What should I know about business licenses in Washington?
Washington is home to many businesses and nearly all of them are required to obtain at least one business license on both the state and local levels.
However, even obtaining a local business license in WA may be harder than it at first appears. Washington is among the very few states that allow business owners to apply for local business licenses on the state level (with an additional fee). This means that about 20-30 cities essentially outsource the processing of their business licenses in WA to the state.
Determining whether or not your particular municipality is among them is the first step toward determining whether or not you’re going to have a smooth process obtaining your business licenses in The Evergreen State.
How many business licenses do you need?
The number of business licenses you need in Washington depends on a number of unique factors.
These factors include...
- Within which city/county will you operate your business?
- What business activities will you be conducting?
- How heavily regulated is your industry? Etc.
To put it in perspective, we ran the following queries through our own business license research tool. Here are some authentic results:
This may include a county-specific King food establishment permit. There are many forms and documents associated with this permit that a business owner may not consider. For example, you may need to submit a Use of Restroom Agreement, a Use of Commissary / Shared Kitchen Agreement, or a Plan Review Application for a Mobile Food Service Unit.
This may include a state-specific Washington accounting license. Our database suggests at least 3 forms and documents associated with this license, including a CPA Firm License Application, a CPA Firm Change of Address Form, and even a Relinquishment of CPA Firm License Application.
This may include a state-specific Washington lodging establishment license. It appears that this licensing authority requires a Transient Accommodation License Application to obtain this license.
See where you might owe sales tax
Need to know where and when you owe sales tax? Get a free Economic Sales Tax Risk Assessment for your nexus analysis today.
Common Washington business license questions
Starting your own business can oftentimes feel like you can’t see the forest for the trees. In the Evergreen State, we’ve answered Washington’s most common questions behind getting a business license.
Yes, if your business falls under any one of these situations:
Your business name is something other than your full legal name.
You want to hire employees within 90 days of starting your business.
Your product or service sold requires a state sales tax collection.
You have a gross income of more than $12,000/ yr.
Your business pays taxes or fees to the Department of Revenue.
You buy or process specialty wood products.
The application fee for a Business License Application varies. Clear, step-by-step instructions are available on your local government site to help determine processing fees.
After filing a Business Licensing Application, there can be other licensing requirements your business must meet. There are well over 400 various endorsements, registrations, or permits to apply for in the state of Washington. Most businesses also need to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
If this seems overwhelming, Avalara can help find which licenses you need and also with our managed services, help you apply for your business license.