How to Apply for a Business License in Arkansas

The flags of the Arkansas state and United States waving in the wind

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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Polina Solovyeva
Written by Polina Solovyeva
Written byPolina Solovyeva
Updated October 17, 2023
Edited by Carlos Serrano
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Most new businesses must obtain a business license before operating in Arkansas. You may be required to hold one license or several — and, as a business owner, it’s your responsibility to figure out. We’re here to help you make sense of the State of Arkansas licensing requirements and efficiently apply for the licenses and permits you need.

Arkansas Business License: Key Takeaways

  • Arkansas doesn’t have a general business license requirement, but most businesses still need a license based on their nature and location. 

  • Business licenses in Arkansas are specific legal documents that authorize certain business activities in particular locations. 

  • Businesses in Arkansas may need licenses from different sources, including the state government, local municipalities, and federal agencies.

Navigate Arkansas Business Licensing with Ease

Ensuring you have the right business licenses and permits is crucial. Let us manage the complexities for you, so you can stay focused on what you do best — running your business.

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What Is a Business License?

A business license is a legal document that allows you to carry out certain business activities in a specific location. For example, you may need to obtain a health permit if you’re operating a restaurant or a general business license to do business in a particular city in Arkansas. 

Different types of business licenses exist. If your small business operations include industries regulated by the federal government, such as alcoholic beverages, you must obtain a federal license. You may also need a state license to operate in a specific state or a local license to conduct business in a particular city, town, or municipality. 

Your business may need multiple business licenses. It’s essential to research what type of licenses your business needs to file applications with appropriate government agencies. 

Some entrepreneurs confuse creating a business entity, such as a limited liability company, or filing for a DBA (doing business as) or a sole proprietorship with filing for a business license. These are not the same thing. It would be best first to form your business with the Arkansas Secretary of State and then apply for the appropriate business licenses. 

Get Your Arkansas Business License in 7 Steps

It can be confusing to figure out what business licenses you need. From state licenses to occupational tax certificates, numerous regulations can take time to make sense of. Don’t worry — we will walk you through the business licensing process in the State of Arkansas in the following sections. 

Step 1: Apply for Arkansas General Business Licenses

Some states require all businesses to apply for a general business license regardless of what they do. The State of Arkansas doesn’t have a general business license requirement. 

That said, depending on the nature of your business activities, you may still be required to obtain a state or professional license on the state level. Plus, your city or municipality may have a general business license requirement. 

Even though the State of Arkansas doesn’t have a general business license requirement, most small businesses will still need one. Make sure to check with state authorities and your local government to figure out what type of business licenses you need. 

Step 2: Apply for Federal Licenses for Arkansas Businesses

Specific industries are regulated at the federal level. If your new business belongs to one of these federally regulated industries, you’ll need to obtain a federal business license to stay compliant.[1]

  • Agriculture, including import and transport of animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology, and plants across state lines

  • Alcoholic beverages, including manufacture, wholesale, import, and retail

  • Aviation, including operating aircraft, transporting people or goods via air, and aircraft maintenance

  • Firearms, ammunition, and explosives, including manufacture, dealing, or import

  • Fish and wildlife, including import and export of wildlife and derivative products

  • Commercial fishing of any kind

  • Maritime transportation, including ocean transportation or facilitation of shipment of cargo by sea

  • Mining and drilling, including drilling for natural gas, oil, or other mineral resources

  • Nuclear energy, including commercial production of atomic energy, operating a fuel cycle facility, or distribution and disposal of nuclear materials  

  • Radio and television broadcasting, including broadcasting information by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable

  • Transportation and logistics, including operation of an oversized or overweight vehicle  

Business owners are responsible for obtaining federal business licenses from the appropriate government agency. You can find more information here

Remember that you also may need to obtain additional licenses from the State of Arkansas and your local government, even if you already have a federal license. For example, alcoholic beverages are often regulated at the federal, state, and local levels simultaneously. 

Step 3: Search for Arkansas Permits and Licenses

Depending on the nature of your business activities, you may be required to get a state license to operate in Arkansas. Even though there’s no general business license every business must get, Arkansas still regulates various industries at the state level. 

For example, you must apply for an alcoholic beverage permit through the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. You’ll need to select a specific type of alcohol license you’re applying for, such as a small brewery or wine shipping permit.

If you operate a child care facility, you’re required to get an Arkansas Child Care Facility license from the Department of Human Services Licensing Unit.[2]

These are just a few examples of Arkansas's state licensing requirements. Use the Official Website of the State of Arkansas,, to research what type of business license your business needs. 

View of Walmart Museum downtown Bentonville, Northwest Arkansas

Step 4: Search for Local County or City Arkansas Business Licenses

Your city or municipality is likely to have extensive business license requirements. Depending on the nature of your business and its location, you may need to apply for a professional license, a business tax certificate, a building permit, a sales tax permit, or a zoning ordinance. It’s vital to ensure that you understand your local business license requirements. 

