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Mississippi Business License Basics

Mississippi Business License Basics

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Mississippi Business License Basics

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

Related: Guide to starting a business in Mississippi 

Setting Up the Business

Sole proprietorship: In Mississippi, 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 Mississippi 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 Mississippi is a legal entity separate from its owners, providing the owner’s (shareholders) 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 Mississippi 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 aren’t as complex as the corporation. 

Related: Comparison of Business Structures

What Licenses Do Mississippi Businesses Need?

With the business structure out of the way, we can begin looking at the different types of registrations businesses in Mississippi 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 Licenses

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

  • Jackson: All businesses operating in the city will need to obtain a business license through the Department of Planning and Economic Development. Businesses located outside of the incorporated area are required to get a Privilege License through the Jackson County Tax Collector’s Office.
  • Southaven: The City of Southaven requires business licenses for the zoning of commercial businesses as well as home-based businesses.
  • Hattiesburg: All businesses operating in the city will need to obtain a Privilege Tax License from the Hattiesburg Tax Department. Additional registrations will be required for businesses selling alcohol, contractors, pawn shops, and more.

The application fee for a business license will vary depending on the type of business and city.

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. 

Fictitious Business Name Registration

While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a business name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for the Mississippi Fictitious Business Name Form (also known as a Doing Business As, DBA), or Trade Name) Mississippi Secretary of State. 

Building & Zoning Permits

Zoning: Zoning regulations ensure that businesses, including home-based businesses in some areas, comply with local zoning requirements. In Mississippi, zoning information can be obtained from the local planning and zoning department or the city/county clerk’s office.

Building Permit: Building permits ensure that construction, additions, alterations, and repairs comply with state and local building codes. In Mississippi, building permit applications are submitted to the local building department or the city/county clerk’s office, and the process includes plan review and inspections to ensure compliance with state and local building codes.

Signage Permit: Sign permits ensure that exterior business signage complies with local sign ordinances, which regulate the size, location, and design of signs. In Mississippi, sign permit applications are typically submitted to the local building department, planning department, or city/county clerk’s office.

Mississippi Business Tax Number

Any business selling tangible personal property that is subject to Mississippi sales tax must register for a Mississippi sales tax permit from the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

Resale Certificate

Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a Mississippi Resale Certificate (sometimes called a seller’s permit) in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.

Professional License

A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services. A few common professions that require licensing in Mississippi include; contractors, foresters, tattoo artists, and many more. Additional information, filing fees, and licensing requirements for professions are available from the State of Mississippi.

In addition to professional licenses, there are a number of other licenses that may be needed:

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

The Mississippi 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 Mississippi. 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

These are some of the most common business licenses a new business in Mississippi will need to register for. Be advised that while it’s a good start, there are so many different licenses that may be needed, be sure to double-check with the City Clerk’s Office, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Development office in your area before opening your doors.


  • 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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Mississippi Business License Basics

Mississippi Business License Basics

2 Responses

  1. As a construction contractor in Mississippi. Do you need to obtain a business license in each county you work in?

    1. Hi Russ

      For starters, a Contractor’s License is required by the Mississippi State Board of Contractors for contractors and subcontractors performing work on commercial jobs over $50,000 or any contract involving the construction, reconstruction, repair, or maintenance of fire sprinkler systems on public projects over $5,000 and private projects over $10,000.

      Residential contractors are required to get a license from the MSBOC if they are doing new residential construction over $50,000, residential remodeling or additions over $10,000, or residential roofing over $10,000. Contractor licensing also applies to subcontractors who are performing residential electrical, mechanical, HVAC, or plumbing work on a residential construction or residential improvement projects.

      Even if you fall under the state license requirements, most cities also require a contractor to register before they do work within city limits.

      The rules vary by city but for example, in Gulfport, the requirements to get a Contractor’s License includes obtaining 5 letters of reference, Certificate of Insurance, Business Privilege License (where your business is located), photo identification, and payment of the contractor’s licensing fee.

      So, you will need to check with the city, typically the building code department, to see what the rules are before starting work in that community.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.


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