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What Licenses Does A Dry Cleaning Business Need?

What Licenses Does A Dry Cleaning Business Need?

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What Licenses Does A Dry Cleaning Business Need?

Starting a successful dry cleaning business takes more than knowing how to get a stain out of a shirt. Starting a new business requires completing several steps, and obtaining licensing is an important one as it may impact your ability to operate legally.

While we cover licensing for a dry cleaning operation, know that if you are also providing laundry services or operating a coin-operated laundromat, there may be additional regulations as well.

The question, “what business license do I need to start my dry cleaning business” is common but is hard to answer as every location has different requirements. Your business will likely need multiple licenses, permits, and registrations from federal, state, and local agencies, so let’s look at which licenses to consider when starting a dry cleaning business.

Related: Guide to starting a dry cleaning business

While we have researched what licenses and permits your business may need, please be aware that there is no way for us to have uncovered every state and local requirement.

To not miss any important licenses and permits, we recommend also checking with your local Chamber of Commerce, economic development agency, or use a business license service like Incfile or LegalZoom.

What Licenses Do You Need to Start a Dry Cleaning Business?

Federal Guidelines

While there are no specific Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for dry cleaners, there are OSHA standards to be aware of due to hazardous substances used in dry cleaning operations. The primary substance of concern is Perchloroethylene (PERC) exposure.

State Licensing

Every state has different requirements for licensing or regulating a dry cleaning business. A few examples include:

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) issues licenses for Illinois-based dry cleaners. The fee ranges from $1,500 – $5,000 and varies by the amount and type of dry-cleaning solvent used annually.

In Wisconsin, the Department of Revenue requires a dry cleaning facility license for a dry cleaning facility operating in the state. The fee for the license is 2.8% of the gross receipts of the facility.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division requires new dry cleaning facilities to submit an initial notification within 30 days of the start of a new facility.

Each state has different requirements, so be sure to research the requirements in your state before investing in property or equipment.

Local Licensing

In addition to state licensing, some towns and cities also require a dry cleaner to obtain licensing.  For example:

The Department of Planning for the City of Las Vegas regulates dry cleaners operating within city limits.

In Gary, Indiana, a Dry Cleaner Certificate from the Zoning Department is required to run a dry cleaning business.

The City of Carlsbad, California, requires a Class C license for a dry cleaning business.

In Philadelphia, a dry cleaning facility cannot use Perchloroethylene if it shares a wall, ceiling, or floor with a sensitive facility such as a school, nursing home, or daycare center.


In addition to state and local licensing, there are also general business registrations to possibly obtain. While licensing requirements vary by location, here are a few common business licenses and permits your businesses may need:

One of the first registrations to do when starting a dry cleaning business is selecting a legal structure. A legal structure refers to how a business is organized to operate. The four main types include; sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Related: What is the difference between a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC?

Business Name Registration

While not necessarily a business license, it’s worth noting that to use a name for a business, many states require the registration of that name. Making matters more complicated, the process of name registration is different by state and the type of business entity.

For instance, sole proprietorships and partnerships generally need to register a business name (also referred to as a Doing Business As, DBA, fictitious name, or assumed name).

Learn: How to register a DBA

Corporations and LLCs register the business name when the entity is formed with the state.

General Business License or Permit

Depending on where the business is located, a general business license or permit may be required. A few states require a business license; however, they are more commonly found at the city level.

Learn more: Business license requirements by state

Federal Employer Identification Number

The Federal Employer Identification Number (also referred to as a FEIN, Employer Identification Number, EIN, or Federal Tax ID Number) is a unique nine-digit number that identifies a business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Any business with employees or those that form as a partnership, corporation, and in many cases an LLC, the business will need to get an EIN.

Sole proprietors and single-owner LLCs without employees can instead use the owner’s social security number.

Learn: How to get an EIN 

Sales Tax Permit or Business Number

Most states tax the services of a dry cleaner. In order to offer these services (and to even sell any products at retail, a state sales tax permit (also referred to as a business tax number or tax ID number) may be needed.  This permit creates an account number with the state’s Department of Revenue (or similarly named state taxing agency) to collect and remit sales tax.

Learn: How to get a sales tax permit in each state

Resale Certificate

When buying inventory that is being resold to customers, such as cleaning products and supplies, the business can purchase these items tax-free. A resale certificate (sometimes referred to as a seller’s permit) allows a business to purchase inventory, and instead of paying the sales tax to their vendor, they charge the sales tax to the end-user of the product.

A resale certificate only allows a business to not pay sales tax for items being resold, and sales tax will still need to be paid for supplies or equipment.

Learn: How to get a resale certificate

Certificate of Occupancy

In most communities, a dry cleaning establishment will likely need to secure a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) before operating in a commercial building.  This certificate is typically obtained from the city and/or the county and allows a business to occupy and operate from a building. Before the certificate is issued, the building will need to comply with zoning regulations, building codes, and any other local requirements.

Before signing a contract to purchase or lease a location for your dry cleaning business, be sure to check with the local zoning department first to ensure the business can legally operate out of the chosen location.


While researching licenses and permits isn’t the most exciting part of starting a business, correctly identifying all the licenses and permits necessary to start a dry cleaning business is critical. Be sure to take some extra time doing your research and talking with city officials to ensure the correct licenses have been registered so your business can get started right!

These are some of the most common business licenses, but there may be specific licensing that isn't listed. Before starting your business, be sure to check with the City Clerk, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.

For some additional peace of mind, companies like Incfile or Legalzoom can do the research and ensure you have all of the proper federal, state, and local licenses to start your business.

What Licenses Does A Dry Cleaning Business Need?

What Licenses Does A Dry Cleaning Business Need?

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