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What Licenses Does A Jerky Business Need?

What Licenses Does A Jerky Business Need?

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What Licenses Does A Jerky Business Need?

Starting a successful jerky business takes more than knowing how to make a tasty snack.

The question, “what business license do I need to start my business” is a common one, but in reality, a business will often need multiple licenses, permits, and registrations from federal, state, and local agencies to get started.

Let’s look at the licenses to consider when starting a jerky business.

Related: Guide to starting a jerky 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 Jerky Business?

Federal Requirements

Generally, jerky operations that sell product across state lines will need to prepare their meats in a USDA certified kitchen. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services inspect facilities to make sure the meat, poultry, and egg products are prepared safely.

Even though a small jerky manufacturer selling locally may not be required to be USDA certified, the USDA provides safety guidelines for jerky production.

State Licensing

In general, smaller jerky businesses that sell directly to customers, such as local markets or events, will not need state licensing. Instead, they are typically regulated by their local health department.  Jerky businesses selling to retail stores or distributors will generally need state licensing through their state’s Department of Agriculture.

In most states, jerky is not allowed to be sold under cottage food laws.

Food Service License

In order to sell process and legally sell jerky, a food service license will be needed. This licensing helps ensure food-service establishments are following health and safety requirements and keeping the public safe. Registration is different by location and is typically through the local health department, though a state license may also be needed.

Licensing typically requires employees have a food handler certificate or food sanitation certification, in addition to the facility being randomly inspected.


Outside of a food service license, there aren’t any other licenses specifically for a jerky business; however, there will likely be general licensing requirements for starting a business.  Here are a few of the common licenses and permits that a jerky business may need:

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

Business Name Registration

While not necessarily a business license, it’s worth noting that in order 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 are a little easier in that their name is registered when forming the entity.

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

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

In order to sell products and/or offer certain services, a state sales tax permit (business tax number or tax ID number) may be needed.  This permit creates an account number with the state’s Department of Revenue or a similarly named state taxing agency to collect and remit sales tax on items sold by a business.

Learn: How to get a sales tax permit

Resale Certificate

When buying inventory that is resold to customers, such as meat, spices, and packaging, etc., 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 jerky business will need to secure a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) before operating in a commercial building.  This certificate is typically obtained from the city, but sometimes from the county, and allows a business to occupy and operate from a building provided the building complies with zoning regulations, building codes, and any other local requirements.

home occupation permit is sometimes required by city government for a home-based business.

Before starting your jerky business, be sure to check with the local zoning department to ensure the business can legally operate out of the chosen location.


The process of identifying all of the licenses and permits necessary to start a jerky business may feel confusing and overwhelming. It is critical to do this right the first time, otherwise, your business may be shut down after opening until all licenses are obtained.

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.


  • 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.

What Licenses Does A Jerky Business Need?

What Licenses Does A Jerky Business Need?

8 Responses

  1. I am a veteran that is attempting to start a small side business making and selling beef jerky from home. I mainly sell to locals. I have a 8×14 shed that i converted into a “craft shed”. I have 4 small commercial dehydrators that I use. I ensure all ingredients are fresh and that the temperature of the meat is proper and cooked thoroughly. What do i need to do to ensure i dont get in trouble for selling locally? This is mainly a hobby that people sometimes buy. I know that meat is regulated but ive heard that there are ways around having to involve the USDA, FDA etc.

    1. Hi Nicholas

      Every state has different rules and regulations for food manufacturing. Most states have what’s called cottage food laws, which are for small food manufacturers that sell locally and in small volumes. These regulations can vary depending on the food that is being sold, but are typically less intense than for larger operations or for those that sell across state lines. 

      Typically, the enforcement of food safety is under the local health department, so that is where I would recommend in getting started to get the full details on what is required for you. 

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions!


  2. Hi,

    I know this might not be something well known because I am looking and can’t find info on it. I know Jerky is not covered under Florida Cottage Law, but with all the paper work in place, would using a food truck as the space for creating the Jerky be legal?

  3. I would like to know what do I need to do to sale jerky in the state of Iowa. It’s just a hobby but would like to put it in a couple mom and pop shops.

  4. Looking to sell my jerky made at home, in the state of Idaho. Can’t seem to find a definite yes or no. Any help would be appreciated

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