Some cities require business owners to obtain a general business license. For example, Little Rock requires all businesses within city limits to obtain a zoning permit, a business license, and a home occupation accessory use permit if you’re operating your business from home.[3]

Fayetteville is another example of a city that requires all businesses to obtain a general business license. Depending on the nature of your business, you’ll also need to go through an accounting review, a zoning review, a fire review, or all three.[4]

When in doubt, call your local tax office, county clerk’s office, or another government office that’s local to you. 

Step 5: Search for Arkansas Professional Licenses

Some professionals and individuals with special training must obtain a professional license from the State of Arkansas. A “professional license” is often used interchangeably with an “occupational license.” 

The State of Arkansas Official Website has a helpful business license directory explaining different types of state licenses for various professions.[5] Some of the occupations on the state directory include: 

  • Appraisers

  • Cosmetologists 

  • Electrician

  • Real estate agent

  • Marriage-family therapist

You may need to obtain a professional license at the state and local level. For example, if you’re an electrician, you’ll need to get a state license from the Arkansas Department of Labor and any necessary additional permits from your local government. 

Step 6: Apply for an Arkansas Home-Based Business License

Running a business from home still comes with paperwork. Even though there’s no home-based business license requirement at the state level, your city, town, or county may require you to obtain a home occupation license and comply with zoning requirements. 

Certain types of businesses are more likely to need a home-based business license. Child care centers, and child learning facilities are examples of small businesses that almost always require additional licensing. 

Step 7: Maintain Your Arkansas Business License

It’s crucial to renew your existing business licenses regularly. In most cases, business owners must renew licenses and permits annually in Arkansas. Failure to keep your licenses up to date can result in severe consequences for your business, from government fines to dissolving your business. 

Trying to keep up with business license renewal deadlines can be exhausting, especially if you have multiple licenses to maintain. Using a third-party service provider like Swyft Filings can help you keep your business in good standing without doing grueling research and filing endless paperwork. 

Little Rock, Arkansas, USA skyline on the river at twilightw

Apply for an Arkansas Business License Online

As a new business owner, you have more pressing to-do’s on your agenda than spending hours researching business license requirements and applying for the appropriate permits. You have a small business to run and know that time is money. 

Swyft Filings takes the headache out of licensing requirements for your Arkansas business. We’ll research what types of business licenses you need at the federal, state, and local levels and file all necessary business license applications for you. This lets you focus on what matters most — making your business succeed. 

Stay Compliant in Arkansas Without the Hassle
  • Focus on Your Business: Dive into your passion while we handle the intricacies of acquiring the necessary local, state, and federal business licenses and permits.

  • Simplify Your Paperwork: Complete our straightforward questionnaire, and we’ll handle all the required filings for you, accurately and promptly.

  • Stay Compliant: Avoid the risks and severe repercussions of non-compliance. We’re here to ensure your business remains in good standing.

Begin My License Application Today


How do I get a business license in Arkansas?

It depends on what type of business licenses you need. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to get a federal, state, and local license — or even all of them. Research what business licenses you need and then file your applications with the appropriate government agencies. 

Does Arkansas require a general business license?

No, there’s no general business license requirement in Arkansas. However, you may still need to obtain an industry-specific state license (for example, if you sell alcoholic beverages) or a professional license. 

Can you sell things in Arkansas without a license?

It would be best to have a sales tax permit to sell tangible personal property or provide specific services. You may also require special licenses if you sell alcoholic beverages, food, or other regulated goods. 

Do I need a special license for an online business in Arkansas?

There is no special online business license requirement for online businesses in Arkansas. However, you’ll still need to obtain appropriate professional licenses, zoning permits, and home-based business licenses to operate your online business. 

Can I collect sales tax in Arkansas without a license?

You’ll typically need a sales tax permit, but certain exemptions apply. Contact your local government office to learn more. 

How much does an Arkansas business license cost?

It depends on the type of business license that you’re applying for. Generally speaking, you can expect a business license to cost anywhere from $20 to $500, plus regular renewal fees. 

What’s the penalty for not having a business license in Arkansas?

The penalties for failing to obtain proper business licenses and permits in Arkansas are severe. You may need to pay steep fines or even be ordered to close your business. 


  1. US Small Business Administration. “Apply for licenses and permits.” Accessed June 5, 2023. 

  2. The Official Website of the State of Arkansas. “Apply for a child care facility license.” Accessed June 5, 2023. 

  3. The City of Little Rock, Arkansas. “Starting a New Business in Little Rock.” Accessed June 5, 2023. 

  4. The City of Fayetteville, Arkansas. “Business License.” Accessed June 5, 2023.  

  5. State of Arkansas. “Services Directory.” Accessed June 5, 2023.

Originally published on September 22, 2023, and last edited on October 17, 2023.
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