Do I need licenses or permits to start my business in Minnesota?

Depending on the type of business you plan to have in Minnesota, there may be many licenses and permits needed before you can open your doors. Applying for these may seem like a waste of time and money, but you should not take this process lightly.

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, federal, state and local licenses and permits serve important purposes, such as the following:

  • Encourage competition
  • Certify professional competency
  • Ensure product or process effectiveness and safety
  • Inhibit fraud
  • Prevent pollution

In most cases, you will at least need a general business license from the state authorizing you to operate in the location you have chosen. However, you may need others at the state level, as well. State agencies administer over 600 different licenses. 

Municipalities and counties often require you to register and pay a fee for a general business license at the local level in addition to the one you receive from the state. Other licenses are specific to the locale and not applicable at the state level, such as zoning restrictions, bonding and compliance with city ordinances.

The federal government strictly regulates many types of businesses. If you plan to operate aircraft, for example, you will need to check with the Federal Aviation Administration to learn what licenses and permits you will need. The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires a permit for transporting plants, animals and other agricultural products across state lines. Manufacturing, selling or importing alcoholic beverages requires registration with and permits from the U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. 

Because licenses and permits may take some time to acquire, it is important to learn what you will need and begin the application process as soon as possible. This information is for educational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.

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