business license registrations so your business starts off right.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Alaska 

First Step – Set Up the Business

Sole proprietorship: In Alaska, a sole proprietorship is a business owned by one person. It is the simplest form of business structure, with no legal distinction between the owner and the business. The owner has complete control over the business but is also personally liable for all debts and obligations.

General partnership: A general partnership in Alaska is an agreement between two or more individuals to operate a business together. No formal setup is needed, but a partnership agreement, but it’s a great idea to draw up a partnership agreement to outline operations and responsibilities.

Corporation: An Alaska corporation is a legal entity separate from its owners, known as shareholders. It offers limited liability protection, meaning shareholders are not generally personally responsible for the corporation’s debts and liabilities. The downside is that corporations are the most complex structure to start and operate. 

Limited Liability Company (LLC): An Alaska LLC combines aspects of a sole proprietorship or partnership and a corporation. It provides limited liability protection to its owners, called members, shielding their personal assets from the company’s debts and liabilities, in addition to a flexible management and tax structure.

Related: Comparison of Business Structures

What Licenses Do Alaska Businesses Need?

With the business structure out of the way, we can begin looking at the different types of registrations businesses in Alaska may need. There isn’t a standard business license, as requirements vary depending on where the business is located and its activities. Here is a general overview of the different registrations your business may need.

State of Alaska Business License

The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development’s Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing requires a business license for all businesses operating in the state.

Online processing is the fastest with immediate processing.  Standard processing time for the mail-in form varies on when it is submitted. From March–September, expect 10–15 business days, while during the heavy business licensing season (October–February), processing will take longer.

Obtain state licensing from the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.

Take the guesswork out of figuring out what licenses and permits are required to start your business with license research packages from Bizee and LegalZoom.

For as little as $99, you can save a lot of time and know your business is in compliance with local, state, and federal requirements. 

Assumed Name Registration

Sole proprietorships and partnerships in Alaska that want to operate under a business name other than the full name of the owner(s) will register for an Alaska Assumed Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the Division of Corporations.

City Business Licenses

In addition to the state business license application, some cities also require businesses to be licensed to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does. Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements.

  • Anchorage: The Municipality of Anchorage requires a business license for businesses such as pawnbrokers, ice cream trucks, shooting galleries, tow trucks, and more
  • Fairbanks: The City of Fairbanks requires every person or legal entity within City limits that was required to obtain a state business license to obtain an annual city business license as well.
  • Juneau: Any person or business must register with the sales tax administer with the Juneau Finance Department before making sales, offering services, or making rentals within the City and Borough of Juneau.
  • Kenai:Kenai Peninsula Borough Sales Tax Certificate is required by the City whenever any business activity is being conducted within Kenai City limits. Additionally, the City of Kenai requires licenses for mobile food vendors, transient merchants, and passenger vehicles for hire.
  • Matanuska-Susitna: Any individual or company engaging in business activity in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough will need to register for a business license.
  • Wasilla: All businesses located or making sales, rentals, or are providing services within the city limits of Wasilla are required to obtain a City of Wasilla business license.

Building & Zoning Permits

  • Zoning: Depending on the location of the business, it’s important to verify whether the business needs an occupancy permit or has specific zoning regulations to follow. Depending on city requirements, home-based businesses may need to apply for a home occupation permit.
  • Building Permit: A building permit may be needed from the city or county building and planning department if there is any construction or renovations to a facility.
  • Signage Permit: Some municipalities require a permit before adding signage.

Professional License

A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services. A few common occupations that require licensing in Alaska include; acupuncturists, barbers, home inspectors, accountants, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for professions are available from the Alaska Division of Corporations, Business & Professional Licensing.

In addition to professional licensing, there are a few other types of businesses that need licensing that are not covered by the Division of Corporations, Business & Professional Licensing. These include:
Commercial Fisheries
Food Establishments
Auto Dealership
Bed & Breakfast
Seafood processing and shellfish permits

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

The Alaska Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to businesses operating in Alaska. It is used for tax filing and reporting purposes, similar to how an individual uses a Social Security number. Companies can apply for an EIN through the IRS website or by submitting a paper form.

Next Steps

While it’s a good start, there are so many different licenses that may be needed. Double-check with the City Clerk’s Office, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Development office in your area before opening your doors.

Author

  • Greg Bouhl

    With over two decades as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, Greg Bouhl has worked with over 2,000 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Fed up with clients finding and acting on inaccurate and outdated information online, Greg launched StartUp101.com to be a trusted resource for people starting a business.

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Alaska Business License Basics

Alaska Business License Basics

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