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Indiana Business License Basics

Indiana Business License Basics

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Indiana Business License Basics

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

Related: Guide to starting a business in Indiana 

Setting Up the Business

Sole proprietorship: In Indiana, a sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business owned by a single individual. The owner has complete control over the business but is personally liable for all debts and obligations. No formal registration is required, making it the simplest and most common form of business structure.

General partnership: A general partnership in Indiana is an unincorporated business owned by two or more individuals who share management responsibilities, profits, and losses. Partners have unlimited personal liability for the partnership’s debts and obligations. No formal registration is required, but a partnership agreement is recommended to outline the partners’ roles and responsibilities

Corporation: A corporation in Indiana is a legal entity separate from its owners, providing the owners (shareholders) with limited liability protection. Corporations are the most complex business structure to set up and have specific administrative requirements. 

Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC in Indiana combines aspects of sole proprietorships and corporations, offering flexibility in management and taxation. Owners, called members, have limited personal liability for the LLC’s debts and obligations, but they aren’t as complex as corporations. 

Related: Comparison of Business Structures

What Licenses Do Indiana Businesses Need?

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

General Business License

There is no general state of Indiana business license; however, many cities require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and the business’s activities. Below are a few cities that have business license requirements.

  • Indianapolis: Certain types of activities require a business license in Indianapolis, such as alarm companies, businesses with five or more coin-operated machines, groomers, massage businesses, and more.
  • Fort Wayne: The City of Fort Wayne requires certain businesses to obtain licensing, such as kennels, home-based businesses, businesses selling alcohol, and more
  • Evansville: Businesses such as street vendors, precious metal dealers, and others need licensing from the City of Evansville. 
  • South Bend: Some businesses, such as pet shops, alarm installers, and restaurants, need to register with the City of South Bend.
  • Bloomington: The City of Bloomington requires licensing for childcare providers, pawnshops, taxis, and more.
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 Indiana that want to operate under a business name other than the full name of the owner(s) will register for an Indiana Assumed Business Name (also known as a doing business as, DBA, or Trade Name) with the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the business is located.

Building & Zoning Permits

  • Zoning: Indiana’s zoning regulations vary by municipality, so contact your city or county planning department to ensure your business (even home-based businesses) complies with local zoning ordinances.
  • Building Permit: In Indiana, building permits are issued by local building departments and are necessary for new construction or major renovations, ensuring adherence to safety and building codes.
  • Signage Permit: Before installing any building signage, check with your local zoning or planning department.

Business Tax Application

Most businesses operating in the state that are selling a product or offering certain services will need to register for an Indiana Registered Retail Merchant Certificate (also referred to as a sales tax permit) by filing the Business Tax Application (BT-1) with the Indiana Department of Revenue.

Sales Tax Exemption Certificate

After obtaining Registered Retail Merchant Certifivcate, most businesses will want to obtain an Indiana Sales Tax Exemption Certificate. This allows them to not pay sales tax on their inventory purchases meant to be resold to customers.

Professional License

In Indiana, there are over 400 different professional licenses, permits, etc., that are required before providing certain products and services. A variety of occupations in the state are regulated, such as home inspectors, interior designers, manicurists, plumbers, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for occupations are available from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.

In addition to professional licenses, businesses in industries such as food establishmentsdaycaressalvage recyclers, and many others require licensing.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

The Indiana 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 Indiana. 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.

Indiana Business License Basics

Indiana Business License Basics

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